During my 35 years of poking around in car graveyards, one thing has remained constant: MGBs keep showing up. Not in large numbers, but the rate at which these lovable-but-not-particularly-valuable British sports cars get discarded has remained about the same during that period. Here’s a purple model, from the darkest days of the British Leyland era, that I shot last week in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service yard.
A previous owner invested a few bucks into this car, as can be seen from this snazzy, chrome-plated roll bar and the luggage rack on the boot lid.
There’s not a speck of rust on it, but California MG fanciers tend to turn up their noses at the “black-bumper” Bs of the Malaise Era. These cars were jacked up an inch or so to meet federal headlight-height standards, and the big, rubber-covered bumpers didn’t look so great. Compared to the nightmarishly ugly 5 mph crash bumpers that went on the Malaise Triumph Spitfire, however, these bumpers were fine.
Based on my experience daily-driving an MGB, most of these dash controls probably hadn’t worked since about 1981. Well, the speedometer was cable-operated, so the Prince of Darkness couldn’t do much more to it than keep its illumination from working.
The BMC B engine went into everything from Nash Metropolitans to Massey-Harris combine harvesters during its quarter-century of production. It was a sturdy and reasonably reliable pushrod engine, but the American-market 1.8-liter version in this car made just 62.5 horses in 1976. These MGB were not quick even by the standards of the time, but fun could be had in them.
Truly a golden age for British cars!
Well, maybe not.