Junkyard Gem: 1979 MG MGB

As someone who spent much of my early 20s driving a 1973 MGB-GT on a daily basis, it always makes me a little sad to see another MGB pop up in a self-service junkyard. Unfortunately, most MGBs in America spend decades in driveways or backyards, and they regularly appear in the self-service wreckers I frequent. Here’s a once cheery ’79 red B in a yard in the shadow of Pikes Peak in Colorado.

The MGB was the successor to the MGA and remained in production in more or less the same form from model years 1963 to 1980. When British Leyland had absorbed the lion’s share of British car manufacturers from the late 1960s, the MGB was pitted against its Triumph rivals within the same company.

The US emission control, crash safety and headlight height regulations of the 1970s were not kind to the MGB. All MGBs built in 1974 and later got these great big plastic muzzles (1974 models built in 1973 got the nice chrome bumpers), and the ride height had to be raised a full inch to get the headlights high enough off the tarmac to please the Feds . “Black-Bumper” MGBs are worth much less than the earlier cars.

The MGB was never particularly powerful, but the BMC B-series pushrod engine turned out to be quite beefy (trivia fact: the Nash Metropolitan also used the B engine, with less displacement than this 1.8). In 1979 this engine was rated at 62.5 horsepower, and the fact that British Leyland felt compelled to claim that extra half horse tells you all you need to know about the gloom of the Malaise era.

The MGB’s biggest U.S. sales rival used to be the Fiat 124 Sport Spider, but by the late 1970s, the Fiat had a much better power-to-weight ratio than the MGB: 26 pounds per horse versus 37. The 2022 Mitsubishi Mirage carries just under 27 kilograms. pounds for each of his horses, so you get a sense of how slow the ’79 MGB (not to mention the ’79 Fiat Spider) was.

As anyone who has ever owned a British Leyland product knows, the MGB’s major weakness was the Prince of Darkness’ electrical system. The chassis and drivetrain were quite heavy, albeit of an outdated design, but chasing electric gremlins in these cars is good to learn patience

The keys were still there when he got here. That suggests a project car that was dumped when it got in the way of the garage or driveway.

I happened to have a vintage Ansco 35mm panoramic film camera with me when I saw this car, so here’s a shot with the Rockies in the background.

Stop by the dealer to look at a Midget or MGB and have a chance to win a 1948 MG TC!

Here is an ad in the US market for the earlier MGB with chrome bumper.

Crazy, man, crazy.

Great cars and much more from Leyland Cars.

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