MGB experiences

dranoeldranoel Member Posts: 79
I bought a new 1965 MGB in July of that year.
Tartan red with black top & interior. Kept it 8
years, and sold it because it was rusting rather
badly (northern OH). Never had any significant
problems, however I really kept up with maintenance
(topping off the SUs,cleaning plugs, filing &
adjustihg points, adjusting valves, etc.)And I must
not forget topping off the 2 positive ground 6V
batteries mounted behind the driver/passenger
seats. My only real complaint about the car was
it's rather ravenous appetite for exhaust systems,
I believe I went through 4 systems in 8 years. I'm
glad to see "new" MGBs being made with the Heritage
shells, although I'm not sure I'd be willing to
pay the $20,000, that a good one costs. I guess
I'll keep my '85 911 for the moment--but I have
very fond memories of the "B"


  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Great little car, the MGB. Along with the Alfa Sypder or an old Miata, the best bang for the buck in little sports cars. And you can buy ANY part you need for an MGB, and you can just about fix anything on it with a minimum of tools.

    They have some tolerable weaknesses, but simple fixes are available. A single twelve volt battery replaces the two silly 6-volts, and new battery cables and fuse box takes car of 95% of any electrical problems. The engine is bullet-proof, the SU carbs as simple as a wood stove (3 moving parts!). Also the body is incredibly strong and well-built. If you need to take a hard shot in an old sports car, an MGB is what you want to be in.

    On the negative side, the heater controls are a pain in the neck, the top is a bit of a struggle (Alfa is a breeze)and unless you get the overdrive, the car is a little noisy at 70 mph.

    But a great handler, fast enough, economical and good-looking.

    None of this applies to the rubber-bumpered 1975 on up models, which are a hodgepodge of desperate, last-ditch engineering and styling, in my estimation. To be avoided.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    This car is one of my favorite MGs.

    World first modern hatchback, by the way--stuff that in someone's pocket when they start bad-rapping this great car (out of ignorance, so forgive them):

    Here's a song about the MGBGT:

  • wilcoxwilcox Member Posts: 584
    british racing green convertable MGB. A most enjoyable ride for a young man or woman. It had tan interior and it sounded great - that tuned low growl that an MGB of that vintage distinctly has... When the top was down you'd be up in heaven. It had 2 six volt batteries hooked up in series...those brits, they thought of everything (wel'''''''''''''''''''''n considerably)...

    Today it would be an inconvinence for me to get in and out of a little two seater all the time, that's the only reason, though, why the miata wasn't bought last year.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,350
    Having owned two MG's, a 1962 MGA and an early 1974 MGB, I just don't have the same fond memories as some others may have.

    Yes, they were fun. The fun, however stops in a hurry when on a rainy night, the headlights go out for no apparant reason or the wipers quit.

    Once, in a friends MG, the thing decided to quit right in the middle of a dark, ONE WAY tunnel!

    The damm spring on the points decided to snap!

    If you don't think an old MG is heavy, try pushing one while dodging oncoming army trucks!

    You never know what an MG is going to do to you!

    Still...They do have an appeal to me.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Yeah, you have to address and correct the electrical system, but once you do, it's a great little car...they'll run darn near forever.

    Like I said, getting rid of the two 6 volt batteries, getting new battery cables and fuses put in, and switching to an alternator (toss Lucas generator over the fence), and for a few hundred bucks you've improved the car 1000%.
  • wilcoxwilcox Member Posts: 584
    rubber and wiring?

    One fact i've learned over the years is that a large rock is much heavier than it looks. Same holds true for an MGB. As iselhondas sez, they are whole bunch harder to push than you would think. Many owners of these know....
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    They are strong little cars...really overbuilt.

    I dunno about the British back then...tradition-bound, I guess. I mean, look at the Rolls Royce from the late 1950s to the early 1990s. What a pile of beautiful, expensive and unworkable parts assembled with a wild eccentricity and lack of functionality that borders on madness.
  • wilcoxwilcox Member Posts: 584
    around here it's hanging on the wing of some airplane. Kinda scary, eh?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Well, luckily for Rolls Royce Aviation Department they couldn't get away with all the silliness they used on their cars, since the consequences are a bit more grave than being stuck on the side of the road.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,350
    These airplanes we fly on...Do they have Lucas Electricals??

    I'l rather walk!!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Actually, Lucas Aerospace does make electrics for the 747.
  • wilcoxwilcox Member Posts: 584
    I do remember someone telling me that the reason why the british and french automobiles of yester year rubber/electrical went to pieces so fast was that they used natural rubber with no additives...after a couple of seasonal years (rain, dryness, temperatures, etc) developed cracks and dry rot..
    But in brake master cylinders???..?
  • burdawgburdawg Member Posts: 1,524
    Lucas (actually, Lucas Varity) and all subsidiaries (including aerospace) were recently bought by TRW.
  • gkelly3gkelly3 Member Posts: 38
    You are right...all Brit cars had brake seals made of natural rubber. For some unknown reason, the only brake fluid that was compatible with this was Girling "Green". If you used any of the brake fluids used in American cars, the brake seals would swell and leak-I used to know a Jaguar mechanic who made a living off redoing these ruined brake systems. Oh-I also remember that the Brits continued to use cloth insulation on their wiring, long after everybody else went to plastic insulation-this made for nice short circuits.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    The Brits were so stubborn and slow to learn...look at the world motorcycle the 50s and early 60s Britain owned it, and the Japanese rolled over them in about 6 years and took it away, completely and utterly destroyed them in the marketplace in the blink of an eye. Unbelievable that the UK could have let this happen. And they gave away the two-seater sports car market at well. The last MGBs were pretty sad affairs.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,350
    Sad times...In order to meet the newly imposed bumber standards, they had to raise the car something like three inches which ruined the way the car handled. They also went with those ugly (IMHO)black rubber bumbers!

    They also smogged the engine down with smpg pumps, convertors etc... Thye ran like hell after that!

    Ah, progress...
  • bubukittybubukitty Member Posts: 96
    In the English market, there is the really cool MG RV8 (with the Rover V-8 engine) and the MG F (small mid engine car). Both are fantastic looking cars. The RV8 is a "heritage styling" exercise harking back to the MG B and the MG F is a totally new and modern looking design. You would think with the renaissance in two seat sport cars that Rover (I guess now BMW) would try to Federalize these cars and bring them over here. I know that BMW probably doesn't want any competition to the Z-3, but I wouldn't buy a Z-3 (don't like their looks) but would buy an RV 8. BMW could increase their market share IMO. Any thoughts on this?
  • bubukittybubukitty Member Posts: 96
    By the way in case any one is interested and loves the rubber bumper cars (I particularly don't), but anyway, there is a 1980 MG B for sale at Fantasy Junction in Emeryville with only 130 original miles on it for $19,800, FYI.
  • dranoeldranoel Member Posts: 79
    I've spent much time in Europe over the past 2 years and have seen many new MGs. They are very interesting, however, as you say with BMW running the show now, I don't expect to see them in the US.
  • bubukittybubukitty Member Posts: 96
    Dranoel, lucky you to see the European MG's. Did you get a chance to drive any? I would think that BMW would want to improve their market share and revive a revered Marque like MG in the U.S. Much goodwill and press would come their way!

    By the way, that rubber bumper car I mentioned above is in Emeryville, CA (just over the Bay Bridge from S.F..
  • dranoeldranoel Member Posts: 79
    No, unfortunately I didn't have the opportunity to drive the new MGs. They seem to run quite well on the freeways though, with most traffic running 80+ mph in the UK and well over that on the continent.
  • blaneblane Member Posts: 2,017
    I loved my two MGBs, even with their quirks. That soft aluminum hood (bonnet) was very vulnerable to parking damage from other cars and was a bear to repair. I must have bought 4 or 5 hood ornaments.

    I picked up my $1,949.00 US specification '64 in London to drive around Europe for a month before shipping it back to NY as a used car. What fun driving a stick for the first time and being on the left side of the UK roads with a left-hand drive car while trying to pass those wide lorries on narrow roads.

    Drove to the Abbingdon plant where they replaced my Hardy-Spicer rear end while I waited, because it was whiney. Traded that one for a '66 because of the "new" fifth main bearing and synchro down into first gear. What engineering advances!

    I clocked a record time of 1 minute 45 seconds for getting the erector set of a top out of the two bags in the trunk (boot) and snuggly snapped in place before the rains hit.

    Great cars until I graduated to the much more refined FIAT 124 Spyder in 1969. (One-handed top)
  • dranoeldranoel Member Posts: 79
    You've got me beat on top erection time, I doubt I ever got under 2 mins. on my '65 MGB. Another memory returned of my MGB days; I do remember increasing my speed in a decreasing radius corner and watching a Mustang that was following too closely, disappear in the underbrush, as he over-estimated his ability to stay with me---ah, yes,those days were good---
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,350
    Could those top frames ever pinch your fingers!

    Must have been a Lucas design...?
  • blaneblane Member Posts: 2,017
    I just remembered another favorite feature of my MGBs while reading earlier comments about the battery location under the rear "seat". As I recall, those early MGBs were the only cars I've driven with an audible low-fuel warning system (much better than today's low-fuel warning lamps). Whenever I couldn't afford to put fuel in the tank and ran it down to the vapors, the fuel pump would start to make a loud buzzing sound. When I heard that buzz behind me, it was a foolproof way of getting me to head for a gas station for some $0.19 to $0.24 per gallon regular.

    I parked my cars in the garage under my apartment house where there was an angle change when you came up or down the ramp to or from the street. I remember that my '64 had no problems with that. However when I got my '66 it came with those newfangled "radial" tires (tyres). The radials had a lower profile which lowered the car enough so that my muffler scraped the concrete at the apex of the ramp. I took to carrying a pine 2x4 about 18" long, in the rear "seat". Whenever I went in or out of the garage I stopped near the entrance, got the 2x4, placed it in front of one of the rear tires, rode in or out on it and retreived the 2x4 before closing the garage door. That was just enough altitude to prevent my muffler from premature failure.
  • wilcoxwilcox Member Posts: 584
    I drive a nice low slung sports sedan these days. At the University last weekend, my 10 yr. old got on to me, "Dad, why do you slow down to a creep whenever you come up to those bumps in the road?"

    My reply began with and explanation of the MG's and Austin-Healys.. You know, it's hard to get out of the habit of hearing that muffler or tailpipe crunch....
  • sebringjxisebringjxi Member Posts: 140
    In those wonderfully carefree days of college I drove a 1959 MGA, a 1974 Midget and a 1969 MGC. In the latter of which I used to love to sneak up on TR6 and 7's and the 914 Porsches that were all the rage then. That big ol' 6 pulled like a freight train. Of course, it weighed about as much as one too, which made the C such an ill handling car in comparison to the B. Nevertheless, I drove it for 9 years--daily! Loved almost every minute of it. But it's the A I wish I had back. Not only are they expensive these days, but just plain hard to find....
    How much of a MG fan am I? My sons' initials are MG and TC.......
  • mgrmgr Member Posts: 40
    B or A? I know the A cost more, but my wife likes the A better. I think the B would be a better "daily driver". What are your thoughts.
  • dranoeldranoel Member Posts: 79
    I drove a "B" daily on a 36 mi.(roundtrip) commute here in northern Ohio for 8 years, with no major problems--however the salt finally finished it. Have only driven an "A" a few times, however IMHO the "B" is better.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Yes, I agree, the B is a much better car overall, and much easier to restore than an A as well. Of course, presently it doesn't have the value of an A, but it will, I predict, have similar value to A in a few short years. It's just about caught the C now, and some very nice ones are selling at close to TD prices. A really lovely A can run you $15,000++, so we're not there yet with B values.
  • redbone14redbone14 Member Posts: 1
    I've owned three B's(2 GT's and 1 Roadster) and each had their own personality. I bought them and took the time to correct their faults. If you know what you are doing, it makes them even more fun to drive. I now live in New Mexico and looking for a good rebuiler to enjoy with the great weather here.

    You can all complain about the bad times, but sit and try to remember all the fun you had driving yours.

    If anybody knows of a rebuilder near New Mexico, let me know. I'm looking to perform a complete ground up restoration.
  • dranoeldranoel Member Posts: 79
    Have you looked in Hemmings or other similar periodicals for a rebuilt MG that is for sale? Generally its much less expensive to buy one that has already been rebuilt then to have yours rebuilt. Some of the better ones have the new Heritage body shell and are literally new.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    Amen to Redbone's comments about how the good times outweigh the bad in a B. I'll never forget driving mine in the Santa Cruz mountains with the top down on sunny summer days, my future wife at my side (getting carsick). My B was old and tired, but it let me down only once in two years of daily driving. That's a better record than some of my American iron. They are a bummer on the freeway without overdrive, and I sold mine when I started freeway commuting, but for around town or in the hills, nothing I've driven is better.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Yes, overdrive is a great option for an MGB and turns highway cruising into...well, not a pleasure exactly, but a lot quieter!

    With a little effort and the right parts and modifications, you can turn an MGB into a totally reliable everyday car, at least in three seasons. They don't like winter very much and they aren't great fun in torrential rainstorms.

    Nice part about them is that they are so simple to fix...there are a few hard jobs, but nothing you'd have to do on a regular basis...all the electrical, carb, ignition, brake, exhaust, front end...all that stuff is pretty easy and straightforward. A re-incarnated mechanic from the 1920s could fix an MGB.
  • carnut4carnut4 Member Posts: 574
    both from the late 60's-I believe one is a 67, the other a 69. One is a yellow GT coupe-the other ia a green roadster. They have been sitting there, covered, undriven, since 1986 when I moved in here. Both cars are complete, no dents, both run [periodically he starts them up] and appear to need just cosmetic, and probably some mechanical restoration. Well, I saw one the other day on the street [restored] it had that throaty sounding aftermarket exhaust I remember from the 60's. I've toyed with the idea of making an offer on the green roadster, since everything's there and it runs, and fixing it up myself. I too have memories of a Healey 3000 in the Santa Cruz mountains. What might I offer on this MGB if I got serious? We have nothing but open, two lane roads around here. That B would be perfect.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Oh, it probably needs everything just sitting like that...maybe $500-750. I'm sure the hydraulics are all shot and most of the rubber parts. It probably smells bad inside, too and has plenty of mildew. Tires, changing all the fluids, filters, get the picture. Don't offer much. I'd buy the pair and offer $1,000. That way you can make 1 out of 2.
  • carnut4carnut4 Member Posts: 574
    What do you think would be a ballpark estimate to redo it mechanically? I mean things like brakes, and doing the engine work myself. Maybe I'd be better off just looking for one already done. Whadya think? Sidenote:this guy also has a 58 Borgward in the garage. All these cars are "family heirlooms."
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    A Borgward a family heirloom? LOL!

    Anyway, it's always better to buy a finished car when talking about an MGB, because they aren't worth all that much fixed up. You could buy a knock-out of a car for $8,000, and a very decent clean daily driver for $4,000-5,000.

    Of course, if you just want a hobby it doesn't matter what you start with, but certainly if you buy a shabby car for $1,000 and restore it you will lose money on the deal.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,350
    If you do buy one of these, remember PATIENCE, and don't lose your sense of humor! You will need plenty!
  • carnut4carnut4 Member Posts: 574
    I remember the Healey 3000 experience. Low exhaust always getting broken, transmission problems, electric fuel pump, etc. And I'll never forget the drive from the Bay Area to lake Tahoe on a hot summer day. Jeeeez! But once we got there...The patience lasted a year or so. But the B seems like a much cheaper way to go. And the weather is starting to call on those wide open two-lanes...
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Bs usually don't overheat... I had an electric fan on mine and drove it through the desert many times....of course, if you buy one with a 25 year old radiator in it, well, then.....
  • carnut4carnut4 Member Posts: 574
    yesterday. I think if I get a B, I'll just look for a good clean driver that doesn't need much. My neighbor is obviously keeping these cars for sentimental reasons. He's got 4 kids and a demanding wife, otherwise I think one of the B's might be on the road. I also have an old friend who's an Alfa nut and has 4 of them now. Maybe that would be a better way to go than a B if I wanted an older open sports car that's a reasonably practical driver-whadya think?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    The carburated Alfas are good cars (prior to 1971) and the later Bosch fuel-injected ones are good (1982 on up only), but I'd steer clear of the Spica injected cars, roughly 1971-79, and the early transitional Bosch cars, 1980-81. The Alfas are generally superior to the MGB in just about every way except maybe the smoothness of the transmission...but speed, comfort, ride, build quality and reliability all go to Alfa. The looks are a personal taste kind of thing.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    Your statement about Alfa reliability surprises me. I don't doubt it, but it contradicts accepted wisdom, which is often wrong.

    When I was in Italy I learned three things that Italian car-lovers might find interesting:

    1. There are no old cars on Italian roads. I did see one exotic from perhaps the early sixties, but no old beater sedans--no Italian equivalents to an '87 Taurus. Everyone drove a shiny new Fiat.

    2. Italians drive at roughly the same speed in town or on the highway. They'll improvise a two-lane city street into three or four lanes, driving like madmen but without accidents. Italian drivers are "good in space", as they say in football. After I saw this road racing, I figured I'd get my doors vacuumed off on the autostrada, but I did the vacuuming. Maybe their Fiats aren't happy doing more than 45.

    3. Exasperation at Fiats transcends language barriers. After pushing our Fiat around a town square fifteen or twenty times, trying to push-start it, I muttered, "Catch, you b*stard". One of our Italian helpers, who didn't speak English, laughed. I think he understood exactly what I was saying.

    OK, back to MGBs.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    I think you are making the common error (if I may say so in good spirit) that Americans make of confusing Fiats and Alfas....they are quite different in build quality, speed and endurance. An Italian knows the difference. In Italy, an Alfa is a car given great regard due to its glorious past--now somewhat faded, it's true. Fiats are the cars for the working man, and given how cheap they are, they're some cases, Fiat design is quite brilliant.

    As for nostaglia, the Europeans have a lot more to choose from, when it comes to old things, and they are a lot more particular than Americans. Being a new country, we might cherish a 1950s 4-door sedan, but the Italians would just as soon junk it and save adoration for old race cars or open cars and coupes with beauty and grace. I tend more to agree with them on that one.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    Yes, I thought Alfas were in the same league as Fiats, and I'm very pleasantly surprised to learn that they're not only beautiful and sporting but well-built. Is there a four-door that you'd recommend? I seem to recall a berlinetta from the late '60s. What about the sedan (164?) they discontinued in the early '90s?

    No doubt growing up with 2500 years of history gives Italians a discerning eye, and a great sense of style. On the other hand, perhaps one of the reasons we appreciate '50s cars is that they represent a golden era for us, while Europeans don't remember that time with much affection.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    How true that is.

    4-door Alfas....nah, generally ugly and troublesome, at least the ones we see over here. A very late 164LS would be nice (I should know), but you have to be the type of owner who is attentive and knowledgable. No worse than a Saab really.
  • bubukittybubukitty Member Posts: 96
    I had a '76 Alfa Spider for 5 years and it was a great car and very reliable. Surprised me too. Bought it with 40,000 miles on it. It was a salvage title car too-was on a shipboard fire when being imported. It was pieced together with parts off different Alfa doners and had a 1750cc engine (vs 2000cc). Never had a problem with it and it always started and ran beautifully. After five years of driving and a lot of miles things were starting to go on it, but that happens with all cars. Always loved the MG's though too and have thought about buying one for years. Back in College, I ended up buying a '69 Triumph GT6+ versus a somewhat funked out MGB GT. Maybe a mistake and maybe not, but one of these days I would like to own a MG convertible....maybe another Alfa too!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    I think MGs are better cars than Triumphs, overall at least. Certainly in build quality.
  • rea98drea98d Member Posts: 982
    My room-mate ad I were discussing cars, and he mentioned his dad used to own an MG. However, what neither of us could figure out is what MG stands for, If anything. Any help?
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