With the car coming back together, the question of paint came to the fore: “Abingdon never officially offered the TC with this two-tone finish,” says Mellor, “but at some stage during its lifetime WXG had been resprayed in maroon over black, and that’s how it was when I bought it.
“It’s not a standard colour scheme, but I decided that I wanted to keep it.”
However, by the time the panels were ready to be painted, Smith had retired from the motor trade, selling his garage business, which meant that Mellor no longer had access to a spray booth.
Undeterred, the friends adapted one of the stables alongside Mellor’s home, converting it into a temporary workshop.
“It was never going to be ideal,” he says, “and some of the work needed several attempts to get a good enough finish, but we got there in the end.”
This being Mellor’s first restoration project, it is difficult not to be impressed by the high standard of the work – not to mention the speed with which he completed it: “Some days I would spend up to four or five hours on the car, and it became a bit of an obsession, taking up perhaps 20 to 30 hours a week.”
After some deliberation, Mellor decided to keep the maroon over black paint scheme
The original plan was to finish it in seven months, he reveals, but in the end it took 13 “because I had to figure out a way of completing the paintwork”.
“I don’t think it had been stripped to this level before, and as a result there were some great discoveries.
“John found some Australian coins from 1976, as well as a mouse’s nest in the seats.
“As components came off, I would research them and in almost every case it was an original part that needed restoring, replacing, fixing or just cleaning.
“I also found a flyer in the door pocket addressed to a lady in Queensland.
“It appears that the MG belonged to a gentleman there who had several TCs that he gave to his children.”
What was the best aspect of the project?
“There were so many satisfying moments: each part being transformed to look new; the engine starting and running smoothly on the first attempt; the paint looking fantastic… but the best bit was when my long-suffering wife asked if we could go for a drive.
“Up until that moment, ‘Lady Penelope’ (as she calls the TC) was the other woman in our marriage!
“The end result is just fantastic. The car seems to have much more life in it and it no longer creaks, although the steering is just as bad as before. Apparently it’s the way it should be!
“Whenever the roads are dry and not salty, I try to go out for a short drive, even if it’s only to the local shops.
“With a family wedding coming up in the summer, Lady Penelope may take centre stage delivering my niece to church.”