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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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