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MGB

MGB Published: 31st Mar 2016 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

MGB
MGB
MGB
MGB
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Rubber bumper MGBs make great buys and not just because they are cheap…

LAST MONTH’S MGB GUIDE SAID R/B MODELS ARE WORTH OWNING. WHY?

Well, price is the main reason as you’d expect but, this aside, these post 1974 MGBs also have other advantages over the earlier, more desired models.

SUCH AS WHAT?

Chiefly it’s detail stuff as well as a better driver environment. Worthy improvements included a spin-on oil filter, proper 12 volt electrics (that are far more reliable than the old twin six volters), nice V8-style instruments and – at last – the standard fitment of that almost essential overdrive. Also, for 1976 models, the operating switch is fitted atop of the gear lever so you can activate the overdrive and change gear with one hand! In 1977 dual circuit brakes were installed (always worth having for peace of mind on any classic we feel) while the glove box didn’t require the ignition key to open anymore – there’s progress for you!

ANYTHING ELSE?

Yes, an electric cooling fan was fitted for a bit more power and a lot less noise, superior Triumph dials and Marina switchgear were now installed, the GT gained tinted glass (1977) and, for 1979, larger tyres were specified. Also that year, the MGB received altered wiring and standard door speakers to accept an optional stereo. Instrument faces were standardised and special alloy wheels, as seen on US cars, were made optional, sitting on fatter 185/70 x14 tyres. In 1980 rear fog lamps were fitted under the bumper.

YES, BUT WHAT ABOUT THAT RIDE HEIGHT?

You’re right! Along with the rubber (Bayflex) bumpers, the most contentious issue of post 1974 cars has to be the raised ride height (by a whopping 1.5 inches!) to appease American crash protection regs. This ruined the MGB’s already aging handling characteristics and was made worse by strangely deleting the anti-roll bars although a front one remained on the GT.

WASN’T THIS ALL SOON CORRECTED THOUGH?

Sort of. For 1977 a major rethink suspension and steering saw revised spring rates and the welcome return of anti-roll bars to stop excessive roll. V8 wheel hubs and a new lower ratio steering, helped return the MGB back to its former glory, although the increased ride height remained and still affected the handling somewhat, making later MGBs not as sporty as before although the new steering made the tiller welcomely lighter. To really sharpen up this MG’s handling it’s worth fitting uprated front and rear anti-roll bars, which transform the dynamics for around £100 or you can go the whole hog and fit the MGR V8 front axle and gain much improved brakes at the same time.

CAN I LOWER ONE?

Oh yeah and easily and cheaply – from as little as £70 with crude lowering blocks – although it’s better to use the appropriate springs if you want to do it properly.

It’s fair to say that most rubber bumper cars will have been modified to some degree by now and the standard set up, while not tailored to handling, gave the MGB a far better ride plus made entry and egress that bit easier. We’re told by MGB specialists that later models appeal to older owners for those very reasons. Altering the steering caster angle, to accept modern radial tyres also made the steering less a chore.

ARE THE ENGINES ALL THE SAME?

No. Later ones were slightly detuned to comply with tightening US emissions. It did only slightly take the edge off the performance but, more significantly, sadly led to the engine ‘pinking’ more profoundly under load as well as being prone to run-on after being switched off.

Not all suffer from these less than desirable traits but don’t be surprised if you experience them on a test drive Again, you can modify the B-Series engine to give a lot more go plus eradicate those unwelcome characteristics.

CAN I CONVERT ONE TO A CHROME LOOK?

Yes and many have been duly converted. It’s not as easy as it sounds mind because you need the proper mounts. Prices depend on whether you use new or old bumpers, but typically it costs around £600. However, you can buy dedicated kits from many specialists such as MGB Hive, MOSS etc, or the MGOC.

ANY OTHER IDEAS?

Well, you can go the Sebring racing look; go to http://www.veebee. com and the Upgrades4MGs website for some ideas; a Moss wing set costs £388, for example. Another racy idea comes from Revolution Performance Sportscars (RPS) and its bodykit, designed specifically for rubber bumper MGBs, transforms those looks. You could colour-code the existing bumpers – such an art wasn’t that well developed 40 years ago – although it best works on dark colours as it looks too over-done on lighter shades.

WHAT ABOUT THE INTERIOR?

Rubber bumper MGBs did suffer from a very 1970’s trim that’s far removed from the classy traditional look. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of trim upgrades to suit all models and you can turn your rubber bumper car into something akin to the RV8 if you wish. Or, care of RPS, you can now go even more retro than the MGA with its cowled dashboard look which used standard instruments.

HOW CHEAP ARE THEY?

MGB values have more or less flatlined over the past couple of years and the cheapest model you’ll find is a rubber-bumpered GT where a shabby runner could cost you less than £1000 but while temptingly cheap will need work to make half decent. Ideally, you are better off spending £2500, at least, instead on a better example which is roughly the going price of an average Roadster. Good cars, perhaps with the chrome look cost around £4000 upwards which is £2-3000 under an equivalent genuine chrome bumper model.

Don’t be tempted to buy a wreck of an RB to restore as rubber bumper cars aren’t really collectable and you won’t make money on one even if you convert it to chrome; in fact, some MGB experts reckon converted models are neither one thing or the other.

ARE THERE ANY EXCEPTIONS?

There’s two. The first is the 1975 special edition MGB GT Anniversary model. It was a limited run of 750 to specially mark 50 years of MG production and these cars are easily identified by their British Racing Green paintwork and V8 rims (in gold). We’d expect to see these versions still rubber bumpered as any conversion will affect their future values. The same applies to the last 1000 MGBs 178 which were badged as LE and came with special colours and decals. Of the pair it will be the Anniversary model which will be worth the most, perhaps valued roughly around the price of an earlier chromed bumper variant or a touch more. Watch for fakes and missing official badging.

ANY BUYING TIPS?

Plenty and our full buying guide last month is worth reading (back issues available). In the main, you have little to worry about when it comes to the oily bits, but not so the bodyshell which can rot badly and, due to their lower values over chrome bumper models, prone to lash up repairs. Inner wings, floors and sills are the chief rot spots and, if bad, will render a car scrap despite the excellent availability of replacement body panels (including complete new shells) from British Motor Heritage. You are looking at almost ten grand for a new shell, plus prepping and painting further pushing up the prices – and let’s be honest, few rubber bumper MGBs are worth lavishing that on!

SHOULD I BUY ONE?

We reckon every classic car lover should own an MGB at some point and there’s precious little wrong with a good rubber bumper MGB – especially once you have modified the suspension to bring back that sports car feel. They make great value classics that – in GT guise – also make viably daily drivers and second cars. Yes, these Bs do have a buzz about them!



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