1979 MGB With 18,800 Genuine Miles!

By 1979, the sun was beginning to set on the venerable MGB. It enjoyed a long and successful production run, and good examples are still sought by enthusiasts today. This one-owner 1979 model has a mere 18,800 genuine miles showing on its odometer, but as you will see, this is for an excellent reason. Located in Holden, Missouri, you will find the MG listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding has made it to a mere $4,550 in what is a No Reserve auction.

The MG is finished in Russet Brown, a color that the company only offered between 1978 and 1980. The owner claims that all of the paint is original, with no touch-ups or other work performed. It holds an excellent shine, and the fact that it has been garage-kept by the owner since new has helped preserve it wonderfully. There is a single flaw in the paintwork, and we’ll get to that shortly. The panels are as straight as you could ever hope to find, and the life that this car has led has allowed it to remain completely rust-free. The Black soft-top is slightly sagging at the back, but I wonder whether some time in the sun might help this problem. The chrome and glass look spotless, and the rubber bumper has avoided the sort of deterioration that can plague these items if they experience long-term exposure to UV rays.

When we wander around to the front of this little British classic and take a look at the hood, we spot the only flaw in this otherwise beautiful paint. It is a substantial scorch mark, and the hood will need to be stripped and repainted to address this properly. As you have probably guessed, this damage was inflicted by a fire in the engine bay. That means that the time has come to lift the hood and see how bad things actually are in there.

Under the MG’s hood, we find the original 1,799cc 4-cylinder engine that would have been pumping out 62hp when the car was new. A 4-speed manual transmission with overdrive backs this little four. With such a modest output figure, the MGB was not what you would call a fast car. The journey down the ¼ mile would take 20.4 seconds, while the little Brit would be plumb out of breath at 91mph. The vehicle is numbers-matching, and it has a genuine 18,800 miles showing on its odometer. The low odometer reading is due to the MG having been parked in 1982, and this was for a pretty good reason. The vehicle experienced an engine fire at that point, and that was the last time the car fired a shot in anger. It will now need to be revived, and I suspect that it might need some electrical work to address the fire damage. I would be inclined to at least replace the wiring harness in the engine bay, although it might be worth the effort and expense to do the lot. These aren’t particularly complicated to work on, and a complete harness is available from several suppliers for around $600. The engine bay will also need new hoses and belts, but the scope of the work required doesn’t appear to be beyond what you might expect to find with any classic that has been sitting for 40-years.

Given this car’s history, it is no surprise to find that its interior is in good condition. It is in desperate need of a deep clean, but that seems to be about it. There are no signs of any wear, tears, or other problems. The dash is in excellent order, and there is no wear on the wheel. I think that a few days in a home workshop with some high-quality cleaning products should be enough to return this interior to its former glory. When it comes to project cars, it is always a bonus to find an area that doesn’t need to have money spent on it. That is what is on offer with this interior, and I think that a few days of hard work will produce results that will provide a sense of self-satisfaction for the next owner.

As a classic, the MGB is an interesting car. People who own them tend to love them, and people who don’t but have had the chance to drive one, would like to park one in their driveway. If you wander out into the market today, you can take your pick of 1979 MGBs for under $15,000. However, none of those cars will have less than 20,000 genuine miles on the clock. That is what makes this car a double-edged sword. Its overall condition and mileage should push it into the upper echelon when it comes to price. However, the very reason for the odometer reading is also going to negatively impact its current value. If the fire damage were repaired and the car could be revived relatively easily, there is no reason why it couldn’t command a value of around $20,000. The repairs should consume approximately $2,000 if the work is performed to a high standard by a professional. If the buyer can complete the work themselves, that will cut this figure enormously. That leaves the cost of reviving the car because it will undoubtedly require work on the fuel system, brakes, and a few other items. Whether it is a financially viable project will depend on how high the bidding eventually climbs. If you are considering adding an MGB to your collection, this is a listing that should be worth watching. If the bidding doesn’t go too high, this could represent excellent value for money.

Fast Finds


  1. BlondeUXB Member

    18,000 miles ?
    Looks like the owner stored the engine in their swimming pool…

    Like 1
    • BlondeUXB Member

      Apologies, didn’t read on and see the engine fire text.
      I should do more than read headlines and look at pictures…

      Like 7
  2. Steve

    Had one of these. Engine caught fire because the fuel line was too close to exhaust

    Like 1
  3. mike b

    Supports my theory that the best preserved cars are in the worst colors. (Seriously, who buys a sports car in brown?) Front valence looks a bit mangled, but the rest is in amazing condition. If the fire was electrical (of course it was, it’s British) a good culprit is the voltage regulator. So check everything electrical for damage. If memory serves, feed the new wiring harness from the boot forward so you’re not trying to fit the branches through the grommet.

    Like 4
  4. Charles Sawka

    Great car to retrofit to Pre 1970 specs. Couldn’t do it in California though.

  5. Allen Member

    I doubt if it was an electrical fire. Voltage regulators were built into the alternators – ‘ never heard of one catching fire. I can’t tell from the pictures where the fire damage is but the Zenith Stromberg carburetor used on these late-model MGBs was notorious for leaking fuel if not properly serviced. AND… it was located directly above the red-hot catalytic converter.

    The only electrical fire danger on these cars (and MG may have fixed this by 1979) is the overdrive solenoid wire – which was unfused. Popping a line fuse into that lead solves the problem in 20 minutes!

    That same engine put out 98 hp in 1967. The decline started in ’68 – and it can readily be tweaked to quite a bit more. Hap Waldrop at Acme Speed Shop is the man to consult about that. Or… leave the engine detuned at ’79 specs but add a Moss supercharger. That too will put a smile on your face! Or… scuttle the engine in favor of the BOP-Rover 3.5 aluminum V8. The car was designed for this engine! Easy bolt-in job.

    Like 1
  6. Allen Member

    ‘ Looking more closely at the engine bay picture: the worst visible damage appears to be the hoses near that ZS carb – supporting my theory. Even toward the front, belts and radiator hoses look pretty much unaffected. This is NOT to say they shouldn’t be replaced – just due to age, if nothing else.This presents some other possible good news: there isn’t a lot of wiring in this part of the engine bay. Wiring damage could be minimal.

    I would be equally, if not more concerned about the ravages of 40 year’s storage. Does the engine even turn?

    Beautiful car! Color is not my favorite, but it’s quite OK.

    Like 1
  7. Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac Diva Member

    Had a ’72 Midget. Never had a problem with it electrically or firewise.
    Cool little cars, but, after buying new in ’72, I’m just not a small car person. I love my land yachts.

    Like 2
  8. Kenn

    Would be interesting to know why, as new as it was at the time of the fire, the owner didn’t have the car repaired. Times like this I wish the sellers would include some history.

    Like 2
  9. Gary Rhodes

    Ls and a five speed

    Like 1
  10. Allen Member

    @Kenn:good question. If the warranty didn’t cover it, why not fire/theft/comprehensive insurance? Also, I won’t accuse the seller of avoiding the truth; but I wish he had dealt with the damage a little more forthrightly in the ad, giving bidders a better view of what is wrong and what is needed. If anything, he is shooting himself in the foot because I’m guessing the repair might be a lot easier than implied.

  11. Christopher Gush

    Can you say “Rubber Baby Bumper Covers” six times without faltering.? Oh, the bane of the NHTSA requiring manufacturers to install “impact” bumpers, friendly to pedestrians and other drivers…. Was there really a problem with that to begin with.? No, but some out of touch with reality “administrators” made the decision to update, um.. excuse me… destroy many wonderful architecturally interesting cars. Cringeworthy… This is a great “project” car for someone with at least a remedial understanding of mechanics and electricity. Unfortunately given its current state, there will always be that Gremlin that rears its ugly head when you least expect after all is said and done… Caveat emptor folks…

  12. Dave croydon

    I’ve owned and driven MGB’s for the last 41 years. I have a 79 with over drive on the road right now. Love them. Would jump on this one if it was near me. Was probably fuel fire, no natural weakness but this car would benefit from conversion to older style double SU’s anyway. Over drive is a great bonus.

    Like 1
  13. Stephen Coe

    A 42 year car with low miles the engine will need everything, asehow I know🧐🤨

  14. Stephen Coe

    # s matching on an MGB THAT 42 years old wow what worth maybe $9.95. 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🥸. If it had OD but it all there, pull the engine & rebuild with old style exhust & twin carbs, do not forget all the rubber is gonna need replacing. Then Drive like ya stole it. Quite a good time not fast but loads of FUN TOPLESS.

  15. Allen Member

    Who, among MGB guys gives a hoot about the numbers-matching? @Stephen Coe – it does have overdrive. What’s more, gutless as they seem, these very-late-model MGBs are the smoothest running cars on the planet. They might take awhile to get there, but bone stock they’ll break any North American speed limit by 15 mph. There’s something to love about every one of these cars – right up to the end.

    Like 1
  16. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    SOLD for $7,255.01.
    I wonder if the buyer won by a penny…..

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