Junkyard Find: 1976 MG MGB

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

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.

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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  • -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.

  • Dave M. The Outback alternates between decent design and goofy design every generation. 2005 was attractive, 2010 goofy. 2015 decent. 2020 good, but the ‘23 refresh hideous.Looking forward to the Outback hybrid in ‘26…..
  • Lorenzo Subaru had the ideal wagon - in 1995. The Legacy Outback was a straight two-box design with rear quarter and back windows you could see out of, and was available in brown with a 5-speed manual, as God and TTAC commenters intended. It's nice they're not raising prices, but when you've lost the plot, does it matter?
  • Bkojote Remember a month a go when Cleveland wanted to create a more walkable Cleveland and TTAC's 'BIG GOVERNMENT IS THE PROBLEM' dumbest and dullest all collectively crapped their diapers? Here's the thing- look on any American highway and it's littered with people who don't /want/ to be driving or shouldn't be. Look at every Becky on her phone during the morning commute in her Tucson, look at every Brad aggro driving his 84 month loan GMC. Hell look how many drivers nowadays can't even operate a headlight switch. You expect these people to understand a stoplight? In my neighborhood alone 4 people have been rear ended at lights from someone on their phone. Distracted driving over the past 10 years has spiked, and it's only going to get worse unless Becky has an alternative, because no judge is going to pull her license when 'she needs it to get to work!' but heaven forbid she not check fb/tiktok for 40 minutes a day.
  • Scott Shouldn't the The Italian Minister for Business be criticizing The Milano for being too ugly to be Italian?Better use of resources doing that....
  • Steve Biro Frankly, while I can do without Eyesight and automatic start-stop, there is generally less B-S with Subarus in terms of design, utility and off-road chops than with many other brands. I just hope that when they adopt Toyota’s hybrid system, they’ll also use Toyota’s eCVT.