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outasite
outasite HalfDork
2/3/19 8:39 a.m.

As a British Leyland mechanic in the 60s and 70s I serviced, repaired and drove every thing from the lowly Austin America and Austin Marina up to the Jaguar XKE and XJ V12s. I also dd year round 3 69 MGB roadsters and a BGT during that time. Never had one leave me stranded. Yes, they require regular servicing compared to modern automobiles and that is the attraction for many of the people that own them. They are old technology and easy to work on. Comparing the MGB to the Miata, (I had an NA and have an NB) the B convertible top is a pain, the engine is uninspiring (especially the single carb setup) and the handling leaves much to be desired. However, I still find myself looking and lusting after them after all these years. Especially the GT.

 

edit: The stock exhaust muffler is so low that it contacts speed bumps no matter how slow or the approach angle. Wire wheels require servicing and maintaining as well.

NermalSnert
NermalSnert Reader
2/3/19 9:19 a.m.

"Yes, they require regular servicing compared to modern automobiles and that is the attraction for many of the people that own them."

2nd This. 3 Spitfires, 3 TR6s, 1 MG Midget all were my only cars and they were DRIVEN. Never stranded. I'm getting that "itch" again myself.

spitfirebill
spitfirebill MegaDork
2/3/19 10:41 a.m.

In reply to NermalSnert :

I could scratch that itch with a Spitfire.  

NermalSnert
NermalSnert Reader
2/3/19 10:48 a.m.

Hands over ears, eyes shut. Nope. I can't hear you.... ( I'm going to remember you said that when I get caught up some)

wspohn
wspohn Dork
2/3/19 3:03 p.m.

The rubber bumper MGB (RBB) is a sad bit of kit.  It was built after the BMC merger with Triumph and the combined company was busy pushing TR7s that few wanted while cheaping out on the poor MGB which had a pretty good following.

They jacked the ride height to meet new North American standards and they did it in the cheapest way possible, ruining the handling in the process (they tried to rectify that on later years but with only partial success).

They modified the engine and intake to meet smog standards, hence that hapless single carb and the gutted performance.

Earlier cars handle and go far better. The handling can be fixed (it requires a new front frame cross member to relower it) and the engine can be rebuilt to try and get it back to the former output levels, but starting with an older model year will get you there more quickly, and if there is more rust in the earlier car (quite likely) you can use the difference in cost to repair that. Many, but not all hobbyists seem to prefer the styling of the earlier chrome bumper cars.

BenB
BenB Reader
2/3/19 3:20 p.m.

Moss had (has?) a lowering kit with front springs and blocks or springs (can’t remember) for the rear, so you don’t have to replace the front crossmember. 

I was one of those weirdos who preferred the looks of the rubber bumpers, even though they probably added 100 lbs to the car.

wspohn
wspohn Dork
2/3/19 3:34 p.m.

I watched Huffaker running the factory MGBs on the west coast back in the day. They already had the light good handling early chassis built for SCCA racing, and when MG switched to the new controversial styling, instead of building new cars and having to redevelop handling etc., they just grafted the shell of the new and heavy rubber bumpers onto their existing race car.

And believe me, they were damned fast (I was racing an MGA in vintage by that time).  The team brought up an MGB for Visger, a V12 Etype, and a Jensen Healey (for Lee Muller, I think) and all did very well. The Jag bettered the B prod Corvette record and the driver, IIRC, had never been to the Westwood track before.  It was quite close to Dick Workman's 427 A prod Cobra times!

TurnerX19
TurnerX19 Reader
2/3/19 4:29 p.m.

I am another geezer who worked on these cars when they were new. The rubber bumper cars are worse in every way than the chrome cars. The tappets are smaller than the early car, the catalyst in the engine bay kills everything from heat, the Stromberg is junk next to an S.U. The build quality fell on everything, even the Lucas parts, hard as that may seem.

outasite
outasite HalfDork
2/3/19 5:25 p.m.

In reply to wspohn :

I was on the East coast during that same time when Group 44 was campaigning a Spitfire, a GT6, an MGB and a TR6. Bob Tullius campaigned the TR6 in C Production when his main rival was Bob Sharp's 240 Z. Amazing racing at Lime Rock. The MGB was awesome as well in E production. I also remember when the V12 Jag raced.

frenchyd
frenchyd UltraDork
2/4/19 1:51 p.m.

In reply to outasite :

Group 44 inspired me to build a BP Jaguar XKE V12 roadster to go racing with. 

I bought mine as a theft recovery  and went so far as putting Weber’s and headers on it.  Those headers were a work of art. 

I’ve got a picture someplace of the car just before I finished it.  I’ll try to find it 

Carl Heideman
Carl Heideman
2/4/19 1:51 p.m.

I figure I've fixed and driven over 1000 MGBs between working at University Motors and Eclectic Motorworks and the only thing I'll add is a bit of a defense of the rubber-bumper cars.  They get pretty maligned, but to me it's a bit of the NA Miata debates between the 1.6 and 1.8 cars.  While the rubber bumper cars are slower, heavier, and don't handle as well, they do have some advantages.  The higher ride height works better in driveways, for exhaust problems already mentioned, and bad roads.  The interiors have more plastic but also a few more comforts.   The 1978-80 engine bay makes most service a joy with the radiator moved forward.  While I'm not much of a fan of the single Stromberg carb, it can be made to work and its automatic choke makes the car more accessible for those who can't figure out a manual choke (believe me, we have a lot of customers who still can't).   Finally, they're generally cheaper to buy.  I wouldn't call a chrome bumper MGB faster than a rubber bumper MGB, just less slow.

I've used a 1978 MGB as a daily driver in the summers since 1987.  Most of the time it was basically stock except for dual SUs.  For the past ten years, it's been supercharged with a cam and ported head.  I lowered it about 5 years ago and may raise it back up.  It's fast and handles well for an MGB, but any minivan (or Prius) does better.  

I also have a 1973 MGB/GT and a Miata-powered MGB/GT, but I've always driven the rubber bumper car more.  It's a fun, easy car all the way around.

Don't want to sound too defensive but thought I'd throw another opinion out there.

wspohn
wspohn Dork
2/4/19 2:00 p.m.

Hi Carl.

Agree that it depends on your preferences.  Many MGBs are owned by retirees who no longer want to burn up the road, if they ever did, and the RBBs are excellent for their purposes.

For any that value performance over comfort, they are a horrid choice and will rarely satisfy a hobbyist with those preferences.  To each his own. I happen to have snappy handling and brisk acceleration very high up on my personal scale, so I sometimes may seem less balanced when offering an opinion on the RB cars. I try to moderate my responses and rarely call them Austin Marina convertibles any more......

And of course if you want both performance and relative comfort you can always buy an MGB GT or an MGA coupe.

Bill

TRoglodyte
TRoglodyte UltraDork
2/4/19 2:02 p.m.

I bought an MGB out of a salvage yard for $1,000, tinkered with it washed it and sold it a month later for $2,500. Only car I  ever made that much money on

outasite
outasite HalfDork
2/4/19 2:15 p.m.

In reply to Carl Heideman :

Even back in the day teaching customers how use the hand choke was a must. We had a guy catch the carpet on fire in his XKE V12 twice by starting car and going in the house with the choke on. I also remember teaching young women how to shift into reverse by hitting shift knob with the side of fist to go past detent.

wspohn
wspohn Dork
2/4/19 2:20 p.m.

There is a local story (that has probably spread on the net by now, but I heard it in the early 1970s, locally) about a lady driver that kept bringing her British car in to the dealer saying it ran poorly, but the mechanics could never find any problem. Finally they asked her to drive one of the around. First thing she did when she got into the car was to pull the choke out and hang her purse on it......

I believe that carbs with chokes are the principal reason that engines with carbs do about half the mileage of injected cars before needing a rebuild.

spitfirebill
spitfirebill MegaDork
2/4/19 2:32 p.m.

In reply to Carl Heideman :

I tend to gree with you.  A good friend of mine years ago ran a small import shop and had bought a RBB from a customer.  He told me it ran surprisingly well and told me to take it for a drive.   Not realizing he meant around the yard, I took off out onto the highway and drove several miles.  The car drove and handled fine.  I was quite surprised that the talk about the RBB being so bad weren't what I had thought.             

Carl Heideman
Carl Heideman
2/4/19 3:12 p.m.

Okay, if we're going to tell choke stories, here's one.  We had a customer that no matter how many times we trained him, he just wouldn't remember to turn the choke off.  He never caught the car on fire, but sometimes we'd check his oil and it would have 2-3 extra quarts (of gasoline! not oil).  Finally, we put an MSD ignition box on the car.  Those boxes will fire the leanest mixture so he could start it without the choke and will also fire the most fouled plugs in the world if he  leaves the choke on.  We told him not to use the choke anymore and no problems since.  

p.s.  Of course, we're really not talking about the choke, but the enrichment device if we're using our proper terms.

Carl Heideman
Carl Heideman
2/4/19 3:16 p.m.
wspohn said:

I believe that carbs with chokes are the principal reason that engines with carbs do about half the mileage of injected cars before needing a rebuild.

I 100% agree with you there.  When gas gets washed down those cylinder walls, nothing good happens to the rings or the bottom end.  I remember the Ford V6 that got used in Bronco II's and Ranger pickups used to last about 60-70K when they had carbs and when the same engine went to FI, they'd go at least twice, maybe three times longer.

NOHOME
NOHOME UltimaDork
2/4/19 3:27 p.m.

Rust free, OD, 4 link coil-over rear end, center-lock alloys. new leather seats and carpet, new starter, radiator, fuel tank and entire new front suspension.

Same owner since 1978

Been trying to sell it for 10k Cnd and no bites.

 

Duke
Duke MegaDork
2/4/19 3:58 p.m.

If I had a discretionary $CDN 10k available I would buy that thing in a heartbeat!

wspohn
wspohn Dork
2/4/19 4:01 p.m.

Trying to reduce the fleet - just sold our MGC, but have never owned a GT and would be tempted.  hate to ask, but what part of the country are you in?

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