Talking Motors: Don't know where to start? Use the phone

My list of parts is getting longer and I'm starting to lose scrap pieces of paper with various identifying numbers written on them.

Thursday, 27th April 2017, 12:54 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 8:17 pm
Exploded diagrams can be difficult to make sense of

It turns out looking for bits for a 61-year-old car isn’t as simple as typing them into Google and clicking on the ‘shopping’ tab, so I’ve had to learn the method of parts sourcing my dad would have employed when he embarked on car ownership in the early ‘70s.

It involves a thing called a telephone and a pen.

The fact I’m looking for parts for an MG Z-type further complicated the search on the internet, given Google assumed I must be looking for parts for a ZR, ZS or ZT, which of course isn’t the case because these cars are from this century and don’t need points for fuel pumps or looms with wires for semaphore indicators.

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Waiting for a response on forums is also out of the question on a number of fronts.

The first is I am too impatient. Classic car forums, especially for rare and not exactly desirable models can be lonely places, complete with digital tumbleweed and blown, unshaded lightbulbs.

The second is hostility.

Wow – forums are horrible places.

“A Z-type? Rubbish mate. A Wolsley in MG clothing,” said _purist_and_proud

“You want to do what!? You’d better not so much as touch that car with anything other than new old stock parts, which you’ll never find anyway, or your head will fall off. I’ve seen it happen,” came another response from what I’ll assume was from a dial-up connection by a man in tweed, typing while still wearing a cap and driving goggles.

This is where a bit of self-teaching, and asking questions from actual people, helps. Exploded diagrams printed on 60-year-old pieces of sun-faded paper and circled many times in light pencil are not the easiest things to make sense of, but a patient and helpful voice on the other end of the phone acted as a translator for my first attempt at parts buying this week.

I found the number the old way, in a magazine, and it turns out the company I’m dealing with does have a website, though that doesn’t come with the helpful man to talk you through.

This is a project which will be difficult, will bust my budget and test my resolve.

But I know how I want it to be done. I need a finished car which has been fixed with a degree of sympathy to originality while being safe. There are things I’ve not decided on (disc instead of drum brakes, whether to include flashing indicators to help less observant motorists) and I need experienced voices to put their hands on their hips and grunt at the car with me. That is something Google won’t do.