Just Another Day In the Life of an MGB Owner

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

While scanning endless negatives and slides for the 1965 Impala Hell Project, I’ve run across a few images of other heaps from my past. I’m kicking myself now for letting dozens of now-interesting hoopties pass through my hands without getting any photographic record, but that’s how the pre-digital-photography era worked. My British Racing Green, chrome-bumper MGB-GT, however, served three years as my daily driver, and so it did get caught by a few photographs. Here’s a shot showing one of the many, many repairs this fine British Leyland product needed while serving as my primary means of transportation.

During a drive from Southern California to the San Francisco Bay Area, the MG’s rear end started to make ominous whining noises. As all British car owners do, I pretended it wasn’t happening at first, but by about Kettleman City I couldn’t turn the radio up loud enough to drown out the increasingly loud howl. Maybe it’s just a cheap wheel bearing and not the diff, I thought, but no. Fortunately, I was able to limp the thing all the way to British Only Auto Wrecking in Oakland (where they had rear ends stacked ten deep, thanks to a vast oversupply of abandoned MGBs in the late 1980s) and then patched the car up until its next major failure (which almost certainly involved the electrical system). Sharp-eyed readers may have noticed the Austin-Healey 3000 in the background; this car belonged to my Jaguar-mechanic uncle, Dirty Duck, who was the person responsible for convincing me that British cars are superior machines.

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.

More by Murilee Martin

Join the conversation
2 of 37 comments
  • Ceonwulf Ceonwulf on Nov 03, 2011

    Interesting comments.I served my apprenticeship at British Leyland,Longbridge,Birmingham England in the Disunited Kingdom.I owned a garage from 24 yrs of age until i was 40.I have stripped and rebuilt many cars you mention. I also worked on the early Japanese vehicles and my father owned a beautiful Buick Le Sabre in the early 70's. My current vehicles are a Jaguar 2001 XJ8,Merc E320 cdi.The Jag is far superior to the Merc .The new Jags [Ta-Ta]have finished off the tradition. One of my favourite cars was a Rover 3.5S [P6].Did you guys ever get the Austin Maxi?

  • Retro Fit Retro Fit on Dec 26, 2011

    I drive a 1970 MGBGT. I've owned the car for 8 years. It is my daily driver. i bought it for $300.00. It had been sitting in a parking lot next to MacArthur Park in Los Angeles for 5 years. It was 34 years old when purchased. I had owned a MGB roadster 20 years earlier and had sworn I'd never...ever...buy another. But, I went against my better judgment and bought it anyways. I'm one of those who fully acknowledges that there is a very fine line between MG ownership and psychosis. And I'm not made of money. But I am a Automotive electrician. And I have the tools, knowledge and ability to make my own franken-car from parts of other cars. Soooo, that's just what I did. I retro fit a Nissan KA24E engine + Nissan 5 speed transmission into my GT. I've upgraded the brakes, suspension, electrical system, drive train components. I engineered a modern car with classic Pininfarina styling that has around 180 bhp, takes corners like it is on rails and is reliable. And....all for under 5k (plus endless hours of my labor). Now, she still needs paint and the interior redone....But hey...shes paid for. Cheers!

  • 3-On-The-Tree Jeff I a,so had a 1969 Thunderbird with the 429 V8, and it was a smooth highway cruiser. I sold all those cars when I got commissioned into the Army. I regret selling those cars and miss the simplicity of them. I do have an 1985 FJ 60 Land Cruiser and it is real easy to get to everything in the engine bay. My 16 year old son inherited it. The Mavericks are pretty popular here in Az.
  • 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.