By on November 30, 2015

00 - 1979 MG MGB in Colorado junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

MGBs continue to show up in self-service wrecking yards, with another rubber-bumper Malaise Era example today. In my junkyard expeditions prior to today, I’ve photographed this ’67, this ’71, this ’75, this ’77, this ’77, this ’79, and this ’79 with a Toyota 20R swap, and now we’ve got today’s Denver ’79.


13 - 1979 MG MGB in Colorado junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

This car appears to have an old Volvo key, attached to a 20-year-old Colorado State Patrol keychain, in the ignition. Knowing British Leyland quality as I do, it’s likely that any key (or key-like object) will work the ignition on a late-70s MGB, or perhaps Volvo key blanks are similar to BL blanks of this era.

05 - 1979 MG MGB in Colorado junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

The BMC B engine went into a jillion types of vehicles during its 1950s-1980s production run, from the Massey-Harris Combine Harvester to the Nash Metropolitan to the Leyland Sherpa. Neither powerful nor smooth, but fairly sturdy.

03 - 1979 MG MGB in Colorado junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

This car appears to have been under restoration at some point, but that was a long time ago.

16 - 1979 MG MGB in Colorado junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

The problem with convertible projects like this is that their interiors get trashed quickly during outdoor storage, especially in harsh climates like Colorado’s.

12 - 1979 MG MGB in Colorado junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

It’s not rusty, but the black-bumper MGBs are insufficiently prized to be worth restoring when they get this battered.

Here are the happy workers who crafted this classic sports car.

Meanwhile, in London…

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40 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1979 MG MGB...”


  • avatar
    -Nate

    It seems a shame to scrap a rust free car if it really was .

    I see it had been up dated to dual S.U. carbys , this helps the lack of power thing in later MGB’s , also , the cam is retarded 3° to reduce emissions , a very simple to fix thing indeed .

    I don’t suppose you know how to check if it’s over drive equipped ? .

    Another one bites the dust =8-( .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Joss

    Whoa! Leyland beauty.. by 79 the MGB was long-in-the-tooth. And the cat was well out the bag on Leyland quality.

    Best iteration was the small Buick V8.

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      There are kits available to transplant the Chevrolet 2.8L V6 which give reliability, torque, and power with upsetting or overwhelming the chassis.

      This is a typical outfit:
      http://www.classicconversionseng.com/index.htm

      A Buick V6 in a TR-7 was also common, but harder to find these days.

    • 0 avatar
      rocketrodeo

      And that is the advantage of the rubber bumper cars: the Buick 215 – 340 was a bolt-in, as the MGC was the same body shell. Land Rover engines are practically free these days. If you want to kill a couple of days, check out http://www.britishv8.com to see what you can do with an american lump in a british roadster. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    A rubber bumpered MGB in a junkyard? Good place for it. I have a very limited amount of seat time in one of these, I’d take a similar vintage Fiat 124 Spyder instead. I suppose the MGB was a reasonably nice drive, if somewhat dated, back in the middle 60’s. By the late 70’s it was really obsolete and slow, even by the diminished standards of the time.

    One of these came into the shop I was working in back in the early 80’s, the owner said it had been running roughly and was down on power. Once we got it apart, we found that one of the connecting rods had bent about 30 degrees, but the engine was still chuffing along on three cylinders

    • 0 avatar
      Fred

      Today, there are kits to replace the rubber bumbers with chrome and lower the suspension. A little engine work and you have a nice classic sport cars. Yes some pedestrian V6 family car will beat you to the next stop light. But you won’t care.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    Men at the end of the Boomer generation were drawn to these things in impressive numbers. Finding an old MG under a tarp in the back yard was easy to find in every subdivision in the US. They almost never get restored. It’s at a time when they have a choice, buy a Harley or get a convertible. The Harley buyers get a couple seasons out of their bikes before selling them, the MG owners keep them forever and never drive them.

    Then the owners have medical issues or pass away and the family is left to deal with the remains of the car, and that’s what you likely see here. There’s no chance a living owner would let the car go to the yard with all the spares in it.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      One of my neighbors had one of these sitting in his driveway for a few years, entropy having its way with it, until the city made him move it. Turns out it was somewhat driveable, but was ratty enough to where he didn’t want to actually drive it.

      People who are doing their first resurrection of an old car tend to vastly understate the amount of work it will take.

      • 0 avatar
        Firestorm 500

        They also vastly underestimate how much money it will take, too.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Best thing I ever did was to buy my Little British Sportscar as the almost done project of someone else. Just needed the interior finished. Paid all kinds of money for it, relatively speaking, but I have gotten 20 years of pleasure out of it with relatively few hassles. Worth every penny. Though it IS having an issue at the moment, which Sajeev will be posting this week.

        There are very, very few cars that you can restore more cheaply than buying one already restored. And that is with valuing your time at $0/hr.

        It’s also why I get a huge chuckle out of those who complain when something like a really pristine time-warp Volvo 240 (or whatever) is offered up for $10K or some such. You can’t make an average one nice for the price, so you might as well buy a nice one if that is what you want.

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      “Men at the end of the Boomer generation were drawn to these things in impressive numbers.”

      Do you mean at the leading edge of Boomers, as in earliest born?

      I was born in ’54 and MGBs were already pretty quaint when I was in high school. Plus, 240Zs were known to all.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    At some point the price of used Miatas made the thought of restoring a “classic” like this a bit of a joke.

    I’d gladly take a good running 1st gen MR2 needing extensive rust repair instead.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      This comment, I agrees with it.

      Non-exotic old roadsters just aren’t good enough to drive to make up for the pain of owning them.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I’d say this applies to most old thing in the automotive world.

        • 0 avatar
          FormerFF

          +1. Unless you have a strong sense of nostalgia, most of these cars aren’t worth bothering with. There are some that I would consider great classics that are worth having, but most of us can’t afford them.

          If I had the time and money for a play car, I’d get a Subaru BRZ and set it up as a track day car. If I were lusting after a classic, I’d want a Porsche 911 Carrera RS, but there’s no way I could afford it, and even if I could, I know a late model Cayman would drive much better.

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          That’s why old land yachts are great, they’re super cheap and so simple that any idiot can keep them running.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          Speaking of old things, a few quickly shot Legend pictures (nothing was done between delivery and these pictures except for a quick wash and a once-over of the leather with saddle soap):

          https://www.flickr.com/photos/26689474@N05/albums/72157661695033351

          185,000 miles. The condition vs. mileage equation of this car is just ridiculous. Only problem I can find anywhere on it is a leaky water pump.

      • 0 avatar

        Would you consider a Lotus Elan to be exotic or non-exotic? Other than in 0-60 times, it can keep up with plenty of modern machinery.

    • 0 avatar

      Yup. I keep trying to convince my baby-boomer dad to buy a Datsun Fairlady, Sunbeam or Fiat (but not an MG), but the existence of 25 years of Miata pretty much ends the conversation about 45 seconds in.

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      I’m glad to have checked if this had already been said as it was my intent to say it. Theres just no value when Miata is an option.

  • avatar
    ja-gti

    These could be driven on the sidewalks of small Ohio towns! Well, not legally, but all four wheels were on concrete.

    Top speed is officially listed as 99 mph. Mine would do exactly that even with a Weber carb and, wait for it, headers. Why’d I do it? Rusted exhaust and a desire to have the car start at temps below 40!

  • avatar
    lon888

    I’m surprised no one has pulled the head yet – an uncracked head is a real find. I know this all too well – I cracked the head on 77 MGB when I developed a radiator leak.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    ” Both were projects and led him to realize he wasn’t a project kinda guy.”

    And therin lies the rub :

    Pretty much any and all older British cars were ‘ projects ‘ from day one .

    By both design and the worthless lazy assed unions who rather struck than actually take _any_ time to properly manufacture or assemble the damn things when new .

    Nevertheless , they’re a hoot to drive , only folks who’ve never driven a well sorted one say anything different .

    I love my elderly BMC Sports Coupe , warts , rust , three main bearing engine and all .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      They were a blast, and could carry enough speed through a turn that the power was enough to best some pony cars and cruisers. Still, nothing a Miata won’t do better, cheaper, and more reliably.

      • 0 avatar
        ktm

        I understand what everyone is saying about the Miata, but at the end of the day you are still driving a Miata. It is not always about performance.

        Austin Healey and a 1967 Datsun 2000 are two cars that come to mind that while a Miata will run circles around them stock, are just pure sex on wheels.

  • avatar
    TR4

    When the MGB debuted in 1962 it was more-or-less competitive with the Porsche 356.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      And everything else in it’s class at the time, at it was quite reasonably priced. Problem was, they were still making them 18 years later, just not as well!

      I do love MGBs though. And you can fix most of what ails the late ones for a lot less than what an early one costs.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    I know the rubber bumper era MG’s get plenty of hate and are called cow-catchers but I always thought the design was fairly clean. They did not seem tacked on but were contoured to the front fenders and rear quarters unlike the battering rams that Detroit added to their post-73 cars.

    BMC got 18 years of these and failing to upgrade them with fuel injection and multi-valves as well as improved quality led to their demise.

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      I remember some SCCA production class racers back in the day with this front bumper painted body color and matched nicely to the hood and fenders.
      Amazing how much better it looked vs. the factory setup. Downright aerodynamic. Of course they were lowered on wide tires so that helped too.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    The wire basket wheels on this car probably Keystone or American Racing are way out of place on this. Back when they were popular you would always see them with missing baskets.

  • avatar
    spreadsheet monkey

    Attention Americans – that YouTube clip of the striking British Leyland workers is almost 40 years old. Please do not think that is representative of Britain today!

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      Not to worry. That’s easily discerned from the atrocious video quality and we know nobody sports sideburns like that anymore.

      Well, unless they’re extras in an Inspector Gently episode.


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