Sometime ago, Chuck Cougill asked
me to write an article about my MG buying techniques for his club's
newsletter. As I struggled to complete the article, I realized the
reason for the struggle was because buying MG’s is not a technique or
process for me. It is, instead, a philosophy. Since Chuck
originally published the article, we’ve had several requests to
reprint it in local club newsletters. And as I’ve read and
reread it, I’ve realized there are gaping holes in the article.
As some people read the article, they decided I was trying to
"cheat" them out of their cars; ultimately, I removed the
article from every source that had been given permission to run
it. However, those who accused me of cheating turned out to be the
minority; and, since removing it from the public, many people have
written expressing a desire to get a copy as they start their search for
the perfect car. So, I've decided I really didn't want to deal
with those folks who were threatened by the knowledge in my article, and
have decided to once again offer it to you guys.
I’m also reworking the article into my full car buying philosophy and
am slowly taking photos of various things I cover in it to help the
neophyte to better understand my philosophy. However, as I’ve
honed that philosophy over a lifetime, its hard to completely and openly
explain it in one article. But, I’ll try to put everything I
know into this one article - be patient, accompanying photos are
forthcoming. Hmmm, maybe I should look at publishing the final
product into a book!
TONY's WAY - The Article
Granddaddy always said, "The man who mentions money first
usually loses." And the older I get, the more I realize
that I learned everything I needed to know about buying cars while
riding around with him in his old Ford pickup. And most of that
education was gained before I even started school.
During my formative years, I bought and sold more cars than the normal
teenager - 7 during high school alone. My first was a 1938
Pontiac. From there, I moved to a 1949 Pontiac, a 1950 Ford, a
1955 Chevrolet convertible, a 1952 Studebaker truck, a 1955 Oldsmobile,
and a 1953 Studebaker. After high school I would own an Austin
Healey 100-4, a Sunbeam Alpine, a couple of Jaguars, a 1964 Pontiac
Grand Prix, both a 1967 Mustang and a 1967 Galaxie, a 1956 Studebaker
truck, and the ubiquitous line up of BMW‘s: a 2002ti, 320is, and a
Somewhere along the line, however, I fell in love with MG’s and began
a lifetime association with that marque. Oh, I’ve always been
car crazy and, just like every other American teenager, went through my
share of American hot rods. It was, however, the little MG that
solidified my status as a lifelong ‘car nut’. And over the
years, I’d estimate I’ve bought, sold, restored or parted out close
to 500 MG’s. Yep! Believe it! Today there are 18 MG’s
in my personal permanent collection and around 50 or so in my MG
Graveyard plus the ubiquitous 6 to a dozen I always have around for
So, I consider myself somewhat qualified on all aspects of how to
purchase one of these little cars. Heck, to me, the hunt for and
acquisition of these cars is almost as exciting as a warm summer evening’s
top down drive with Jimmy Buffet music blasting from the speakers of one
of my MG‘s!
So, how do I go about acquiring my MG’s? I’m almost hesitant
to freely “spill the beans” as I’ve always thought I had an
advantage because I know the little cars so well and have fine tuned my
hunt technique. If I tell all my secrets, then I have to contend
with the competition; plus, there are guys on TV selling the secrets of
their whatever techniques for $19.95 or some ridiculous amount.
However, if I share a few tips that’ll help you make your one MG
purchase a bit easier, maybe we‘ll all win. So, here goes.
I suppose the first word I should share with you is: EMOTIONLESS.
When you finally find a car you decide to go look at, leave your
emotions at home. Tell yourself that you're going to look at a
piece of junk you really don't need - or want. Tell yourself the
impending trip is just a learning experience. Tell yourself you
don’t need another car. Then, if you find otherwise, what a
pleasant surprise! But, you will have dealt with the car’s owner
in a purely professional and emotionless manner. And, you know, it
seems that every time I give in to my emotions, I buy something I
shouldn’t have for a price that’s way to high! Plus, I never
want to make an enemy of the owner of one of these little cars as he
might be a potential customer for my used parts business. I just
need to be able to professionally appraise the car’s value for
inclusion in my collection, for resale, or as a parts car. And the
owner usually has enough emotions tied to the car for both of us.
The second word I’d share is: CASH.
Whenever someone contacts me wanting to sell an MG, I try to get
enough particulars at that time to develop an initial price range.
Based on my experience and his description of the car, I then set my
spending limits: the amount I really want to pay for the car and the
ceiling I’m willing to go to in the event its better than I
think. Then, on the day I go to inspect the car, I carry
hundred dollar bills. Before I leave home, I sort them into 2
bundles. One bundle is the price I want to pay if I decide to buy
the car. The other bundle is the additional amount I might go to
if the car is better than I thought it would be. I put the 2
bundles in different pockets. (Hey, you asked how I buy cars. I’m
telling you!) Oh: I never, ever pay more for a car than what I
have in my pocket on the day I go to initially look it over. If I
don’t buy a car on the day I go to see it because the car is either
too expensive or its not real desirable, I always put one of my business
cards with my offer written on the back in the owner‘s hands.
And rarely do I ever go into my other pocket for the hundred dollar
bills stashed there. Heck, nine times out of ten, I’ll not even
use the full amount of money in my first pocket! But, yep, I
always let the owner see the cash!
There’s one exception to the cash rule: the car I happen to spot as I’m
driving down the road. Whenever I spot an MG, I always turn around
and go look it over - ALWAYS - even if there’s nobody at home!
No MG is left without at least a quick look! If it turns out to be
a desirable car, and the owner and I make a deal on the spot, I always
have enough hundred dollar bills on me to leave a deposit. If
nobody’s home, I always leave my contact information. You’d be
surprised how many times I get a phone call because I left a business
card on a windshield or front door - sometimes months later when I‘ve
forgotten all about the car.
And, yes, I make an offer on every old, dead MG I find whether I really
need it or not. Doing so has helped me develop a system for
identifying probable purchase prices for future cars I might find.
I keep a log of every car I find - whether or not I end up buying it -
and what I was willing to or did pay for it. The log has a
description of the car‘s condition and a map to where its located in
the event I want to go back again. I’ve also found that, if an
owner refuses my final offer and I leave him my card, he’ll usually
call me within a few months or so to take me up on my last cash offer.
“But, what about ebay and other internet actions?” you
ask. Yes, I do buy through them; and I have a technique for that
also. I peruse the usual internet auctions typically once or twice
a week. If I find an interesting car within my predetermined
driving distance (for me that‘s any car I can get to and return with
between the hours when the sun is on high), I’ll make a bid that’s
equal to what I might consider were I talking to the owner on the
phone. Its usually not enough to buy the car but it does indicate
Then, I send the seller an email letting him know that I’ve made a bid
and asking for a bit more information. I also ask 2 other
questions: “How much will it take for you to close the auction
today?” and “What’s your reserve?” I’ve
bought lots of cars (and a motorcycle) by simply asking how much the
seller wants for his vehicle that day. Plus, I don’t have to go
through the torture of the entire auction. On the other hand, if
the seller won’t tell me his reserve, I never make another bid - even
if I want the car! There are too many cars out there for me to
waste my time playing games with a car that might be more expensive than
I’m willing to pay.
Yes, there are internet auction sellers who’ll tell you they can’t
reveal their reserve because its not fair to the other bidders.
And? How can me knowing the reserve be unfair? If I want the
car, I’ll just bid the reserve when I make my next bid. If the
reserve moves the car out of my price range, you’d think a seller
would want me to have that information so I don’t waste his time or
mess up his auction. I wonder about people like that. Its as
if they don’t really have a sales price and are just hoping for the
highest dollar possible! Or, they're afraid somebody's trying to
After my initial internet auction bid, I just sit back and watch.
I don’t make another bid until the waning hours of the auction.
Oh, if there are ‘sunglasses’ besides the name of a bidder, I drop
out of the bidding. For those of you not familiar with internet
auctions, ebay uses a little sunglass icon to identify a new member of
ebay or a member who has changed his screen identity. For other
auction companies, there are similar icons. I just don’t bid
against people who have no proven history or who are hiding their
The third word I’ll share with you is: NEGOTIATING.
I don’t! Whenever a seller makes his offer, I either accept
it or walk away. I know what the car is worth to me, he knows what
its worth to him. Why intentionally make him angry by insulting
him? I’ll usually politely thank him for his time and get ready
to leave. If he asks me what I would pay, then I’ll make an
offer. But, not until then.
And I never mention money first. My Granddad’s adage has proven
true too many times. Somewhere in his story, the seller will
reveal his asking price. If he doesn’t, somewhere after I
inspect the car, I’ll ask his price. Never, however, before I’ve
gone over the car and pointed out its strengths and weaknesses.
And, if he can’t give me a specific price, I walk! (Yes, there
are people who won’t put a price on a car they want to sell.
They want me to put a value on their car. When I do that, I get
paid as an appraiser!)
Yes, there’s always the guy with the old, “I don’t know. Whadda
ya think its worth to you?” response. And he might have the
particular car I need to complete my collection. However, my
emotions were left in my truck so, at that point, I usually explain that
I’m not the typical MG buyer, that the car is probably not as valuable
to me as to the guy looking for his one - and only - car, that its just
one of many I already own or that it’s a duplicate of one I already
have. I usually end by telling him I can’t read what’s in his
mind and don’t want to insult him so would prefer he tell me what he
wants for the car and, that if I’m interested in the car at his price,
I’ll pay cash for it on the spot.
Now, earlier in this article, I stated that I “make an offer on every
old, dead MG I find”. But in this section I stated that I never
negotiate. Where’s the consistency in those two statements you
might wonder. Easy. Whenever the seller tells me his price,
I either take him up on it or say ’thank you’ and walk away.
Nobody has ever let me walk away without asking, “Well, what’ll
you give me for it?” There’s my opportunity to make an
"So, what do you mean by $1500 or best offer?”
is a question I often ask. You know the scenario: MG in a front
yard with “$1500 OBO” painted on the windshield in white shoe
polish. It looks as though the shoe polish was applied months ago,
and nobody’s ever stopped to look the car over. Before I even
feel under the sills, I want to clear up what he thinks is the real
price of the car. From his answer, I’ll decide whether or not I’m
interested enough to investigate further. Is that mentioning
money first? I don't think so. If he says
something like, "Well, I turned down $1400 the other
day." then I understand exactly where he's coming from
and can quickly decide whether or not the car merits further
examination. If I do follow through with the examination, I
usually either buy the car if its worth what he says his latest offer
was or kindly thank him while explaining that the car isn't up to that
offer and that if he still has the guy's number, "you need to
call him." Usually that statement elicits a "Well,
what'll you offer for it?" There's my opportunity.
And remember: it doesn’t matter to me how many MG’s I end up
with. I have a goal for my personal collection: to own one of each
‘type’ MG produced after World War II. If I buy a car that’s
a duplicate of one I already own, I’ll repair/restore it and offer it
for resale. If I find an old dead car that’s not worth restoring, I’ll
put in in my MG Graveyard as a parts car.
Another important word is: STORY.
Every car owner has one
and its important to let him tell it. From it you’ll glean lots of
information about the car: how long he’s had it, why he’s thinking
about selling, what work he’s done on it, what he thinks is wrong with
it, why he parked it way back when; and, amidst it all, his asking
price. (Remember my Granddaddy’s adage!) Plus, when you do inspect the
car, you can compare what it’s telling you to his story and determine
the actual truth about the car. In my experience, very few people will
set out to lie to you. If they do, their story will usually make it
blatantly clear they’re doing so. And, when I determine that’s the
case, Katie bar the door! I’m going to use his story against him!
Regardless, be patient, ask questions, and let him tell his story.
important to him. Selling a car can be sort of like a funeral.
emotions tied to the car even if its been sitting for many years. And,
the owner has to work himself up to parting with it (unless the guy’s
a dealer; and I don’t mess with them or their cars!)
I remember the little 1969 MGB GT I went to look at a few years
older guy had it in his back yard under a pine tree. His son had driven
it all through college and, when he moved out West, had parked the car.
It had stood there for many years, long enough that its tires were flat
and its wire wheels were imbedded in the ground - and it had about an
inch of pine needles all over it. That car marked the youth of his son
and was the only real thing the old guy had that solidified his
relationship with the son. If the car stayed in the backyard, the son
might come home. If the car left, the son would probably only show up
every few years at Christmas. Almost a year later he called and took me
up on my offer.
An additional word is: PRESENTATION.
Usually, when I spot
an MG on the side of the road, I’m either driving one of my MG’s or
my 380SL Mercedes. And if I’m in one of my ‘nice’ cars, I’ll
rarely stop to look at an MG. When I spy an MG on the side of the road
while I’m in either of those cars, I just mark it for a return trip in
my pickup. I’ve found that, when I pull up in a nice car, the price of
the MG usually goes up. So, when I’m ’MG hunting’ I drive my 1992
GMC Sonoma (I love that truck!). Oh, on the sides of my Sonoma are two
little magnetic signs. They say “MG Support Vehicle” and underneath
have my web address “www.theAutoist.com“.
I don’t try to hide the fact that I’m a serious collector. Instead,
I use that to my advantage.
When I make an appointment to look at an MG I‘ve come across, I always
take my truck and trailer. Taking my trailer shows my interest and
determination but it does not mean I’ll return home with a full
trailer. Now, that’s something that took some getting used to: walking
away when you have a trailer with you. But, its something I have to be
willing to do even if the drive is unusually long. The worst car in my
collection is also the rarest, my 1960 Mk III Farina Magnette. The drive
to look at it was an overnighter, all the way from Alabama to Kansas.
When I got there, the car was worse than I thought. I probably should’ve
come home with an empty trailer. But, I convinced myself that the rarity
of the car and its relatively low price offset its problems. Plus, I
rationalized that if nothing else it would eventually become a good
parts car for another similar model that was in better condition. However, most MG’s aren’t rare so, as far as I’m concerned, they
can stay where they are if the price isn’t consistent with the
If I buy a car I‘ve made an appointment to look at, I move it on the
spot. If I go back to look at a car I earlier found on the side of the
road, I move it on the spot. No MG remains where it was once I’ve made
the decision to buy it. Some I find on the side of the road or buy over
the internet or via long distance telephone may stay where they are
until I can get back to pick them up; but, once I’ve made my deal, the
car comes home with me! At most, it might sit where it is until the
weekend. And it always comes home on a trailer, regardless of how well
sorted out it was during the test drive.
Oh, a part of presentation is what I wear. Never go to look at an MG
wearing Ralph St Laurent Polo! I usually put on some casual, nondescript
clothes that I don’t mind getting dirty or greasy. You never know who
you’re going to be talking with and I don’t want to look like I’m
wealthy or in a better economic position that the car’s seller. If
anything, I want to appear to be on their level or a bit lower. That
makes them relax a bit and the whole process goes a lot smoother.
So, that leads me to MG HUNTING.
...one of my favorite
pastimes. Back when my daughter was younger, she and I enjoyed visiting
salvage yards around where we lived. We were an Army family and moved
often so there were always new salvage yards to visit. Occasionally, we
might buy a car or some parts or just wander through the rows of dead
cars, but we always had fun. Usually, however, we came home with at
least a box of parts; that‘s how my parts business began. Now that she’s
grown, my wife and I, while not wandering through salvage yards, take
short trips in my Sonoma looking for interesting cars on the side of the
road. We call them “MG hunting”.
I remember one time out in Oklahoma my daughter and I were out and about
when we spotted a line of old cars in a prairie. Stopping to ask about
them, we found a young girl who told us her father owned the cars but
was deaf. I asked her if I could speak with him and she took me to him
with a reminder that he never sold any of his cars. When we got to the
house, she pulled out her little notebook so I could write him a note.
Instead, I attempted to sign to him. Quickly, he told her to just have
me write out what I wanted to say because spelling out each word
letter-by-letter was too boring. Long story short, he sold me a car
because I at least tried to ‘speak’ to him. Moral of the story?
MG hunts, be prepared for anything and take everything in stride.
I keep a pair of 10-power
binoculars in my truck to help me identify cars that might have their
snouts sticking out from behind a garage or that are covered with grass
or junk. I also keep an extra pair of boots and a pair of gloves in the
truck in case I set out across a field to see what I've
discovered. And over the years, we’ve become quite adept at
identifying potential ‘MG lairs’ (neighborhoods that might hold a
treasure) or spotting little abandoned cars on the side of the road.
Plus, we actually have fun just riding and talking, and we find some
neat ‘mom and pop diners‘ or other interesting sites to visit while
we're out and about.
When we’re on one of those outings, we always keep a local county map
with us so we can mark a car’s location. If we don't have a map,
we always have my 'MG Notebook' handy for making a 'quickie' map to get
us back to the car. Our marking might simply say, “white
chrome MGBGT at 123 Name of Road Street” or “old TR7
convertible behind barn next to yellow brick house” though I try
to get as much contact information as possible. Some finds I’ll go
back to check on, others I’ll keep for future reference in the event I
need that particular car or I’ve a friend who wants one. I suppose
they could be called my ‘off site inventory’!
MG hunting also takes place every time I sit down to read my daily
newspaper. I automatically go to the ‘foreign car’ and ‘antique
and sports car’ sections of the classifieds on a daily basis. Some
cars listed there I’ll investigate further, others I’ll just phone
& leave my name and telephone number. Even when we’re out of town
on a short trip, I peruse the local papers for MG’s that might be for
sale. Plus, whenever we go out to our local diner for a hamburger, I
also peruse the auto section of the local sales newspapers. You know the
type: free newspapers where people pay to list things they have for
And MG’s come to me. Yep. And they come through various means.
told most of the teenage boys in my area that I’ll pay them $25 for
every MG they find that I eventually buy. As my reputation grows, people
call me out of the blue asking if I’m interested in buying their old
MG. When I’m out and about, I stop at every garage or little business
I pass that has an MG sitting outside behind a chain link fence. My
local salvage yards direct everybody wanting to abandon an MG or other
British car with them to me instead. Heck, my wife even found and bought
me and MG once. It was parked in the garage of a friend of hers.
friend had owned the car since it was one-year old and didn’t want her
teenage daughter to desire it when she got her drivers license.
One rainy Sunday afternoon Jerri and I returned home from lunch to find
a little '63 wire wheel Midget sitting in our driveway. It wasn't
there when we left earlier in the day. We had no idea from where
it came (& to this day still have no clue). But, there it
was. Not a straight panel on its body, no engine or
transmission. But, it had a great wire wheel suspension and some
decent bright pieces, instruments, etc. So, it went to my MG
Graveyard to be disassembled as a parts car.
Have you noticed I’ve not yet even gotten around to looking at a car
yet? That’s because there are lots of things to accomplish before a
door is ever opened or a tire kicked. And that’s the reason I’m
usually successful in my purchase endeavors: PREPARATION.
The basics: eat and go to the bathroom before going to look at a
car; wear clothing conducive to the day; don’t have anything on your
calendar for the remainder of the day other than getting the little car
home should you buy it; don’t take your wife or child or dog or
friends along when you go to buy a car.
Now I know that last statement is at odds with one of the ‘MG hunts’
Jerri and I occasionally set off on. And it is sometimes also violated
when we’re just out on a trip and I slam on my brakes with a hearty
“MG” yell. However, on most days when we’re out on a hunt, she’s
brought along a magazine or book or something else to occupy her time.
And we’ve previously agreed that no matter how long I spend in a guy’s
garage or under a car, she’ll not interrupt. If she needs to go to the
bathroom or wants a soda, she simply drives off to find the nearest
convenience store or filling station. If I happen to finish and she’s
gone, I just sit down on the curb and wait for her to return. That
usually doesn’t happen, however, as on our planned hunting expeditions
she likes to carry a cooler with soda, bottled water and snacks.
Do your homework. Know what problem areas to look for such as
differences in models, relative value of like cars in the area, rust,
mechanical issues, etc., necessary to make a sound business decision.
Because, every purchase IS a business decision. They have to be that
way. I can’t allow myself to buy a car based on emotions (however,
when I do find that MG Y-Type sedan, well…). Before I go to look at a
car, even though I know what to expect, I always peruse one of my buyer’s
guides. There are differences in models and, though I am an expert on MG’s
of all model years, I like to reaffirm in my mind what I might expect to
Carry a set of tools and an original MG jack plus a small floor jack
with you. Several years ago, I found a compact little floor jack
that weighs about 10 pounds but that'll lift an MG off the ground high
enough for me to slide underneath. Its always in my truck.
Take along some old overalls you can pull on over your clothes along
with something you can spread on the ground under the car. Carry your
favorite magnet and a powerful flashlight. Carry a battery or at least a
set of jumper cables long enough to reach from your truck to the car.
Carry a can of starter fluid, a gallon of anti-freeze, a gallon of gas,
and a can of brake fluid. Be self sufficient; don’t rely on the owner
to have anything you might need to assess his car. Heck, I’ve walked
away from cars after filling the radiator and bleeding the brakes or
clutch because the price was too steep. No big deal, when I walked, I
left my business card. And, after what I did to the car, the owner will
call me first when he’s ready to sell the car at a reasonable price.
And the last word I want to share with you is PATIENCE.
know, I know. Every article you pick up about this topic says for you to
be patient when buying a car and to wait for just the right car to come
along. I agree with them. The right MG isn’t necessarily the prettiest
or shiniest. It’s the most solid, has the best mechanicals and
interior you can find, and has never been chopped up or modified beyond
recognition. In the search for that one car, you’ll find lots that
aren’t up to your standards. Hey, MG’s aren’t scarce! There are
more of them out there than will ever be needed by all the enthusiasts
of this generation or the next or the next. You don’t have to rush
blindly into a deal on the first car you come across.
Plus, an MG takes up a space roughly 7’-8’x15’ in a garage or
junkyard. Yes, I know that’s larger than the car; however, you have to
be able to open the doors, walk around it, get under it; and, when you
start removing parts and make it immobile, you’ll need enough space
that you can get some type of heavy equipment under it to haul it off
the salvage yard. So, if you buy every MG you find, pretty soon you'll
end up like me with an MG Graveyard!
Oh, if you only have a 2-car garage, you definitely only want to buy 1
MG. Remember, once disassembled, the car will take up twice the space it
did when assembled. So, at some point your significant other’s car
will be outside in the cold! Be prepared for that. Leave all the
homeless, abandoned, little waif’s to guys like me; we‘re prepared
to take them in so they can sacrifice their lives to renew the life of
your car. Concentrate on patiently going about your search for 1 MG you
can call your own.
THE CAR ITSELF
Well, if we’ve done all our pre-inspection homework and are prepared,
I guess its time to go look at a car. Remember, it’s a piece of junk
that we neither want nor need!
Now, the deadliest thing to an MG is RUST. Heck,
rust is the most deadly thing to any car; just on ours its usually
terminal. When I first walk up to a car, I reach up underneath the
bottom edge of the front fender well and feel the bottom edge of the
sill/castle rail where it turns upwards at the foot well. I do this on
both sides. If the car is solid there, it merits further inspection; if
there’s a hole in either or both sills at best its just a $100 to $200
parts car (to me). Once that basic assumption is made, the rest is easy.
Before you even open the door or hood or trunk/hatch or look anywhere
else on the car, spread out the big piece of whatever you brought to lay
on the ground. Using either his or your original MG jack, lift each side
of the car using the car's jack points. Watch what happens to the body
gaps along the doors. Do they remain even? Or, do they distort so that
they become narrower or wider at the top of the door? I usually do the
driver side first and them move around to the passenger side.
Next, with one side jacked up, lay on your back under the car and run
the entire length of each sill with a pointed screwdriver. I know, I
know: its not a good idea to get up under a car without the safety
of jack stands. Usually when I’m looking at a car in somebody’s yard
that I’ve lifted with the original jack, I put a couple of small
concrete blocks under the tires. You know the type, they’re a half
block and will keep the tire from dropping all the way down to the
After checking a sill with your screwdriver, check the corresponding
floor and rear spring hanger for rust. While you’re under each side
also look at the suspension, exhaust, battery boxes, and gas tank that
you can see from that vantage point. Grab the drive shaft and feel
slop; turn the wheels by hand and listen to drag and for unusual noises.
Look at plumbing and wiring. You’re looking for wear, slop, rust, and
overall condition. Is the underside of the car coated with oil?
steering rack boots cracked, torn or missing? Are the lever shocks
Spend some contemplative time on your back listening to what the car is
telling you. The owner has told you his story, now listen as the car
tells you hers.
Many times, this is as far as I go with a car. If she proves to be a ‘rust
bucket’ and the owner is asking showroom prices, there’s no need for
me to waste any more of his or my time. When that occurs, I thank the
seller for his time and explain that the car is too far gone to restore.
If he asks me what its worth to me, I explain that I buy parts cars for
$200 and would do so with his car. If he doesn’t accept that one
offer, I simply thank him, give him my business card with the words “Parts
‘72 MG - $200” written on the back and tell him if he decides to get
rid of it, I’ll be happy to come back with my trailer.
EXTERNAL BODY INSPECTION
If - after your undercarriage inspection - the car appears solid
structurally, and you’ve put the last side down on its wheels, start
inspecting the body panels for rust. Yes, I know you might have
seen some as you walked up to the car but its irrelevant if the
undersides and main body chassis is solid. Once you're out from
under the car, you need to look at the rockers, wheel arches, doglegs,
edges of bonnet and trunk/hatch for telltale signs of rust. Don't
worry about opening trunks or hoods yet, let the outside of the body
tell you its story. Remember: an MG rusts from the inside out.
you see actual rust or rust bubbles on the surface of the body around
the rocker or wheel arches, you’ve got a bigger problem up underneath.
If there’s rust, for example, in the bottom of the front fenders,
remove the splash panel and look inside with a flashlight to see the
front end of the rocker. (If he won’t allow you to look - walk away!)
Again, decide if you want to investigate further or are going to call it
a parts car and continue appropriately.
If you decide to continue with your inspection, sight down the side of
the body from either the front or rear. Get a real deep angle on the
body and look for little ripples or slight waves that usually give away
an accident or other type body repair. Look to see if the trim line is
continuous or if a fender or door is higher or lower than the rest of
the car. Wherever your line of sight distorts, there‘s been some type
repair made. Those problem areas need to be checked closer.
Now its time to "look" behind that shiny new paint job.
But how to do so? A magnet! You don't want to, however, drag
a metal magnet over a beautiful paint job but you do want to check for
body filler hidden behind the paint. The only way to do that other than
removing the paint is with a magnet. And a magnet applied directly to
paint could stick to the body even though there‘s body filler
underneath. So, whenever you pull out your magnet out to check a suspect
body panel, use something under it to protect the paint and to offer
enough resistance so that the strength of the magnet is diminished
enough to not stick over filler. I use a hundred dollar bill (seems
appropriate & passes a subconscious message to the owner looking
over my shoulder); you could do the same with a dollar bill.
Actually, if the paint is relatively new, it’s a good idea to use a
magnet on all the usual rust spots: rockers, doglegs, bottoms of front
fenders, wheel arches, headlight surround areas, edges/corners of
bonnet/trunk/hatch. And we’ve yet to open a door or bonnet or
trunk/hatch. Check the edges of both front fenders and rear quarters
where the fender bead comes in contact with the body. Is the paint
flaking there? Has the fender bead been sanded off? Don’t rush; don’t
let the seller cause you to rush. You have your game plan. Stick to it!
In addition to visible signs of rust along the bottom edges of the
doors, look between the mirrors and vent windows for the ’crack of
doom’. If its there you know one of two things: the windshield frame
is out of alignment or somebody’s been closing the door by pulling on
the vent window. Look along the bottom edge of the windshield to
ascertain whether or not the windshield weather stripping has hardened
and shrunk. While you’re looking at weather stripping, look at that
around the door. Is it in good condition? Look for the little rubber
plug at the top edge of the vent windows on roadsters. Look for the
weather stripping between the vent windows and the door.
Now is where your homework pays off. Do you know which model years
had a seam on the rear valance just to the inside of the reverse lights?
Some years did, some didn’t. If the seam’s supposed to be there and
its not, that’s evidence of a rear end collision. Do you know
where the seams are supposed to be at the rocker? Are they there?
they even? Is the gap too wide? Problems in that area point to previous
rocker replacement or even amateur fabrication. Do you know which years
had the seam in the little piece underneath the taillights? Do you know
what year rubber bumper cars had satin black painted front valences?
Some years were body color, some black. If the wrong color’s there,
the car has been repainted. Immediately check the area under and behind
the rear rubber bumper. It was always satin black from the factory.
Incorrect color equals repainted car.
Lights and bright work are areas where I don’t spend a lot of time.
Its either all there and useable or its not. I’ll take the condition
or problems into account when the seller finally mentions price. However, one thing to look at is whether or not the bumpers are in their
original positions or are pushed in too close to the car’s body.
do you know which cars had tow hooks and where those tow hooks were
originally located? They were originally used to tie the cars down on
board the ship/train/truck that originally transported them to the
dealership of first ownership. If they’re gone, there’s a pretty
good chance the bumper was replaced for whatever reason.
If everything to this point checks out, she’s solid and accident free and merits
further investigation. Open the driver door taking into account whether
or not the hinges sag or are sloppy. Sit down in the drivers seat and
study the instrument panel, the pedals, the windshield, the carpet.
the window all the way down. What you’re looking for is anything that’ll
cost money. Did you drop into a hole when you sat down? Is the
upholstery in good condition and the original pattern? A clouded
windshield means water has gotten between the layers of glass; clouded
instruments usually mean water intrusion. A clock, if present, that
doesn’t have a moving second hand means a broken clock. DO NOT
START THE ENGINE! DO NOT EVEN TURN THE KEY IN THE IGNITION! DO NOT EVEN
ATTEMPT TO OPEN THE BONNET! Heck, the first thing I do when I get in
a car is take the key out of the ignition and lay it on the transmission
tunnel. It might take me an hour to get around to hearing the engine
Look at the pedals. Are the rubber pads there? Are they worn?
worn or missing, the mileage is suspect. (See, the car will tell you her
story if you understand her language.) Look at the sun visors.
they’re supposed to be there but aren’t or are sagging, there’s
more expense and she‘s telling you she‘s been left out in the
weather with her top down. Look at the dash. Is it cracked?
put a dash topper over it? If there’s a dash topper, the dash
underneath is cracked, you just can’t see it!
Look at the carpet. However, do you know whether or not the car actually
came with carpet or rubber mats? Did it originally have rubber mats over
the sills? Is carpet there now? Are the carpet edges bound or just
open carpet? Is the carpet glued down or snapped in place? You have to
know what was original and what’s there now. Listen, the car is
speaking to you!
Go around to the passenger side and open the door Do the hinges sag?
you drop into that seat hole? Does the window go up and down?
upholstery pass the test? If there’s a glove box, open it and read
every piece of paper in the car. She’s telling you her story!
LISTEN TO THE SELLER AND COMPARE
WHAT HE’S SAYING TO WHAT THE CAR’S TELLING YOU. ASK QUESTIONS, BUT
STAY AWAY FROM THE ISSUE OF MONEY! AND WE’RE STILL NOT INTERESTED IN
THE ENGINE COMPARTMENT!
both seat backs forward and remove the carpet from over the battery box.
Remove the battery box cover and look at the age and condition of the
battery and its box (or, batteries if both are there). Sometimes, people
put plastic boxes in the battery holes for storage, looks, to quiet down
road noise, protect the battery, etc., not necessarily because of rust.
Is the original fuel pump evident in cars where it was located at the
battery box? Check the seat belts to see if they work.
the top. Yes, drop the top. And you've not even started the engine
yet. Bet that's driving the seller crazy! Explain to him/her
that the engine is the least of your concerns, that the unibody and its
pieces/parts are where the expense of a restoration are found.
you’re finished with the interior and top, open the trunk. Take the
spare out and lay it on the ground. Does the lid show the usual
bend or crack at the stay? Is there any evidence of repairs to the
underside of the trunk lid in the stay area? Is there any rust on the
back side of the trunk? How’s the weather stripping? Is the trunk the
same color as the body? Is there any rust in the trunk or any evidence
of water damage? Is there any evidence of body repairs to the insides of
the rear quarters? Are there huge, gaping speaker holes in the bulkhead
between the trunk and passenger compartment? On later cars, is the
original fuel pump there along with its safety cover? Does the trunk
light work? Is the spare there along with its hold down? Jack in
original bag? Tonneau in bag? Are the zippers operable?
Does it fit or
has it shrunk (now you know why we put the top down)? Is the boot
present and in its bag? Does it fit (see, another reason for the top to
be down)? Are the boot bars present and in their bag?
put the top back up. The frames might be bowed or bent and the only way
to tell is to see if they go straight up or list to one side. Don’t
give in to the enticement to leave the trop down for your test drive.
Put it up. Halfway through the drive, you can lower it again.
another reason to take it down, other than to check the fit of the
tonneau and boot, is to see if the owner knows how it should be folded.
Ask him to help you put it down and follow his lead - him on one side,
you on the other.
now, we’re about an hour into the inspection of the car. Don’t get
‘ancy‘. Remain calm. Time is on your side. Finally, if everything
checks out, we’ll move to the engine compartment. But we’re still
not ready to hear her run!
ENGINE COMPARTMENT INSPECTION
the driver door and pull the hood release. Is the handle broken?
the hood pop up easily? When you lift the hood, feel to see if its
aluminum of steel. If an early car that had aluminum from the
factory now has a steel
hood, you know somebody’s done some repair to the body. But, you have
to know which hood the car left the factory with. Is the under
hood padding present and firmly affixed? Is the rear hood support rail
bent at the hinges? Is the engine compartment metal the same color as
the body? Is there paint over spray on hoses, pipes, and other items
where it should not be? Are the hoses purpose-built or aftermarket ones
that somebody cut to fit? Are the hose clamps original or aftermarket?
After a cursory look at the engine compartment as a whole, I start at the front
and work to the rear, passenger side to driver side inspecting each
the oil cooler present if one is supposed to be? Does the radiator show
the green twinges of leakage? Has the fan eaten into the backside of the
radiator core? Is the radiator topped off with antifreeze? Is the rubber
weather stripping present on the top of the radiator support bracket?
later rubber bumper cars, is the mud shield in place between the
radiator and engine? On the later car, are the electric fans present?
Has somebody bolted an aftermarket electric fan through the radiator
core in an attempt to cool the engine? If so, you’re going to find
serious problems with the engine’s internal cooling system. Problems
that will require flushing the engine and radiator at a minimum.
at the frame rails just behind the steering rack. Is there any evidence
of accident damage? Look at both edges of the bonnet lock platform to
see if its been straightened or if any welding has been done in that
area. Look at the inner fenders to see if they show evidence of previous
accident damage. Is the hood weather stripping present?
spend some time with the wiring harness. Is it original and intact?
it been opened and messed with? That’s the only way I know to describe
it: messed with. Are there some unique additions to the wiring harness
or evidence that somebody’s tried to solve electrical problems? Does
the fuse block still have its cover? Is the heater present? Rusty heater
box? Evidence of leaks around where the hoses exit the box?
Check the engine identification tag. Is it present? Is the engine the
correct one for the year? Is there evidence of leakage where the head
meets the block, either antifreeze or oil? Do you see any telltale
cracks around the #2 or 3 sparkplug? Is the heater control valve
corroded? Is the correct distributor/ignition system intact?
engine have the proper level of good, clean oil? Taste it. Does it taste
burned? Remove the oil filler cap & smell the inside of the engine.
Clean smelling? New? Or dirty and burned smelling?
car have the correct carbs? If they’ve been changed to aftermarket
carbs, does the owner have the originals? Emissions controls?
missing, does he still have them? Is there rust around the brake and
clutch master cylinders? Are there signs of leakage under them?
topped off with brake fluid? Is the factory exhaust system still there
or has somebody replaced it with headers? If a Zenith Stromberg carb, is
the automatic water choke intact or has it been replaced with a manual
Okay. Now we’re ready to hear her run. With the hood opened, get in
the car, pull the choke about half way open and turn on the ignition.
Listen to the ‘tic-tic’ of the fuel pump. Does it eventually stop?
If so, that’s when you start the engine. But, why did we wait so long
to do start the engine? Simple: you want it to be real cold before you
start it. If the seller knows when you're scheduled to arrive, he'll
have already started the engine so it starts easy for you. You, on the
other hand, want to see how its starts first thing in the morning.
you’ve got to allow time for the engine to completely cool off before
Immediately after starting the engine, go to the tail pipe for a visual
inspection. Smoke? Moisture? Clean? Dry? If smoke is present, is it
black, blue, or white? Does it go away immediately or linger.
smoke, is there any moisture present?
around to the driver door and put a foot on the accelerator pedal.
her up while watching the tailpipe. Any smoke now? Color?
While she’s coming to normal operating temperature, let your fingers
do the walking down the valve cover for unusual engine vibrations or
knocking. Stick your head up under the hood with your ears down close to
the engine. What do you hear that’s unusual? Look for leaks around
hoses, at the head gasket, along the valve cover gasket, at the heater
Never move the car until the temperature gauge has come to normal
operating temperature and you’ve released the choke. Why? Oil
pressure. What’s the oil pressure when the engine’s cold?
when at normal operation temperature? At 2500 rpm? Oh, while sitting in
the car listening to the engine and waiting for the operating
temperature to rise, look at all the gauges. Does the gas gauge work?
Instrument lights? Turn signals? Brake lights? Dimmer
switch? Horn? Wipers?
this assumes she runs. If not, squirt some starter fluid in the carbs
and use your battery to start her. If she doesn’t run at all, that
obviously affects how much you’re willing to pay. If you can’t get
her to turn over under her own power, get out your 1-5/16” socket and
breaker bar and try to turn the engine over by hand. If it doesn’t
turn, its locked up. To be sure, remove the spark plugs and attempt to
turn it over again by hand. Frozen engine means complete rebuild!
everything above assumes she's a driver. But, what if she's not?
There are several reasons a car isn‘t drivable other than a dead
engine. The clutch master or slave cylinder might be shot or inoperable
because of fluid loss. A wheel cylinder could be frozen. She could
be shod with flat or dry rotted tires. There might be one or more engine
ancillaries missing (alternator, radiator, carbs, etc.). All these things
lower the price you’re willing to pay but none of them eliminate a car
as a potential purchase candidate.
After you've gone over the entire car and determined it driveable, drive
it hard - I mean real hard - like you were racing it. Thrash the tranny
through its gears, max the RPM's, heat the brakes. Even if the seller's
in it with you! That all sounds mean but you’ve got to know what you’re
Initially start out driving easy so you can check the tightness of the
steering, the feel of the suspension, the resoluteness of the brakes.
you become more comfortable with its operating systems, start working
them to their maximum capacity. Find and stop on a small incline.
Shift into 3rd gear & release the clutch to see if the
transmission holds or if the clutch slips . Stop on that incline while
giving her a little gas to see if the transmission will hold the car
with the engine turned off. See also if the clutch will allow power to
transfer to the wheels and pull the car forward up the incline while in
3rd. Put it in neutral on that incline and see if the park brake
will hold the car on the incline.
DRIVE THE CAR! Sling it through curves, slam on the brakes, run each
gear up to the tachometer red line. Feel what the car is telling you;
give it its head and have fun with it. But, constantly watch the gauges
for telltale signs of engine overheating, loss of oil pressure, etc.
it up to interstate speeds and feel for suspension vibrations or
tracking problems. Does she shift smoothly, do the synchronizers work?
Does she slip out of 3rd gear under load.
Finally, when you’re finished driving her, pull her back into the
exact same spot you found her. Kill the engine. Did it ‘diesel‘?
Look underneath to see if there are any new liquids on the ground after
the drive. Antifreeze. Oil. Brake fluid. Open the hood.
Are there signs
of water leaks around the head? Any sizzling or other unusual noises
coming from the engine or radiator?
FINALIZING THE DEAL
is the simple part of the whole thing. If, at this point, you’re
interested in the car, ask the owner his sales price. If its fair and
within your budget, pull out your bundle of hundred dollar bills and
hand him the correct amount.
you don’t think his price is fair for what you’ve discovered or is
out of your budget range, be gracious, thank him for his time and start
collecting up your tools. Invariably, he’ll ask you how much you’re
willing to pay for the car (he‘s got over an hour invested in you by
now, probably more like 2 hours with the test drive time). Remind him of
all you found while inspecting the car and tell him the price you’re
willing to pay. If he wants to make a counteroffer, write your price on
the back of your business card explaining that it is the maximum you can
pay considering the car’s condition but that, should he reconsider,
you’ll be happy to return with a trailer. At this point, he’ll
either take you up on your offer or conclude your discussions.
will get back with you. Oh yeah - 9 times out of 10! Why?
Because you're the only guy who gave the car such a thorough
inspection. You're the only guy who left his contact
information. And you're the only guy who pulled a stack of hundred
dollar bills out of his pocket! Yep, even if the price is
beyond what you wanted to pay, let him see your cash. Many times
that'll be enough to convince him to accept the price you wrote on the
back of your business card.
Oh, when I’m selling a car, I’ve already done my homework on my car and know its
weaknesses and strengths before you arrive. When you arrive, I’ll tell you everything I
know about my car . Then, I’ll let you use my
tools, jacks, etc to inspect the car all by yourself. While you’re
doing that, I’ll wander off to work on one of my projects. When you’re
finished, you can take me up on my offer, point out glaring
discrepancies in the condition of the car as I described it and what
your inspection found, or you can
thank me for my time. If you find my car isn’t as described, I’ll
either lower my expected price one time or take the car off the market and put
it in my MG Graveyard as a parts car. Real simple. And we’ll remain
friends. No anger. No hostility.
talking MG models here, guys! Betca' you thought I was talking
about these models:
It came to me that some of you might be undecided on which MG model to
buy. You might be trying to decide between engines or interior
setup, ride height, chrome versus rubber bumper or any other multitude
of offerings. So I thought I'd add a short blurb covering what I
find interesting or distracting about each model. One of the first
things to remember is that Abingdon and later British Leyland did not
wait for a model year to make changes. As they decided upon
improvements, they made the changes be it in the beginning of a model
year, in the middle or near the end. Plus, adding to the mayhem
that already underscores automobile production was BL's proclivity for
using whatever they happened to have on hand at the time.
all that means there are lots of variations of each model; so I'll try
to keep this article simple. First, we'll talk about MGB's: the
MkI roadsters and GT's. Those are the 1962-1967 year cars.
Then, we'll talk about the rest of the chrome bumper MGB's. And,
finally, we'll talk about the rubber bumper cars. We'll also
briefly cover the MGC's and various Midgets. Remember, I said I
was going to talk about the things I find interesting or distracting.
To completely understand the differences between the various models,
you'll need some type MG buyers guide or a copy of the ubiquitous "Original
MGB" or "Original Midget" or "Original
MGA" (though I don't plan to discuss them in this article).
also focus entirely on models that were primarily offered in the US with
some bleed-over to models offered in the rest of North America. If
you're interested in the differences between 'home' market, European,
Australian, Japanese or any other geographic offerings, there are plenty
of books out there. So, with all those caveats, here goes.
1962 - 1967 MGB's:
First, understand that during the early, formative years of the
production run, lots of things were happening: pull handle doors gave
way to push button door handles in 1966 along with a change in door
locks. That modification stayed throughout the production of the
MGB. In 1965, the gas tank was changed from the early 'strap
hanger' to the tank design that remained with the car throughout its
production. Oh, you do not want to have to buy one of the early
tanks! And leather was the only way to get seats. So, for
rarity, I really like the pull handle cars and have one, a 1963, in my
collection; but for drivability, I prefer the later push button cars.
1962 - 1967 steel dash is also my favorite of all the models. It
was clean, had the ignition key mounted properly on the dash (instead of
the steering column) and was uncluttered by central consoles and arm
rests between the seats. No padding on that dash. Just
beautiful crinkle finish black metal! Those early cars also had,
unfortunately, a 4-speed transmission that was not synchronized in first
gear. If equipped with overdrive, the switch was a 'shepherd's
crook' mounted to the far left of the dash.
back then, the convertible top was a simple pack-away top that came
apart for stowage in the trunk. There was also an optional folding
top but its 'scissor' design was less than satisfactory so most cars
outfitted with that option have been converted to the later 'Michelotti'
Engines went from 3-main to 5-main in 1964 along with various
modifications (mechanical to electric tachometer, etc) The old
3-main engine is great for racing as there's less friction but for
everyday driving, most of us prefer to install a more reliable 5-main
engine. And, in 1966, front anti-sway bars became a standard
addition much improving the little car's handling. Also,
throughout this early run, all MGB's had only 2 windshield wipers.
1965, a new offering hit the shores of North America: the MGB GT.
That little car has been called the "poor man's Aston Martin"
for a reason: its a great touring car. Actually my favorite
car to drive is my 1967 MGB GT. I've not modified it in any way so
it still has its original generator, slow moving windshield washers,
little curved shift lever, and hatch that sometimes requires Samson's
strength to open or close. You can't see the instruments at night,
the lights are so dim; but, its just fun to drive!
the MGB roadster and the MGB GT were available with silver painted wire
or steel wheels. The steel wheels of the early cars are lovingly
known as "baby buggy" wheels: solid with a series of oblong
holes around the outside and sporting simple hub caps. The steel
wheels of the GT were 1/2" wider than those of the roadster.
Wires were the same for both cars: 72 spokes, 14", center
Rudge,eared knock-offs. A car earlier than 1969 that's sporting
Rostyle wheels has been modified.
could get into which car had seams where, which had backup lights, where
the front parking lights were placed and when they were moved and a
plethora of other minor changes but suffice it to say that the MkI, as
these cars are known, is a highly desirable model in roadster or GT
1968 - 1974 MGB's:
Again, a plethora of changes generically to both roadsters and GT's.
The 1968 - 1971 cars had the "Abingdon Pillow" dash, an (IMHO)
ugly hemorrhoid without a glove box or much to make one like it!
Thankfully, the 'pillow' disappeared and glove boxes returned in 1972
along with a sloped center radio console flowing into a center console
between the front bucket seats.
there are those in our hobby who would disagree with my opinion about
the Abingdon Pillow dash. That's what makes our hobby so great and
why MG-dom is such an interesting place to be a citizen. Let me
tell you why I feel as I do. Sports car dash versus family sedan
dash. That says it all in my opinion. Unfortunately, the
automobile industry in the US was facing some tough challenges from
bureaucrats in Washington. In their minds, lots of padding on the
dash was safer (sort of a precursor to the air bag?). A perfect
example to support my position is that the Abingdon Pilloow came only to
North America. The 'home' market and the remainder of the world
continued to get that beautiful 1962 - 1967 steel dash is some form of
modification until 1973.
Somewhere around 1969-1970 aluminum hoods gave way to steel hoods; and,
towards the end of 1968, a third windshield wiper appeared on the MGB
roadster though the GT kept its 2-wiper system. But, one of the
major changes in 1968 was to the transmission: it was now a fully
synchronized unit. That means the transmission tunnel of cars
built after 1967 is wider and flatter. If equipped, the
overdrive switch was now incorporated into the left steering column
1969 year model was a one-year only car. Headrests first appeared
that year. They were the 'chicklet' models, squared off like the
little chewing gum from which they gets their nickname, and sitting on
two posts instead of the single center post of the later 'D' model
headrests. That car was also the first to begin sprouting some of
the required US safety features: it had side reflectors on the fenders,
red in the rear, amber in the front. Another innovation with the
1969 model was Rostyle wheels to replace the earlier steel discs; wires
continued as an option throughout the production run.
1970, the original 'slat' bright grille changed to the black 'fish
mouth' recessed grille along the lines of Mustangs and Camao's. It
wasn't readily accepted by MG drivers so in 1973 - though I personally
like it and the later grille derivative better than the original grille
- the grille changed to a modified early grille that used black plastic
'bee hive' inserts instead of the original bright slats. Grilles,
as I stated, are an owner's preference and can be interchanged among all
the model years.
Beginning in 1970, all North American MGB's sported side marker lights
on the fenders, again amber in front, red in rear. Front parking
light lens also changed to a one-piece amber lens. Single-post
headrests appeared and seating became a bit more comfortable (at least
you don't slide 'off' the seat in a hard turn!). And in 1971 the
top bows were redesigned by Michelotti.
1972, dual HIF-4 carburetors with integrated fuel bowls. Emissions
systems sported an air pump from 1968 but annually became more
sophisticated causing a reduction in the horsepower available at the
flywheel. But, all MG's to this point had chrome bumpers (albeit
with different over riders) and sat lower than future models.
1974 model was also somewhat a one-year model. The bumper over
riders began the year as the tiny chrome ones used previously with their
tear drop rubber padding. Shortly into the model year, they were
replaced with the huge 'Sabrina' over riders for a brief period before
the advent of full rubber bumpers. Finding a 'Sabrina' car,
however, that still has its 'Sabrina's' is unusual because most owners
have replaced them with the 'tear drop' models.
British Leyland was struggling to keep up with America's mandated safety
features. The 5mph bumper rule affected MG's more than anything
else. To meet it, overall ride height was adjusted upwards and
huge, black, rubber bumpers were hung on the front and rear of the
cars. This was also the last model with dual carburetors,
emissions requirements ruling them out as an option for future
models. And in 1974-1/2 the GT disappeared from North American
shores after 1274 of the rubber bumper model were imported.
Likewise, as the rubber bumper roadster came on the stage, it was
initially offered as a '1974-1/2' model. Just a note, however:
after this juncture, only roadsters were imported to North America
though some of the 1274 rubber bumper MGB GT's might be registered as
1975's. For example: Alabama doesn't have provisions for half year
models so my 1974-1/2 rubber bumper GT is registered as a 1975.
Doesn't really mean anything. All one has to know is that,
regardless of whether its registered as a 1974, 1974-1/2, or 1975 all
rubber bumper GT's in North America were 1974-1/2 models. And the
first rubber bumper roadsters could also face the same registration
problems so check the VIN closely. An easy way to tell is by the
carburetors - there were 2 HIF-4's on all 1974-1/2 models.
1975 - 1980 MGB's:
next hurdle BL had to face was American emissions control
regulations. Those regulations mandated the death of the dual
carburetor setup and heralded the advent of the single Zenith Stromberg
carburetor, integrated intake/exhaust manifold and catalytic converter.
1975 model was also considered the '50th Anniversary Model' and that one
year dash sported an embossed MGB octagon pressed into the vinyl to the
right of the glove box. Badging during that year was also a
different color than other years. You better hope the dash on that
1975 model you're looking at is perfect because replacement dashes are
made of 'unobtainium' materials.
Basically, however, the dash that appeared in 1972 remained until
1976. The last, and most ergonomically comfortable, dash/console
combination appeared in 1977 and remained through 1980. The
overdrive switch (when so equipped) also moved in 1977 from a
stalk-mounted switch to a gear shift-mounted switch.
by Anders Ditlev Clausinger
by Anders Ditlev Clausinger
Original Sprite & Midget
by Terry Horler