Why modify your Magnette ?

Why would anyone want to modify a classic car? A good question and one deserving of consideration before I launch into the technical stuff. We enjoy the Magnette for what it is and for what it represents. As a sports saloon of the fifties it had a fair turn of speed and offered a degree of luxury. Nowadays any fast hatchback can probably leave it standing with the power of its quadraphonic speakers let alone its engine. This in itself is only a problem if you want it to be. However it does have wider implications. For a start it means that most road users, especially on the motorways, will want to travel faster than a standard Magnette is generally comfortable with. Not only will they want to travel faster but they will also make fewer allowances for the car that cannot. This has safety implications. If you add to this an impatient driver not looking out for a direction indicator system that protrudes from a door pillar and does not flash, or one that flashes the brake lights, you begin to have the makings of a nasty accident

If you do three thousand miles a year going to and from club rallies or on fun runs, modification is scarcely an issue at all, unless you do want to tackle the safety aspects or the odd comfort item. However, there is a good number of Magnette drivers who want to use the car every day in modern traffic conditions or for specialised competition work and this is where modification on a larger scale can bring dividends.

Some words of caution. Firstly, if you intend to compete, you need to know what modifications are permitted by the class of event that you intend to enter. Some are quite restricting. Even if you get something past a scrutineer, it will not be long before your fellow competitors smell a rat (or Castrol R!). Secondly, you need to remember that cars that are irreversibly modified will tend to lose value because originality and looking "right" still carry a premium in the market. I would suggest that the best "mods" are those that are not noticeable to the casual eye, those that preserve the feel of the car or those that can quickly be unbolted and replaced with the original equipment. This web-site and the printed manual from which it grew are offered to the interested reader with that principle firmly in mind. It does not provide plans for a Magnette hot rod!

Finally, do not be seduced by the idea of modification for its own sake. We have probably all met the modification bore who can rattle on endlessly about twin-downdraft this or fully airflowed that. What the poor chap can rarely explain is why he spent all the cash. A now late lamented friend and Register member who had served in the RAF used often to comment on my restoration efforts with an old military principle: "maintenance of aim and object, Malcolm". He kept me on the straight and narrow by reminding me always to check that what I was doing was actually contributing to my desired end result. The same applies to modification: define what you want to achieve before you start and especially before you spend money!


#1 Allen Bachelder 2015-01-27 18:29
I agree with Steve; insulation is paramount to a really pleasantly transformed Magnette. It's been so long now that I have often forgotten, but following all the proper floor repairs, I had the floors sprayed on the inside with pick-up truck bed material. That was followed by paint, Koolmat, and Dynamat materials. The final step with Dynamat is to seal all joints with clear RTV. So if my carpet gets damp, or I spill a gallon or two of water inside the car, I just don't worry about it. What's more, the car is quiet, and the A/C works beautifully.

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