One-Owner Original: 1980 MGB Roadster

There is no doubt that the release of the original Mazda MX-5 was a game-changer for the 2-seat roadster scene. However, there are still a significant number of people who long to own a traditional British sports car. That is where cars like this 1980 MG MGB fit into the equation. This vehicle is one of the last to roll off the production line and is a one-owner survivor. It is mechanically sound and is ready to be enjoyed by a lucky new owner. The MG is located in Wilton, Connecticut, and has been listed for sale here on craigslist. All you need to do is to hand the owner $10,900, and you can drive away in this classic roadster. I have to say thank you to Barn Finder Ikey H for spotting the MG for us.

The MG is finished in Russet Brown, and it presents well as a tidy and clean survivor. This classic has been garaged by its owner since new and is said to be rust-free. There are no apparent signs of any problems, and the original paint continues to maintain a beautiful depth of color and shine. The panels are as straight as an arrow, while the gaps appear to be very consistent. The car comes complete with two convertible tops, and both are said to be in excellent condition. The bumpers are beginning to show their age, but there are products available that can rejuvenate them. It might not return them to as-new condition, but some of these products would have a positive impact on their appearance. The car features a chrome luggage rack, and as is the case with the rest of the chrome trim, it looks to be in good condition. The wheels appear to be free from corrosion or curb strike, while there are no apparent problems with the glass.

Given the level of exterior presentation, I find the interior condition of the MGB to be slightly disappointing. There are no significant flaws, but it is just looking a bit tired. It is in a serviceable state, but it would need a few dollars invested if it is to present really well. The cover on the driver’s seat is quite stretched, but it doesn’t appear to be torn. It would be possible to fit a set of aftermarket covers and hide this problem. However, a fresh set of covers can be sourced for around $700. The carpet is also looking shabby, but a carpet set can be yours for $500. I am disappointed that someone has cut the door trims to fit aftermarket speakers, but a further $155 will secure a pair of replacement door trims. If the next owner wants to really push the boat out, full trim kits are available, but at $2,000, these do represent a significant investment. The dash itself appears to be in good condition, while the original radio has made way for a Kenwood radio/cassette player.

After the disappointment of the interior, things take a definitive positive swing when we lift the MG’s hood. What we find is the 1,799cc B-Series 4-cylinder engine. This is backed by a 4-speed manual transmission. Emission regulations meant that by 1980, these little engines were producing a mere 62hp. It also meant that achieving the magic 100mph mark was more of an aspiration than a reality. However, the MGB did still manage to hang onto its rorty little exhaust note when it had a few revs on board. When this was combined with low ride height, it gave the illusion of higher speed than was actually being achieved. This also made the MGB quite an enjoyable vehicle to punt along a twisting piece of road. The owner claims that this MG has a genuine 84,000 miles showing on its odometer. He also holds a full set of service records dating back to when the vehicle was new. This would suggest that he will be able to verify the mileage claim. The engine was treated to a full rebuild in 2016, and there is an invoice for this work included in the sale. It appears that the MG has been meticulously maintained and is ready to be driven and enjoyed. My single criticism of the car once again relates to the presentation. I accept that this is a classic that is being sold as an original survivor. However, I would have expected the engine bay to have been cleaner than it is showing in the photos. I didn’t expect it to shine like a new pin. However, it just looks generally dirtier than I would have expected.

This 1980 MGB has a lot going for it, and I believe that it has the potential to offer the buyer an enjoyable ownership experience. It isn’t perfect, but taking it to the next level would not be a difficult assignment. Given its general condition, its mileage, and the relatively recent engine rebuild, the price seems to be quite competitive. Even if the next owner decides to splash the cash on a new interior trim kit, it would seem to be wholly justifiable. It is definitely possible to buy examples for less than the owner is asking for this one. It is also possible to spend considerably more on a pristine example. If I were in the market for a classic British roadster, then I would be giving this car a serious look.

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  1. Howard A Member

    Ugh, again with the Weber carb. And don’t tell me the Weber is better than the SU’s, it’s not. Oh sure, Webers are great for full throttle applications on exotic sports cars that never go below 5,000 rpms, but you just can’t beat the simplicity of a SU. The emission devices have been removed, a common practice with MGB’s if that’s an issue in your area. I’ve never had any luck with a Weber. Very nice car, a bit lofty on the price, and I disagree, nobody wants these anymore, especially when cheap Miatas are around. Nobody in todays world remembers how much fun these cars were, and just remember the bad stories,,and will probably stay clear. Shame, they’re missing out. Maybe half this price with no O/D.

    • Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

      Right on, Howard A! The price is lofty even if it had overdrive, in which case the owner might not even want to get rid of it. I find the assertion that genuine 84,000 miles is low, it’s not. The engine treated to a rebuild in 2016 means the engine work was done four years ago, an eternity if this high-torqueing car is driven with any regularity. Meticulously maintained? That cockpit is most uninviting For a five figure ask, I would have expected brand spanking new seating surfaces, carpet and door cards. An original survivor, one owner, last year of production car carries with it a premium only if the subject vehicle looks the part!

    • Paul T Root

      Being an 80, it had the 1 3/4″ Zenith Stomberg not the SUs. The DGV is much better than the ZS. Additionally, the ineffective and power sucking air pump is off.

      Still the price is a dream. I’d sell my 77 (needs paint, no rust, Mata seats with speakers, new wooden steering wheel, cosmic aluminum wheels) for a third that price, and consider myself lucky. A month or so ago Quality Coaches sold a beautiful 73(?) GT for about $4000, what a bargin.

  2. RayT Member

    After a whole lot of years, and adjusting/rebuilding/tinkering with SU carburetters — Brit carbs, Brit spelling! — I am still totally in the dark about why people are so flummoxed by such a simple and reliable device. Yes, they do have issues after long, long use (like throttle shaft bushings and, occasionally, sticking floats) but I defy you to find a Weber (or Holley, or Stromberg or whatever) unit that doesn’t need service from time to time.

    With a UniSyn and a screwdriver, you’re pretty much ready for whatever challenges they offer!

    Not a big fan of rubber-bumper Bs, I’ll admit. And yes, I think the seller is hoping for a big score he won’t get.

  3. bobhess bobhess Member

    One of the worst years ever. Smog engine, hiked suspension and brown. No MG image with this car. Our proper MGB with pretty blond and annoying dog on a Sunday drive by the ocean.

    • Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

      More pictures of the blonde and close ups of the car please, Bob Hess! LOL

  4. Maestro1 Member

    Well done, Ikey and Adam.
    The price is too high and agreed that the interior is disappointing.

  5. Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

    Evidently the two pristine leather (!) tops are the factory tonneau and top boot, which are almost always immaculate and rolled up in the trunk. No premium for those either. Now if there was a separate HARDTOP with the car, and it had overdrive the price, oh, never mind.

    Still overpriced for a dark brown rubber bumper B.

  6. Drew H

    This version had a zenith carb, catalytic converter – and some other garbage that effected drivability. Most likely the Weber was easier swap than an SU. I would have stayed SU –
    Car should be top-notch for an asking price close to $10k – for a rubber bumper, in brown – russet, I believe.
    Clean it thoroughly – engine compartment, especially – spend some time on pulling the seat covers tight – and then relist.

    • Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

      For a US spec car, sourcing a correct pair of SU for this late configuration of MGB engine may only be a matter of perusing fleaBay for a set of used ones along with a manifold and related bits. Not sure if the UK spec SUs for 1980 would be far superior due to different or nonexistent emission standards than the rest of the world.

  7. Angel Cadillac Diva

    That is one fugly color

  8. matt

    Among the Brit cars I have had in the Morris Garage category, the rubber bumper “B” was the worst dog ever. I think the sleepy old 58 MGA I had when I was in the service would have whipped is ass !! Maybe my MGTD would have, as well ! The 67 MGB was a bit more pleasant to drive. Ifr you buy it , be sure to look around near the wing windows, as so many stupid people yank the door shut with the wing – and then the door skin cracks there. The so-called crack of doom.


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