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To some extent at least, we probably all strive after popularity and success. But once attained, it can sometimes turn into your own worst enemy. Just ask the MGB…

There’s probably not a classic car internet forum or website in the world – well, with the exception of course of all the MGB enthusiast forums – where the enduring MGB doesn’t receive a bit of grief ever so often. “Just another MGB”, “the oh-so-obvious choice”, “mind-numbing boring”, “common as mock” – that, and much worse, seems to all too often be the reply whenever talk turns to the MGB. In all honesty, we’re really no better here at ViaRETRO either. I know several of my esteemed colleagues have a crystal clear opinion, that no MGB will ever live in their garage. And I too must put my hand up and confess that I too am not innocent when it comes to dismissing the MGB simply because there are too many of them at every classic car meet we attend. But if you think about it, from a logical perspective, that really doesn’t make much sense…

Only last Tuesday was I reminiscing about my Aussie roadtrip to Bathurst five years ago in a lovely early pull-handle MGB roadster which a friend and I had hired for the occasion. Truth be told, we had an absolute blast in that little ‘B’, which didn’t once put a foot wrong during our time together! Yet, while there were plenty of reader comments to the article, they all revolved around the roadtrip aspect of the article. Granted, that was the main subject of the article, but still. Only our own Tony spoke momentarily about the MGB, making it very clear that he would never want to own one. Just to be clear, I’m not in any way pointing a finger at anyone. For starters, I’m no better myself, and furthermore, we’re of course all entitled to our own opinion whether it’s positive or negative. But it still strikes me as somewhat extreme, that so many enthusiasts who claim to appreciate all things classic car, still insist on rejecting the MGB. Especially when the main reason seems to simply be a by-product of the MGB essentially being well-built, reliable, easy and cheap to maintain, and not least fun to drive. All of that made it a popular choice when new and during 18 years of production MG produced well beyond half a million examples including the ‘C’ and ‘GT V8’. To this day, it’s still a popular choice as a classic car, and that is of course the reason why there are so many of them everywhere.

So let’s give the MGB a chance. It is after all a true evergreen – perhaps even the most evergreen of all evergreens! And best of all, because there are so many of them, you’re sure to find one that that suits your taste: roadster or coupé, chrome bumpers or rubber bumpers, 4, 6 or all of 8 cylinders, sixties vibe or seventies, original or modified, and a wide variety colours both in and out.

But seeing as I’m the one trying to break the mould here, which would opt for? Well, anyone who’s read my article Topless! – or not?, knows that I would clearly be trawling through the classifieds for a GT. I would also normally be drawn by the extra oomph of the MGC’s straight-6 or perhaps even the V8. But that would almost be defying the point which I’m trying to make. On our Aussie roadtrip, we found ourselves in the most common of MGB’s: a bright red chrome-bumpered MGB on wire wheels and with a black interior. It’s almost a cliché! But considering just how much joy and driver satisfaction it delivered and just how fondly I recall that drive, that is indeed what I started searching for.

In the end though, it still had to be my MGB, so red was off the cards. But I must confess that I found myself terribly drawn to this 1974 MGB Roadster. Being a ’74, it’s the very last year of the elegant chrome bumpers before US safety legislation dictated big soft rubber bumpers either end. It also means that the wire wheels have been replaced by the hot-in-the-seventies Rostyle steel wheels, which really suit the car and arguably give it a slightly tougher look than do the wires. On the inside there are comfier seats and of course equally the improved dashboard with decent vents. With all the improvements implemented during the first 12 years of production, but still retaining the classic chrome bumpers, this is arguably the best compromise between the classic look and a very usable and functional 2-seater roadster. And then there’s the colour – or rather, the colour combination. I generally like green cars, and BRG is of course always a sound choice for any British roadster, but I like to stir things up just a little – just give it a slight tweak to make it stand out. That tweak is called Tundra Green. It’s quite a rare colour and looks excellent on those seventies MG’s. Even more so when combined with the Cognac interior, which appears to be in great and unmolested condition like the rest of the car. Here are a few pictures we’ve borrowed from the Dutch dealer’s website:

As you can see, the MGB is a right hand drive car which is perhaps a little peculiar considering the car is for sale with what appears to be a MGB specialist in the Netherlands. The dealer doesn’t really say much which the pictures don’t show, but it would appear to be a very original and unmolested car which presents in good all-round condition – not concours by any stretch, but a car you can drive, use and enjoy out on the road. And all of this is up for grabs at Euro 10,900 which currently equates to £ 9,800. Find the full advert here: 1974 MGB roadster

So I ask you dear reader, should we really cheat ourselves from all of that, simply because we’re afraid of not standing out? After all, where else will you find another truly classic roadster with real heritage to the brand, excellent spares availability, strong club support, good looks and an entertaining driving experience without having to pay significantly more for the pleasure? What say you? Is the MGB really such a boring choice? Or should we stop being snobs and instead acknowledge the MGB for the evergreen that it is?

 

With our Saturday instalment of Prime Find of the Week, we’re offering our services to the classic car community, by passing on our favourite classic car for sale from the week that passed. This top-tip might help a first-time-buyer to own his first classic, or it could even be the perfect motivation for a multiple-classic-car-owner to expand his garage with something different. We’ll let us inspire by anything from a cheap project to a stunning concours exotic, and hope that you will do the same.
Just remember – Any Classic is Better than No Classic! We obviously invite our readers to help prospective buyers with your views and maybe even experiences of any given model we feature. Further to that, if you stumble across a classic which you feel we ought to feature as Prime Find of the Week, then please send us a link to primefindoftheweek@viaretro.co.uk

13 Responses

  1. Tony Wawryk

    I agree with pretty much all you say here, Anders, and the car for sale looks very good value. In my own defence, I did say “does nothing particularly well, but also nothing badly, and in pre-US rubber-bumper mode, is a handsome car”, which it is. And of course I subscribe to the basic ViaRETRO ethos of “any classic is better than no classic” – but all that said, when spending my own money, I want my classic to stand out in some way – either by virtue of it’s style, it’s significance, it’s rarity, or some combination of the three. The MGB (less so the C and V8), which I have also acknowledged as a mainstay of the classic car scene which I won’t knock anyone for choosing, is simply too unexceptional, too commonplace, for me to want to own.
    And yet, I do like the yellow one at the top of the piece…. :-)

    Reply
  2. GTeglman

    Anders, The MGB does not rock my boat too, but to write it off as a lesser Classic Car just because it lacks rarity is nonsense.

    Weather the the MGB is overall a better car I can’t say (but i guess it is) and I’ll take this weeks prime find any day of the week over last weeks “plastic” or “rust” buckets..- you know what I speaking of ;-))

    Reply
  3. Anders Bilidt

    @tony-wawryk, there’s certainly no need for you to defend yourself. We’re probably all guilty to some extent of writing off the MGB merely because they’re so common. I know I certainly have in the past, and despite all the fun I had in that ‘B’ in Australia and despite writing this piece, I’m even quite sure I will eventually do so again in the future.
    But with just a smidgen of self-criticism put in place, my argument is simply that it’s probably quite silly of me to do so. They’re excellent little cars – hence why they sold so many of them, and hence why there are still so many around.

    @gteglman, hehe… I know precisely which cars you’re speaking off. And yes, I think you’re probably right in presuming the ‘B’ is strictly speaking a better built car than both the Bagheera and the Montecarlo. But then it’s up to each individual to choose what weighs the most in their choice of classic. Maybe rarity? Or quality? Or ease of maintenance? Or you make up the next one…

    Reply
  4. GTeglman

    @anders-bilidt Of course it’s up to each individual to choose what weighs the most in their choice of a classic car, and I will defend anybody’s right to do so, but I would also never call a MGB (or any classic car) inferior just because it’s common as few.

    To quote one of your esteemed colleagues : “Any classic car is better than no classic car”

    Should I ever choose a MGB it would be a GT.

    Reply
  5. Tony Wawryk

    All – just to be clear, I’m not calling the MGB an inferior classic car – I’m simply saying I wouldn’t want one, and gave my reasons why. That’s it.

    Reply
  6. Anders Bilidt

    @gteglman,

    “Any classic car is better than no classic car”

    That is after all the very ethos of ViaRETRO!
    To be honest with you, there’s a part of me that would genuinely like to try to own a ‘B’. It’s such a mainstay of the classic car scene, that one could almost argue that you’re hardly a true classic car enthusiast until you’ve tried to own one…

    @tony-wawryk, and frankly there are many enthusiasts who share that precise point of view.

    Reply
  7. Claus Ebberfeld

    Had I not already enjoyed several other classics I would not rule out an MGB. You do have to take the route @anders-bilidt has shown here, though and at least get a rare colour. My favourite is the warm bronze yellow.

    My B would be the V8 GT, though :-).

    But in general I think the early B’s are the best allrounders: Pre-’66 they can even be turned into race cars just as the factory ran them at anywhere from Le Mans to Monte Carlo. In that way a B is like a 911 – only cheaper!

    Reply
  8. GTeglman

    @tony-wawryk Ooh, I don’t accuse you for calling a MGB a inferior classic car, I’m truly sorry if you got that impression. I accept that the MGB does not rock you boat…- it doesn’t rock my boat as well, but the grief it so often gets is IMHO unfair.

    My comment on the topic was of pure general nature, and more a showdown with the
    attitude, that unless your classic car is not rare, unnecessary complicated, blessed with “the right” badge (eg. Italian) etc. then you must be a lesser classic car enthusiast.

    @anders-bilidt and I have touched the above subject before, and I think we mostly agree that it’s a load of condescending nonsense.

    Even though this weeks prime find wouldn’t be my first choice, I will confess right away that I find the green color, cognac interior and auxiliary headlights a posh combo.

    Reply
  9. Tony Wawryk

    @gteglman nothing to apologise for – I just wanted to make my point clearer as I felt that perhaps I had failed to do so.
    And you are right about some of the snobbery in classic car circles – a little while back, in one of the 02 forums, someone interested in buying an 02 was asking a couple of reasonably basic, but nevertheless reasonable, questions about the M10 engine, and was told that he perhaps wasn’t ready for 02 ownership as he wasn’t knowledgeable enough – which I thought was a thoroughly elitist and unnecessary response.
    We all have our personal preferences and I love that in VR we’re not shy of stating and discussing them, but I think we can all agree, there’s no such thing as a lesser classic car enthusiast – there are some with more knowledge, some with more money, but the important thing is that they are enthusiasts, no matter what the car.

    Reply

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