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April 2009

OK, the rear valence was almost as much trouble as the front. As they come they just don't fit. At least
not on a standard MG I think! The first thing I had to do was cut it in half down the middle. This was
because the pointed rear parts need to line up under the middle of the rear light pods and the
valence as it came was too short for this to happen. I cut it in half then modified each half to fit.
You can see I also needed to trim a lot of the fibreglass edge off so it would fit to the curves of
the car properly. You can also see that one side is bigger than the other. As it happened I needed to
make them both bigger. I fitted each half separately and with the help of lots of duct tape I lined
things up. I ended up sanding away some parts and then adding more fibreglass to others. Once I had the
width correct I re-fibreglassed the two halves together. It needed about 3/4 to 1 inch added in.

Once I had the two halves mostly right I needed to fix them to the car properly, but not permanently. I figure
the fibreglass is likely to be damaged some time in the future so I want both valences easily removable and
repairable. Also the ones I have seen faired into the body always seem to crack at the joint so I
decided to make mine a separate piece that obviously bolts on. To hold it in place I made a series of
studs from nuts welded to steel plates. These I pushed through the horizontal lip on the valence and I
fibreglassed themn from the back to hold them in place. These studs simply push through holes around the
edge of the boot floor. The valence simply pushes up into place and is held on with nuts inside the boot.
The front edges of the valence I extended so that they could lie flush on the side of the body of the car.
Three screws hold them in place. Like on the front I will use button head allen screws and leave them
unpainted so they stand out rather than trying to blend them in and failing. I will put some kind of
sealing strip around bottom of the fibreglass where it is near the original steel valence so that nothing
can get into the gap between the two.

One side effect of having the Sebring front and rear is the car is now much shorter without the bumpers. This
means that the original exhaust sticks out too far. I also wanted to use a twin exhaust tip that also ends
up sticking out further again. I ended up replacing the original muffler with a smaller resonator. This
allowed me to fit the exhaust tip and yuck it nicely under the valence. I made a custom bracket to mount
the original rear exhaust bracket further back. Normally it bolts to the rear valence which has a bracket
with two captive nuts just under the boot floor. I made an L shaped plate that the bracket bolts too and
then bolted the L bracket to the boot floor. After first fitting the exhaust I decided it was still sticking
out too far so I simply machined up some 30mm long metal tube spacers that I put between my L bracket and
the exhaust bracket thus pulling the exhaust in further. The muffler is a straight through one with little
deflectors down the inside of the pipe. It is louder than the original but hopefully not too loud!

One other small job I did was fit gas struts to the boot and bonnet. These were from Rick Ingram in the states.
The boot ones went in easily but the bonnet caused me a few problems as the struts fouled the brake master
cylinder tank on my car. This is nothing to do with the struts and the kit Rick sells is top notch! It is
more to do with my bitser car. I got around this by changing the mounting points from standard. I also
bent the bonnet brackets to allow me to mount them further over to the side. The struts now JUST clear
everything. The bonnet opens very nicely under it's own power once you lift it 8-10 inches or so. And when
it is up it is nicely out of the way and it won't fall down. Closing it you just ease it down slowly.

To go with my race/rally look and the Sebring valences I decided to fit towing eyes. Just for looks originally
I then realised I actually need the damn things as with no bumpers there is no place you can attach a tow
rope to the car that won't then damage the fibreglass front and back. I made the eyes from standard eye
bolts that I gas welded the loops closed on. I think these should easily be strong enough for normal
towing (I hope!). The front bolt is attached to two strong lugs made from 10mm thick steel that I welded
to the side of the chassis rail. The eye pokes though a hole in the valence then nuts hold it to the lugs.
At the rear I machined up a metal collar. At one end it is turned down and threaded M10. The other end I
drilled out to fit the shaft of the eye bolt. I then welded the eye bolt in place firmly. The 10mm section
pokes through the rear valence then through one of the original rubber bumper mounting points. These are flat
steel plates welded to the body. I welded a washer over one of the original oval mounting holes. The tow eye
collar has a shoulder that pushes up against this washer. On the inside another thick washer, a lock washer
and two 10mm nuts hold it in place. This should be strong enough to tow the car I hope. I did it this way so
the eyes are removable and so that I didn't need slots in the valences. I will probably use rubber grommets
in the holes where they eyes poke through to nicely finish everything off.

This is how everything came out in the end. I still need to fix the corners of the bonnet where bad repairs
have been done. At the back I decided to get rid of the number plate holder and instead will mount the
plate direct to the car. I also mounted the number plate lights directly and this gives a much cleaner
look more fitting the Sebring style I think. The towing eyes and the exhaust tips do stick out a bit but
not so far you can easily walk into them since the lights stick out enough to shield them. When I paint
the car I will also fill the vertical seams in the back to futher clean and smooth things up.

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Copyright © 2004-2009 Simon Jansen