Why you should buy an MGB GT

Photography Credit: Carl Heideman

[Editor's Note: This article origially appeared in the November 2019 issue of Classic Motorsports.]

Back in the day, the GT was often a stepchild, especially within the MG community because it wasn’t a convertible,” explains Carl Heideman, longtime MGB GT owner and restorer. “Now, there are a lot of people, especially outside of the MG community, that think GTs are cool and don’t really care about convertible MGBs because Miatas, etc., are so much better.”

The MGB GT might not feature a folding top, but there are still some strong arguments in its favor. For one, the GT makes the better highway cruiser as it’s simply the quieter option. Steel beats cloth. That metal top is also less likely to leak than the fabric option.

That hardtop terminated in a lift-up door–standard hatchback layout–that allowed access to a rather healthy cargo hold. And unlike the roadster, the GT received a back seat–a tiny back seat but, still, technically room for four.

Some of the day’s reviewers did see the beauty in this variant. “Above all, its smoothness, silence, and general refinement will be appreciated by people who, for one reason or another are a little tired of the buzz and vibration of the typical sports car,” John Bolster wrote of the then-new MGB GT in a 1966 issue of Autosport.

The GT is also a bit of a rarity on U.S. shores due to a shorter model run. The MGB made its debut for 1963 as a roadster. The GT didn’t arrive until the 1966 model year. While MG offered the GT through the end of the MGB production line–that would be 1980–they pulled the hardtop model from American showrooms after 1974. Worldwide, and talking round numbers, MG built about 385,000 roadsters and just 125,000 GTs.

MGB GT Shopping Advice

Carl Heideman 
Eclectic Motorworks

If I’m going on the highway, I prefer my E-Type. If I’m going to run errands, I’ll take the MGB any day: The hatch is bigger, it’s easier to get in and out of, the visibility is better.

Some of the aluminum trim around the windows is available and some isn’t. If the windshield or back window has to come out, there are fewer and fewer glass shops who can help. The parts quality isn’t as good and there are fewer people who have the necessary experience. So expect a big pain.

Buy one with the best aluminum trim possible–and the best headliner and headliner trim. There are reproductions, but they’re fussy to install. And when those dimensions aren’t just right, they’re even fussier.

They rust in the same spots as the roadsters, but the doors don’t crack by the mirrors because there’s a piece of chrome trim that protects the door.

The one spot they like to leak, like the roadster, is around the air vent in front of the windshield. There’s a drain tube that clogs up. Unclogging it is an easy fix.

They’re more watertight than a roadster. If the rubber seals around the doors and the windows are good, they’re pretty quiet with the windows up.

Mechanically, it’s the same as a roadster. Most electrical issues are overstated. Look for corroded connections at the starter, battery and fuse box. People like to blame the SU carbs a lot, too. It bears repeating: Most carb problems can be traced to the ignition. Check the condition of the distributor, as many are worn-out or aren’t properly curved for today’s fuel.

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Comments
wspohn
wspohn Dork
12/12/19 1:50 p.m.

The MGB GT along with the Volvo P1800 ES are the two classic useful people and luggage carriers that look nice.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
12/12/19 5:16 p.m.

In reply to wspohn :

Yes, they are attractive cars. 

Tomwas1
Tomwas1 New Reader
12/12/19 11:00 p.m.

Had a 70 B in 72 with a factory hardtop... my girlfriend at the time bought a 67 BGT special edition in BRG. Had black leather with white piping, standard tranny and factory a/c, although it was inop and wire wheels... The se 's wore a little union Jack on the right front wing... Was a sweet little car.... Sure wish I had it now. Was exactly like this one...!!

dougie
dougie Reader
12/16/19 11:00 p.m.

When the 6-cylinder was added and it was breathed on in the right way, it becomes a pretty bad as$ racer.

 

MGWrench
MGWrench New Reader
9/26/22 2:23 p.m.

In reply to Tomwas1 :  There was never an option for 'factory air' from BMC or British Leyland on MGs.  I installed a number of dealer installed A/C systems in MGBs and GTs that were made by a company called the Factory Air Co. of San Antonio, TX.

MGWrench
MGWrench New Reader
9/26/22 2:29 p.m.

I drove my '72 MGB-GT from 1980 thorugh 2010 as my only car putting nearly 380,000 miles on it.  It now has 433,000 miles and is in the queue for a full restoration.  It never left me stranded and with four Michelin snow tires was the best snowmobile I've ever owned.  I agree with Dick completely - the BGT and P1800es are the best combination of sprots car and hauler ever designed.

ProfGriff
ProfGriff New Reader
12/21/23 11:41 a.m.

My 72 B GT has been my summer daily now for 8 years and 30,000 miles. I've been doing a rolling resto on it over that period, rebuilding the carbs, suspension, brakes, sorting the electrics, and re-doing the interior. I am currently building a warmed over 2.0 l B engine that will mate to the O/D sitting on my garage floor. It has never let me down yet and always attracts attention wherever I take it. It has even won a few local car shows. It also freaks them out at the local building supply when I load 8 ft 2x4's in it and close the hatch! I also own a 73 1800ES, but that's awaiting a full rotisserie resto.....someday. If you're looking for an affordable and usable classic, you can't go wrong with a B GT!

Tomwas1
Tomwas1 New Reader
12/21/23 8:57 p.m.

In reply to MGWrench :

Wow, it sure looked like a factory installation, control dials, venting etc... It was such a gorgeous little car and drove so nice!y... My brother actually owned it after her and enjoyed it for a while.. 

joeymec
joeymec New Reader
12/28/23 3:50 p.m.

I drove a 67 BGT as my first car over 50 years ago.  It was a great car with all the quirks of a British car but i learned very quickly.  I really don't have much interest anymore for a roadster B (except if it is a pre 70 car).  The GT has a higher windhshield and is much more solid feeling than a B.   To me, they are two different cars.  Last summer I acquired a 69 barn find BGT with no rust.  That was everything!  All else can be fixed.  I am putting it back together to simulate the 67 year. I am eliminating the padded dash, all engine smog equipment, (sorry California)  side marker reflectors and installing  knock off spinners instead of the octagon nuts.  I prefer the simple elegance of the older pre-federalized cars.  The beauty of the BGT is that it is still a very desireable car but you don't have to worry about destroying the value of it just because someone wants it to be original.   One of the first things I did back then was to eliminate that funky little seat and build a longer rear bed!  Much more useable and still a 2 seater like it should be.   This project is getting the same treatment.  After all it really was the first genuine hatchback car of its day.   It has classic lines and the best styling of an affordable sports car!   My opinion only!!

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