Ask anyone on the C&SC team what car would make a sensible starter classic and one model will keep cropping up – the MGB GT.
Launched in 1965 – three years after the Roadster – the B GT has qualities that most other classics would struggle to match, the most obvious ones being a cheap price and plentiful, affordable parts.
More important is the B’s fun rear-wheel-drive handling and easy-to-reach limits that can thrill at licence-friendly speeds.
Thanks to extra weight over the rear axle, the GT was better to drive, quieter and more civilised than the Roadster that actually outsold it worldwide, but not in the UK.
While the rubber-bumper cars may be less sought-after, their reputation for inferior handling – thanks to US safety regulations that demanded a raised ride height – isn’t entirely fair.
Introduced in September 1974, the rubber-bumper car was massively improved in August 1976, with the fitting of front and rear anti-roll bars, while repositioned pedals aided heel-and-toeing.
The refreshed car also brought with it halogen headlights, a two-speed heater, more comfortable front seats and standard-fit headrests.
One of the joys of B ownership is that they are relatively easy to fix thanks to a simple design and a spacious engine bay that allows easy access to the mechanicals.
Body condition is paramount, because it has the potential to be the biggest money loser. Areas to check include the front and rear valance, inner and outer wings, scuttle panel below the windscreen, doors, floorpan and, of course, the sills.
Check the front suspension for signs of regular lubrication on the lever-arm dampers and kingpins.
The engine is easily tunable, but smoke, excess noise or a lack of power signify wear. Also check if pre-’75 cars have been converted for unleaded fuel.
There’s a wealth of help to be found on the web from clubs such as www.mgownersclub.co.uk, www.mgcc.co.uk and www.mgcars.org.uk, while a ready supply of new parts can be found at www.moss-europe.co.uk and other specialists.
While usable machines can be snapped up for around £1000, we spotted this car, which was subject to a restoration eight years ago, up for £1750. As a later rubber-bumper B, it should have sorted handling and the extra equipment listed above. This car also comes with an MoT, six months’ tax and overdrive.
Spend £4450, though, and you could have this example. The 1970 car’s previous owner kept it for 26 years and it comes with desirable features such as black leather front seats, chrome wire wheels and overdrive. It’s tax exempt and a former concours winner, too.
But if it is excitement that you pine for, this V8 model is impossible to ignore. It adds torquey power and a V8 soundtrack to the MGB’s long list of charms. Up for sale at Historics on 1 June, this car comes with an extensive history and is expected to make £8-10,000.
Enjoying a classic is as much about driving your favourite road on a sunny day as it is about learning to fix and maintain the car yourself, and few can supply both quite as well as the B. That, and its low price, make it one of the best starter classics on the market today.