End of the Line: 1980 MGB Limited Edition

By Nathan Avots-Smith

After 293,592 MGB roadsters sold in the U.S. since 1962, MG decided to go out with a batch of 500 special, Limited Edition cars for the 1980 model year. Like any good limited edition, however, MG quickly realized that demand should be the only limitation and ended up building 6,682, bringing the 18-year total to 300,274. The seller of this immaculate, 38,000-mile LE claims that it’s one of the last of these final cars built, also making it one of the last new MGs ever sold on our shores. The first and last of any car are always the most collectible, right? If that’s your jam, you can check this one out on craigslist out of Farmingdale, New Jersey—and check out its $13,500 asking price. Thanks to reader Bill Walters for the tip! (Archived ad.)

No, the rubber buggy bumpers haven’t really improved with age, but perhaps they’re why MG elected to finish all of the LE roadsters in black. The stripe package was standard kit, too, and both the stripes and the paint appear to be in very fine condition on this one-owner car. No rust issues are noted in the ad, and photos of the underside, trunk, and floors under the carpet all look solid and indicative of a true, low-mileage car, although the skimpily finished trunk does show plenty of signs of use. C’mon, MG—just a cover for the spare, and painted metal everywhere else?

It should be clear by now that we’re not dealing with an ace photographer, but I see no major cause for concern. The seats look clean and intact, and if you’re concerned that the overexposure on the dashpad is concealing cracks, don’t be. The only bummer is that the door panels may have been cut for those aftermarket speakers, but a google image search reveals that if there weren’t originally speakers here, this is an exceedingly common modification. I’m sure one of our MG expert readers can confirm or deny!

The mess of hoses and wires underhood betray an engine adapted to, not designed for, the emissions control age, but otherwise things look quite clean in here. The seller notes that $1,700 of work has recently been performed, which we are assured makes this a turn-key car. Turning that key will bring to light another disappointing sign of the MG B-series engine’s grudging compliance with the 1970s regulatory climate: this final MGB produces just 63 horsepower, down from 94 in 1963, while weight was up more than 400 pounds.

Still, even in 1980 MGBs were sold on their archaic British charm and top-down fun, not raw power. This one sports a pretty healthy pricetag, but it’s not much to ask in return for the smiles that this little car will elicit from driver and passersby alike—not to mention the cachet of being the end of an illustrious line!

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Comments

  1. Rx7turboII

    Fun fact… I bought a 1975 Triumph stag many years ago and in the trunk were four Brand New Old Stock alloy wheels that I think the Stag and the limited edition MGB share. Sold the wheels for more than I paid for the Stag. LOL

    6+
  2. Howard A Member

    Probably the most refined MGB, despite the strangling of that poor motor, and no mention of O/D,,,again. And again, with the switch on the right wiper stalk, and may be unmarked, I wonder if the owner even knows about it. I guess we loyal MGB owners finally accepted the front end, knowing full well, our beloved MGB’s were coming to an end. With the wheels and raised height, it actually looks pretty nice. I had a lot of fun with my MGB, put well over 200K miles on it, and so could the next owner here. ( oh, reason the rear window is open, is because it’s probably yellow)

    4+
  3. tugdoc

    By 1980 the OD switch was on the shift knob. GLWTS

    2+
  4. John D

    When these came out, my sister’s FIL offered everybody in my family the opportunity to buy one new for about $3900, he was a distributor for British Leyland. My family had a small Chrysler dealership and everybody had a free car and I didn’t have the money at the time and I did not feel I needed a car payment, besides that, my driveway was full.

    1+
  5. David Miraglia

    always liked this late model. Like the Benz mentioned earlier loved the clean lines.

    1+
  6. Jimmy

    A few items from a long term rubber bumper model MG owner. (late 70’s to 90’s)
    1. The overdrive was on the top of the gear shift knob. (Often failed)
    2. To my knowledge, door panel mounted speakers were the norm.
    3. The front air dam is what I believe to be original, the driving lights are not.
    4.Black and Tan?
    A functioning Stromberg carb and lobster claw emissions artifact is quite impressive.
    Q: Why to the British drink warm beer? A: They have Lucas refrigerators…

    1+
    • mike

      great…………the biggest mistake British Leyland ever made……..they never got rid of that crappy Lucas system…….more shorts than Miami beach. They would still be on the road.

      1+
  7. Greg

    It really is a great looking car, even despite the bumpers. You don’t notice them as much with the black paint. I wonder if a Buick/Rover 215ci v8 would fit in there?

    1+
  8. Jimmy

    There were conversion kits years ago.

    0
  9. Jimmy

    They also “jacked up” the car on it’s suspension, allegedly by using longer/taller springs to meet the 5 MPH bumper impact rules.

    More weight, taller suspension, and a motor derived from a tractor engine.

    0

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