Junkyard Find: 1975 MGB

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

As the former owner of a daily-driver MGB (plus some other British Leyland steel that still causes me Prince of Darkness PTSD), junked MGBs always catch my eye. The strange thing is that you still see plenty of Bs on their final stop before The Crusher, more than 30 years after the last one clattered off the assembly line. Here’s one that I found in Denver, parked a few rows over from the ’71 Fiat 850.

This black-bumper Malaise MGB might be the most depressing car of the entire decade of the 1970s, and that’s including the Vega. While most car companies selling in the United States had a struggle to meet new emissions standards, headlight-height rules, and 5 MPH bumper requirements, British Leyland simply fished a few shillings out of the couch cushions and made their modifications on the super-duper-cheap. They turned an iconic sports car into a 62.5-horsepower turd (the need to claim the half-horse speaks volumes), with pickup-truck-grade ride height and build quality that probably shamed even the drunkest, hammer-wielding British Leyland line workers.

Not that the MGB in its prime was particularly quick or well-built, but the pushrod BMC B engine was pretty tough and a few easy suspension upgrades would make the B handle as well as its Italian competition. They’re lovable cars.

But nobody bothers with the black-bumper cars these days, except as a source of parts for the earlier models. I’m sure the back yards and driveways of the country still have tens of thousands of never-finished MGB projects, nearly all of which will be heading to The Crusher at some point.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • GeneralMalaise GeneralMalaise on Nov 16, 2011

    From '74 on, Fiat's X1/9 showed these MGs and Triumphs for the antiquated designs they were, though the chrome-bumper models were great cars.

  • -Nate -Nate on Oct 11, 2012

    Can you provide a good link to this ? : (http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/just-another-day-in-the-life-of-an-mgb-owner/#comment-1805618) I'm an LBC Owner / lover / Mechanic . MGB's were very good cars in their day , sadly _zero_ quality control was practiced by BMC back then , as mentioned once the car has been carefully sorted out they're wonderful to drive and have good heaters , wipers and so on . -Nate

  • John Hummer owners don't care. Like shingles.
  • Wjtinfwb Funny. When EV's were bursting onto the scene; Tesla's, Volt's, Leaf's pure EV was all the rage and Hybrids were derided because they still used a gas engine to make them, ahem; usable. Even Volt's were later derided when it was revealed that the Volt's gas engine was actually connected to the wheels, not just a generator. Now, Hybrids are warmly welcomed into the Electric fraternity by virtue of being "electrified". If a change in definition is what it takes, I'm all for it. Hybrid's make so much sense in most American's usage patterns and if needed you can drive one cross-country essentially non-stop. Glad to see Hybrid's getting the love.
  • 3-On-The-Tree We also had a 1973 IH Scout that we rebuilt the engine in and it had dual glass packs, real loud. I miss those days.
  • 3-On-The-Tree Jeff thanks. Back in 1990 we had a 1964 Dodge D100 with a slant six with a 3 on the tree. I taught myself how to drive a standard in that truck. It was my one of many journeys into Mopar land. Had a 1973 Plymouth duster with a slant six and a 1974 Dodge Dart Custom with 318 V8. Great cars and easy to work on.
  • Akear What is GM good at?You led Mary............................................What a disgrace!