Digestible Collectible: 1967 MGB

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn

The familiar, yet disconcerting sound of a medium-duty diesel was our first clue. It was the early ’90s, a time before ubiquitous cell phones, and my dad and I had been waiting for several hours for my stepmom to arrive in her MGB that we were putting away for the winter. She arrived eventually, in the cab of a rollback.

The engine decided to pop about 10 miles from our storage facility, a garage at my stepmother’s childhood home about 90 minutes from our house. The plan had simply been to keep it there until spring, but it would be a couple years before the old MG would see daylight again. Along the way, I learned about engine rebuilding, the importance of a good engine hoist (ours was crap), proper placement of jackstands (my toe still hurts a bit when it rains), and what happens when a Lucas distributor gets installed 180 degrees out of phase.

What sucks the most? I never got to drive it, as it was sold before I turned 16.

Naturally, I turn to eBay, and there is no shortage of ‘Bs to tempt me. Too many wear the ugly rubber bumpers required by the late-1970s federal safety regulations, choked even more by emissions equipment.

An early car, like this 1967 MGB featured today, is light and powerful by comparison. Some say the ’67 is the ideal model year, as it is the last year before emissions hoses began to clutter the engine compartment, and the first year of the five main-bearing engine block, rather than the earlier three-bearing unit.

This one is absolutely stunning and is priced nicely at $16,500. I’ve seen some cars trading closer to $30,000, so this might even be a bargain. There are dozens of good photos top and bottom, front and rear, inside and out, so I’d be rather confident flying out to California and driving it home — come spring, once the salt is washed away from our roads.

I loved that old MGB. I put a good deal of work with my dad restoring it, and I’d love to get the chance to own one. My Miata is a reasonable substitute, I suppose, and I’ve had plenty of adventures keeping her on the road, but there is a personality to old British cars that cannot be replicated.

Chris Tonn
Chris Tonn

Some enthusiasts say they were born with gasoline in their veins. Chris Tonn, on the other hand, had rust flakes in his eyes nearly since birth. Living in salty Ohio and being hopelessly addicted to vintage British and Japanese steel will do that to you. His work has appeared in eBay Motors, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars, Reader's Digest, AutoGuide, Family Handyman, and Jalopnik. He is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, and he's currently looking for the safety glasses he just set down somewhere.

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  • Tylermattikow Tylermattikow on Dec 02, 2015

    I think 16,500 is top money for a decent early MGB but not completely insane. Keep in mind this is a dealer, I would expect to buy the car for less than 12,000. It does not appear to have overdrive, which really is needed at that price. For instance this one, with OD from a private seller, is starting at 14k with no bids. http://www.ebay.com/itm/MG-MGB-B-/121828596048? forcerrptr=true&hash=item1c5d8cd950:g:A18AAOSwbdpWUjTC&item=121828596048 The 20 and 30k MGB's are anomalies at auctions and dealers where the are taken home as a consolation prize because they are cheap relative to everything else in inventory. I have a British Racing Green 1972 and it's actually a great little car, I've gotten it past 90 and it's fast enough in town, surprisingly comfortable with a decent ride and a trunk that can swallow gold clubs. I recommend one with overdrive, weber carb, electronic ignition and upgraded coil, and poly suspension bushings. Mine has all and I've added a wooden steering wheel and leather seats. I thinking I may sell mine in the spring, but I don't think it will pass 10k. One of the great things about these is that parts are cheap and easy to obtain, perhaps more so that any other car except a Mustang.

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    • Tylermattikow Tylermattikow on Dec 02, 2015

      @krhodes1 Very true. My midget was very breathed on, over 100hp, cam, webers, headers, exhuast, roll bar. Full on nutso. I happened to need the space for a Jensen Healey my dad wanted so I got happened to not have the right nutso come out to play in that ebay auction. A dealer in California bought it, he spent close to the auction price shipping it back. That was a couple months ago, I'm guessing it pop up for sale for some crazy amount from that dealer. I really like my B, if I sell it, it will be to free up space and funds for something like an E-type. I've been trying to limit my car collection to 3 classics, still too many, as it gets overwhelming. It's probably has around the max factory HP (about 95) for a B with a ignition, weber and ansa exhaust. I have powder coated wire wheels I'm going to put on this winter. https://scontent-lga3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xlt1/v/t1.0-9/12115950_899612633462719_2012189548915622671_n.jpg?oh=c5af2db9ac1591ea0f361c1fca42599b&oe=56DEB7F2

  • Kendahl Kendahl on Dec 02, 2015

    The last year of the good MGBs. Despite their charm, your Miata is a better car. In fact, your Miata is a better car than a Lotus Elan which would have an MGB for lunch. That's an unavoidable problem with old cars. You must appreciate them for their character and historical significance because modern cars are better in just about every way. Early in 1985, I had a chance to buy a decent XKE coupe for $10k. Having just bought an RX-7 with the fuel injected 13B engine, I turned it down. I have never been able to decide whether it was the wisest automotive decision of my life or a golden opportunity lost.

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    • Funky Funky on Dec 02, 2015

      @pbr I've had one of each (and, still have the MGB, a 1980). The Miata/MX-5 (a 2009 with power hard top) was driven often (including using it to drop-off my kids at their schools each morning). The MGB mostly sat in storage. It still sits in storage (unregistered and uninsured). The Miata/MX-5 was sold. I did not feel "attached" to the Miata (this is the reason it was sold to make way for a new toy). I do feel attached to the MGB. But, not attached enough to bother to get the thing registered, insured, and properly maintained. If I do, once again, feel the desire to drive this type of vehicle, I will most likely purchase a new Miata/MX-5 since it would be the easier of the two with which to live on a daily basis.

  • Lou_BC Too much money.
  • Lou_BC "The Cannonball Run" "The Gumball Rally""Corvette Summer""Duel""Gone in 60 Seconds"
  • Wjtinfwb I really don't care about charging stations, EVs, their drivers or the issues that seem to plague them and the ownership experience. My use case requires much better range and fueling options than what EVs offer, at least current state. If an EV works for you, great. It doesn't work for me and that's OK as well. hat I object to however, is the Government involvement in a personal use decision and trying to force a technology into widespread adoption when it and its support network is clearly not ready. I also object to Federal dollars, gleaned from the taxpayers being used to subsidize this nascent technology and most importantly, I object to the gaslighting by the Administration that tries to convince consumers that range isn't an issue. Recharging isn't an issue. Cold weather isn't an issue. Fires aren't an issue. The ownership experience disappointment is validated by the poor resale value of EV's and the McKinsey report that states that 50% of EV owners plan to switch back to a gas powered vehicle. I don't have the disposable income to make a 40k mistake and take a beating on getting rid of it. But again, if it works for you, that's what matters. Cheers.
  • MKizzy The top executives of many of the Fortune 500 companies support GOP candidates with their votes and donations while happily filling their corporate coffers with Progressive dollars. Unlike Musk however, they're smart enough to at least try to keep it to themselves. Perhaps Musk's political openness combined with his seemingly declining interest in Tesla is a sign he'll abandon Tesla by the end of the decade.
  • Jpolicke I don't know of any gas stations with a single pump.