One Owner Coupe: $3,995 1971 MGB GT

Jeff LaveryBy Jeff Lavery

It’s been a while since we’ve featured an MGB GT, and even longer since Jesse and Josh counted one of these among their vehicle fleet (at least I think that one’s been sold – hard to remember). But if they have the itch to buy another one, this 1971 example may be worth looking at. Still wearing its vintage California blue plates and looking pleasingly scruffy, you can find it here on craigslist for just $3,995, or go here if the ad disappears.

Under $4K seems like a very fair deal for BGT, especially one that doesn’t appear rusty or modified with Minilites. I can’t remember the last time I saw a gently weathered MGB, as most of the cars I seen owned by enthusiasts are already over-restored. That’s why I so much enjoy riding along in my buddy’s MGB roadster that he inherited from his father-in-law: it’s a survivor like this one, and a car you’re not afraid to actually drive places. As an earlier car, this one retains the far prettier slim chrome bumpers.

The BGT interior provided a nice alternative to the roadster, with more storage space and lots of glass to preserve the light, airy feel of the open roof model. The hatch-style rear made the MGB slightly more practical, too, as you could chuck more than one overnight bag in the trunk area. This car presents exceptionally well for an original example, with just one errant seam split that I can see from the craigslist photos as a reason to ding it. With those gauges and that steering wheel, it looks like a mini E-Type cockpit.

The seller says the car is “…running and driving good,” and that it’s a one-owner vehicle. It does look tidy underhood, but we have no sense of what, if any, mechanical issues it has. Plan to do cooling system and ignition parts first, then move onto the likely tired suspension. MGBs are great starter classics, but I like the idea of getting into a something a little more special, like an MGB GT. This one looks solid in photos, and the price already seem more than fair.

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Comments

  1. ccrvtt

    If this car is solid it’s a great deal. They’re not going to get more plentiful in the future. Nice find.

    6+
  2. Neal

    Cute little run-around rig.
    I’ve always liked the GT coups.
    How bad do you think the rust in the floors and trunk are?
    Any guesses on what made that bare spot on the hood? Carb fire?
    Seems like a good starter price for someone local.
    O

    2+
  3. Rock On

    Nothing wrong with Minilites I would put them on almost anything that I couldn’t fit polished Torque Thrusts.

    9+
  4. Rick A. Loera

    Those wheels look lile VW Bug wheels. My dad had a 67 GT with factory spoke wheels. Much nicer look. Beautiful car otherwise.

    0
  5. Carmandan

    And one of the best things is that they have A/C. Had one and they are fairly easy to work on.

    1+
    • Mike B

      A/C? No evidence of it here. That’s the smog pump in the engine bay.

      Looks like a nice, complete driving/restoration project after you haggle down to $3500.

      2+
  6. Rex Kahrs

    Personally I really like the wheels. It’s a different treatment thank the overused Panasports or Minilites. I did the same on my BMW 2002.

    3+
  7. fish56

    Nice little car, overall, from what they show. Wish they had taken some of the photos out in the sun, not in the shade. Surprising to see the rust on the steering wheel. Pics of the underside would help.

    1+
  8. RicK

    Put me in the group that says “Lose the wheels”

    1+
  9. Vince

    The car has been on the market for over a year , what gives . Not complaining about the price, although there were 2 GT s on the Austin,TX
    CL a couple months ago for between 3k and
    4K . Didn’t buy them because of the dark color
    on both of them. I had ‘69 in the Marine Corps
    In California in ‘71. Notice the compressor to left of center. Don’t think those engines can handle the south Texas heat, unless you over
    haul the system . Looking for a white one or a
    primrose. There is a primrose in the CL of Dallas with a compressor for $8400, but if I’m going to spend $10 G’s might as well and try
    and get lucky on a dry Triumph GT 6 . Had one
    in my color (‘70) and still regret selling it 10 years later

    1+
    • Mike B

      Sorry, that’s still the smog pump not an A/C compressor. Notice the hose that goes to the gulp valve near the front carb (If that’s a BMC gulp valve you’ll be replacing it in less than 5k so get the reliable Nissan version and be done.), an air filter on the back of the pump and the hose that wraps around behind the valve cover to blow air into the manifold.

      2+
      • TouringFordor

        I had a ’68, and the gulp check valve was annoying. When it goes out, and it will, they backfire like crazy. At least they are easy to replace.

        1+
  10. Wrong Way

    Because of Barn Finds, I am very interested in the smaller collector cars! In fact this is my favorite the MGB GT! Wouldn’t you know that when one pop’s up on here, I am trying to recover financially or I would be all over this one! I hope that whoever buys this puts it back the way it was from the factory!

    1+
  11. Gary

    I love the early wheels although not correct for that year…

    1+
  12. David Miraglia

    one of my favorite mg designs, would love to have this one

    1+
  13. Allen

    Not only extraordinarily handsome, B/GTs are the most useful cars on the planet. I’ve had more darn fun over the years, loading 8-foot 2X4s into the rear hatch – in front of a good audience of course – and then watching the loos on their faces as I fully CLOSE the hatch.

    Mike B is totally correct about the absence of A/C. No MG, B or otherwise, EVER left Abingdon with factory A/C. Aftermarket A/C kits were available – custom fit to the MGB and a number of dealers did install these, leading some to erroneously believe A/C was a factory option. Recirculating under-dash A/C is not difficult to add to these cars – I have done it several times. By the way, none of the kits are properly designed – and they will cause premature water-pump failures (yes, that’s plural!). But, if you indulge in long trips with your spouse, A/C can save a marriage. You might even secretly enjoy it yourself!

    1+
  14. Allen

    I meant also to comment on the wheels. By 1971, steel-wheeed MGBs were equipped with “Rostyle” wheels, celebrating the new Leyland corporate ownership. The wheels on this ’71 model were discontinued after 1967; they are not correct for this car, although I think they look very nice.

    3+
  15. Sparkster

    What year could you get these with a V-8 ?

    0
    • Wrong Way

      I was just thinking about your question and I don’t think that they ever did

      0
  16. Allen

    The BOP/Rover V8 was offered on B/GTs only, beginning some time in 1973. I believe about 2900 were built. They were never even submitted for approval in the North American markets. Interesting that the rubber-bumper cars had the engine bay redesigned to accommodate the V8 – and from ’74-1/2 through ’80, fitting that V8 is a straight bolt-in job. It got even easier beginning with the ’77 models. Because the aluminum V8 was about 70# LIGHTER than the cast-iron 4, no mods to the suspension were necessary. For reasons I don’t understand, these V8s were detuned to about 140 hp – less than the 145 hp MGC sixes of ’68 and ’69. They are very tunable and can achieve twice that hp quite easily. Converting MGBs to V8 is a thriving aftermarket business in the US and there is excellent club support.

    While the factory fitted the original 3.5 liter (215 cc) engines, Rover later used bored out versions – over 4 liters in the Range Rovers up through 1996. These later engines are even more desirable for MGB conversions. This engine was also used in the Morgan Plus 8, the Triumph TR8, and the Rover TC3500 and SD1 saloons. I’m probably forgetting a few more. It is NOT the same V8 used in the Triumph Stag.

    Introduced just after the Arab Oil Embargo in 1973, and not marketed to the US, the V8 was doomed from the beginning. Paradox in that the V8 delivered mpgs comparable to the 1800s, but “V8” was suddenly a dirty word for awhile.

    When Buick offered this engine in the 1961-62 Specials, they literally lopped two cylinders off to make a V6 that was also very popular. It ended up in the Jeeps of the time. So of course four-cylinder Jeep owners were suddenly anxious to buy Buick V6s to swap for their 4s. In about 1969, I bought a ’62 Special for $250 – with the V6. The very first time I pulled it into a gas station, a guy approached me rather persistently: he wanted to buy my engine for more than I paid for the whole car. I didn’t sell.

    Oh yes, I mentioned the MGC. With a straight-six engine of the same family as the Austin Healey – except with 7 main bearings instead of 4, MGCs are another neat choice for buyers seeking bigger engines. I have one and love it! Also, there’s a large aftermarket supplying Chevy 2.8-3.4 liter V6 conversions for the B.

    4+
    • Wrong Way

      Very interesting read! A lot of information I didn’t know about! I am just beginning my desire for the small car market! I am diehard Ford, but am getting very interested in small cars! I do like the Citroën very much, but I would take a MGB GT over one any day!

      1+
  17. Allen

    Wrong Way, Get a B/GT with overdrive! Join North American MGB Register, and a local MG or British car club. If you don’t know the cars really well, you’ll get some great advice that could really benefit your search. Check out the MG Experience website website: http://www.mgexp.com/phorum/list.php?1#utm_source=alias&utm_medium=mgexperience.net. and check out my own page on MGE: http://www.mgexperience.net/member/bachldrs. MG guys love to reach out and help.

    2+
  18. DRV

    BGTs are my favorite car for the last few years after having so many other sports cars. Low, small, and responsive with the benefit of mild appreciation.
    Those are MGA rims and I like them on it.

    0
  19. charlie

    So much better a choice than the red ’54 Corvette for every reason.

    0
  20. Allen

    They could be MGA rims. I had them on my ’73 B/GT for awhile. They are 15″ rather than the 14″ normally found on non-wire-wheel Bs. ‘ Can’t tell from the pictures provided – they could also be early MGB wheels. MGBs will ride on either the correct 14″ wheels or 15″ wheels as used on MGAs and MGCs.

    1+
  21. dave fishel

    I’ve owned a GT for some 3 years. What others have said is true. Great little cars but they do require attention. Mine was given the “Sebring treatment” to which I’ve added the decals and yes, the fake minilites. Mine is special too because it has A/C and a 5 speed! the 5th gear makes the car a dream at interstate speeds. The air seems to have quit working (see above re- “attention).

    Here’s where some readers might help me out. My car has a so-called factory sunroof. I’ve been told that only a very few cars with this option were imported. I’ve also been told that that all sunroof equipped cars went to the European market, so my car must have begun it’s life on the Continent. Would like to know the truth.

    I purchased my car from a guy in CA and ended up driving it back to Indianapolis. It was a memorable drive.

    FYI, the red GT in question is no steal at the asking price but I’d say it could be turned into a decent driver for maybe 3K.

    0
  22. Allen

    Hi Dave,

    Beautiful car! There is a research choice in the UK: the British Motor Heritage Trust (https://www.britishmotormuseum.co.uk/archive/heritage-certificates) that provides “Heritage Certificates” containing all the information known about your car when it left the factory. It should tell you whether or not your sunroof was on the car at that point. It will tell for which market the car was intended. To my knowledge, the sun roofs were made by Webasto (https://www.webasto.com/us/markets-products/car/).

    The 5-speed transmission is definitely aftermarket. Until recently, there have been two sources of these: Most likely, it is a unit sourced from a Ford Sierra with a kit made by Hi Gear Engineering in the UK
    (http://hi-gearengineering.co.uk).

    These kits are available in the US through Moss Motors or Bruce Woodson in Charlottesville, VA. The other likelihood is that it is a Datsun 280Z transmission fitted with a Rivergate kit (http://www.rivergate5speed.com). Both of these kits are beautiful conversions. The factory offered only four-speed transmissions but with optional overdrive – which accomplishes the same thing.

    Your A/C is definitely aftermarket. If it is recent (last 15 years or so), it could be Vintage Air, Nostalgic Air, or the Moss kit (source?). You might get extremely lucky and get by with just a charge – but if it is an older unit, there is the issue of what to recharge it with. I believe the old R12 is still available, but VERY expensive. The modern R134 isn’t exactly cheap either. Most of the time when sellers claim the A/C just needs a charge, they really mean the system is leaking. I charged the A/C in my MG Magnette in 2012 and it’s still holding and working very well. These small units usually take about 1.5# of refrigerant and mixing brands of replacement parts is not critical. Remove a hose connection and look to determine if the system uses “O” ring seals. If not, the system should be converted to R134. A/C is not rocket science – you can deal with it yourself if you’re reasonably good with tools.

    0
    • dave fishel

      Thanks, great info

      0

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