Junkyard Find: 1976 MG MGB

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1976 mg mgb

During my 35 years of poking around in car graveyards, one thing has remained constant: MGB s 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.

In this series, we have seen quite a few MGBs, including this ’67, this ’71, this ’75, this ’77, this ’77, this ’77, this ’79, this ’79, and this ’79 with a Toyota 20R swap.

Truly a golden age for British cars!

Well, maybe not.






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  • -Nate -Nate on Apr 06, 2017

    *SO* true ! . . I'm an LBC Tech Advisor and I'm always amazed at how few 'Mechanics' will even try, it's as basic an Automobile as there ever was . . After forty odd years the cord on my old SEARS Craftsman inductive, advance dial timing light gave up the ghost, I was worried until I discovered I can buy the entire timing light for $5 ~ $15 at pretty much any Auto Jumble and most have only been used once or twice and are pristine . . My various Club tech days, I'm always requested to " bring your BAZOOKA sized timing light again please ! ' . =8-) . . It seems that the correct method of setting the full advance ignition timing and throttle ping test has been forgotten . . -Nate

  • Carlo Rossi Carlo Rossi on Sep 07, 2017

    There really should be a salvage yard just over the California border that specializes in saving low rust chassis from the crusher that the rest of the country would kill for.

  • Redapple2 C2 is the best. C3 next. Then C7 (looking at you jimII).
  • Jeff S Vulpine--True the CAFE rules are for ICE.
  • Gray I grew up in the era of Panther and Fox platforms. If only they developed a good looking two door Conti. The four doors became a cult in their own right. And kept the 351W as a top line option.
  • Vulpine ABSOLUTELY YES!!! Bring back the TRUE compact trucks. The demand for them is far higher than the OEMs want to admit.
  • Brn More likely, with Google having troubles, the money tree isn't as ripe as it once was and cutbacks are needed.I hope the overall industry continues to evolve. When I get the the point I can't easily drive, I would still appreciate the independence that autonomous vehicles can bring.
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