Low Mile Survivor: 1976 MGB Roadster

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Over its production run from 1962 through 1980, more than 500,000 MGBs were sold, though most of those were sold before 1975. In that unfortunate year, British Leyland was forced to detune the 1.8-liter motor to meet US emissions requirements, add bumpers to satisfy crash testing benchmarks, and raise the ride height of the car so its headlight level would meet yet another regulation. These graceless changes ruined the overall performance of the car, particularly since the sway bar was eliminated to reduce costs. We can’t feel too sorry for British Leyland, however, since the company passed up many an opportunity to modernize the MGB but never applied the resources to do so. Here on eBay is what is commonly called a “rubber bumper” MGB roadster, this one from 1976, at no reserve. Bidding has reached $5105.88. The car is located in Healdsburg, California. Although the car was stored for 25 years, the seller changed the fluids and battery and took it on a 500-mile journey without a hitch.

Twin SU carburetors were not fitted to 1976 MGBs from the factory – instead, the misery of regulations called for a single Zenith. But scads of owners have backdated their motors by stripping off the smog equipment and refitting SUs; that appears to be the case here. These air cleaners are aftermarket items. The odometer reads 43,664 miles and without promising directly, the seller intimates that that’s all she’s traveled. Apparently, a spare key set is still attached to the firewall, the crayon markings from the factory are intact, and the spare has never been down (replace that!) – all of which imply the mileage is correct.

The interior is lovely, with bright gauge faces, uncracked dash, and good seating surfaces. I don’t care for the wrapping on the steering wheel, but every MGB I have ever owned came to me that way for some reason. Here’s how the steering wheel should look, and note the horn button with its red highlights – this item is faded on our subject car. The seller notes that the soft top and its frame were removed years ago but come with the car. Soft tops shrink over time, so that will be a replacement item, too. The emergency brake handle is nearly vertical; either someone was overenthusiastic about setting it, or it needs adjustment. It shouldn’t need to stand up like that to work.

The hardtop is a great feature and this one appears in good condition. The seller promises us no rust, and the Chartreuse paint has only a few nicks. Even the door jambs are clean. The wheels have either been refinished or are in excellent original condition. Factory documents in near-new condition accompany the car. The seller makes an unusual promise – if the price reaches $19,500, he will warranty the car for 12,000 miles or one year. I’m not sure what that means if you live in, say, Alaska! What are the chances of this MGB meeting that price?

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  1. Nevada1/2rack NevadahalfrackMember

    This would be a fun one in the “neighborhood” of Healdsburg once you get away from the big Napa/Sonoma vineyards and off the primary arteries, especially after installing an anti-sway bar, drop the ride height back to where it SHOULD be and remove those ridiculous bumbashers on the front and rear.
    With regards to the top, it may be salvageable with a really good leather moisturizer/cleaner; I used to recommend Hein Gerick conditioner but I can’t find it anymore (works especially well on leather motorcycle jackets).
    And a really good point, Michelle insofar as the “ if bought for $19,500 warranty the car for 1 year etc”-to what end?
    Nice car overall IMHO-and I imagine the Oregon plate registration is due to
    (A) the totally RIDICULOUS CA DMV smog nonsense they’re shoving down the owner’s throats and
    (B) the fees, as Oregon has a set rate because they tax you ‘till you’re broke on property assessments..
    It’s a shame all of us BF readers can’t physically visit at a car meet/BBQ somewhere with all of the BF editors but this forum makes for a pretty good alternative. Thank you for that.

    Like 4
    • Michelle RandAuthor

      “Bumbashers”! LOL! Good one. Rubber bumper cars do have their fans… Even nice early MGBs have become expensive so the cheaper ‘bumbasher’ version fills a void.

      Like 2
    • bobhess bobhessMember

      With you on the bumpers. Would also lower the car to get it out of the stratosphere. There are kits available to fill in the mounting holes put in to install the rubber monsters along with the bumpers to replace them. ’66s looked a lot better don’t you think?

      Like 3
      • bobhess bobhessMember


        Like 4
  2. bill tebbutt

    Great colour on this car! I thought it was generally referred to as primrose, as I had one in this colour but an older model.

    Original paint is a huge plus, but underside photos are required to justify a premium price. These are not as desirable as chrome bumper models by a long stretch. I don’t think the pics show that it has O/D, which would be a great plus if it did. The hardtop is heavy and takes up a lot of garage space when off the car – I’ve never understood the reason for having one on a roadster, unless its an Alfa (where they keep the rusty ones from breaking in two!).

    Not worth anywhere near US$19,500 though. There are far more decent MGBs for sale than there are buyers, has been this way a long time.


    Like 5
  3. Greg B Greg B

    I own a ‘77 MG MGB in this 2 year only color, “Chartreuse” 76-77, paint code BLVC 167. It is a very nice color if not faded. Mine was reshot and shines brilliantly. The black hard top on mine as well is actually made out of fiberglass. My soft top resides tucked away in its factory location of the car. Simply remove the hard top and now you have a true convertible with a retractable soft top. Although the seller does not mention if his has the desirable overdrive feature, I can tell you that it is nice to have. It drops my rpm’s 500 or so when I use it going at 50 mph or above.

    If I lived closer I would take a look at his ask to test drive it. If the miles are actual one could tell driving and inspecting things much closer. I think if the seller really wants to know what the market value is he/she should do a few videos to share and add a link to the 150 photos that he has.

    These are fun little cars and don’t take up much parking space. They are still what I consider to be an affordable pleasure collector car to enjoy.

    Like 7
  4. tiger66

    As noted, this would not pass smog testing in CA with the twin carbs now on it.

    These late MGBs have long been good value because they are (were?) cheap. Especially once put back to the earlier spec. $19.5k for one is ridiculous as you can easily find a non rubber bumper example for less but that might be the market we are in now. Maybe market sanity will return some day.

    Like 2
    • angliagt angliagtMember

      And it’s registered in Oregon,which is also
      illegal in California.
      And no matter what the seller tells you,if this
      is sold to a California resident,the seller’s responsible
      for obtaining a smog certificate.

      Like 1
  5. BobinBexley Bob in BexleyMember

    Goodness I’m old ! Parish Plastics Hardtop ??

    Like 0
  6. luckless pedestrian

    $19.5K is really pushing the envelope… I’ve rarely seen late model (rubber bumper) ‘Bs ever go past $15K… and those that did were very special cars… typically returned to chrome bumper configuration… rover V8 installed… interior redone and upgraded… etc… This car is nice… but its something between a Hagerty condition #3 and #2… so somewhere between $8K and $15K

    Like 4

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