Back in 1995, I took my Vermillion Red 1979 MGB roadster off the road so its speedometer wouldn't "roll over"; it had just passed the 96,000 mile mark. She was my daily driver during good weather for as long as I can remember, and she had never disappointed me or left me stranded. Before I retired her, however, I redid her body with a beautiful new paint job. And, I properly prepped her for her hibernation. Now, almost 10 years on and even though I went through all the proper steps to store her, I'm not sure that it was such a good idea to just park her in a corner of my garage.
Why? Because, as Jerri and I look forward to my retirement and the "15,000 Mile Circle" trip through the western part of the US, Canada, and Alaska that we've planned to celebrate that event, I want Vermillian Red to be part of it. She'll be the dinghy towed behind our RV on a purpose-built trailer. However, she's an old girl who will need some serious prepping to make the trip and perform as she did every day of her life. I've got to overcome 10 years of sleep to ensure Jerri and I enjoy her like we did "back in the day".
At the same time, I'm going through all her systems to ensure we will have fun with her, lots of my fellow MG-dom citizens are also wrestling with the same situation - bringing an old car back to life. I have standard things I do to all the old cars I acquire to see if they're gonna be restorable or are gonna rest in peace in my MG Graveyard. I also kept a listing of everything I did to Vermillion Red when I put her up so those have to be reversed.
With all that in mind, I decided to develop a comprehensive checklist for "Awakening a Sleeping MGB". Every car and every situation is different but if you follow my checklist, you'll have no trouble reviving a well sorted out car. [Ed. Note: While this checklist is written for reviving an MGB in particular, the procedure should be fairly similar for any classic cars of a similar vintage that have been in long term storage, especially other British cars as they share many similar design features.]
Remember, however, Vermillion Red was in excellent condition when I put her up. I had, from day 1, always done all maintenance as outlined by British Leyland in my owners handbook, had made any repairs necessary with quality, OE parts, and had kept her 100% original. She never had anything except 93-octane pumped into her gas tank, I always used either 10W-40 or 20W-50 Castrol in her engine and tranny, and she was never wrecked or abused.
And, I'm gonna lavish the same amount of time and energy bringing her back to life. This won't be a quick Saturday afternoon of sticking a battery in her, squirting some starter fluid up her carb and firing her up. This will be a methodical refurbishment of all her operating systems.
As always, I keep a Bentley manual open to the section on which I'm working to ensure I don't miss a step. And, my checklist is not designed as a step-by-step guide for how to accomplish each item. It's only a tool to remind me of what to do, not how to do it.
So, Let's Wake Her Up:
Underneath Car - Front
Underneath Car - Center
Underneath Car - Rear
Don't take off jack stands yet!
NOW, it's time for a short test drive. Once around the block only. While driving, pay particular attention to status of gauges, check for proper operation of brakes, watch for tell-tale signs of smoke from exhaust.
Back in the Garage
At this point, feel free to drive down to the nearest filling station and fill up with 93-octane gas. I know, I know! Some of you are going to tell me that's not necessary. But, hey, that's all I ever put in my cars. I personally feel its needed all the time but should be used at least once every few tanks full.
Then, after a good wash, wax, and interior detailing, she's ready for daily use. From this point on, follow the maintenance guidelines in your owner's manual. Enjoy! Tony