Rubber Bumper Reversal: 1975 MGB

Backdated MGB

The photo of this MGB caught my attention because it looked like an earlier car at first glance. The bumpers looked right and the chrome grill was there, but a few things were off. Well, the title confirmed that this was once a rubber bumper car from 1975. That means it suffered from Government regulations requiring crash bumpers, raised headlight height, and power-zapping emission control systems. Someone has worked hard to reverse some of those negative effects. The bumpers and grill helped with the cosmetics and it sounds like they started to address the mechanical issues too. A downdraft Weber was mounted and a pair of SUs are included in the sale. No mention is made of suspension changes, but it still might be a good buy for someone who wants to complete the backdating challenge. Does anyone know what all would need to be done to complete the job? The car is located on the Jersey Shore and is listed here on eBay for $5,000 or best offer. Thanks for the tip Jim S!


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  1. Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

    I have been contemplating a similar grill swap on my ’71. I understand the desire to do it on a rubber bumper car, but would that just be a terrible thing to do to a fish mouth?

    • Paul

      I had a ’72 back in college. The grill was my least favorite part of the car.

      I’ve grown accustomed to my current ’77s RBs. I had thought about converting, but decided against it. I put a front spoiler on instead. Gives the front a chin, which helps a lot.

      If I would have converted, I was planning on a early grill without the slates, and wire mess in place.

      As to lowering the car. It is basically just replacing the springs with shorter ones, sold by the usual suspects. However, the ’75 and ’76 do not have any sway bars, so handing still suffers.

    • cory

      I would do the 73-74 grill. It has the egg crate grille and looks sportier. In my opinion, not a big fan of the 72 grille

  2. Dolphin Member

    I have been trying to find an affordable MGB V8 that I didn’t have to import from the UK. Some of them already here are rubber bumper cars, and a couple of those have been converted to chrome bumpers. Problem is, it’s a lot of work to do that conversion because both the front & rear ends of the rubber bumper cars are different underneath compared to the chrome bumper cars, and it requires cutting and welding in fabricated bumper support and body pieces, then paintwork, to make the conversion work.

    Have a look at these photos of a conversion before doing anything with a rubber bumper car:

    This car, a ’75 former rubber bumper car, is only 1 or 2 years younger than the last of the chrome bumper cars, and there are a lot of good MGBs left, so it might have been easier and cheaper to just buy a good chrome bumper car, especially if you would be paying a body shop to convert a rubber bumper car.

    But it does look pretty good except for the dull paint, and the price isn’t out of line for what it is, so it could be an OK buy. But I would still rather have an earlier car. They have better driveability and handling, and will be worth putting money into in the future.

  3. Wayne Norman

    The biggest hurdle on the suspension would be replacing the front cross member with one from a chrome bumper car. That then creates an issue with the steering column. Neither is insurmountable.

  4. cory

    Not a big deal on the suspension. Just swap out the springs all around. Mg was pretty broke in those days, so they just put taller springs in.The gt springs work better. Personally I don’t agree with the swap, you can find a good chrome bumper car for less than the conversion. I kinda like the rubber cars these days.

  5. The Walrus

    One of the major items that really characterizes the ’67 and older cars (and thus increases their respective value) is the interior (metal dash in particular). The plastic dash cars all suffer from one peculiarity or another. I have seen people attempt to put a metal dash in a later car, but its never pretty.

    As far as lowering goes, the hardest part is changing the bump stop locations so that there is sufficient suspension travel. The chrome bumper/grille is pretty straight forward. There are some minor changes to the body panels in the later cars that need to be changed to fill the gaps that removal of the oversized rubber bumper leaves, so there is some minor body work to consider as well.

  6. Cameron Bater UK

    The problem with a chrome bumper conversion is the characteristics of the suspension, the rubber bumper was heavier and as such required different suspension to give identical ride hight and characteristics and as such when the lighter chrome kit is fitted the car gains height and the result is the car not quite being able to carry off its beautiful design (rubber bumper exempt of course), this can be fixed but only with an entire overhaul of the suspension, to my knowledge the USA engine was also underpowered as it required emissions control systems to pass the laws at the time and this lowered the BHP to the axle as the engine had the same amount of BHP and it was sapped by the ECS fitted to it.
    With this in mind it’s probably cheaper to buy a genuine A1 condition B or B GT.

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