By on June 16, 2012

You see plenty of Fiat 124 Sport Spiders in self-service wrecking yards these days, but junked MGBs— which were more commonplace back in the day— are fairly rare. The MGB was slower, less sophisticated, and sturdier than its Fiat competitor, and it still has a big following today. This could mean that more MGB projects get finished, while 124 Spider projects languish for decades before getting discarded.
This car still has its SU carburetors, which must be worth dozens of dollars.
Judging from the very crispy interior and radiation-blasted paint, this car spent a decade or so outdoors and exposed to the Colorado elements.
Still, it has some usable parts. I’d grab that steering wheel for my stranded-in-California Sprite project, but it already has a sharp-looking Jaguar wheel.

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39 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1971 MGB...”


  • avatar
    lilpoindexter

    So when will the Sprite project end up at the dump?
    1971…a damn fine year.

  • avatar
    Nick

    Interesting, I went to look an old Riviera not long ago, and behind the building they had old MGBs stacked like cordwood.

  • avatar
    wmba

    What a coincidence – followed a working one into town this very morning! And he wasn’t hanging about.

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    Very cool find there Muralee.

    I may on a very rare occasion still see one of these on the road, but certainly not as often as I see old Fiat 124 Spiders, nor Alpha Romeo Spiders. Last weekend in fact, I spotted a silver, I think late 80’s Alpha Spider in nice shape at a shopping center near my Mom’s place as it had the black rear rubber spoiler, the most common ones I spot.

    My best friend’s older brother Dan had one of these, except his was a ’74 and it was in fantastic shape and originally came with an AM/8-Track in it and he bought it used around 1980-81 and was that MGB orange of the day.

    He drove it for years and I don’t recall it ever being problematic that I’m aware of. Yes, I’ve had some seat time in it when my buddy would occasionally borrow it.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Living somewhere that rust isn’t much of an issue, I probably see 20 Fiat 124 Spiders and Alfa Romeo Spider Veloces for every MG or Triumph or Austin Healey that I see on the road. There are more E-types running around San Diego than there are cheap British roadsters. I don’t see many X1/9s on the street though, so the Italians aren’t infallible.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Just down the street there’s a 70 sitting in the garage. While not perfect, its pretty nice. The owner is saving it for his son?

    I just hope the kid knows what he has got.

  • avatar
    robc123

    My 70 or 71 split bumper mgb was the best worst car I have ever owned.

    They say the world breaks everyone… this MGB broke me for the 2 summers I had it.

    …afterward many are strong in the broken places
    Years ago when the miatas got bigger, I got in one and drove it and was like ah this works.

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    I seen worse condition machines brought back to life.

    These folks love transplants:
    britishv8.org

  • avatar
    jbltg

    My ultimate childhood fantasy car that I will likely never own! Not that I’ve ever driven one and I don’t think even sat in one. So nice not to see the mid-70’s nasty rubber compliance bumpers on one of these.
    Never seen an oil filter so accessible, and looks like it drains completely when the engine is off.
    So I have my modern “equivalent”: A 1995 Miata. It works, no fuss.

    • 0 avatar
      Aaron Whiteman

      Good filters don’t drain. My ’75 gets treated with NAPA Gold or WIX filters and I’ve never had a problem with startup pressure.

      There have been a few times where I’ve considered “upgrading” to the Miata, but my 6’3″ frame just fits so well in what I have. But the allure of more and better behaved power is so appealing…

  • avatar
    fredtal

    I still miss my 1971 MGB

  • avatar
    77MGB

    As my namesake suggests, my first car was a 77 MGB. My parents bought it for me in ’84 when I turned 16, and I bought every car I ever owned after that myself. My dad, who back in the 80’s sure wasn’t gonna buy no ‘jap’ car (and now drives a Toyota), mistakenly thought it’d be a safe an economical choice. It only took about 9 months and several visits to the local ‘specializing in imports’ garage to prove otherwise. The good thing was, these cars weren’t too bad for holding value, and I managed to get a good deal on a trade for an ’81 Monte Carlo. Anyway, as I posted in the last Spider in a junkyard thread, I later owned a ’78 Fiat Spider that was perfectly reliable for the 3yrs and 25k miles that I owned it. Despite the “Fix it again Tony” jokes, the Italian junk was (for me) far superior to the British junk.

  • avatar
    robc123

    Don’t get me wrong, I really liked the MGB look but the guts were the worst and suspension makes a 65′ stang look hi-tech.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    a couple of headlights, some interior sprucing up and a little Armour All and she’ll be on her merry way!

  • avatar
    TAP

    My best friend bought a ’67 with fresh repaint for cheap. Was looking good until the rockers began spewing bits of wadded newspaper thru the bondo job!

  • avatar
    Hobie-wan

    Those dash turn signal repeaters look pretty cool. They’d go great on anyone’s custom flat project dash panel.

  • avatar
    PenguinBoy

    I have one of these, in considerably better condition than the subject car. I’ve owned it for years, these days it’s only driven in fair weather around town, and for 1 or 2 long trips through the Rockies in the Summer. There are still a lot of these on the road, but mostly they sleep in garages and only come out on nice days.

    I suspect a few of the reasons so many have survived are:
    -They look good, and while they are slow, they are fun to drive.
    -They are easy to live with when well sorted. They are surprisingly comfortable, and have more useable luggage space than some modern roadsters.
    -Despite their reputation, most of the basic mechanical and body parts are quite durable. Most of the weak points are well understood, and workarounds are available for many of these. Pre malaise era models even had pretty good quality original parts.
    -The crude, unsophisticated mechanicals make for easy DIY repairs.
    -Parts availability is excellent, you can even get complete bodyshells if need be. Most parts are not that expensive.
    -There is excellent online support (for example, http://www.mgexperience.net/), and many cities have active clubs and specialist garages – so information on maintenance and repair is easy to come by.
    -Since they are not particularly rare of valuable, many people can afford one and not feel bad about driving or even modifying it.

    I suspect when these cars were new, many were abused and neglected which probably contributed to their poor reputation for reliability. As the ’70s went on, the parts and build quality declined and they were hit with poorly implemented early emissions controls which would make matters worse.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    For the sake of all that is Holy do not, repeat do not think “RESTORATION”. If you have the 2 seat convertible urge, get a Miata. I’ve owned an MG and Miata. Spend time wrenching or spend time driving. No disrespect to those who like wrenching.

  • avatar
    Towncar

    Always loved the three wipers on these cars. For some reason, that just tickled me when I was a youngster.

  • avatar
    Pan

    Nobody bought/buys an MG because it’s reliable. They buy it because it’s FUN to drive. You can rev it in any gear and you are just keeping up with traffic.Having owned a Fiat 124 Spyder, and an Alfa Romeo, and enjoyed them both, I now have a ’74 TR6 which runs fine, although, the two Stromberg Solex carbs do,on occasion, joust for supremacy under the hood.
    My experience is that if they are maintained, they are reliable and satisfying to own and to drive.

  • avatar
    Mark_MB750M

    I’ve actually been researching these a bit lately, although unless I can get garage space cleared I don’t see owning one. There seems to be nice drivers in the $5-6K range and some concours-looking examples around $11k.
    I read that MG made over 500,000 of these over the production run, and that it was the most-produced sports car until the Miata eclipsed it. That probably accounts for the large numbers still extant.

    I have 2 questions:

    1. Does anyone else think the British Leyland logo looks a bit like a swastika? I’m sure it’s supposed to be a fan blade or something, but the shape caught my eye.

    2. Do the spoked wheels require tubes in the tires? How easy are those to find anymore? I’ve been trying to master changing bicycle tubes without buggering them, so I imagine doing that in a car tire is even harder.

    Mark

    • 0 avatar
      PenguinBoy

      1) No.

      2) Many people run tubes in wires, but I think you can run them without if the wheels are well sealed. The biggest problem with wires is getting them true and balanced, and keeping them clean. They look good though.

      I would suggest buying the best example you can find and afford, driving it regularly, and fixing little things properly as they come up. The http://www.mgexperience.net/ site is a great resource if you are considering an MG.

      • 0 avatar
        Mark_MB750M

        The other bit of advice about these seems to be to prefer a solid body (no rust) over good mechanicals since the body is harder/more expensive to get right over the mechanical bits. I’d buy that, I guess – any comments?

        There’s something else interesting about the wheels – if I read this ad right, the disc/spoke wheels seem to have a different fit to the hubs: http://charlotte.craigslist.org/cto/3060665898.html

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        The other bit of advice about these seems to be to prefer a solid body (no rust) over good mechanicals since the body is harder/more expensive to get right over the mechanical bits.

        Back when I was a reader of Hot Rod Magazine that was considered conventional wisdom, period. Mechanical work is almost always cheaper than trying to fix a thrashed body. (Nearly regardless of the car in question.)

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    I owned one of these. A 64 model and it was while I was stationed in Panama. Luckily knew a very dependable mechanic who could make anything work. I supported him for a while. Kept dumping MG parts and replacing with homemade and/or vw. Finally it became dependable and my future ex wife wrecked it.

    Probably should have kept on getting my cheap thrills from bikes. Both the MGB and the lady that wrecked it were very expensive to maintain.

  • avatar
    C P

    Owned a ’80 MGB LE black. Bought it new. Buying an MGB new doesn’t help in the reliability department. In fact, it may be worse as there is no prior owner to work out the bugs. The whole thing was a bug. Rolled it on its side. Then I sold it. Happy camping owner of an 03 Miata.

  • avatar

    I probably should have mentioned that I had a British Racing Green ’73 MGB-GT as a daily driver for several years in the late 1980s. It was slow and it suffered from all the usual Lucas Electrics/SU carb maladies, but I liked driving it.

  • avatar
    Kato

    I have a ’64 which I’ve owned for 18 years. I agree with all of the points in PenguinBoy’s first post. I too have heard the siren call of modern reliability, performance, comfort, and crash safety of Miatas, S2000’s, Z3/4’s et al.:

    Miata – The logical choice, a major upgrade in pretty much every department over my old British crock, low cost of ownership, and I could buy a very nice example for what I could get for the ’64 plus ~$5k. Very tempting.

    S2000 – Quicker and better looking than a Miata, a bigger trunk than a Miata (I think), horrible digital dash, will I be able to get parts for it in 10+ years? I can get pretty much anything for the MGB now and it’s approaching its 50th birthday. Still very tempting though.

    Z3 – I test-drove a 3 litre, love the drivetrain, though the shifter is vague compared to the B, the straight 6 is a jewel. The deal breaker is the tiny trunk. Two overnight bags and you’re done. I can put two sets of clubs in the boot of the B.

    Z4 – Soft-top: Whacked with a Bangle stick. Hard-top: no storage with the top down.

    There are probably a couple of other contenders, Vettes, Mustangs, (Meh), maybe a CLK if I can find one with a manual. Meanwhile, I still admire the MG every time I’m in the garage, get in it, enjoy the smell of the leather and the vintage look and feel, drive it, enjoy the whine of the straight-cut first gear, snicking in and out of overdrive in 3rd or 4th, and the thin aluminum windshield frame that, unlike a modern car, doesn’t obstruct my vision. I usually get at least one compliment every time I drive it. In short, it’s special, and if I sell it I’ll miss it.

  • avatar
    WildcatMatt

    Many thanks once again for the great shot of the VIN plate!

  • avatar
    rpontenberg

    Murilee,

    Forgive my ignorance if I am way off base here but I am looking for dash turn signal indicators like the ones on this MGB. Is this a car you are able to part out? if so I am interested in buying the indicators.

    • 0 avatar
      -Nate

      You Wrote : “Forgive my ignorance if I am way off base here but I am looking for dash turn signal indicators like the ones on this MGB. Is this a car you are able to part out? if so I am interested in buying the indicators.”

      Just go to Moss Motors .com and buy them new ~ good quality and cheap to boot .

      I just got home from a two day road rally through The Anza – Borrego Desert & Mt. Palomar , anmong the various gaggle of cars were four MGB’s , two Roadsters top down the entire time , two GT’s (Coupes) no hassles , my buddy’s GT radiator began weeping a bit so rustled up some AlumaSeal and Distilled water , non worries after that .

      For both days , on hills and twisty back roads , those same MGB’s had no troubles atall keeping up the with Porsche 911’s and easily passed all the late model BMW’s Miatas , SAABS , Audis etc, . they do have old tech suspension but it’s very good and bone stock will easily out handle any Mustang/Camaro ever made , hands down . you have to actually _drive_ one to know .

      Top speed is only 115 or so but seriously who drives that fast apart from track time ? .

      Wire wheels always require tubes unless you have a death wish .

      Truing is a non issue unless you like to whack curbs .

      Dual carbies never go out of adjustment , idiots who can’t diagnose ignition problems like to play with and screw them up is all .

      -Nate

  • avatar
    forestghost07

    To anyone who feels they have to bad-mouth MGB’s – I’ve owned a slew of Alfas, a DeTomaso Mangusta, an old Lambo Islero, etc., and NONE of those provided the driving and ownership involvement, fellowship, and fun of my current ’72 MGB GT. Multi-trophy winner, tweaked motor, mechanically and electrically upgraded for 21st century use, driven 7-8000 hiway miles anually (long trips). Most comfy, economical and entertaining hit-the-road car I’ve owned. Find a good rust-free one, sort it out 100%, and see if you don’t agree.

  • avatar
    Pan

    You’ve obviously done what BL could have/should have done had they wanted to stay in business; but, that didn’t seem too important to them at the time.

    • 0 avatar
      forestghost07

      Very good, true point Pan. I learned that BL shoved MG down the basement in their moronic plan to make their Triumph division the corp. flagship (epic FAIL).

      So yeah I gritted my teeth and took a yr off, rehabbing this inherited GT, an incredibly sound, unmolested 1 owner example suffering from 17 yrs of storage (in A/C thank goodness), and horrid cheap repairs. Along the way I sucked much knowledge and info off the web, rebuilt the motor (to approx 120 HP from orig. 90) and overdrive … in my living room (!!), upgraded everything BL didn’t w/ materials and technology that didn’t exist back then, added tons of bling, custom FlowMaster exhaust, etc etc.

      It now handles/accelerates (and is reliable) like a newer car, gobbles hiways effortlessly at 85 in overdrive, gets 31 MPG on trips, I couldn’t be happier with it, and with the MGB friends I’ve made thru networking :) It was worth the massive effort.

      GOD SAVE THE MG; THE QUEEN CAN TAKE CARE OF HERSELF!

  • avatar
    Pan

    A picture or three would be nice: you know — exterior, interior and engine bay.

    • 0 avatar
      forestghost07

      My pleasure

      http://www.mgexp.com/registry/GHD5UC277694G

      these photos are like 3 yr old, I’ll update when I have time – underbody looks better now and a few more “dust collectors” (trophies haha) have come along :D

  • avatar
    Pan

    Brilliant ! A work of art.
    I’ve never understood why BL insisted on committing suicide, and I’ve read a lot about labour- management in the UK.
    The same men and successors are now building Japanese cars of very high quality. They couldn’t even assemble quality versions of HONDAS WITH A TRIUMPH AND ROVER LABEL on them. A real shame.

  • avatar
    forestghost07

    I read somewhere that BL was tagged the biggest corporate blunder ever.

    My uneducated guess is the suicide was caused by many factors … our EPA, the Nissan/Toyota spying and subsequent invasion of the world’s car mkts, the British labour scenario of the 70’s, Mrs. Thatcher, Sir Michael Edwardes (not sure what he did), the in-fighting amongst BL’s divisions, and plain ol’ corporate greed. Failure was inevitable.

    I’m grateful tho, that some of BL’s products live on … and that the level of love and support for them is so high. Also happy to see youngsters getting involved :) And re MGs; the elec. and mechanical problems are history (IF one applies onself to the task!), every single part is available and reasonable, even superchargers and new body shells (!!), owners come together to mutual-aid and party, etc.

    To try care and feed other ’70s Euro cars in this country is like financial and emotional torture … been there. Keeping an MG these days is a relative pleasure; I just <B mine and those round me to death :D

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Yep ;

    BL/BMC was amazing in it’s ability to snatch failure from the jaws of victory .
    .
    The Japanese didn’t kill them off , failure to make more than indifferent quality control on any of their well designed products did them in ~ there was a time when BMC had a massive market share and rightly so .
    .
    For those who doubt , look at how many of these cars are still running around , many unrestored just doing daily yeoman duty .
    .
    The poorly designed (deliberately so) Vega are all gone but the robust basic design of old MG products mean that like a ’55 or ’64 Chevy , they’ll still be running and decently , long after the ” better ” cars have died .
    .
    Yes , I’m a BMC Fanboi but I wear NO rose tinted glasses ~ that battered 56 YEAR OLD coupe I drive daily everywhere in America leaks , creaks , rattles and drips oil but it’s a joy to drive and dead easy and cheap to repair .
    .
    I’d love to have seen it make in Japan by careful , skilled workers who were glad to have a job and knew if they just shoved it out the door any old way , they’d be out of a job as the British Motor Industry is .
    .
    -Nate


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