Junkyard Find: 1976 MG MGB

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

In all of my decades of visiting junkyards, one thing has remained constant: I’ll see a handful of Fiat 124 Sport Spider s and MG MGB s every year, about the same number in 2018 as I saw each year in 2001 or 1987. Here’s the latest: a red ’76 convertible in a self-service wrecking yard in California’s Central Valley.

The reason for this is easy to guess: both the 124 Sport Spider and MGB have been cheap, fun sports cars that are just too cool to discard, so they end up as long-postponed projects in driveways and yards. The decades go by, and then one day the tow truck shows up for the car’s final ride. This car has a couple of parking stickers from 1987 and the kind of nuked interior that suggests long-term outdoor storage.

1976 wasn’t a great year for the MGB; American headlight-height and crash-bumper requirements took effect in 1974, forcing the “black bumper” cars to sit at an ungainly height while sticking their ugly plastic snouts at the world. Engine power, never very high, came to just 62.5 horsepower in 1976, and the fact that British Leyland claimed that half-horse tells a very depressing story.

BL build quality wasn’t so great in the mid-1970s, as unions, managers, and the British government squabbled. Still, these cars were fun to drive, and (as someone who daily-drove an MGB for years) it makes me a little sad to see one getting thrown out like an ordinary Kia Sephia. Though who knows, someday we may weep for those Sephias as well.

These wheels didn’t do the look of this B any favors.

The sports car America loved first. Wait, wasn’t that the MGA?

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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  • THX1136 THX1136 on Dec 31, 2018

    A friend of mine had a MGB GT hard top in red around 71 or 72. It was his next car after a '69 GTO (a Judge that was special ordered in red with black vinyl top). Enjoyed riding along with him in the MG. Drove from central Iowa to Iowa City for a Byrds concert the winter of 72/73 in it. My only negative rememberance was, at times, I wished I could shift my legs more than the space allowed. Fun car!

  • Lon888 Lon888 on Jan 02, 2019

    I still miss my '77 MGB. The cheap Brits really missed the call when they didn't go to a 5-speed gearbox (yes, I know about the rare OD boxes), a reasonable fuel injection system and/or the Rover V-8.

  • Socrates77 They're pinching pennies for the investors like always, greed has turned GM into a joke of an old corporate American greed.
  • Analoggrotto looking at this takes me right back to the year when “CD-ROM” first entered public lexicon
  • Alan My comment just went into the cloud.I do believe its up to the workers and I also see some simplistic comments against unionisation. Most of these are driven by fear and insecurity, an atypical conservative trait.The US for a so called modern and wealthy country has poor industrial relation practices with little protection for the worker, so maybe unionisation will advance the US to a genuine modern nation that looks after its workers well being, standard of living, health and education.Determining pay is measured using skill level, training level and risk associated with the job. So, you can have a low skilled job with high risk and receive a good pay, or have a job with lots of training and the pay is so-so.Another issue is viability of a business. If you have a hot dog stall and want $5 a dog and people only want to pay $4 you will go broke. This is why imported vehicles are important so people can buy more affordable appliances to drive to and from work.Setting up a union is easier than setting up work conditions and pay.
  • El scotto I can get the speedometer from dad's 72 Ford truck back. I can't get dad back.
  • El scotto BAH! No dividers in the trunk for bags of onions or hooks for hanging sardines! Hard Pass.