Simply Irresistible: The Magnetic Little MGB

John L. Stein

Never underestimate the power of just driving around.

On a brisk fall weekend in 1978, cruising my SoCal neighborhood revealed a 1970 MGB parked curbside, leaves under the tires and grit covering the teal blue paint, top, and windows. The car looked too good for such neglect. Inquiring at the nearest house, I learned that the clutch had “gone out,” an expensive repair. 

Intrigued, I sought permission to examine the car. The odometer read under 50,000 miles, and the tires appeared original. Facing the unwanted clutch expense, the nice lady quickly offered it for $800, and I agreed. After returning with funds, I checked the car’s vitals, including the radiator water, the oil, the brake fluid, and the hydraulic clutch fluid. Shockingly, that small reservoir was dry. No wonder the pedal went to the floor.

1970 MGB front 3/4 street parked Triumph TR Mercedes SL
John L. Stein

Refilling the reservoir restored clutch operation immediately. A jumpstart then got the MG running, and with the convertible top lowered, I was away, cavorting about the neighborhood and, with some guilt, passing by the previous owner’s house.

The virginal MGB was the nicest car I’d yet owned. With 95 horsepower, it wasn’t fast, but it was extremely cute and everything worked, including the clutch, which elevated the roadster to “daily driver” level. This didn’t last. One day on the freeway, a Ford pickup made a desperate multilane sweep toward an offramp, spearing the little MG hard in the driver’s door. The truck’s bumper shoved the metal in just inches from my shoulder, while outside the window, the Ford’s headlight bezel stopped two feet from my head.

1970 MGB front 3/4 top up carport Cadillac
John L. Stein

On scene, the truck owner accepted responsibility and we exchanged information. But when I presented the repair bill a week later, he recanted, instead claiming I was at fault. And so began my flirtation with litigation. I sued in small claims court, he didn’t appear, and the judge awarded me full damages and court costs. Soon, law enforcement ordered a tow truck to the man’s house to seize the pickup, and the officer later told me with delight how quickly he’d scurried out waving a checkbook.

The wounded MG got a new door, some bodywork, and a paintjob, and the settlement even afforded new tires. It drove faithfully thereafter and gave no reason for disillusionment, save the lack of air conditioning. Hence, when a 1977 Volkswagen Scirocco Champagne Edition with A/C appeared for sale locally, the MGB was also served with papers. As Jim Croce sang, “But isn’t that the way they say it goes?”


Check out the Hagerty Media homepage so you don’t miss a single story, or better yet, bookmark it. To get our best stories delivered right to your inbox, subscribe to our newsletters.

Click below for more about
Read next Up next: A Turbine for Your Hot Rod? Latham Says Yes


    MGBs are faithful companions. It’s easy to forgive any mechanical frustrations after a long top down drive.

    I’d a went for the Scirocco too….too many bad memories of pushing my brother’s 1 year old Midget.

    I owned a 1968 roadster with overdrive for 28 years until selling it 1996. Regret doing that until this day. A fun car to drive and enjoy during warmer weather. Should never have sold it.

    I owned two MGB roadsters. I bought a used “66 while in college. After graduation in’71, my roommate and I planned an open-ended road trip. We bought a ’64 VW bus and upgraded it for camping. I needed money, so I put the MGB up for sale. I met my future wife when she came to look at it (and bought it). Soon my interest in the trip dwindled, but I couldn’t let Bill without a companion after several months of preparation; so he and I left in Aug, heading west. In 5 weeks I was home. After several more weeks I had a job, and immediately bought a 1 year old ’70 B roadster. Two years later my girlfriend and I were married, and packed a U-Haul truck to move to Ohio for a 2-yr job assignment. We both sold our MG’s. Years later..many regrets, of course. So many “top down” memories.

    Ah yes, the small and misunderstood symptoms, believed to be a major repair, resulting in a too low sale price and a lucky buyer.

    This reminds me of selling my 1978 Camaro. It was originally a 250cid, inline 6 with a three speed manual. The shifter was astoundingly cool.

    At the start of my family, at age 23, I mislabled a major vacuum leak (The brake booster outlet on the manifold, of the replacement 350, nicely tucked away and outside of my awareness since the original owner of the car checked no option boxes whatsoever, the car had manual brakes.) as some sort of major problem which exceeded the capacity of my Dad-To-Be Brain.

    The cool car guy across the street was more than happy to pay me $300 for it and subsequently primered it and sold it a month later to another person in the neighborhood for $1200. (Yeesh)

    Twenty years later, on a Saturday morning and only partially awake, the idea to go for a drive in the Camaro entered the Brain causing butterflies of excitement. Full conciousness brought a smack of reality that the car had been gone for decades and no fun-car drive would be happening.

    Two years of shopping cars too nice to buy for fun drivers and rust buckets “worth” thousands of dollars finally resulted in a reasonable car for a reasonable price.

    A 1977 MGB, bumperless in the midst of a chome bumper conversion, was brought home with an afternoon stop at the zoo, as promised to the family in exchange for the two-hour, one-way drive to “See a car”.

    Thirty thousand miles later and ‘Nigel’ continues to become more fun to drive with each passing year.

    I purchased a 1968 MGB in 72 that had been tagged out by a rotten spoiled girl that had no respect for the little car by the time I talked to her dad about the car it didn’t run and had burned out blue paint, washed out carpet and rotten seats from having the top left down in the rain. I got the car for 500 bucks, my dad had a body shop and soon it had a beautiful red liquor paint job, fresh carpets, recovered seats, rebuilt solex side mounted carbs and a new set of Pirelli radial tires! Oh, and a new ragtop from JC Whitney’s, a wonderful car I traded for a older MG TC which I also loved

    “Nice Lady” indeed…
    Guilt would’ve kept me awake until I’d given her additional funds.
    Karma, thy name is Ford.

    Back in the day I owned a VW Scirocco and an MGB… then I got a VW GTI and still kept the MG… then a couple Saab 900s in succession and again kept the MG… then a Saab 9000 and yet again kept the MG… etc., etc…. Now I have an Audi Q5 and yep, still the MG… It’s been 40+ years.

    I was fortunate enough to experience a two week use of a nearly new 1969 MGC roadster. While in the Navy, a mate had been stationed in England. Just prior to his departure he purchased a new British Racing Green 69′ MGC US model roadster with wire wheels, overdrive, AM-FM radio and two tops. Strangely, he wanted the car painted 69 Camaro Ralleye Green. At the time I was painting cars and did a nice lacquer paint job for him. Disassembling and painting a new car was a treat. After curing and buffing, I was allowed to keep it for two weeks for final finishing. That car would cruise all day long at 100 mph with the 6 cylinder engine and overdrive. it was a hoot to drive. The only exterior difference was the “C” in the emblem and the hood bulge to accomodate the multiple SU carbs.

    Have a 52 TD, 61MGA, 67 MGB GT, and 78 MGB. All fun cars to drive and parts are available and reasonably priced. The 61 A was a total restoration that took me 3 years, but well worth it. My grand sons love driving them when they come over. Guess who will wind up with them?

    Had a 1969 White MG Midgit in College, Girlfriend loved it..
    Sold it to obtain a 1969 British Racing Green MGB in University, same Girlfriend loved it.
    Upon graduation, married girlfriend, kept the MGB.
    Wife gets pregnant, unless son wants to be in the lotus position behind the front seats all his life, had to sell the MGB.
    Wife says keep the ‘tonneau’, you might find another later in life. (Sure)
    Son graduates from College and University and moves out.
    While checking out for a used Honda, came across a 1969 alfa-romeo red MGB that somehow landed on a Honda web-site.
    Now own a 2004 Honda Accord, a 2007 Honda V6 Accord, and a 1969 alfa-romeo red MGB.
    My original ‘tonneau’ fits like a tee.
    55 years old and counting.

    If you miss your MG-B so much, go find yourself a stick shift Miata. Think of it as an MG-B that starts and runs. And doesn’t leak, drip oil or gas, or drive you nuts with electric failures.

    Drove a 1967 B as a daily driver for several years, even in the snow. It went through winter very well with the plastic Snug-Top. When I decided to trade it for an E-Type (insert self-inflicted injury comments here) I sold it to my brother who ran it as a weekend sunny weather car for several more years before he sold it for more than he paid me for it. That was in 1990. I still have the E-Type…but that’s another story.

    In 1982 I got a 69 MGB with wire wheels. great fun car until it strted having electrical issues. 3 burned coils latter I sold it. Still rmember the fun drives I had in that small car!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *