Junkyard Find: 1976 MG MGB

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1976 mg mgb

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?

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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.

  • TheEndlessEnigma That's right GM, just keep adding to that list of reasons why I will never buy your products. This, I think, becomes reason number 69, right after OnStar-Cannot-Be-Disabled-And-It-Comes-Standard-Whether-Or-Not-You-Want-It and Screw-You-American-Car-Buyer-We-Only-Make-Trucks-And-SUVs.
  • 3SpeedAutomatic Does this not sound and feel like the dawn of ICE automobiles in the early 20th century, but at double or triple speed speed!!There were a bunch of independent car markers by the late 1910’s. By the mid 20’s, we were dropping down to 10 or 15 producers as Henry was slashing the price of the Model T. The Great Depression hit, and we are down to the big three and several independents. For EVs, Tesla bolted out of the gate, the small three are in a mad dash to keep up. Europe was caught flat footed due to the VW scandal. Lucid, Lordstown, & Rivian are scrambling to up production to generate cash. Now the EV leader has taken a page from the Model T and is slashing prices putting the rest of the EV market in a tail spin. Deja vu……
  • Michael Eck With those mods, I wonder if it's tuned...
  • Mike-NB2 I'm not a Jeep guy, but I really, really like the 1978 Jeep Cherokee 4xe concept.
  • William I'm a big fan of 70s Lincolns. I really liked the 1980s Mark Vl. I thought it was very classy, and I never thought of it as a restyled Town Car. I did own a 1990 LSC, it was black over black leather interior. I loved the LSC as soon as they were introduced. I loved the sound of the duel exhaust, I thought it fit the car perfectly. I never had any problems with it. The 5.0 is a great engine, and never had any issues with the air suspension system. It had the the analog dash and I made good use of the message center. I highly recommend this Mark. The black paint and interior fit the car and me perfectly.