Easy Fixer-Upper? 1972 MGB Convertible

The MGB is a two-door sports car built from 1962-80, first by British Motor Corporation and then the Austin-Morris division of British Leyland. It was the successor to the MGA and the big brother of the MG Midget. This 1972 example has been in storage for 13 years and belonged to the father of the seller. It doesn’t appear to be in running condition from a garage in Whitefield, New Hampshire. The little sportster is available here on Facebook Marketplace for $3,500.

Until the advent of the Mazda Miata, the MGB was the best-selling sports car in the world. More than a half-million of them were built across nearly twenty years, with almost 60 percent of them shipped to buyers in the United States. Interest in the car began to taper off in the U.S. in the mid-1970s as increased pollution controls and safety standards weakened the performance of the car and gave it rubber bumpers that looked way out of place. The car found thrust from a 1800cc, 4-cylinder engine that went from three to five main bearings in the crankshaft a couple of years into the run in order to improve reliability and standardize the engine with other BMC products. To accommodate the need to run on regular unleaded gas, the compression ratio was also reduced to 8:1 on U.S.-spec cars in ’72. For a trip down MBG memory lane, check out NAMGBR.

From the seller’s ad, it looks as though he’s decided to let go of a car that was owned by his father. It’s the convertible version of the car which was known as the “tourer” and how the MGB first began as hardtops wouldn’t come until later. From the few photos provided, it appears to be a pure two-seater that doesn’t have the seldom-ordered small rear seat. The little car has been in storage since 2007 and while the clean-up process has begun, it doesn’t appear the car even starts, much less runs. Besides the aforementioned engine, the little car should have a 4-speed manual transmission with a non-synchromesh first gear. That gearbox dates back to the days of the MGA.

According to Hagerty and others, $20,000 is about the ceiling for an MGB, regardless of what type of top it has. Finding one in really nice shape is getting harder to do because they were subject to the dreaded tin-worm back in the day. Also, we understand that parts availability can be hit or miss. If you’re good at tinkering with these things or know a mechanic who is, this might be a good buy. Because once you get it going, you will always have to be fooling around with it. And this could be a cheap way to add a weekend toy to your entourage.

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    Well, it’s certainly better than the rust buckets a while back. This and those would make a nice package. I didn’t care for the ’72, they changed the interior to that plastic crap, and for the record, ’72 had a 1st gear synchro trans and I never saw’r a MGB with a back seat. My ’71 had all synchro, but again, no mention of O/D, a deal breaker for me. If you’re going to go this route, buy the other cars for parts, you’ll need ’em, and find an O/D. The world is just a happier place in O/D, trust me..

    Like 4
  2. Bultaco

    A few corrections. The ‘72 had an all-synchro 4-speed, and parts availability is such that literally any part is available new. Every body panel is available, and the BMH ones are stamped on largely original dies. You can even buy a complete body shell. If this car has solid floors and sills, and if the engine isn’t stuck, it should make a cheap and fun rolling restoration.

    Like 8
    • Glenn

      You are correct on the synchro 4 speed. I had a 58 MGA and swapped a 72 engine and transmission into it. All fit well except the transmission was too large for the tunnel…..had to cut it out and rebuild.

  3. DanaPointJohn

    In 1977, I bought a 1970 MGB convertible, in BRG, for $2,000. It had been sitting for two years on the side of a house in Berkeley, but fortunately it was under a three sided carport. The tires were flat and it wouldn’t start. After filling the tires, replacing the battery, draining the fluids and changing out the plugs and wires, it lit right up. Whew! I get the title transferred, and a week later a guy walks up and asked if my car was for sale. Heck, everything is for sale – at the right price. He offered $4,500. For me, that was the right price! I only got about a month of top down driving, in what seemed to be a fun car.

    Like 5
  4. T

    The perfect car for the backyard mechanic. It will keep you busy.

    Like 2
  5. ClassicCarFan

    as others have pointed out the gearbox went all synchro in 1968.

    These MGBs make fun, easy to own cars. If the bodywork is sound, most mechanical stuff is dead simple and can be fixed at home by any reasonably competent enthusiast. as noted, just about every part is available new thee days through the specialist suppliers and there were enough of these made that used parts are still plentiful. The smogged cars are pretty slow, but assuming you live in a non-smog state it is pretty easy and relatively inexpensive to upgrade the engine to give more acceptable performance.

    Pre-1975 cars with the chrome bumpers are definitely preferred, but I’d agree with Howard A that O/D is definitely a nice-to-have on MGB.

    Like 1
  6. Turbo

    Howard for President!

    Like 2
  7. bobhess bobhess Member

    Have seen an early dash transplanted in the “plastic” dash models. Cleans the interior up nicely. Our ’66 was a great all around daily driver. Good power, comfortable seats, and fun to drive.

    Like 1
  8. Allen Bachelder Member

    1972 is not the year they went to “plastic crap” on the interior. It was the first year of the dash that was used from ’72 to ’76 – and quite attractive really. It is the dash used from ’68 to ’71 – known as the “Abingdon Pillow” to which so many MGB owners object. Not only are parts plentiful, and quite reasonable, the Heritage, and lower-priced Pressed-Steel body panels are so carefully made that the only times they don’t fit are when the CAR is crooked! The design includes crumple zones – I’m not sure if that’s intentional, but the bodies are incredibly overbuilt. They are not the first “monocoque” (unibody) MGs – that honor goes to the Z-series MG Magnette saloons of 1953-1958, but they are the first MG monocoque sports cars. The “overbuilt” quality does add to strength, but it also created a lot of water traps, hence rusting. As observed above, MGBs built from 1968 on had synchromesh on all four forward gears – and if you’re going to drive on the interstates, you WILL want overdrive! Often, even the sellers don’t know if the car they are selling has overdrive.

    Oil pressure is tell-tale in MGB engines. Even if the car does not run or drive, if it turns over (take a half-inch drive 1-5/16″ socket wrench when you go look at the car and try turning the crank pulley nut – clockwise of course. With the plugs out, if it will spin on the starter, you should be able to get 50# oil pressure. If not, you can probably expect an engine overhaul coming up soon.

    FWIW…

    Like 1
  9. Allen Member

    I said “Pressed Steel”. I believe I meant “Steelcraft”.

  10. dougie Member

    well. we’re not supposed to talk politics here. but the door has been cracked. I get a pretty conservative vibe from HA (not that H***y A$$) but considering our current status, I’ll def side with HA any day over out status quo. 👍🏼👍🏼

    Like 1
  11. Stephen Coe

    A northern rust suspect To fix interior 1500 brakes and hydraulic system is 1500 if you can do the work yourself u can save $$$ but MGB parts are very hard to come buy now due to COVID. I know because every basic part I need for me 3 MGs is on back order, then there is the cheap and horrible Chinese parts to Beal with. Be very careful

  12. wardww

    One of the easiest engines in the world to work on. I built my first BMC 1800 engine when I was 16. Open and close the doors. If they sag in any way or have left close marks on the metal of the doors or door frames, run like hell.
    If they open and shut properly and the shut lines are decent and the rockers are not full of filler, buy it at that price. Original bumpers is a big win.

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