1978 MGB GT

Highlights


• Extensive history file dating back to 1980s
• In enthusiast ownership by 1992
• Larger 1850cc engine installed in 2003
• Subjected to over £2500 of work by marque specialist in 2020
•This MGB is registered as historic vehicle and is MOT and ULEZ exempt.

The Background


Surely there is no classic sports car more popular and more loved than the MGB? In its 18 years of production from 1962 to 1980, buyers from across Britain, Europe and America lapped it up, and its appeal has proven to be timeless. Thousands of MGBs are still enjoyed 
around the world today, with a lively club following and readily accessible specialist support.

Work on the MGB’s development began in 1958, and it marked a significant step forward for MG as it used unitary construction, placing it ahead of its rivals in the Triumph TR range which still used body-on-frame construction. It boasted the ultimate development of the BMC
B-series four-cylinder engine, which had proven its sporting credentials in 1500 and 1600 guises in the 1950s MGA, but it was bored out to 1800cc for the MGB and gave 95bhp in twin-carburettor format.

Initially offered only as a roadster, the 2+2 MGB GT joined the line in 1965. As per its name,the GT truly belonged to the grand tourer idiom, although it was significantly more affordable than other grand tourers from marques like Jaguar, Aston Martin and Jensen. In 1974, all MGs received revised styling as the chrome bumpers were replaced by chunky polyurethane bumpers in order to satisfy American safety regulations. 

By the time production ended, an impressive run of 523,836 MGBs, B GTs and six-cylinder Cs had been built, many of which survive today in the hands of enthusiastic owners.

The History


This MGB GT was bought new by Miss S. White of Potters Green, Coventry, from the Parkside Garage Ltd. on Lockhurst Lane. Immediately after purchase, Miss White moved to Oakley in Bedfordshire, and it is there that it spent the first few years of its life. By 1984, it had been sold through Wilshers Garages Ltd. in Wimpole, Cambridgeshire, and remained in the area until at least 1985.

As one of the last traditional British sports cars, MGBs were widely embraced as classics when they were barely out of production, and by 1992 this car had entered the enthusiastic ownership of R. J. Elliott of Royston, who was a member of the MG Owners’ Club and entered the B in various events including an MG Owners’ Club show at Brooklands in 1992 and the MG Regency Run to Brighton on 16th May, 1993.

The MG’s next owner kept it for at least eight years, from 1995 to 2003, and lavished attention on it. A replacement engine was installed in 1999, but this was either replaced again or rebuilt and bored-out, as an invoice records that a reconditioned engine of 1850cc capacity was installed in 2003.

The vendor acquired the car in 2020 having hankered after a classic for a long time, but he has now decided to sell it as he only has street parking and would prefer for it to go to someone who can provide better care for it. In October, 2020, he spent £2584 having the car thoroughly overhauled by respected MG specialist Fisher Services.

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The Paperwork


The MG comes with a large paperwork file, which includes the V5, tax discs back to 1988 and an extensive collection of MoT certificates issued between 1984 and 2017. There is a very thick collection of invoices for parts and services dating back to the early 1990s, including the recent invoice from Fisher Services giving a detailed account of the extensive work it completed.

Of important historical value is the Leyland Cars Supercover Handbook Portfolio, which contains the Leyland Cars Passport to Service. This details the car early services in 1978, 1979, 1984 and 1985, but later owners have added their own notes up to 1999. Other historic material includes an original MGB Driver’s Handbook and the Autodata Car Repair Manual for the MGB. Participation in events in the 1990s is proven by a couple of plaque’s on the car’s dashboard.

An outdoor cover is also being supplied with the car.

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The Interior


The MGB has been the recipient of a lot of work at different stages of its life, and we believe the interior probably has been, too. The leather upholstery is in very good condition and is perhaps a bit too good to be original, which leads us to suspect that the interior has been refurbished at some point in the past. However, it is now starting to show its age and may benefit from further refurbishment or just a simple clean and tidy-up.

The dash, fascia, centre console and doors are all in very good condition, though there is a light patina on parts such as the gear knob and steering column. The handsome wood-rimmed steering wheel is a new item fitted by the vendor as he preferred it to the previous smaller-
diameter wheel, but he has retained the spare steering wheel and is offering it with the car. 

The two old event plaques on the dash are a nice reminder of its history.

The rear passenger space and boot reflect the rest of the interior, being acceptably presented and usable, though they would benefit from some cosmetic tidying.

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The Exterior


The first thing you’re bound to spot on surveying the car is the absence of the rubber bumpers. The owner decided he preferred the look of earlier MGBs with their slimmer chrome bumpers, and undertook his own bumper conversion. However, with a laudable desire not to compromise his car’s originality, he opted not to have the car professionally converted to chrome bumpers as the process typically involves cutting into the car’s frame.

Instead, he completed the work himself using fibreglass rear bumper. He is supplying the original bumpers with the car (in addition to a chrome rear bumper), so his modifications can easily be unbolted and the old bumpers returned, should the new owner want to restore the car to its original specification.

As we have observed, the car has received lots of attention by different owners at different times, and the Minilite-style wheels are an aftermarket item which we believe are probably still quite new, as they are in excellent condition. At some point, the tailgate has been given a
racier appearance with the fitment of a plastic spoiler. Bidders will also notice that the MG sports a folding sunroof, which is very desirable as an original item. While we can’t be sure if the sunroof is original, we suspect it is and would also suggest that the fabric was renewed
fairly recently, as it is very supple and does not look to have aged much.

Unfortunately, the car falls down slightly on its paint. Although it has been touched-up in the past, bubbles are appearing under the paint in a number of places, such as on the lower wings, around body seams and at the top of the tailgate. In most places, we would not say that this
has progressed too far, but a few very small holes have started to appear in the front nearside corner of the bonnet, so that is an area which will need attention soon. Additionally, the paint on the bonnet is cracked in a number of places and there is a small dent  from previous owner.

The fibreglass front spoiler also shows some evidence of touch-ups and repairs, as the vendor found it does not get on well with large speed bumps!

Despite its slight scruffiness, the situation underneath the car is not at all bad, and we are inclined to believe it is extremely solid. Although the car may benefit from the underseal being renewed, a look at the boot floor is very reassuring and would suggest that the underside of the car has been well cared-for and probably received attention already.

There is a patch at the rear of the offside sill which may be concealing some filler, but we would advise bidders to view the photographs and decide for themselves. The last MoT from 2017 did note that there was ‘slight corrosion to n/s front sill/floor’, but Fishers performed welding repairs to the nearside front castle rail in 2020.

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The Mechanics


The MG seems to us to be in a very good mechanical state, and with its bored-out engine it should be even livelier than most Bs. When the vendor started the car, it fired first time after apparently not having been driven for three weeks, and ran well, with a gloriously brawny exhaust note. With twin SU carburettors, the car accelerates well and moves smoothly through the gears, and the brakes work very efficiently. Bidders should note that the gearbox is fitted with overdrive – this is a rare option which was originally only fitted to 20 per cent of MGBs.

Although the car’s last MoT expired in 2018, we believe that having received thorough attention from Fisher Services in October, 2020, there can’t be much to fault. There were no mechanical problems highlighted at its last MoT, and Fishers replaced many parts as well as rebuilding the suspension.

Unfortunately, Fishers lacked a specialist to resolve the differential backlash, so that still requires sorting, and there is a slight oil leak on side of engine is from sideplate/breather gasket. We also noticed that the offside reversing light is not working.

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The Appeal


Affordable, popular and with virtually unlimited spares availability, the MGB is really the ideal classic car to suit all budgets and tastes. Among the thousands of enthusiastic MGB owners worldwide, some subject theirs to a concours restoration while others prefer to run theirs as a rolling project, and that’s how we would treat this car. It is all ready to drive and enjoy, and with its well-used outward appearance one could use it as a daily-driver and not worry about picking up a few scratches.

There are, however, a few jobs which will need attention eventually, but nothing too fearsome. Essentially, this car would make a fantastic and straightforward project for light renovation over the winter, and it could easily be brought up to a high standard for shows and rallies by the spring. Don’t be fooled by its scruffy paint – this is a car with character which drives very nicely and will make a rewarding rolling project.

Notice to bidders

Although every care is taken to ensure this listing is as factual and transparent as possible, all details within the listing are subject to the information provided to us by the seller. Car & Classic does not take responsibility for any information missing from the listing. Please ensure you are satisfied with the vehicle description and all information provided before placing a bid.

As is normal for most auctions, this vehicle is sold as seen, and therefore the Sale of Goods Act 1979 does not apply. All bids are legally binding once placed. Any winning bidder who withdraws from a sale, is subject to our bidders fee charge. Please see our FAQs and T&C's for further information. Viewings of vehicles are encouraged, but entirely at the seller's discretion.

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Vehicle specification
  • Year 1978
  • Make MG
  • Model B GT
  • Colour Russet Brown
  • Odometer 10,221 Miles
  • Engine size 1850
  • Location London
  • Country United Kingdom
Bidding history
25 bids
  • PM•••• £4,550 21/10/21
  • ja•••• £4,450 21/10/21
  • PM•••• £4,300 21/10/21
  • ja•••• £4,200 21/10/21
  • PM•••• £4,050 21/10/21
  • ja•••• £3,900 21/10/21
  • PM•••• £3,700 21/10/21
  • ja•••• £3,600 21/10/21
  • PM•••• £3,450 21/10/21
  • du•••• £3,300 21/10/21

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