The temperature soared to 60 degrees on Nov. 29, so Don Bonar decided to drive his wife, Sandy, from their Prairie Village home to Parkville for lunch.
They received a few stares along the way. The couple cruised along the highway on a warm Saturday afternoon in a 1971 MGB convertible.
“It was fun for many reasons,” Sandy Bonar said. “It was beautiful outside. People look at the car and go, ‘What is that?’ You can see them looking at the front and looking at the back.
“It is interesting (that) others appreciate what he has done. They find it interesting and intriguing to look at.”
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Bonar’s 1971 MGB no longer has the traditional look of the small sports car produced in Britain from 1962-80.
When Bonar bought the car that was probably one tow away from a salvage yard, he had visions of owning a Ferrari, a car he could not afford.
So Bonar’s plan was to spend years shaping the 1971 MGB into a car that kind of resembles a Ferrari.
His car club friends call his creation a Faux-ari. He has every right to be proud of it.
“I found this on State Line Road,” Bonar said. “It was rusted out, engine frozen. I think if you jumped up and down on it, you would go right through the floorboard. We had to drag it out of a garage. We rebuilt the engine. It was a terrible old rust bucket.
“I sawed the car off the back and hammer formed it to look like a Ferrari 250. The taillights are off an old Opel because I needed that round Ferrari look.”
When Bonar bought the car, he had no idea what was going to happen. He stripped it to the frame and then slowly rebuilt it.
Now retired from Hallmark Cards, Bonar always enjoyed working with wood. It is something he has done since high school. He sees a similarity between working with wood and working with metal.
But Bonar had no training working with metal so one summer he took a weeklong course in metal work at McPherson (Kan.) College.
“More than anything, I wanted to see if I could do it,” Bonar said. “I worked in an office at Hallmark Cards for 27 years and had a consultant firm a few more years, traveling around the country.”
Bonar simply enjoys working on classic cars. He spent years restoring a 1935 MG P-Type, which he takes to shows.
His plan for the 1971 MGB was for actual use.
“What I really wanted was to build a cruiser, a car I could get on the highway and drive,” Bonar said.
He figured it took him five years to get the car on the road. He had help putting in a Camaro engine.
“What was amazing was how easy the V-6 engine fit in there,” Bonar said. “I have a very close friend name Bill Davidson. When it came to the tough part, Bill was right there with me. This car could not have been built without Bill Davidson.
“Putting a 1990 General Motors transmission into a 40-year old British car is not a happy marriage. It is a shotgun wedding. You have to make them come together.”
As the car started to take shape, Bonar continued to make it his personal creation.
“I added the side pipes at the 11th hour to capture the race car feel,” Bonar said. “I built new light buckets, trying to get a Ferrari look.”
Finally, in July, Bonar felt his creation was ready to hit the road for a long trip. He drove it to Colorado Springs for a gathering of like-minded men who put big engines in small cars.
“Everybody comes and raises their hood and says how beautiful it is or why in the world did he do that,” Bonar said. “It is a great organization that everybody shares.
“I figured if it could survive Kansas heat and I-70 out and back, it was pretty well finished.”
Bonar said he still tinkers with the car, and that is just fine with Sandy.
“I just love it,” she said. “My priority with him is for him to be happy. When he is happy, I am happy. I have been parking in the drive for 20 years with snow on my car and I don’t care.
“It is his happiness that is important to me. He cleans off my car. I clean off my car. I never felt any negativity to that.”
Because in the garage, Bonar has a classic that he enjoys working on. He laughed when he described the yearly gathering of people who put big engines in small cars.
“It is a bunch of middle-aged adolescents who never grew up,” he said.
Do you have a car, truck or motorcycle or other vehicle you would like see featured in Make It Yours? If you do, email your idea to David Boyce at Drive@kcstar.com