All posts by amgba

Getting Old Together – My MGB

by Kevin Rooney

According to the door-plate, my blue MGB convertible rolled off the production line in the fall 1977, coincidentally within a few months of my wife and I being married, just over 80 miles away from the factory. I’ve actually owned the vehicle since 1984, bought used, so the three of us have actually been together now for 36 years. The three of us also immigrated to the same state, California; I was living in Los Angeles, while the MG started out its life of service in Palm Springs. This would explain its total lack of any rust, but why also it required a respray in about 1986, having been baked and sandblasted for the first 6 years of its life! Fortunes and the fates have conspired to find us collocated in the Nevada desert, now 43 years after the two simultaneous events of marriage and manufacture. I’ve tarted the car up with a couple of headlight stone guards, and a lovely rosewood dash, but apart from wear and tear items, she is basically “OEM”.

As with all British cars (and wives, I’ve discovered), personality and some stubbornness are in-built features, requiring extensive maintenance to preserve the relationship – Hurrah for Victoria British, with whom I am on first-name terms! (Note to self: should have taken shares out in that company 25 years ago!) Take for example the electrics (the car, not wife). The original Palm Springs owner, being apparently overly paranoid, had installed a sophisticated security system involving seat pressure-sensors, battery current monitoring, and lights-on detection, etc. The problem was that prior to sale, this system was completely ripped out (literally), leaving trailing wires, loose connectors, and bypassed boxes in several impossible-to-reach nooks and crannies. Hence the first 10 years of ownership were fraught with persistent short circuits and fuse-frying; none of which could legitimately be assigned to the fault of Mr. Joseph Lucas! (Yes, him of much anti-British-car humor!)

For many years, the lovely blue MGB was the daily commuter car for my wife, with the number plate surround proudly claiming “Wench Mobile”, but these days, with on setting retirement, the MG is just our weekend zoomer-about-town. And of course she is our primary contribution to rallies out with our friends in the British Auto Club of Las Vegas, where several MGs of various ilks can get together and doubtlessly chat about their varied life experiences. A big advantage of living in Nevada compared to California is the ability to register the car as a “Classic Vehicle”, thereby avoiding the arduous and nail-biting biannually enforced smog-testing ritual, whose stipulations had gotten more much stringent over the years. Even so, after a mid-90s catalytic converter replacement, she managed to squeak through every time (except once due to a technicality when I hadn’t noticed that the vacuum advance tube had fallen away from the distributor!)

One feature my MGB and I have in common is to note the changes in our chassis over time: one of us has become a lot stiffer and less flexible over the 36 years of ownership, while the other has become a little more pliant. Hence my transition from avid self-repair enthusiast (perpetually-scraped knuckles and concrete-scraped bald patches due to under-car experiences to evidence) to employer of necessary garage services for most discovered foibles.

For the period of time in Los Angeles, I was supported in my maintenance of the vehicle by an expert but dour ex-RAF master mechanic who offers at-home mobile service, and without whom the MGB and I may well have parted company a few years back. These days in Nevada, I am still searching for the ideal compatriot in “keeping her on the road”.

But overall, the 36 years of MGB Roadster ownership (more like “partnership”) has been fun, exciting and rewarding. She costs virtually nothing to keep right now, we do about 1,000 miles a year, I keep her on trickle charge at all times, and when she is not garaged, I have a nice protective heavy-duty waterproof/sun proof cover for her. And despite numerous gasket-replacements, she still insists on marking her territory with a current mix of hypoid, DOT-4 and 5W30. Would I part with her? Never. At least not till she decides to embarrass me by letting me down far from home on an upcoming rally!

'77 B of Kevin Rooney from Las Vegas, Nevada
'77 B of Kevin Rooney from Las Vegas, Nevada

’68 B of Ron Raymond from Munnsville, New York

An American MGB Association Queen B is the ’68 B of Ron Raymond from Munnsville, New York. Here is the story:

My MG Story

My first car was a Sunbeam Alpine that my father bought from a guy he worked with for fifty bucks so I could learn more about car mechanics. Learn I did; about hydraulic clutches, valve adjusting, synchronizing carburetors and Truck repair was in charge of the wiring.

With that experience I definitely learned about mechanics but I also learned to love British sport cars and spent the next seven years driving only two seat British roadsters. That was in 1970.

During that time I used to always search the classifieds for suitable cars. Sometime around 1974 or 5 I noticed an ad for a ’68 MGB with only 19,000 miles for a very reasonable price.

When I called the gentleman that owned it he explained that he was in the Navy and only drove the car when he was home, resulting in the low mileage. Needless to say I was excited. His house was only about 25 miles away so some friends and I rode out to have a look.

Angus lived with his wife in a new log cabin house that he had just built. The MG was in the garage and when he opened the door I was a bit shocked. While the car was totally rust free (something I insist upon even in the northeast) it appeared to have been painted with a brush! When I questioned Angus he explained that he had put some dents in the front and rear and decided to try his hand at bodywork. Hopefully Angus was a much better sailor. Other than the horrible paint job the MG was fairly unmolested, ran well and really had only 19K miles.

The deal was made and I drove my latest acquisition home. After licensing and insuring the B I began to enjoy top down motoring around our central New York home. That was in the spring. After putting a few thousand miles on the car, sometime during the summer my girlfriend and her close friend took the MG to do some errands. Less than three miles from home, on the main street of our small town a pickup failed to notice the girls slowing, smashing into the back of the poor car.

The unfortunate mishap left the MG with a crumpled quarter panel, trunk lid and the area housing reverse lights and license plate. Fortunately the pickup’s bumper was high enough to leave the trunk floor unblemished.

The girls and pickup driver exchanged insurance information and called the police. Thankfully no one was injured. I don’t remember if the driver of the pickup received a traffic ticket but he was clearly at fault.

Sometime shortly thereafter I called his insurance company and made arrangements to bring the injured car in for an appraisal. Because MGs were probably a bit foreign (no pun intended) to the insurance adjuster I brought plenty of documentation of the car’s value and the cost of parts needed. The day of the “adjustment” he looked at the car for maybe thirty seconds and said to me “The car’s totaled. We’ll give you $1,000 and take the car.” He really rubbed me the wrong way! I quietly explained to him that my car was not a common vehicle and he was probably unfamiliar with the value. I was trying my best to not tell him what I really thought. I showed him the price of parts, explained the value of the car and told him that I was keeping the car and he was going to give me some money towards fixing it. He must have seen how serious I was because without much discussion he agreed.

At the time of the accident MGs were still in production so I was able to buy new sheet metal from British Leyland. With the money from the settlement I had a body shop replace the crumpled panels and at that point ran out of money. I had another MG to drive so I found dry storage and figured I would fix it as funds allowed.

As is so often the case with projects such as that something always took precedence over the funds.

As time passed I would start and warm the car and even take it up and down the road occasionally. Months turned into years and the MG sat. At least it was always inside, under cover and dry.

Fast forward to 2014 and I’m confined to a wheelchair and fighting a horrible disease. Thankfully I have a wonderful wife and friends who have made this experience bearable, and my love of all things mechanical. As my condition worsened I wasn’t able to care for the MG like I had been so it sat in the barn. Unfortunately some critter decided that the interior would make a good retreat for the winter and took up residence, destroying the seats. I figured that having a car restored was out of the question so I placed an ad online. I had one gentleman and his friend look at my car but he wasn’t interested. During a conversation with a friend from high school she mentioned that her husband worked with a guy that was once the president of the local MG club and restored cars as a hobby. When I called Dave he said that he was the guy who came to look at my car and explained that he liked to have a project for the winter and would do my car.

So in the fall of 2014 I hired a rollback to drop my car at Dave’s. After forty years my MG was going to get the attention it deserved! I was beside myself with excitement.

I believe it was the spring of 2016 when our driveway filled with the unmistakable sound of a British roadster. The pictures didn’t do it justice. The MG was absolutely beautiful, better than anything I could have imagined. It only took forty years! Right after I got the car back there was a car show in Syracuse and my brother took the MG. It won Best of Show Foreign.

One hot summer day, with the help of a Hoyer lift I was able to get my only ride to date. Maybe someday I’ll attempt another ride. In the meantime the MG sits in the garage, covered and trickle charged. When the weather’s nice I peel back the cover and think back.

'68 B of Ron Raymond from Munnsville, New York
'68 B of Ron Raymond from Munnsville, New York
'68 B of Ron Raymond from Munnsville, New York
'68 B of Ron Raymond from Munnsville, New York

History of the MG Marque – the 14/40 and 14/80 Models

by Karen Border, TRF Publications

I have promised our MGB customers some stories about the origins of the MG marque and so I began researching them. But here is my effort to explain how the MG was developed. Because it is such a complicated story, I am going to have to do it in installments. I have also included a list of books and web links that I used for research, so you can read more about the subject. This is the second installment. All of the installments can be found at https://the-roadster-factory.com/Images/POTW/MG-Origins/MG-history.html .

Karen Border, TRF Publications

The Roadster Factory
www.the-roadster-factory.com

Sales Dept. Phone: 800-234-1104

INSTALLMENT 5. THE M-TYPE MG MIDGET, THE C-TYPE and D-TYPE

This installment continues the History of the MG today with the MG M-type, which was also known as the MG Midget. Midgets were manufactured from 1929 to 1932, and over 3,235 models were produced. The M-type shared factory production with the MG 14/40 and 18/80. In 1927, William Morris had purchased the Wolseley car manufacturer when they went bankrupt. Wolseley had developed an 847 cc engine and Kimber realized that it could be used to make a smaller sports car. The Midget was displayed at the 1928 London Motor Show and it was a success because at a cost of £175, it was one of the first sports cars to be affordable. The Midget was half the price of the 14/40 and the 18/80 was more expensive than the 14/40. At least fifty percent of MG sales were Midgets. The 18/80 made up one third of the sales, and it was decided to discontinue the 14/40.

The Midget was first manufactured at the Edmund Road works in Cowley, Oxford, and after January, 1930 production was moved to a factory in Abingdon. It was at Abingdon that the “Safety Fast” motto was adopted. The staff included Hubert Charles for design, Cecil Cousins and Reg Jackson, and with Gordon Phillips and Syd Enever in development. John Thornley, their accountant, began the M.G. Car Club, which is still a club today.

The Midget was a 2-door car with the updated four-cylinder, overhead camshaft Wolseley engine. It had a single SU carburettor and was rated at 20 bph and had a three-speed non-synchromesh gearbox. Kimber started with the 1928 Morris Minor chassis and modified it with a lowered suspension that included half-elliptic springs and Hartford friction disk shock absorbers. The car was a rear wheel drive, and had rigid front and rear axles. Bolt-on wire wheels completed the drive train.

The brake system was updated in 1930 by using a cable system for the handbrake, which replaced the rod brake system. A modified camshaft gave the engine 27 bph. A four-speed gearbox was an option. In 1932, a longer wheelbase enabled the car to have two additional seats, and a supercharged version was available which could reach a top speed of 80 mph.

The first Midgets had fabric covered plywood bodies on an ash frame with a boat shaped stern. The hood and the cowl were steel, and it featured the distinctive MG radiator. By 1931, the cars had metal bodies which were mostly manufactured by Carbodies, although a few were manufactured by Jarvis. The Midget was available in open two-seat or closed two-door “Sportsmans” coupés. A commercial van was also available.

In addition to building cars, Kimber created a small competition department to offer tuning services to race customers. Kimber modified the M-type to compete in races and it proved to be a successful race car. Private and factory-backed race teams drove the Midget in races. A Midget won a gold medal in the 1929 Land’s End Trial, and in 1930, five cars entered in the Brooklands “Double Twelve” endurance race took the team prize. Two Midgets were entered in the 1930 LeMans but they did not finish.

The success of the Brooklands race allowed Kimber to build a limited run of Double-Twelve race cars which were bought by race drivers. The win also enabled Kimber to develop the C-type Midget. The C-type was derived from the record speed-breaking prototype EX 120. From 1931 to 1932, MG produced 44 C-type Midgets. In 1931, the C-type won both the race and the team prize in the Brooklands Double Twelve race. A supercharged C-type won the Tourist Trophy race also in 1931.

MG also produced 250 four-seater, MG D-type Midgets from 1931-32. It had the same engine as the M-type and the chassis of the C-type. The D-type was only capable of a top speed of 60 mph as the body was too heavy for the small 847cc Wolseley engine. The D-type was sometimes referred to as the 8/33 but that designation was not accurate as the car did not achieve 8 hp or 33 power output. The design changes included rear springs which were mounted in sliding trunnions instead of shackles, the radiator was mounted on the front engine mounts rather than the chassis, and it had 8-inch brake drums which were cable operated.

—Editor’s Note: Neville Wardle gave me some more information about the horsepower rating on the D-type. Thank you Neville for your wonderful edit!

Regarding the remark about the horsepower rating for the D type MG. The 8 horsepower rating was for tax purposes and is established by using a formula devised by the Royal Automobile Club (RAC). The RAC formula simply takes the cylinder bore (in inches), square, times the number of cylinders and then divided by a constant, 2.5

The constant reflected common engine characteristics of the day such as the maximum piston speed that engines achieved.

The D type rating is (2.244 x 2.244) x 4/2.5 which comes out to 8.056, so 8hp for tax purposes.

McComb lists the actual horsepower as 27.5 bhp at 4,500 rpm. A bit shy of 33, but it wouldn’t have been the first or last time that horsepower ratings were embellished a bit.

So the 8/33 designation was at least half-right!

Neville Wardle
Branford, CT

At the same time, MG offered a 6-cylinder 1271 cc F-type model, the Magna, that was identical outwardly to the D-type, but it outsold the D-type because it had more power.

For the next installment, I will write about the “Magic Midget”, EX120 and EX127 and the speed trials. To see a couple of photos of the M-type Midget, please visit our History of the MG Marque page on our website. This page includes the full story from the beginning and will be continued as time permits. In addition, if you want more in-depth reading, please use the links I have included as my sources for information. They are all great to read and feature many photographs.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MG_M-type
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MG_D-type
https://www.mgownersclub.co.uk/mg-guides/pre-war/mg-ctype-midget
https://www.mgownersclub.co.uk/mg-guides/pre-war/mg-dtype-midget
Great Marques M.G., by Chris Harvey, 1983
MG Past & Present, by Rivers Fletcher, 1985
MG by McComb, by F. Wilson McComb, Revised Edition by Jonathan Wood, 2004
https://www.hemmings.com/blog/article/the-car-with-the-racing-pedigree-mg-midget/

’69 B-GT of Bob and Anita Dortenzo

An American MGB Assocation Queen B is the ’69 Primrose yellow B-GT of Bob and Anita Dortenzo from Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. Here is the story:

Looking for the Next Valuable Classic

I have been buying, fixing and selling classic imports as a hobby for many years. A ’67 Volvo 122S, ’67 Volvo 1800S, ’74 Triumph TR-6, ’80 Fiat Spider, ’80 Mercedes 450SL just to name a few. The TR6 was an anniversary gift to my wife and remains in our possession. The others, especially the 1800S, sadly to say were all sold. After the Mercedes went at auction, I began looking for the next up and coming classic import and my attention soon went to the MGB-GT. This unique little GT with its flowing design and very useful configuration was designated as our next project. And the search began.

After looking on Craigslist, Hemmings, and other classic car sites I was fortunate to find one listed on the MG Experience website. This 1969 Primrose yellow MGB-GT looked interesting and the price was in our budget so I started conversations with the owner. The car was in New Jersey and had a documented history which the owner was very willing to share. He also kindly listed all the things that the car may need. I live in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania and the drive to Jersey was worth the traffic and the tolls once I saw and drove this car. It didn’t take long for me to make an offer that the owner accepted and the shipping arrangements were made before I departed for home.

In a few days the GT was delivered and the work started with the intention of entering it in to the Spring Carlisle Auction. This car has many interesting options: wire wheels, overdrive, wood steering wheel and air conditioning. The AC was removed long ago but the switch and vents still exist as installed by the dealer in 1969. Cleaning, polishing, new tires, fuel pump, heater valve, water pump, minor paint refinishing, window repair from Autoglassguru, and a few other odds and ends brought this sports car classic to local show quality and ready for auction.

Well as we all know the Coronavirus hit and the shows and auctions were postponed. All I could do was drive the GT and enjoy the ride. My wife kept saying that she really loved the car and was happy it didn’t go to auction. I also became more attached to it as time went by and decided to keep it from the auctioneer’s gavel. More improvements are made each day as the GT shares the garage with its cousin the TR6.

I believe that the MGB-GT will continue to increase in value and become a valuable classic import in the future. Its style, function, dependability, and fun to drive spirit will all contribute to future collector desirability.

This one is not for sale.

’77 B of Myron Wood from Warwick, Rhode Island

This was my dad’s car. He bought it new in 1977. He parked it in 1983 on blocks in the back yard. I have been restoring it for 20 years and just finished it this past year. I wanted it to look just like it was the day he bought it. Lots of blood sweat and tears on this little car, but it was worth it.

'77 B of Myron Wood from Warwick, Rhode Island

Origins of the MG – THE MG 14/40 and 14/80 MODELS, Part 4

The MG 14/40 or MG 14/40 Mark IV was launched in 1927 and was produced until 1929 with approximately 700 cars manufactured. It had its origins in the MG 14/28 and was similar to the Morris Oxford flatnose. The flatnose term was used to describe the new radiator/grille fronts of the cars. Morris had redesigned his cars to incorporate the flat radiator design of American cars. If you recall, the MG 14/28 and earlier cars all had the rounded bullnose radiators which gave them a tractor-like appearance at the grille. In 1926 the bullnose was dropped and the flat radiators were used, and the radiator cooling surface was increased. The 14/40 was manufactured at the Edmund Road works in Cowley, Oxford where MG manufacturing had moved in September of 1927. It was the first model to feature the MG Octagon badge on the radiator. Apart from the flatnose, the 14/40 did not look very different from the 14/28. The chassis of the 14/40 was heavier and wider to allow more room in the body. The chassis was also stiffer which made the car easier to handle. The engine was updated to 35 bph (brake horsepower) and the brakes were changed to eliminate the servo. The name 14/40 promoted the additional horsepower, which while improved, was 37 bph and not 40 bph. The designation of Mark IV is not clear, and some think that it was named for the fourth year of production of the 14/40.

The car bodies offered included a Featherweight Fabric Saloon and a fixed head (hardtop) and drophead (convertible top) coupé. The MG works continued to distinguish themselves from the Morris Motors brand, and led to the creation of the M.G. Car Company in 1928. The new M.G. Car Company and Morris Motors were owned personally by William Morris.

A new 18 hp overhead camshaft six-cylinder engine had been developed by Hochkiss and Kimber realized that this engine could be used to build a bigger sports car to compete with the Bentley. To design the 14/80 M.G. Six, Kimber modified a Morris Six, and designed a new chassis and a cylinder block that took twin carburettors and incorporated them into his new car. The car was powered with a six-cylinder, inline engine with chain-driven overhead camshafts. They produced about 60 bph and could achieve a top speed of 80 mph—which is where the 80 in the name originated. He also designed a beautiful new radiator grille for the 14/80, and this grille design was so popular that it was used on M.G. cars for more than 25 years. The grille featured vertical standing slats and a vertical center bar and the headlights were set higher.

The 14/80 Mark I and Mark II models were available in a variety of styles such as two- and four-door models, two- and four-seater cars, and both closed and touring cars. The Mark I was built from 1928 to 1931 and about 501 were built. The Mark II was built from 1929 and about 236 were built. Kimber also built a racing version in 1930 which was referred to as the Mark III, the 18/80 Tigress, or the 18/100. The engine was rated at 80 hp and only five were produced.

In case you were wondering what bph stands for, it is a measure of horsepower and here is a link to explain the difference between hp and bph. http://www.differencebetween.net/technology/difference-between-hp-and-bhp/

Article sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MG_Cars

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MG_14/40

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MG_18/80

Great Marques M.G., by Chris Harvey, 1983

MG Past & Present, by Rivers Fletcher, 1985

MG by McComb, by F. Wilson McComb, Revised Edition by Jonathan Wood, 2004

Great videos about the MG cars and history on the MG Cars Channel by Shelburne Films https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFApx5pUaAkNam6U1pn_ZEQ

’78 B of Barry Barnes


An American MGB Association Queen B is the ’78 B of Barry Barnes. Here is his story with photos:

Someone recently asked me about my “journey” on my 1978 MGB. I answered: Long. Slow. Perfectionistic. Expensive. LOTS of fun! I love working on my MG daily drivers as much as driving them… and I’ve been doing both for 50 years.

Then I added that a more serious reply would be:

▪ Design your project for your car to be DRIVEN – these are tough little cars that are way too much fun to be trailered around

▪ Set a budget… realizing you’ll go 2x or 3x over it before you’re done

▪ Do it in phases, getting it drivable between each sub-project so you can reward yourself

▪ Match your project to your style – if you’re easily bored or impatient, do a simple project; if you’re perfectionistic and love form equally as function, take on something more like mine

▪ Focus on benefits to YOU – I like driving hard, tight handling on steep & winding mountain roads, loud music while I drive, a feeling of automotive excellence, and reliability

▪ Be a member of lots of groups on Facebook and the internet (I’m a member of about 20); ask lots of questions on them and on MG Experience (MGExp.com)

▪ You’ll learn by how others answer whether they know what they’re talking about

▪ When people say “I think” or “I would think” or “it makes sense that” ignore the post

▪ When people write “IMHO” (webspeak for “in my humble opinion), you’re about to read a highly opinionated post that’s anything but humble

▪ Most importantly, don’t listen to anybody else’s opinions about what you’re planning on doing – there are way too many people who will tell you what you should and shouldn’t do with YOUR car!

'78 B of Barry Barnes
'78 B of Barry Barnes
'78 B of Barry Barnes
'78 B of Barry Barnes

’65 Midget of Steve Strublic from Peoria, Arizona

I have had my Midget Mk II since I was three years old (well, my dad owned her) in 1975. He bought the car on a trailer and in boxes. After some mild threats to “get that thing out of the garage,” he put her together and my parents drove round trip from Milwaukee to Atlanta. At one point, it was our only running vehicle and we used it to make grocery runs in the middle of the Wisconsin winter in the Midget.

My dad and I restored her for the first time in 1990 after sitting for almost 10 years due to rust and a cracked head, and I got the keys for my 18th birthday. My wife and I moved to Arizona in 2000, and I drove her until 2004 when she was literally coming apart. I started what became a 14 year bare metal restoration then and finished in October 2018. I did all the work myself aside from engine machine work and some on-car painting lessons, since this is a great car, if you’re interested in this model you can find useful the information found here.

 '65 Midget MK II of Steve Strublic from Peoria, Arizona '65 Midget MK II of Steve Strublic from Peoria, Arizona