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ratghia
ratghia Reader
2/1/19 6:19 a.m.

After playing with the idea of finding something older and British for a few years I think I might have stumbled onto a pretty clean 1979 MGB by accident.  From a basic walk around yesterday the car looks pretty solid.  90,000 miles on the odo, no rust or bondo in the rockers, and the interior is pretty mint.  I’m going to look at it a little more in depth today and was wondering if there is anything model specific that I should look for in addition to all of the typical older car things?  Most importantly are there any oddball areas that I need to check for rot?

Also what is the market like on these?  I know what I can get it for and it seems very reasonable compared to comparable listings but I really do have no clue.

Finally, any thoughts or opinions on the platform.  I already have a fairly track prepped 96 Miata and a daily Focus ST so this wouldn't need to fit any role besides fun toy and maybe an occasional autocross.

Thank you

Apexcarver
Apexcarver UltimaDork
2/1/19 6:45 a.m.

I dont know B's very well at all, but will say that if you fancy a bit more of a project, I have a friend selling a bugeye sprite that was once a racer, but now sits sans-drivetrain.  He does have a 1275 race motor that could go with it. 

frenchyd
frenchyd UltraDork
2/1/19 6:48 a.m.

In reply to ratghia :

They are easy simple cars.  No rust?  Then you are good.   You are showing a rugged rubber baby bumper car  ( say that 10 times real fast!) ;) 

that means the car was raised up from its original design to meet new ( then ) bumper laws.  You will get better handling if you get the suspension parts from the earlier chrome bumper cars.  

You also have a aftermarket Weber carb.  Again the earlier cars are your friends. Grab the twin SU’s ( and manifold) from the earlier cars. 

SU’s are brilliantly simple, efficient carbs.  That are much bigger than a Weber is  and will make more power.  

The SU fuel pump is a much abused, poorly under stood remarkably reliable  fuel pump that requires a simple points cleaning periodically to last decades .  

I have one going on 7 decades of use.  Please don’t beat them with a stick. If they stop working it’s because you’ve neglected to clean their points for years!  Cleaning their points takes me about 2 minutes to do and I’m a fat old man.  Your teenage daughter can do it, just show her how.  

Do it with every tune up and you too will sing their praises.   

NermalSnert
NermalSnert Reader
2/1/19 7:31 a.m.

Yes it looks clean but how about going back a few years to the chrome bumper years? Edit: That looks like a stock Stromberg?

EvanB
EvanB MegaDork
2/1/19 7:57 a.m.

If I was in the market for a MGB I would buy the BGT that Apis Mellifera is trying to sell. 

TRoglodyte
TRoglodyte UltraDork
2/1/19 8:01 a.m.

In reply to ratghia :

Check for rust on the A pillars below the bottom door hinge to the front wheel well, also floorboards as with any Roadster. Fuel tanks were also known to rust and cause problems but these are readily available after market. Bonus points for an overdrive transmission.

tr8todd
tr8todd Dork
2/1/19 8:31 a.m.

Hey Frenchy, thats a Zenith Strohmberg carb.  Factory on later rubber bumper cars.  MGBs are fun little car.  There isn't much power there.  Windshields are low and the cockpit is a little cramped.  The plastic center consul digs into your leg and gets real annoying on long drives.  Looks clean.  If price is decent, then buy it.  If you don't like it, clean it up and resell it.  My first forray into British cars was an MGB.  Didn't do much for me then, and they do absolutely nothing for me now.  Once you drive a modified TR8, there just isn't any going back to MGs.

BenB
BenB Reader
2/1/19 8:39 a.m.

Actually, he has the Zenith-Stromberg carb that they added after the '74 1/2 for emissions control. The catalytic converter is about 6" directly below the carb, and at this point, the guts are probably melted. If you run rich, the converter will glow red hot. You'll definitely want to replace the carb with some twin SUs from an earlier car. I put a set from a '65 on my '78 back in the day. It's a straight bolt-on, but you'll have to use the earlier intake manifold and throttle linkage. You'll also have to get an exhaust manifold or header from an early car, too. The Zenith cars had a combined intake/exhaust manifold that caused the #1 and #4 cylinders to run lean. The exhaust manifold or header for SU-equipped cars doesn't bolt up to the later exhaust pipe, so you'll have to replace the exhaust with one for an early car or modify the current exhaust to fit. 

Looks like this car might have the usual water leak at the head gasket between the #2 & #3 cylinders. Pulling the head to replace the gasket is easy. Back in the early '80s, I changed a head gasket in about an hour in the hangar at work so I could drive the car from NC to DC to see my future wife. 

The sheet metal on the doors tends to crack just below the mirrors. I don't see that in the photo, which is good.

I would be surprised if the original Lucas electronic ignition hasn't already gone bad and been replaced by an aftermarket unit. 

They're still pretty reliable cars if you don't beat on them. They are kinda scary to drive around town, these days, because they're so slow. Still other drivers seem to treat them differently than the Miata. I get thumbs up from Porsche drivers when I drive my dad's B, and the brodozer mouth breathers seem to keep their distance.

EDIT: TR8Todd types faster than I do!

pinchvalve
pinchvalve MegaDork
2/1/19 8:53 a.m.

Lovely little cars, and the first entry into British Roadsters for so many.  I worked on a few back in the day, the MGB was actually the newest and most modern British Iron that I tinkered with. Can't say much about ownership, but there is nothing like running down a country lane with the top down in a British Roadster.  Adjusting something or stopping a leak at your lunch stop just adds to the charm. 

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
2/1/19 9:44 a.m.

In reply to frenchyd :

The car pictured has a single Zenith Stromberg carb typical of later cars. Otherwise, I agree a twin SU swap should net a nice performance bump.  It looks like the engine has had the air-pump and associated piping deleted and the head ports plugged.

In reply to ratghia :

A Rubber Bumper B is a good car.  Definitely a fun backroads cruiser. It's a unibody so it has a more solid feel than something like say a Triumph Spitfire, which are typically similar in price. Also a big larger than a Spitfire.   The rubber bumpers are hated by many, but the do work and were better integrated into the B body than any other LBC that was saddled with them. 

At 90K miles, the engine may be due for a rebuild soon if it's original and hasn't been opened up yet.  

I agree overdrive would be a bonus, but not entirely necessary for back roads driving. But if you think any long distance touring may be possible, then it does make highway driving more comfortable. Although bearing in mind while these cars can usually keep up with modern traffic speeds (70+), it's pushing the performance abilities.  

Prices can be all over the place.  RB cars tend to command less than chrome bumper cars.  This is a good thing if you just want a fun car. $5000 seems to be a common number, give or take depending on condition and service history.

(edit: and the guys above type a lot faster than me... damn work interruptions...)

enginenerd
enginenerd Reader
2/1/19 9:58 a.m.

The first really big car project I tackled was restoring a '71 MGB in college a few years ago. Parts availability is excellent and pricing is pretty good. Check out victoriabritish.com and mossmotors.com for an idea. The MG Experience forum was massively helpful when I ran into questions. 

They are really simple to work on but as noted one of the biggest problems is rust in the floor pans and sills. Rubber bumper cars are stupid cheap but I still think the chrome bumper cars are still a bargain. My car seemed to get a lot of attention and people couldn't believe it only took 2k or so to put it together. They can be pretty hard to sell so keep that in mind. 

LanEvo
LanEvo HalfDork
2/1/19 10:16 a.m.

I’m also new to British roadsters: bought a TR6 last year, which is my first ever non-German project car. So, I’ve spent some time at a local British specialist and sat in some competitors’ cars at vintage race weekends. 

My impression is that the MGB is on the bigger end compared to most others. The Sprite/Midget is tiny inside and out. The Spitfire feels really cramped as well. The TR4/TR6 feels a little bigger and has more legroom, but still not exactly what you’d call “roomy.”

Besides that, the MGB is a unibody rather than body-on-frame. I guess that’s neither good nor bad ... but it is a significant difference.

spitfirebill
spitfirebill MegaDork
2/1/19 10:36 a.m.

It is not difficult to get it to around 100hp. where it will be much more fun.   They are the generic british sportscar.  If I had not stumbled onto the Spitfires and the TR3, I would have an MGB, but it would be a 67 or earlier.    

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
2/1/19 11:24 a.m.

Just your luck! We have a magazine dedicated to those kinds of cars. For reals. If this link works, it will take you to some MG editorial. 

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
2/1/19 2:43 p.m.
spitfirebill said:

It is not difficult to get it to around 100hp. where it will be much more fun.   They are the generic british sportscar.  If I had not stumbled onto the Spitfires and the TR3, I would have an MGB, but it would be a 67 or earlier.    

Same here.  The first LBC I ever considered was an MGB a body shop had for sale for $1000 back around 1990.  I didn't hear it run, but supposedly it just needed brakes.  But as a 20 year old living at home in an apartment, that was more of a project than I could handle at the time.  

Apis Mellifera
Apis Mellifera HalfDork
2/1/19 3:57 p.m.
EvanB said:

If I was in the market for a MGB I would buy the BGT that Apis Mellifera is trying to sell. 

You'd think it would be easy to sell a sturdy MGB with a bunch of expensive, go-fast parts on it and a working factory OD gearbox, but that's not the case.  I think my asking price must be so low that it seems suspicious or something.  Now I have a brand new Midget to sell as well.  I offered it for trade on a Torino site and one of the Ford guys said MGs were hard to keep running and parts were difficult to find.  Maybe that's it; my cars are just too sophisticated and rare for most people.

128racecar
128racecar Reader
2/1/19 5:38 p.m.

Apis: check your PMs

Marc in Indy

ratghia
ratghia Reader
2/1/19 7:39 p.m.

In reply to Apis Mellifera :

I sent you a pm but I know in the past I've had problems with them going through so if you didn't get it let me know.  I'd actually prefer GT so I'd be interested in hearing a little more about your car.

Apis Mellifera
Apis Mellifera HalfDork
2/1/19 8:22 p.m.

I didn't get a Pm, though my ISP has apparently decided to ration the internet so we don't run out this winter.  The easiest thing is to post the ad from a few years ago.  Most of it still applies, and though I still need a '72 Ford Torino, I also now require a Triumph TR3, a real Mini, and possibly a VW bus.

 

https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/cars-sale/74-mgb-gt-2500/123476/page1/

 

EvanB
EvanB MegaDork
2/1/19 8:32 p.m.
Apis Mellifera said:

I still need a '72 Ford Torino, I also now require a Triumph TR3, a real Mini, and possibly a VW bus.

 

Well, don't we all?

bearmtnmartin
bearmtnmartin SuperDork
2/1/19 11:20 p.m.

I have a friend who bought an mgb for $500.00, gave it a tune up and a trailer hitch, and loaded the little trailer up with supplies and drove out to Nova Scotia and back. about 11,000 kilometers and the car never missed a beat. I would not have tried that with my spitfire of the same vintage .

Alfaromeoguy
Alfaromeoguy Reader
2/2/19 1:52 p.m.

From a long time ago. There was a swap on the gearbox to a Toyota 5 speed,looked like a easy fit, and have seen supercharger kits for the 1800 c.f. engines.

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim MegaDork
2/2/19 2:13 p.m.
Apis Mellifera said:

I didn't get a Pm, though my ISP has apparently decided to ration the internet so we don't run out this winter.  The easiest thing is to post the ad from a few years ago.  Most of it still applies, and though I still need a '72 Ford Torino, I also now require a Triumph TR3, a real Mini, and possibly a VW bus.

 

https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/cars-sale/74-mgb-gt-2500/123476/page1/

 

Gaaaah. I have a soft spot for B GTs and I suddenly find myself only 250 miles from your car. Any pictures?

Alfaromeoguy
Alfaromeoguy Reader
2/2/19 11:45 p.m.

On YouTube channel  installing beehive valve springs  on a 1500 spitfire engine, helped with hp,and cam. This should work on a mgb,also similar iron engine 

CJ
CJ Reader
2/3/19 2:29 a.m.

Had a '71 bgt I built up from a total.  My favorite car on all time.  Wish the dealer hadn't been an asshat...

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