Right now on eBay is a 1969 MGB for sale. That’s not unusual in itself, people do sometimes sell MGBs. What’s unusual is that this MGB is actually a 1967 Beetle that has been re-bodied with an MGB body. It’s surprisingly well-executed, though it’s not exactly clear why this was done. Maybe someone really wanted an MGB, but couldn’t deal with all of the power? Or wanted it a bit more reliable, or better in snow and mud? Or maybe they were raised in a religious sect that believes radiators are playthings of the devil? I’m really not sure about the motivations here, but I’m really taken by this very strange machine.
At first glance, this looks like a normal 1969 MGB. Well, almost. Our resident MG expert Mark Tucker told me the unusual side marker lamps are like what you’d see on a six-cylinder MGC (those have a bulge on the hood with a chrome strip), which is a far less common car. We checked the VIN, though, and found that this car did start life as a US-market MGB roadster, so I guess someone just liked those MGC side markers.
I mean, I get it, I like interesting side marker lamps, too. Really, the only exterior clue you get that you’re dealing with something strange here is around back:
Those headers. No MGB would have headers like that, especially not mounted in that strange location. Of course, if you open the trunk lid, it’s easy to see why those are there:
There’s the air-cooled Volkswagen flat four! How strange it looks in there! The ad suggests this is a 1300 engine, but seeing as how the donor VW was a ’67, I think that’s unlikely. The 1300 was only used one year, in 1966, and in ’67 the engines went to 1500cc. This looks to be a single-port engine, which suggests it may be the original engine on that ’67, since any replacement engine would very likely be a dual-port 1600.
With the engine out back, you’d think they could have done a bit more to make a useable trunk up front, but instead they have a huge cubical fuel cell and no one bothered to put in a trunk floor, which seems a shame to me. This could have been a good-sized trunk with a bit of planning!
That said, the quality of this conversion is pretty incredible; the VW pan had to be shortened by three and a half inches to fit the body, and that’s a nontrivial job to do. Someone really wanted this to happen. The interior looks great, especially with the incongruous tall, spindly VW shifter sticking up on that tunnel like an unexpected mushroom:
Those seats appear to have Beetle lower halves, reupholstered, and upper halves that might be from a ’77 or up Beetle, when they went to separate headrests, but I’m not really sure.
One thing I’m not sure of is where the engine is pulling air; from below, I suppose? This isn’t really ideal for an air-cooled VW engine which likes separation from upper “cool” half and a lower “hot” half, but if it’s exposed to enough air, like in a dune buggy, it doesn’t matter that much.
The battery is where you’d expect it in a Beetle but not an MGB, exposed because, unlike a Beetle, in an MGB there’s no rear seat to hide it under. The pedals are also a hilarious contraption of extension rods and strange levers, but the seller insists they work fine. As they state in the ad:
“Please note , the pedals can be cut and adjusted , i am 5’9 and Can drive this car comfortably. But it’s a hotrod so far from perfect. The seat is not adjustable.”
What I like there is the way the car is referred to as a “hotrod,” which I suppose it sort of is, just a hotrod that ends up with about 40 horsepower less than the car made when stock. A ’69 MGB made about 95 hp, and a ’67 VW made about 53, so, yeah, a hotrod!
I also like how the car is described overall:
“This 1969 MG MGB is a restomod with updates to the drivetrain.”
Is it really an “update” to a drivetrain if it’s a completely different drivetrain from a car two years older? And it’s hardly just the drivetrain; the whole chassis, all the suspension, steering, brakes, everything is from the VW. It’s a VW Beetle with an MGB body! And yet, somehow, it’s still registered as an MGB!
Whatever it is, it’s bafflingly delightful, and it’s a clean, running MGB-looking car that has an drivetrain with extremely easy to get parts and a massive aftermarket and enthusiast community. You could take it to VW or MG shows! German or British car meets! And I even think the VW wheels with the chrome dome hubcaps look good! What’s not to like for only, $6,000 or so?
(Thanks to C Moloney for showing me this!)
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