Secrets of a prolific mg buyer
(or, "how to feed your habit & stay married")

By Anthony L. ‘Tony’ - theAutoist - Barnhill
  6 February 2004



        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      

        My 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 European 323i.

       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 resale.

        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 my interest.

        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 "cheat" them!

        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 identity.  Period!

        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 offer.

       "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.  Its important to him.  Selling a car can be sort of like a funeral.  There are 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 ago.  An 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 ““.  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 condition.

        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. 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?  On 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 sale.

        And MG’s come to me.  Yep.  And they come through various means.  I’ve 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.  Her 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 find.

        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.  

        I 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.


        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 ground.

        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 fo r 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?  Are the steering rack boots cracked, torn or missing?  Are the lever shocks leaking oil? 

        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.


        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.  So, if 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?  Are 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.  Also, 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.  Roll 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 run.  Relax!

        Look at the pedals.  Are the rubber pads there?  Are they worn?  If overly 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.  If 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?  Has somebody 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?  Did you drop into that seat hole?  Does the window go up and down?  Does the 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!


        Flip 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.

        Drop 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.


        Once 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?

        Now, 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.  Oh, 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.

        By 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!


        Open the driver door and pull the hood release.  Is the handle broken?  Does 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 item.

        Is 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?  On 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.

        Look 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?

        Now, spend some time with the wiring harness.  Is it original and intact?  Has 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?  Does the 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?

       Does the car have the correct carbs?  If they’ve been changed to aftermarket carbs, does the owner have the originals?  Emissions controls?  If missing, does he still have them?  Is there rust around the brake and clutch master cylinders?  Are there signs of leakage under them?  Are they 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 choke?


        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.  Thus, you’ve got to allow time for the engine to completely cool off before starting it.

        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.  If white smoke, is there any moisture present?

        Walk around to the driver door and put a foot on the accelerator pedal.  Rev her up while watching the tailpipe.  Any smoke now?  Color?  Intensity?

        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 control valve.

        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?  At idle 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?

        All 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!  Expensive!

        And 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 buying.

        Initially start out driving easy so you can check the tightness of the steering, the feel of the suspension, the resoluteness of the brakes.  As 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.

        Now, 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.  Get 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?


        This 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.

        If 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. 

        He 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.

The Models

        I'm 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. 

        Now, 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).

        I'll 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.

        The 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.

        And, 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' folding top.

        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.

        In 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!

        Both 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.

        I 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 form.

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.  

        Now, 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 switch.

        The 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.

        In 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.

        In 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.

        The 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.

1974-1/2 MGB's:  

        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:

        The 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.

        The 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.






Original MGB by Anders Ditlev Clausinger

Original MGA by Anders Ditlev Clausinger

Original Sprite & Midget by Terry Horler