Swap Candidate: 1974 MGB GT

1974-mgb-gt

My MGB GT was one of my all time favorite cars. It wasn’t the most comfortable or the most functional daily driver, but it was handsome and always fun to drive. Admittedly, I did wonder what it would have been like with a more modern drivetrain though. The B-series engine was tough and provided decent grunt, but it would have been nice to have Miata reliability or V6 power. Well, this particular MGB threw a rod so it could be the perfect candidate for a swap. It’s located near Santa Monica, California and is listed here on craigslist for $2,000.

engine-out

I’d never suggest that someone should rip the engine out of their MGB if it is running well. The B was a balanced sports car that had sufficient power and excellent handling. You shouldn’t mess up a good thing, right? Well, this situation is different. The engine is out and in pieces already. Plus, ’74 wasn’t exactly the most potent year. A well done engine swap could breath new life into this clapped out classic while turning it into a fun daily driver.

interior-needs-work

Frontline Developments has proven that the B can be pretty sweet with Miata power. The countless V6 swaps performed by people should tell us something too. There are a few options, but those are the routes I would consider. After getting it running, cooling, turning, and stopping, I would turn my attention to the inside. A comfortable interior is important if you are going to drive your classic. New seat foams and leather upholstery would go in. Luckily, parts are readily available and affordable.

gt-hatch

The backseat may be worthless, but the lift up rear hatch and flat floor are actually pretty handy for occasionally hauling duty. With the right engine and a nice interior this really could be the ultimate commuter. MGB roadsters are a common sight, but when was the last time you saw one of these in daily use? Perhaps I’ll attempt it again one of these days. Until then, it’s up to one of you. Just be sure watch out for those distracted drivers!

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Comments

  1. 68 custom

    I suppose a rust free shell has some value (if it is rust free?). but otherwise what is a MG that has a blown motor, trashed interior and lucas wiring/switches/relays worth with out a drop top? less than 2K IMO.

  2. Alan

    Get another B motor or a Volvo B20

  3. Dave Wright

    Not a huge MG guy but seems there is nothing wrong with the orignal B engine. In my observation the problems with the engine are mostly caused by American ignorance about the carburator system and inability to do proper maintenance. There are lots of rusted hulks around that would be great donors to get this chassis going without spending a lot of money. These are fun cars even though performance has always lagged behind there German bretherin.

  4. Mark S Member

    The seller says he was just pulling the engine to do some work and found a thrown rod. I call BS when you throw a rod your going to know it right then. This car looks like it was ridden hard and put away wet. I’d expect that engine isn’t the only thing that is bagged out. To bad these were the B to have if you weren’t big fan of drop tops. I do agree with Dave these car were usually subject to abuse and very little maintenance.

  5. OhU8one2

    Stock Rover V-8,like in the Disco parked in front of the MG. That motor was actually installed in the BGT’s. They just were never sold in the U.S. that way. Parts should be somewhat easy to find. Then that thing should scream .

  6. Spence

    $800 and swap in a 1JZ. I agree, way too much for what this is and in the current condition. There’s a 68′ that’s complete with wires here in Nashville for $2200. Much more desirable and in better shape than what I see here.

    Now I am curious if a 1UZ would fit….

  7. ccrvtt

    Lots of good parts here and looks like a good body shell. But one BIG part is missing. Too many of these are still available with actual running motors in them to justify the price.

    Again – most of the previous comments make a lot of sense so why all the downvotes? What’s bugging you guys?

    • Mark S Member

      Downs votes mark’s humble opinion first – the sheep fallower the guy that sees a down thumb and is compelled to do the same. Second – the naysayer the guy that just can’t bring himself to agree with anyone or doesn’t respect the opinions of others. Third – the jack ass the guy that is compelled to hit ever thumbs down that he can because he thinks it’s fun. He’s the same guy that gets on your elevator and slides his finger up and down all the buttons so you get to stop at every floor just because he thinks it’s fun. There are times when you earn a thumbs down and that ok because that demonstrates an honest opinion. To bad we don’t just get some honest opinions to go with the down thumb. End of rant. I’ve been following the web site for about three years now and I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve used the thumbs down button.

      • ccrvtt

        What he said…

        (and here’s an upvote for Randy)

  8. Steve

    Bought my 74 1/2 BGT in 1979 & still have it. Yes, not the most comfortable ride, but a whole lot of fun!

  9. Murray

    MG made an MGB GTV8 with the Rover 3.5 litre V8 and a 4 speed o/d manual. The way to go would be to simply do what the factory did and go down the Rover road. Remember you can get the Rover V8s up to 4.6 litre size. A lot of guys (me included) go to 5.0 litres. Gearbox should be either a Rover SD1 Manual (probably hard to get in the US) or a Celica 5–speed. These will handle the power and there are bell housing made to make it work………

    • Mark S Member

      You can’t beat an sr5 trans there like a jewelled watch inside and easy to work on in the rare chance you’ll need to.

      • Murray

        My MGB GTV8 runs a Rover SD1 5 Speed manual. An easy swop and it has a beautiful shift feel. Very European like….. They are bullet proof too. The Toyota trans are also bullet proof and while they have a light shift I’ve always preferred the feel of the Rover unit….

  10. david

    Contraire! I am on my 2nd B-GT. It is a fantastic daily driver. Fold the “rear seat” down or better yet, remove the cushion to make for a flat platform. Holds a bunch of stuff

    • forestghost07

      Agreed, my ’72 GT is in daily use as well. Not comfy?? BS! With redone seats (raised 2″ ‘cos I’m short), lots of cockpit insulation and heat shielding, 13″ leather wheel, shortened shifter,and a caster angle reduction kit fitted, we’ve done over 20K cross-country miles in 4 yrs (motor rebuilt to approx 120 HP, overdrive trans.). Most comfortable open road car I’ve ever owned – NO leg or back pain even after 12 hr stretches!

  11. Cliff

    Have just fitted rover st1 and 5 speed to my 76 mgbGt you have to modify the gearbox tunnel a bit and put the exaust out through inner guards .after 1975 mgs had a modified firewall to take the v8 rover

  12. donek

    With the Rover V8 a super car, just as balanced as the B. And every part you could need is available from various sources.

  13. Mike kerns

    Hey guys
    I’m helping my friend sell the car. He’s a semi-retired English car mechanic and his shop is in Venice Beach CA. called Marina Motors..
    This car came in as a repair and after taking the engine apart finding that it needed to be rebuilt the owner decided to just give the title to the shop for the work that was done already..
    I just went over to the shop and really gave a good look.
    There is surface rust around the whole thing, some small rust bubbles on the rocker panels, and some small rust bubbles on the roof..Everything else seems pretty good..
    Here are a few more pictures…
    Thanks for looking..

  14. forestghost07

    Unfortunately, that visible rust is just the tip of the iceberg … IMHO this GT is done, yet another neglect victim. Pity. I’m grateful every day for my GT having received 39 yrs of TLC from its sole previous owner; it’s rust-free.

  15. Allen Member

    I’m with forestghost07! These are very comfortable, fun, utilitarian little cars. I take mine to “home improvement centers” – ‘ love to watch the onlookers stare as I load it with 8′ 2X4s and close the hatch! New foams do a world of good for the seats. Lots of insulation and A/C in mine too. Wife loves it. It’s been cross-country a few times. Daily driver except when they salt these Michigan winter roads. I’ve had it 30 years and we’re up to 248,000 miles. The trick with these engines is to get ’em set up reasonably right and then LEAVE THEM ALONE. Especially the CARBS! Just do routine maintenance.

    Lucas electrics get a lot of unreasonable bashing – especially from those who’ve never had one of these cars. I’m still doing great on the original 43-year-old wiring harness and mostly original switches.

  16. Allen Member

    I’m with forestghost07! These are very comfortable, fun, utilitarian little cars. I take mine to “home improvement centers” – ‘ love to watch the onlookers stare as I load it with 8′ 2X4s and close the hatch! New foams do a world of good for the seats. Lots of insulation and A/C in mine too. Wife loves it. It’s been cross-country a few times. Daily driver except when they salt these Michigan winter roads. I’ve had it 30 years and we’re up to 248,000 miles. The trick with these engines is to get ’em set up reasonably right and then LEAVE THEM ALONE. Especially the CARBS! Just do routine maintenance.

    Lucas electrics get a lot of unreasonable bashing – especially from those who’ve never had one of these cars. I’m still doing great on the original 43-year-old wiring harness and mostly original switches.

    I think this particular example is priced on the high side. Granted, everything, including really great rust-repair panels, is available (and if the panels don’t fit, it means the car is crooked!). But MGBs are still not far up from the bottom of the collector-car food chain; you won’t make any money on restoring one. If I can find one within a half-day’s drive, and the rust is no worse than Mike’s photo, I’d bite for maybe as much as $1,000. Regarding engine transplants, the rubber-bumper MGBs (’74-1/2 – ’80) are far superior candidates – especially the ’77-80 models. These models were designed to fit the Rover (Buick/Oldsmobile) 3.5 (215 ci) V8. Certainly the chrome-bumpered cars can host these engines too, but it takes a bit more work. A future owner should join NAMGBR and get in contact with the V8 Register.

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