projectmg
projectmg
4/14/22 3:45 a.m.

A family friend has a large collection of barn stored MGBs that they are willing to sell for me, as well as a few Midgets and a Spitfire. These cars have sat for 10+ years here in CA but are completely rust free with straight bodies and dusty but intact paintwork. He said he would take offers from me... Is this a good deal on my $5000 budget or would I soon be much over my head (and budget)?

I do have mechanical experience restoring my Fiero that had sat for 20+ years, but I remember how frustrating, expensive, and depressing the project was while it wasn't driving. I have gotten it running, driving, and legal in CA though, and I figure the simpler MGB might have be easier to work and fit in budget. 

The main goal of this at the end would be to have a fun, reliable weekend convertible roadster. After it's all reliable I think I'd like to build the B-series engine to get some more power while keeping the reliability aspect, as well as other suspension upgrades, but I think that's a long while in the future. It would be good to get an idea of the possible parts and money required to get it to a reliable driving state, as budget is the biggest consideration for me at the moment.

Is this a good idea, and would this fit inside of my budget? Or is there a better way to go about this. 

Feedyurhed
Feedyurhed UltraDork
4/14/22 6:00 a.m.

30 MG's for $5K sounds like a good deal to me. Not a lot of information to go on here but you could sell the majority of them and have money left over to restore one or two of them to really nice/pristine condition. Not sure where you would put 30 cars during the process but good luck if you decide to go for it. Sounds interesting!

Duke
Duke MegaDork
4/14/22 8:08 a.m.

In reply to Feedyurhed :

I think they get their pick from 30+ cars, not all 30.  Their budget to buy and fix one car is $5,000.

Otherwise, yeah. Buy em and figure it out later.

porschenut
porschenut HalfDork
4/14/22 8:30 a.m.

If you have a budget of 5000 to buy one of the cars and restore it you might be OK as long as it doesn't need a paint job.  But in the end you will have a car that runs well by 1960 standards.  My daughter's gen2 prius will beat it in acceleration, cornering and top speed.  And don't bother wasting money getting more power from that motor.  Going from the stock 70 hp to 90 will cost a lot and the difference will be barely noticeable.   But it will be fun to bring back to life and the people you will meet in the process will all be supportive.  Good luck!

Robbie (Forum Supporter)
Robbie (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/14/22 9:37 a.m.

Yeah, $5k and a lot of work should net you a nice driver. 

Keep in mind that none of the cars are likely to have good rubber parts. So brake hoses, tires, engine plumbing, convertible tops, gaskets, etc will all have to be purchased and won't likely be able to be salvaged from the collection. Just plan for that in your budgeting.

californiamilleghia
californiamilleghia UltraDork
4/14/22 10:43 a.m.

There are some running MGBs around for $2000 ,  I think $5000 is a dream !
 

if  you are going to get one for $5000 , try and find the best metal bumper  one he has...

You missed the big British show in LA that was last weekend.

SEADave
SEADave Dork
4/14/22 10:45 a.m.

Not to dissuade you but there are still decent already running MGB's that you can pick up for $5k or a little more.   I wouldn't take on a non-running project unless you just enjoy that type of work.   

A couple of thoughts - if you have your pick from 30+ cars you should look into which are the more and less desirable years and versions.   Generally speaking, the earlier the car the more it is worth, with 66-67 being generally considered the "sweet spot" by enthusiasts.   Right now GT's seem to go for slightly more than roadsters but roadsters with factory hardtops are very desirable.  If there is an MGC in the mix they are generally worth more now despite the fact that they were once held in not that high of regard.    

You can spend a ton on interior, convertible top, tonneau etc. so if possible try to find one with a decent interior and weather equipment.  If they are really nice maybe you can pick one car and get that stuff from other cars.  Good luck whichever way you decide to go.   

NOHOME
NOHOME MegaDork
4/14/22 11:21 a.m.

MGB prices have gone up recently along with everything else, so 5k for a reliable driver is harder to find. Nice "keep it forever" cars are closer to 10k.  For 5k, is there one that you can pick and actually drive away and enjoy "As is".

 

You also don't come across and someone who looks forward to a project but rather would like to drive a classic convertible.  I will remind you that it takes around 1000 hours of your free time to go through a car and restore it.

 

If I was given a hall pass to that collection, I would be looking for the most complete  post 67 chrome bumper car with a 4 synchro OD gearbox. The early cars might be more valuable, but the gearbox is made of toilet paper and the charm of no synchro in first is nothing but a hair-shirt affectation. Single circuit brake system is a matter of personal risk assumption. Holy grail is a rare 67 steel-dash car with a wide tunnel and 4 synch box.

MGB engines are barely a step above Brigs and Stratton. They will run forever but never sound happy about doing it. They can be cheap to repair but need constant attention as the various parts take turns being "worn out".  Any power increase will come as an inverse square of $$$ spent and be imperceptible.  I learned to loathe the B series engine because it was never what I wanted it to be, I still want to put a 2 barrel Fitech  or Sniper on one just cause I am curious. V8 engines fit.

 

In your wildest dreams, an MGB will never be as useful or pleasant to tour in as a Miata. You might even get the wife to tour in a Miata, but not likely in the MGB after the first spin.around the block. An MGB will remind you that all  pre pollution control cars stink of oil and unburned hydrocarbons and the lack of a weather tight cabin puts you in close proximity to the aromatic environment.

 

 

Tom1200
Tom1200 UltraDork
4/14/22 11:21 a.m.

IF he's will to part with one of the cars for 1-2K then go for it. Otherwise, as people here have noted, you can buy a sorted car for 5K.

Cactus
Cactus HalfDork
4/14/22 12:42 p.m.

I really want an MGB vintage racer. Doesn't even have to be built to be competitive.

 

I also think you can get a sorted runner cheaper than it would be to fix one of these, but just because it's not a good financial decision doesn't mean it's not a good life decision.

NOHOME
NOHOME MegaDork
4/14/22 2:33 p.m.

In reply to Cactus :

So true. Most of my best decisions have been bad ones.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
4/14/22 2:47 p.m.

FWIW, I just drove a rubber-bumper MGB fitted with twin SUs and a sporty exhaust. The power perfectly matched the chassis. 

Tom1200
Tom1200 UltraDork
4/14/22 3:02 p.m.
Cactus said:

I really want an MGB vintage racer. Doesn't even have to be built to be competitive.

If you just want to build one for the fun it's pretty easy and cheap.

Motor: just clean up or have the ports cleaned up, add a mild to moderate cam and a good exhaust. All of that will get you about 15-20hp over a stock motor. $1500 if you do it all yourself.

Suspension: fresh bushings, lowering springs, decent dampers (thicker oil in the lever shocks if it still has them) and a set of bigger sway bars. $1200-$1500. Buying some stuff used would cut the budget even more.

An Autopower U-Weld cage is $1000, 5 Gallon fuel cell $600-$700, Belts $100, fire system $500.

Throw in some used race tires $300 and you'll be looking at around $6000 plus the price of the car.

 So you're looking at 7-8K to build an MGB vintage car................................meanwhile I have a friend who just bought a solid budget Sprite vintage race car for $5500.

Naturally you could trim the budget in several places and get a nearly stock car on track for 5-6K. 

 

wspohn
wspohn SuperDork
4/15/22 11:45 a.m.
David S. Wallens said:

FWIW, I just drove a rubber-bumper MGB fitted with twin SUs and a sporty exhaust. The power perfectly matched the chassis. 

Do you mean that the power was raised a bit to match to the lamentably poor handling level of the RBB cars?  Because the factory met Federal bumper height regs by simply raising the ride height and trashing the handling of the later cars.  

You can try to get back some of the lost handling with simple lowering kits (see https://www.mgexp.com/forum/mgb-and-gt-forum.1/lowering-effects-on-rubber-bumper-b.1651211/) but replacing the whole front crossmember is the best way.

PS - the late RBBs had way less power than the early cars - lower compression, different cam, single carb and restrictive exhaust. Your car would get back some but not nearly all of the lost power by fitting twin SUs.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
4/16/22 9:32 a.m.

In reply to wspohn :

This MGB was lowered, too. 

wspohn
wspohn SuperDork
4/16/22 1:20 p.m.

Good - that makes sense as it has a big effect on handling.

I talked to Huffaker when Terry Visger was up here at Westwood running the factory MGBs c. 1975.  They were into the rubber bumper era (RBB) but I got a kick out of the cars as they had just taken the original cars that they had been racing and grafted a RBB nose onto them to make them look like the current model for publicity/sales purposes for BLMC.

Can't swear to which this long after the fact but think that the noses were lightweight mock ups or factory bumper skins stripped of all the stuff behind them that weighed a bunch.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
4/16/22 1:45 p.m.

We did a piece on a Huffaker MGB over in Classic Motorsports. It's a 1963 tub that looks like a rubber-bumper car. 

porschenut
porschenut HalfDork
4/17/22 11:41 a.m.

MGB never handled as well as the other sports cars of the time.  Find the Car and Driver showroom stock sports car test from the 70s and see where the MG was in the pack.  No power, no handling.  Still fun to drive, but not fast.

wspohn
wspohn SuperDork
4/17/22 12:00 p.m.

Thanks David - hadn't seen that but enjoyed it a lot. I know Hap well on other boards.

On handling, the early cars handled quite well - but once the factory saved money by raising bumper heights the cheap way, the handling was garbage - a real shame given that the earlier cars (chrome bumper) had been such good handling cars.

intrepid
intrepid Reader
4/17/22 2:21 p.m.

I've owned an early 74 B for over 20 years now. It is a driver, not a show car, and it is currently off the road, though I hope to get it going again this summer.

By modern standards, the B is not a particularly good handling car, like most old British cars. It was fine in the mid 60s, but time has moved on. As noted, by the 70s it was widely considered an outdated platform, but time has changed the perspective somewhat. Few of its contemporaries are quick or particularly good handling cars compared to anything from the past 30 years, so the inherent charm of the B shines through a bit more these days.

My experience is that it under steers severely and the body rolls excessively compared to newer cars. Also, there is little to no suspension adjustment other than toe, in stock form. The front camber curve is not good. However, it has a unitized body, so the basic platform is fundamentally much stiffer than competitors such as Triumphs. 

As demonstrated in vintage and SCCA racing a B can be made to handle with enough effort. Drop spindles and stiffer springs are a good starting point, but I think there are several formulas. 

-chris r.

Sagewind
Sagewind New Reader
4/17/22 3:52 p.m.

Is this a good idea? You are choosing from 50 year old British roadsters that haven't run in at least 10 years...

You mentioned reliable twice...

I restored a bug eye sprite from an outdated race car to a show worthy street vehicle. Worked part time in a British repair shop, still have a Lotus twin cam motor in the garage, and have a '73 Triumph Daytona project awaiting my attention. I have more budgeted for that than $5k, and I already own the bike.

A good "friends and family" price might be $1500, for your pick of the litter. IF I did it, I would blitz the project w/ tires, battery, brakes, fluids, and every rubber thing on the car- THEN I could evaluate what I had. I am sure there will be more required.

I have a hard time believing that a $5k Miata isn't, once again, the answer...YMMV.

Yes, I do own a Miata.

projectmg
projectmg New Reader
4/20/22 12:00 a.m.
Sagewind said:

Is this a good idea? You are choosing from 50 year old British roadsters that haven't run in at least 10 years...

You mentioned reliable twice...

I restored a bug eye sprite from an outdated race car to a show worthy street vehicle. Worked part time in a British repair shop, still have a Lotus twin cam motor in the garage, and have a '73 Triumph Daytona project awaiting my attention. I have more budgeted for that than $5k, and I already own the bike.

A good "friends and family" price might be $1500, for your pick of the litter. IF I did it, I would blitz the project w/ tires, battery, brakes, fluids, and every rubber thing on the car- THEN I could evaluate what I had. I am sure there will be more required.

I have a hard time believing that a $5k Miata isn't, once again, the answer...YMMV.

Yes, I do own a Miata.

I also am really into Miatas, I've been between the two a bit looking for a roadster... I am sure I would have a ton of fun in a Miata, I just want to make sure I'm not missing a good deal here.

Finding a decent Miata in CA with a budget of $5000 seems pretty hard with the car market insane as it is, especially for Miatas. I figure even if I go for a different MG with how they are depreciating, from a lack of interest from the newer generations and overall lack of interest due to perceived issues, I could get a pretty decent restored car for cheap.

But it might just be a good idea to save up for a Miata. Just when I drove a B I absolutely loved it, and I want to make sure there isnt a quality to them that I would miss out on with the Miata. Have yet to drive a Miata but loved it when I rode in it, swore I would get one some day... hmm....

dxman92
dxman92 Dork
4/20/22 12:07 a.m.

The business behind us at work in the back half of the building specializes in certain Brit Vintage Sports Car parts:

http://www.clarkespares.com/

That's all I have to add to this discussion.

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