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Car Of The Month :
June 2015

'Restoring a sleepy Lagoon' by Reebs

As many will know, I have a rather soft spot for Lagoon painted cars, and it was with the help of several club members that I finally came to own and restore a fully loaded Turquoise ZT-T + 190.

Back in April 2012, I spotted this V6 tourer with lots of extras advertised on Autotrader. Unfortunately for me it was located in Lancashire, some 266 miles away and looked from the pictures like it had suffered a rather hard life. I decided to ask a local club member if they wouldnít mind taking a closer look for me, and Iím pleased to say that member Bob Grice did the business, sending me a thorough report and plenty of detailed photographs.

Looking at the build records more deeply, this car was the first MG of any kind to be painted in Lagoon Supertallic, in addition it was the first MG to have British Racing Green Alcantara seats fitted, a full two months before any of the others in the ZR, ZS & ZT range.

As the vehicle log book is stamped with MG Rover Press Garage, it is likely that the car was intended as an early Monogram demonstrator or press car. Indeed, the VIN plate states that the seats fitted were originally designated as Grey Alcantara, so the green ones were probably added late in the car's assembly process.

The car was languishing in a shady used car dealership and was covered in stickers and decals including faux Land Rover air intake grilles and go faster stickers on the bonnet and bumpers.

However, it did appear to be mechanically sound, so I arranged to buy it sight unseen and took a gamble at £990 which back in 2012 was a reasonable price. Unfortunately, the dealer wanted it off their premises ASAP and as I couldnít get up to Colne for a couple of weeks due to work commitments, in stepped another club member (Duotone) who agreed to collect it and store it in his garage until I could make the journey up to Leeds.

While he kept it, club trader Big Russ hooked the car up to his T4 to give it a health check which it passed, as well as enabling a few dealer options for me, and he even supplied and programmed a second key as the car only had the one.

I finally took the train north and was picked up in style by Duotone who took me back to his place to finally meet the car. To my great surprise, Dave had washed it and even started to remove some of the stickers and decals and had topped it up with coolant for me too.

I left Leeds a very happy man and started the long journey home with a smile on my face. Driving back, the ride was solid and assured, however I did notice that the coolant indicator remained near the bottom for much of the journey, and that the highline sat nav audio would come and go intermittently especially when going over bumps. The passengerís front cup holder was broken and wedged in with a piece of paper, the rear wash wipe was stuck fast, and the air con was non existent.

Once back in Southampton I set to work bringing it back to its former glory. Off came the rest of the decals and plastic chrome strips that were stuck all over the car including the roof, the Green Alcantara seats were given a close shave, the rear wiper was lubricated and brought back to life and illuminated sun visors and driverís grab handle were also retro fitted.

I even managed to source a driverís side cup holder and also the remaining bits of Black Oak trim that were missing when the previous owner had replaced the main dash piece only.

Nick at Austin Garages was helpful in supplying a four hole switch panel and Les at SMC Trading a new Black Oak gear surround. I even managed to get the rare factory fitted roof mounted DVD player to work properly and was able to pipe the signal around the car via the door speakers and highline monitor in the front.

Member robwijnstock who has the same system in his car came to the rescue in giving me the model numbers for a replacement remote and cordless headphone which I then sourced on ebay.

Everything was coming together until I took it to my local ex MG Rover dealer for a service where they discovered a broken rear road spring, mayo in the expansion tank, and a loss of coolant. They carried out a sniff test and concluded early on set head gasket failure on this V6, added to that, the fact that the cam belts were due for renewal, and suddenly my £990 bargain was turning into a money pit.

But I bit the bullet and decided to have a replacement engine fitted by a then forum trader. At the same time the belts and water pump were renewed, as well as the thermostat. Finally the car had a clean bill of health, and all that was left to do was to sort out the air conditioning.

After first going to Kwik Fit for a re-gas, and then being told it had made no difference so they werenít going to charge me, I called in a local specialist who discovered that there was simply no refrigerant in the system at all! Once re-gassed properly, the A/C clutch energised and I finally got Ice cold air out of the vents.

Other work I have done on the car includes fitting a replacement shannon tube and gold fan resistor courtesy of Jules, replacement front discs and pads with the help of member SD1too, a new MG tourer rear plinth badge sourced from club member humphshumphs and a modified handbrake compensator supplied by HarryM1BYT.

Another big job that required urgent attention was the exhaust system which after 180,000 miles needed replacing with a new mid section and back box.

The car has now covered some 22,000 additional miles in my ownership and has taken the family on holidays to Cornwall, The Isle Of Wight and up as far as Scotland. The improvements are still coming bit by bit however when time and money allow as I have replaced the rear number plate with a full size smiley one,

swapped the oddly fitted deep sea green Rover 75 steering wheel with a black oak (slightly green now) wooden wheel courtesy of Jules, have upgraded the rear view mirror to the dipping variety, replaced the 6 CD Changer that was missing from the glove box, and also cured the intermittent audio fault on the Highline system which would spuriously mute the sat nav and radio sound for months on end.

This turned out to be a dead K-Bus line from behind the dash to the radio tuner module in the spare wheel well. By splitting off a good feed of the K bus from the video module and splicing it in to the tuner, all functionality was restored.

The car recently also suffered clutch failure, but thanks to the mobile services of forum trader Andy Willi, it now has a new master & slave cylinder as well as clutch plate. Refurbished 18Ē Straights and a brand new set of OEM wheel trim centre caps from member Britscim69, body coloured mud flaps and repainted Lagoon door mirror covers complete the original look.

All that remains is to get it into the body shop to repair a scratch down the driverís side rear door and to repaint the peeling lacquer on the front bumper and areas of the bonnet.

I have loved every moment of ownership of this car (even though frustrating at times) and itís gratifying to know that with the help of the many club members mentioned, I have saved what was a pretty rare example from being bought and run into the ground, or worst still scrapped through lack of interest in an old thirsty and abused V6.

Article written by member Reebs

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