Metal Dash Bargain: 1966 MGB

Jesse MortensenBy Jesse Mortensen

MGBs can be great summer drivers. They are robust, cheap, and fun to drive! Think vintage Miata. Well, they may not be as reliable as a Miata, but I daily drove one for a while and never had any major problems. Occasionally, I still long for a metal dash B so this particular one is tempting. Heck, it even has wire wheels and a hard top! It’s located in Seattle, Washington and is listed here on craigslist for only $3,200.

What’s all this talk about metal dashes you may ask? Well, later MGBs came with the “pillow” dash and it just wasn’t as attractive. It also had a tendency to crack and look even worse. The earlier metal dash was more attractive and gave the car a more vintage feel. Earlier cars also came with low back leather seats and banjo steering wheels. The interior of this car isn’t perfect, but it’s nothing a Moss Motors catalog and a couple hours of time couldn’t fix.

The seller mentions that the engine is running a little rough and could use a tuneup. The SU carbs may need synced so you will want to study up on that. They really aren’t as complicated as some people think so don’t automatically assume they should be replaced with a single Weber. Recent brake work is also mentioned so that’s a plus. This car even has a later overdrive transmission installed! It’s currently not engaging, but that makes this MGB about perfect in terms of options.

The seller claims that this car must go because they currently have two sports cars parked on the street. It is a shame to let something like this sit outside so we can see where they are coming from. Metal dash, hard top, wire wheels, and overdrive transmission for thirty two hundred bucks? Even if the car isn’t perfect, that sounds like a deal to me. A closer inspection would reveal if that really is the case. Of course severe rust or crash damage would kill the deal, but if everything checks out this could be one heck of a British bargain!

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Comments

  1. Luke Fitzgerald

    That’s a gift – and it’s probably neg – if it’s not perforated with tin worn. Original painted wheels too – nice change

    3+
  2. ccrvtt

    Black wheels just make a car look dirty in my not-so-humble opinion. Don’t like the removal of the beltline trim, either. But overall this looks like a solid car & if it is it’s at a bargain price. You could drive it and enjoy it as you spruced it up. Good thing it’s across the country from me. Sorely tempting – good find.

    4+
  3. john

    The ad says it was posted a month ago…I’m too far away too, however it is likely sold by now.

    2+
  4. Jeffro

    Isn’t Howard looking for something like this?

    1+
  5. S Ryan

    British and daily driver? B.S.

    2+
    • Paul

      My 1972 was a daily driver only car for me in college in the mid 80s.
      My current 1977 is driven to work just about every day in the summer barring rain. Pertronix dizzy and a pair of HIFs and I have never been stranded in 15 years. A couple clutches, a starter, and a couple alternators, is pretty much it.

      1+
    • Devin

      I have a ’62 Austin-Healey 3000. It’s now restored and I wouldn’t hesitate driving it anywhere (and have driven it on some very long trips with my son). It was my High School car and back then, it was just a 20ish year old British sports car… not restored. I got pretty good at pushing and roadside repairs.

      0
  6. Yellowjax Member

    When I got it it had those black painted wires. Bumpers are painted also. Not my idea. It looks BRG in pics but it’s not really.

    1+
  7. Yellowjax Member

    The wires were painted black when I got it. Not my idea. Also pics make it look like BRG. Not really so. Kind of a lighter version. I have had many MG’s but the spot at my house in the yard where I was going to work on it now has a shed. House overflow. Seems I’m kind of a pack rat.

    2+
  8. Chuck

    If the rockers and floors are solid, it’s a bargain.

    0
  9. Chebby

    That closeup of the banjo steering wheel looks like a car from 1946.

    0
  10. Steve

    I wonder how the electrical system is n this thing. My uncle had a couple of MGs back in the 80’s. A midget and an MGB> He was constantly pulling his hair out with the electrical on both. It seems I remember the phrase “GD#**$(#MF LUCAS!!!” being repeated…

    1+
    • Jim

      Meh….

      Lucas always gets the bad rap but really? Lucas components are as bulletproof as any other auto makes (ie. regulator, switches, generators, etc). The problem is 50 years of all the wires bouncing around between point A and point B and the ham-fisted repairs made along the way.

      Wires are wires. The bullet connectors are simple and robust if you do them the right way (with actual solder on a clean strip of conductor – not electrical tape and a prayer). Any old car with a string of eager fix-it owners is going to give you fits.

      All of those cheap Auto Zone crimp connectors you inevitably see hanging all over the place? There’s your problem.

      4+
      • Smtguy

        Agreed about Lucas. I have owned a ’49 TC, ’59 A, ’68 Midget, and ’73 B; all driven and none of them garage queens. At no time was I ever visited from “the Prince of Darkness”

        1+
  11. Tom Hall

    Man that hardtop is ugly!

    1+
  12. evet

    I commuted in MGBs for years (A GT and a Roadster) and they never let me down. Set them up correctly and they are very reliable cars. Any bad reputation they got is probably due to neglect or improper repairs. They’re easy to work on, parts are available and inexpensive. Great fun to drive and beautiful to look at.

    1+
  13. Ian Brown

    Actually, Jim, I have to disagree. The bullet connectors are not sealed. Water does find it’s way in. Moisture problems are a surprising major problem in a car that comes from wet GB. I suppose if one rewired the car with a new harness, and packed the open ends of the connectors with the heaviest grease you could get, after you made each connection, you would eliminate 90% of the electrical problems.

    0
  14. Pat A

    A friend of mine had one. The door sheetmetal was tearing just below the vent windows. Seemed to have the usual built in Lucas electrical quirks. It did seem to run better in damp or rainy weather though. Maybe the car thought it was back in Old Blighty.

    0
    • Paul

      The crack of doom is fairly common due to people pulling the door closed with the wing window.

      0
      • Jim D

        Actually, Paul, the COD results from too much pressure (too little clearance) between the windscreen surround and the wing window surround. Put a paint stick in there when adjusting the windscreen rake, and no COD in the future.

        0
  15. Allen

    I’m working on a metal-dash pull-handle ’65 as I write. Other MGs here include a ’73 B/GT that has been with me for 31 years – and a daily driver for most of that time. The only time it ever failed me was a failure of the Saturn/Delco alternator I had opted for in order to get 100 amps instead of the original 43 or so.

    The only other electrical problems I’ve ever had are double- and triple-bullet connectors, which are supposed to be replaced every 40 years or 200,000 miles. Most owners ignore this routine service. Mechanics curse Lucas because they don’t understand, and can’t be bothered to learn the color codes – which are extremely logical. Twin SU carbs are the simplest thing on the planet. If you follow the Haynes Manual and can’t find the sweet spots in 15-20 minutes, they need rebuilding. It’s not rocket-science – just get the kits and do it. After that, they’ll set up easily (balancing them is a breeze). OK, you might have to tinker with them every 10-12 years…

    2+
    • John

      Most of the issues with Lucas components are the result of corrosion. But the reason there is corrosion is because the connections are poorly designed with regard to excluding moisture. It seems incredible that a company based in one of the “rainiest” places on earth could not design simple seals or corrosion resistant connectors – and therein lies the real issue. Lucas CAN do it, they just won’t. And the presumption that the blame transfers to the user is ridiculous. The company cannot be unaware of their reputation, but they blame the customer for improper maintenance of a component that every other manufacturer has, long ago, rendered maintenance free. Lucas warmly and richly deserves the mantle of Prince of Darkness. One must ponder how many wonderful cars may have been abandoned and left to rot away because some obscure connector failed in its purpose.

      0
  16. DL

    Speaking of “vintage Miatas” saw this on a recent rally…

    0
  17. Alexander

    That is just a good ol’ driving B being lovingly (if not accurately or grammatically) described by it’s owner. However, I’m not sure what is meant by ” Never have to buy tabs again.” Someone clue me in please…..

    0
    • JackT

      In Washington State, if a car is over 25 years old, it qualifies for Collector a plate for the rear mounting. With mounting one, there are no periodic emissions tests or annual license tab fees. There are some limitations with those plates (shouldn’t be a daily driver, can be driven to/from shows, etc.), but many owners ignore the details and drive them often.

      0
  18. Rick McKee

    Have a MGA since 1964 and while no longer a daily driver it was for a number of years. I have a tool that cost me less than 10 bucks back in 64 to syncro the carbs and it is not at all hard to do.

    0
    • gary ackerman

      Had a ’65. That lighter- than- racing green color is called Brooklands Green. Glorious at dawn and dusk. It was the prettiest car I’ve owned.
      Synchronized those SU’s with the shop manual close by. Listened to the hiss and slurp sounds, adjusting per the book ’till they sounded the same through a rubber hose to my ear. Set the point gap with a feeler guage, no dwell meter. The car started at the first TDC every time, long as above 25 F. Tougher when the weather was cold.
      It was torquey and with an overdrive I received and installed, would do 70 at 3000RPM. Had it up to 108 in a ( foolish) late-night run. (race?)…
      It could cruise all day or night at 80 to 85. 90 was 4000 rpm so not a big deal. Owned it from ’78 through about ’81. Fiddled with those SU’S once when I first got it, did not touch them again except to top up the oil level on the vacuum piston rod gizmos. Might have fiddled with the points once more in the three years too. The car never left me stranded.

      2+
  19. Alexander

    Hose method of synching has always given me great results. And, a points system should last for years without adjustment as long as your dizzy shaft does not wear or your motor mounts fade away….

    0
  20. Allen

    When I read of “all these electrical problems”, I’m reminded of the old joke about “when did you quit beating your wife?”. There is an underlying assumption here that there ARE electrical problems. As a rule, there simply are not. Single bullet connectors seem to function indefinitely. Double and triple bullet connectors do have some air-space in them wherein the “bridge” parts of the connectors will disintegrate 20-30 years from new. In a car culture that normally disposes of vehicles in less than 10 years, by what stretch of the imagination do we call this a “problem”? In fact, I’ve never had a triple connector fail – only the doubles.

    1+

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