Home » Surface Rust And Non-Op Tags: Why I’d Still Buy The Shit Out Of This 1980 MG MGB Limited Edition On ‘Bring A Trailer’

Surface Rust And Non-Op Tags: Why I’d Still Buy The Shit Out Of This 1980 MG MGB Limited Edition On ‘Bring A Trailer’

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Welcome back to Gavel Gazing, a new series here at The Autopian where we take the same sort of auction-watching we’ve been doing anyway, slap a fancy name on it, and make it regular instead of sporadic. Yesterday, a 1993 Mazda RX-7 certainly didn’t break the Bring A Trailer record, but it did hammer for an astonishing $80,500. Expensive stuff can be cool, but I often find that cheap stuff is far more relatable. With that in mind, let’s look at a classic sports car hammering on Bring A Trailer later today that’s currently carrying an exceptionally reasonable high-bid. Yes, it’s an example of everyone’s favorite cheap British sports car, the MGB.

With more than half a million of these little roadsters made, parts support is plentiful and community abundant. In any town in the lower 48, you’ll find people tinkering on their MGBs, and you can even buy a brand new MGB shell if worst comes to worst. No other British sports car has the same level of DIY-friendliness as the MGB, and you can take that to the bank.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

This MGB is of the unloved rubber bumper variety (a result of America’s silly 5 MPH bumper law), but it’s also a 1980 Limited Edition model, all of which came in a black that helps hide the molded bumpers. Oh, and sitting atop the paint is a fantastic set of stripes that really drive home the era of this car. The turn of the 1980s was also when manufacturers started to realize they could throw air dams on things to make them look tough, and just like late C3 Corvettes, this MGB rocks a front valence like Jay Leno’s chin. If this thing were rocking Rostyle wheels, the front end tweak might be goofy, but these things came on GKN alloy wheels that beef up the sporting appeal.

1980 Mgb Profile

Granted, a slick set of wheels won’t elevate a double-digit horsepower pace, but with 62.5 horsepower and a reasonable curb weight of 2,416 pounds, this little sports car won’t have trouble keeping up with most traffic. Besides, most British roadsters are momentum cars, letting you lean on their skinny little tires without going to jail for excessive speeding. In a world with more cameras and instant-on radar than ever before, that’s the sort of fun I can get behind.

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1980 Mgb Odometer

This particular example is showing just 50,490 miles on its six-digit odometer, and nothing about the car’s condition suggests this isn’t genuine. While the listing states that “photos showing corrosion on underside components are presented in the gallery,” the underbody looks fairly solid, with expected light surface rust for a car that originally lived in New York but no signs of serious scale. The paint’s in excellent shape too, and the interior is free of torn upholstery and dashboard cracks. Overall, this MGB’s in unusually solid shape, although it does have one or two things that might make buying it a bit fiddly to some bidders.

1980 Mgb Interior

See, the car is currently registered as non-operable in California, which is a gift and a curse. Compared to other cars that have been off the road for a while and not registered as non-op, a California-based buyer of this thing won’t have to pay backfees to the DMV. The seller claims that “My father was the owner, but it hasn’t been driven much since he passed – hence the non-op registration,” and we applaud the forethought to put the car on non-op. On the minus side, although this MGB passed its last smog test in 2018, previous results are no guarantee of future success. Despite videos of the car running appearing on the listing, one commenter by the username of DaveD claims to have seen this MGB in person this morning, and wrote that:

Unfortunately it would not start. Fuel was added but still no start. It cranks over and fires briefly on starter fluid. The seller was nice enough to take it to a shop this morning to try to resolve the issue before the end of the auction. Awaiting results.

If this claim is correct and if the car ends up hammering in this alleged non-running condition, it’s pretty hard to smog a non-running car, so registration could be tricky. Then again, old cars are fiddly, and sometimes if you don’t get the starting sequence just right, even a good one might just not go. Give it another try in an hour or two, and there’s a chance it could be fine.

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1980 Mgb Rear

If this MGB does end up running at the time the hammer drops, and if hte price stays low, it could be a solid purchase. Hell, even if it doesn’t run, I’d love a project car like this because these Limited Edition models are rare, MGBs are incredibly simple to work on, and the body of this one seems rock-solid by my local area’s standards. Either way, I’m totally digging it, and there’s nothing in the listing or comments that scares me off.

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At the time of writing, it has a high bid of $2,500 and is being auctioned off with no reserve. Even though the eleventh hour is a wild time for bidding and it’s anyone’s guess how this auction will go, there’s a strong likelihood this pristine British roadster will go for downright sensible money because most MGBs do. You may have to hunt high and low for affordable cars on internet car auction sites, but every so often, you’ll find one.

(Photo credits: Bring A Trailer)

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John J Gerding
John J Gerding
8 months ago

If you truly want one of these, one of our club members is interested in selling his and it is in way better condition than this. Another member just put his ’80 MGB (not anniversary edition) on sale and this car has had a complet refresh from top to bottom including rebuilt engine and tranny for $8500. This one is a beautiful car and pretty much like brand new. let me know if you want contact info.

Icouldntfindaclevername
Icouldntfindaclevername
8 months ago

If it were closer, I would have bid on it. However, I would have probably lost against mainstreetmotors. They got it for a steal though!

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
8 months ago

This hits me on the thanks but no thanks. Too many of these growing up to be interesting. Now get me an MGA, MGTD, or of more interesting vintage I am there.

John J Gerding
John J Gerding
8 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

At least the MGB is reasonably comfortable to drive or ride in. MGA’s are hotter than hell, and TD’s are pretty common down here, but still uncomfortable as hell. I used to drive my MGB from Florida to Rhode Island on a fairly regular basis. Would never do that in an “A” of “TD”.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
8 months ago
Reply to  John J Gerding

I didn’t say it made sense. If it did we wouldn’t be here.

Cerberus
Cerberus
8 months ago

That weight has to be wrong. That would give it a power:weight ratio a good deal worse than my early ’80s Subaru GLs when I thought they were about the same performance-wise. Maybe it was on par with the early ones and my memory is off. I suppose they’re all pretty damn slow. Cool thing about that, though, is you readily notice just about any hp you can add or weight you can remove. Not a fan of MGBs, especially the roadsters, but that seems like a steal if it goes for anything near that price. A chimp could work on these and the non-start could easily be as simple as bad gas (either way, I doubt it’s anything major). I like the wheels, color, and stripes, too. Damn, I think I just talked myself into being interested. Good thing it’s so far away.

Chronometric
Chronometric
8 months ago

An MGB weighs 2400 lbs, 300 more than an NA Miata? That can’t be right. I think you looked up Gross Weight (with passengers) instead of Curb Weight (2000 lbs).

Last edited 8 months ago by Chronometric
Mark Tucker
Mark Tucker
8 months ago
Reply to  Chronometric

Yeah, I think 2000 is about right. My GT’s curb weight is about 2300, and I know they’re heavier than roadsters.

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
8 months ago

“No other British sports car has the same level of DIY-friendliness as the MGB, and you can take that to the bank.”

I’m going to have to foreclose on that bank and nominate the MGB’s kissing cousin, Triumph Spitfire, as the being the most DIY friendly. Parts support is on par with MG and the clam-shell hood make engine work soooooo freaking easy!. Need to tune the carbs? Sit down on the front tire and tune away. Need to adjust the valves? Sit down on the front tire and adjust away. Want to swap out the exhaust manifold? Sit down on the front tire and swap away. Drop a bolt, nut, or socket while doing any of these? Just lean over and pick it up off the ground.

Staffma
Staffma
8 months ago

Can confirm, have worked on many spitfires, and several MGB (GTs) and spitfire is easier. Additionally, spitfires have a separate frame which is convenient for rust repair purposes. Also the battery compartment location, as well as two batteries on the MGB freaks me out.

Sid Bridge
Sid Bridge
8 months ago

Spitfire owner here. Can confirm. Plus switching to a single Weber makes the whole carb thing way more user friendly. Although my Spit is a 1980, and I have to concede that the MG’s plastic bumpers are a lot more attractive than the Spitfire’s. Plus, on an MG it’s really easy to retrofit to chrome. On a later Spitfire 1500, the frame rails extend beyond the bumper to form those big ugly nubs. They have to be cut and welded if you want to change things up.

Staffma
Staffma
8 months ago
Reply to  Sid Bridge

A weber 32/36 is a huge upgrade, especially vs the emissions Strombergs. I like the Weber so much I have installed them on 3 Spitfires, a 71,73 and 75. I’ve actually had so much success with them I installed a Weber 38 on a 350 Buick v8 2bbl !

3WiperB
3WiperB
8 months ago

If the price is right, this is probably a good buy. You’ll end up having to do a lot of work on any MGB you buy if it hasn’t been driven regularly, but the parts are cheap and most of the work is pretty easy. With only 50,000 miles, the clutch should be good for a while still (mine went at about 85,000 miles), and the engine internals should be decent. Take this thing out of California and ditch the smog pump, throw dual carbs on it, and it should be a lot of fun. The goal with any MGB purchase is to get one that has no rust in the sills and paint that is decent. They are one of the best classic cars for fun per dollar spent. Cheap to insure, cheap to run (they get decent gas mileage), and parts are cheap and available if you can do the labor yourself. It’s a great “starter classic”. After about 3 years with mine, it’s been pretty dependable and I’ve put about 5,000 miles on it. It was just a lot of initial work to take care of all the fluid changes, lube, etc. when I bought it, and then fixing things along the way that broke or wore out, but now that most of the problems have revealed themselves and been fixed, it was a pretty uneventful year with the car. I bought it to have something to work on anyway and it hasn’t disappointed.

Last edited 8 months ago by 3WiperB
MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
8 months ago
Reply to  3WiperB

Formerly owned a TR6 and a MGB (chrome bumper, 3 wiper). Both are excellent ‘starter classics’ for the same reasons. Overall I think the 6 was a bit more fun, but really it’s splitting hairs.

Mike F.
Mike F.
8 months ago

It’s a low bar, but that one is pretty nice looking for a rubber bumper MG.

Mark Tucker
Mark Tucker
8 months ago

Huh. I had no idea they ever came with six-digit odometers. I had to consult the experts, and sure enough, the tail-end of 1979/80 US cars had six-digit odos in their Federally mandated 85 mph speedos.

I will be pedantic about one thing, though: Production total was 513,000 MGBs, but 125,000 of those weren’t roadsters…

3WiperB
3WiperB
8 months ago
Reply to  Mark Tucker

Yeah, I didn’t know that either. My 79 has a 5 digit odometer and goes to an ambitious 120 mph.

Last edited 8 months ago by 3WiperB
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