The MGB is still widely regarded as the most popular british sports car. For a good reason, we think. The B combines elegant looks with good driving characteristics, reliability and serviceability. Thanks to its high production numbers, the MGB is still a very affordable classic car.
Which MGB to buy?
With a production span of nearly 20 years, there are plenty of different versions available. Most distinctive are chrome/rubber bumper cars on one side, and roadsters / GT's on the other. Which car is most suitable really mostly depends on your personal preferences, expectations and budget. The most valuable are early pull door handle roadsters, especially with the desirable overdrive option. These have the most classic look, with their slated grille and metal dashboard. The early cars with their 3 bearing engines are more popular among purists, although the later 5 bearing engines offer improved durability. MGB GT's are generally more affordable than roadsters, although the gap is closing. The cheapest cars on the market are RHD rubber bumper project cars. Please bear in mind that the cheapest car will usually turn out to be the most expensive car in the long run. If you decide to take on a project, it would be wiser to invest in an earlier chrome bumper car.
Rubber bumper or chrome bumper?
This is mostly a matter of taste and budget. Personally, I think the rubber bumpers suit the B pretty well. They are part of automotive history and give the car a distinct seventies look. But there is more to it than looks alone. The rubber bumpers were introduced in 1974, to comply with the stricter US safety regulations. The impact-absorbing bumpers needed to be placed at a certain height, for which the MG engineers had to raise the car a couple of centimetres. Early rubber bumper cars have pretty bad handling, which was improved in 1976, when MG added a front anti-roll bar. Also, emission standards got stricter and stricter, forcing British Leyland to fit the outdated B-series engine with power-consuming emission equipment. Exhaust fumes were pumped back into the inlet manifold, leading to less polution and less power. While early MGB engines offer as much as 96 hp, the latest versions are closer to 80 hp. These engines also have smaller valves and lower compression. Removing the emission equipment improves power, but more significant increases are realised by replacing the single Stromberg for a double S.U. or single Weber setup. The rubber bumper cars can be converted to chrome bumper, but this is not very easy, as it involves cutting, welding and (at least partial) refinishing.
Most important on your buying inspection is the condition of the unibody structure. Especially the sills are prone to rust, causing a loss of structural integrity on roadsters especially. Be aware of signs of body filler, polyester, bad welding and high paint film thickness. Also don't forget to check the inner sills. Other weak areas are the front box section where the front wings are mounted. Front and rear fenders get crunchy at the lower parts, behind the front wheels and before the rear wheels. Roadsters in particular can get rusty floor boards, but replacement panels are inexpensive. Also, the rear wheel arches can be affected by tin worms.
Most MGB's will have had a respray at least once. This is not particularly bad, as long as you are aware that a shiny paint job can hide a lot of misery. Pay close attention to seams, panel fit and, if possible, use a digital film thickness gauge. A magnet can also reveal hidden areas with lots of body filler.
MGB's in general have sturdy mechanics and are easy to work on. Focus on the mechanical condition of engine, gearbox and differential, as all the rest is relatively easy and inexpensive to fix. Check the oil pressure on a cold and warm engine, be alert of mechanical noises (the pushrod engines can make a bit of tappet noise, which is unharmful) and if possible, check the compression. Although MGB gearboxes tend to be durable, they are likely to need a rebuild after 40 years of use and abuse. Check for rattling sychromeshes and noisy bearings. Service and wear parts are readily available and can be ordered directly in our webshop.
These classics are relatively easy to restore by a skillful and persistent amateur. Mechanics are simple and straightforward and parts are easy to source and affordable. By definition, a restoration involves the complete strip down of a car, building it up with replacing or restoring every single part. The biggest challenge of a restoration is often the unibody structure. As most, if not all, panels can be bought, even the most rusty B can be brought back to as new condition.
MGB's for sale at Dandy Classics
We always have a number of MGB's in stock. Project cars, as well as good quality drivers. Take a look at our collection to see our actual stock.