You may be surprised to learn that today’s Nice Price or No Dice Fiberfab MG is not based on a VW Bug, but on a Chevy Chevette. That may make it closer to the original classic it emulates, but will it also make it worth its asking?
The idea of a restomod is to balance old-school charm against performance and livability-improving updates. Yesterday’s 1964 Ford F-100 was one such attempt, and while it may not have been wholly successful — its ’70s steering wheel was a bit of a kludge — most of the comments were in its favor. The same couldn’t be said for the restored truck’s $16,999 asking price, though. That, it was argued, seemed too high in light of the number of minor issues the truck exhibited. At the end of the day, the Ford went down in a 79 percent No Dice loss.
Ford today is one of the biggest carmakers on the planet, and the F-Series is the company’s best-selling vehicle. This wasn’t always the case, and like many big things, the House of Henry had very humble beginnings. Ford’s very first car — the Quadricycle — was something Henry cobbled together in his spare time while he was working as an engineer for the Edison Illuminating Company.
Ever since then, thousands of wannabe Henrys have had that same dream of building a car with their own hands. Enough of those people acted on that impulse that an entire industry sprouted up to support the effort. These startups offered almost everything the backyard builder could need for a homebrew car, save for his or her own blood, sweat, and tears.
One of the kit-car industry’s biggest players was Fiberfab, based in Palo Alto, California, and founded in 1964 by partners Bud Goodwin and John Hebler. Its first products were fiberglass body parts — spoilers, fender flares and the like — for the Chevy Corvette and Ford Mustang, the hot cars of the day. Eventually, Fiberfab started building entire kits to rebody production car chassis, and later even produced a number of cars with chassis it built.
This “1952” MG TD is one of those latter cars. Remarkably, it does not sit on the pan of a VW Beetle, as did many of Fiberfab’s bodies. The company did offer an earlier MG TD replica that rode on a Bug frame, masking the engine with a spare tire and faux gas tank. This one, however, appears to be one of the cars created by Classic Motor Carriages and sold under the Fiberfab name after the company was bought by CMC.
A lot of CMC’s kits used Ford parts instead of VW, leveraging the slew of old Pintos and Mustang II’s that were clogging up used car lots in the ’80s. This one, however, is based on parts from a 1980 Chevy Chevette, including that car’s 1.6-liter SOHC four. That’s been rebuilt and is bolted to a five-speed manual gearbox. This puts the engine up front, just like in a real TD, and makes space for an actual gas tank and spare tire in the back. The Chevette parts are all bolted to a square-section tube-frame chassis that, at least based on a similar car’s assembly instructions, looks to have the torsional rigidity of a bowl of leftover Jell-O. Looks can be deceiving though, and if these were horrible to drive, it’s unlikely that many people would have expended the money and effort to build one. These replicas are popular enough to have their own club.
This TD, appropriately enough in British Racing Green and sporting a smart tan top and side curtains, certainly looks like the real deal. The only major giveaways are the oversize radial tires and Dayton-style fake wire wheels. Both of those issues could be rectified in short order at little cost.
The bodywork is all fiberglass, with a bonnet that opens sideways rather than down the middle like on a real TD. The paint is uniformly shiny, as is all the chrome. Neither the top nor the spare tire cover looks to be appreciably well-fitted, but then that’s not something that immediately calls out the car as a fake, as real MGs often suffered similarly. One bit of cheek you might want to remove is the Chevy bowtie on the front bumper.
We get only a glimpse of the interior, but with just 5,000 miles on it, there’s little likelihood of it being any less nice than the exterior. The car comes with a clean title and a two-speed heater for those cold mornings at Cars & Coffee.
This is a kit car — or, component car, if you’re fancy — but is sold as a complete and seemingly competent build. With real MG TDs trending anywhere from $10,000 to $25,000, this faux edition would have to be significantly cheaper to make up for its imitator status. The asking price is $8,000, and it’s now up to you to decide if that’s cheap enough. What do you say, is this homage MG worth that asking? Or, is this a faux car asking too many real dollars?
H/T to Tim Kolb for the hookup!
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