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Cactus
Cactus HalfDork
4/20/22 4:08 p.m.

If you're my size, an MGB is cozy and a Miata is like trying to fit into pants 2 sizes too small.

Toebra
Toebra Dork
4/20/22 6:25 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

Do you want a car to work on, or a car to drive?

This

Snowdoggie (Forum Supporter)
Snowdoggie (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
4/20/22 7:20 p.m.

Anybody here ever drive a T series MG? It makes an MGB look like an MD Miata.

outasite
outasite HalfDork
4/20/22 8:19 p.m.

In reply to Snowdoggie (Forum Supporter) :

YES!

Streetwiseguy
Streetwiseguy MegaDork
4/20/22 9:41 p.m.

Keith's original answer is the truth.

If I, personally, ever hit my head hard enough to want a B, I'd buy one, because I know them.  I will not work on a British car for a customer, because I know they were hot garbage new, and the parts you could buy to fix them 12 or 15 years ago would have to be tripled in quality to be considered poor quality.  I presume parts have improved to the level of E36 M3.

You can buy Miata parts, and they are of Japanese quality.  If you want it raw, drill a small hole in the valve cover to leak a bit of oil on the exhaust, remove at least one exhaust gasket somewhere, and modify a set of shocks from a 3500 series Chev van to fit the front.  Maybe bend some of the wheels, too.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
4/20/22 10:07 p.m.

In reply to Streetwiseguy :

We used to have a running joke about the MG emulation kit for Miatas. It involved things like a oil drain plug with a small hole in it and intermittent circuit breakers.

NOHOME
NOHOME MegaDork
4/20/22 10:20 p.m.

In reply to Streetwiseguy :

As a 40 year MGB owner, you have nailed the answer. They are a great looking hair-shirt.

oppositelocksmith
oppositelocksmith New Reader
4/20/22 11:08 p.m.

Love this thread

Have owned a TR6 for over 30 years, and previously had a perfect 73MGB, NA an NB Miata as part of the family fleet.

I wouldn't own another anemic, wallowing, flatulent MGB if you paid me to. Nice boulevard cruiser, weak sportscar. 

I loved both the Miatas. I knew at the first autocross we took that red NA to back in 90-91 or so that it was a well designed, well performing sportscar. 
 

If I were considering a vintage British sportscar and actually wanted to enjoy some performance out of it, I'd find a TR6 and make a few performance and reliability upgrades to it (as I have done to my car). No doubt, with this option, you have to know how to work on the car. My personal work history as a shop mechanic in my youth no doubt helps me. The earlier comments about garbage replacement parts truly are starting to cause issues for owners like myself. However, parts support is still 100 times better than support for Z cars and many other classics. At the local autocross, the Miatas stomp on me, but I have just as much fun!
 

Really comes down to what you want to do?

NOHOME
NOHOME MegaDork
4/20/22 11:27 p.m.
oppositelocksmith said:

Love this thread

Have owned a TR6 for over 30 years, and previously had a perfect 73MGB, NA an NB Miata as part of the family fleet.

I wouldn't own another anemic, wallowing, flatulent MGB if you paid me to. Nice boulevard cruiser, weak sportscar. 

I loved both the Miatas. I knew at the first autocross we took that red NA to back in 90-91 or so that it was a well designed, well performing sportscar. 
 

If I were considering a vintage British sportscar and actually wanted to enjoy some performance out of it, I'd find a TR6 and make a few performance and reliability upgrades to it (as I have done to my car). No doubt, with this option, you have to know how to work on the car. My personal work history as a shop mechanic in my youth no doubt helps me. The earlier comments about garbage replacement parts truly are starting to cause issues for owners like myself. However, parts support is still 100 times better than support for Z cars and many other classics. At the local autocross, the Miatas stomp on me, but I have just as much fun!
 

Really comes down to what you want to do?

The replacement parts thing is interesting and perhaps pertinent to the Miata peeps.

At the height of my MGB stewardship, I had racks of parts that I had bought at swap meets or just cause I found them at a great price and they were "NOS" or really good used.

One day, needing a set of points, rather than sort through the uncataloged racks and boxes of parts, ( 2 pallet racks) I ordered another set even knowing that there was a half dozen in inventory. Just could not be bothered to search when a china part was like $10. Ever since that point, the lousy part reality crept into the hobby and I lost interest. What is the point in being a good  hobby mechanic if all the parts are crap? 

So if you want Miatas to be the long term hobby, hoard parts now, and never get rid of them.

brownb
brownb New Reader
4/21/22 1:17 a.m.

I have an NA miata.  I have an MGA.  I  have had many MGB's.  I would say if you NEED a car that runs all of the time and you need to depend on it, get the Miata.  It's such an amazing car with little compromise. If you are into old school mechanics like carbs and the sound of overhead valve engines(they do have a sound of their own) and you have another vehicle you can depend on get the MG.  British cars are special.  There's a reason why they are replicated and copied and that the MGB was the best selling sportscar until the Miata came along.  Yes they are agricultural and that's part of the appeal.  When you have gone out for a drive in one, you feel it.  Noise, vibrations. smells, torque.  I still prefer the sound of British engines.

Finding an MGB that isn't rusty or hasn't been bondo'd for 7 grand might be a challenge, but it's possible.  Stay away from rusty rockers as it always means the rust has come from the inside out and you will be doing a full tub redo.

wspohn
wspohn SuperDork
4/21/22 1:11 p.m.

Sadly, on old British sports cars the word 'restored' is badly abused.

People that have bondoed up the holes in the rocker panels of their MGB, had Maaco respray it and fixed whatever was most glaringly wrong (often reset the valve clearances and renewed some ignition stuff so it actually runs decently) then offer the partially refurbished cripple as a 'restored' car.

Last MG I restored had the body and frame retained and everything else rebuilt or replaced (everything - all wiring, tubing, gas tank, etc.  

Miatas are more recent cars, had better rust proofing, and are somewhat more reliable.  I say 'somewhat' because an MG that was actually restored and is used regularly is a pretty reliable car - I used one as my sole transportation for some years. 

An MGB (by preference a GT) today that has been really restored can be a reliable car, and there are a few tweaks that can be applied to optimize power and handling. I am really an MGA guy ) hey - styling!)  and find the MGBs a tad workaday in comparison, but my solution to that was to restore an MGC instead and bump the output by about 50 bhp.  Honest 130 mph long distance touring machine.  That would be a harder choice as against the Miata.

Beer Baron
Beer Baron MegaDork
4/21/22 1:51 p.m.
projectmg said:
Keith Tanner said:

Do you want a car to work on, or a car to drive?

I'm fine with working on my cars, but I don't want to have to work on them all the time. If it means I won't have issues in the future, I think it's fine. If it keeps on breaking down despite a ton of work being put into it though, not so much. I do get more enjoyment from driving.

You can spend as much time as you want wrenching on a Miata.

You will have to spend as much time as it demands wrenching on an MGB.

aircooled
aircooled MegaDork
4/21/22 1:55 p.m.

Just buy a Miata and call it Lucas.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
4/21/22 1:55 p.m.

There are Miatas that require lots of wrenching by this point, especially if they've been abused and neglected. A lot of that is debugging, though, they should be fundamentally pretty low maintenance once into shape. The MG will always require more regular wrenching time than the Miata if only due to the nature of cars designed in the 60s vs the 80s.

The original post mentioned overhauling the MG and then upgrading the suspension and engine, so the plan right from the start was for lots of wrenching. This wasn't mentioned for the Miata.

IIRC, the supercharger sold by Moss Motors for the MGB will bring it up to about the same power level as a 1.6 Miata.

Tom1200
Tom1200 UltraDork
4/21/22 2:31 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

IIRC, the supercharger sold by Moss Motors for the MGB will bring it up to about the same power level as a 1.6 Miata.

This made me laugh because I was just having this conversation about the Datsun; noting that all of the mods brought it up to 80whp.................which is double stock.

Here's a link to it on track......................screaming away at 7000 RPM mid corner, it's probably 4-5 mph slower through the corner than I'd be going in a Miata. Am I going to get a Miata.............no, due to a chromosomal mutation I really like flogging the 1200.............read you need a very particular mind set to want a 50-60 year old car.

https://www.facebook.com/83GusGus/videos/404529174435531

Danny Shields (Forum Supporter)
Danny Shields (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
4/21/22 4:57 p.m.
Snowdoggie (Forum Supporter) said:

Anybody here ever drive a T series MG? It makes an MGB look like an MD Miata.

No T-Series, but when I was getting settled into Hayes Harris' (Wire Wheel) MGA for a Classic Motorsports tire test, I mentioned that I had never driven an MGA before. I had owned many Sprites and Midgets, and driven a few MGBs that felt big and trucklike in comparison. Hayes said if I thought an MGB drove like a truck, the MGA would feel like driving a tractor. He wasn't wrong. But character is a funny thing when it comes to cars. All the MGs are rich with character. And we love them!

Snowdoggie (Forum Supporter)
Snowdoggie (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
4/21/22 5:47 p.m.

I have owned:

-1 MGA Coupe

-2 MGBs including a chrome bumper car and a 1980 Limited Edition

-3 MG Midgets including a 1965 1098 car, an SCCA F Production track car and a 1979 rubber bumper car with a Spitfire 1500 engine - the 65 Midget never had a top the entire time I owned it , but I lived in California at the time and didn't really need one

-1 early Spitfire

-1 Miata that I still own

I did not spend more than $4,000 for any one of those cars. A few of them cost me less than $1,000.

I loved them all, but I really wanted the MGTF that I drove but could afford at the time. I also wanted the Jaguar XKE Roadster that I was offered many years ago for $6,000 when I was in college but couldn't afford, the 1965 Corvette Roadster I was offered in High School for $1,000 but couldn't afford, and the 1970 Porsche 911S that I was offered in Graduate School for $6,000 and still couldn't afford. If I kept every car that I bought and bought every car I was offered I would have an incredible collection today.

You could also add to it the 1969 Mustang I had in high school that I bought for $900 and the 1965 Plymouth Barracuda that I had in College that I bought for $500.

I won't be selling the Miata.

Ever.

M2Pilot
M2Pilot Dork
4/21/22 10:50 p.m.
Snowdoggie (Forum Supporter) said:

Also consider the fact that the newest MGB you can get is 42 years old and the oldest Miata you can get is more than 25 years old.

That's exactly the point I was gonna make.  Also, if you wrecked either car, which one has greater survivability for you?

frenchyd
frenchyd MegaDork
4/22/22 6:49 a.m.

In reply to projectmg :

I can't tell you much about a Miata.  I liked driving the few I have the times I drove them.    
      However a MGB  just has more connection for me.  
     But I actually prefer the MG Midget  or Sprite. More of a go cart and I was surprisingly comfortable in them I'm 5'9"  /285#  smaller, cheaper,lighter, and feels faster. ( I know it's not, I'm just telling you how it feels). 
     

frenchyd
frenchyd MegaDork
4/22/22 7:03 a.m.

For the $6000 with careful shopping you could buy a MGTD 

What, laughs everyone under the age of 60?    54 horsepower ?  A design that was new in the 1930's ?  
 
But character, fun, and everyone,  I do mean everyone loves them.  Girls start up conversations with you and ask for rides. Honest!   You go to parties and pull out the hand crank to start it, just to show off.  Working on them is so basic and accessible they are actually fun. 
  Sit in the seat and your hand can touch the pavement. Parts are a phone call away but the car is surprisingly reliable. I fiddle a little on a regular basis because it's a friend and a pleasure. Most of its not really needed. 
    Cornering is fun.  At speeds that will never get you a ticket.    Parts exchange between MGTF, MGB and MGA. While they originally had drum brakes you really don't need anything else.   I've raced 20+ Vintage sports car races at the track that's hardest on brakes and the original linings are still OK.  No fading etc.  but if you have to have disk brakes, they swap right on.  
     Plus   I can't see them ever getting cheaper. 

Indy - Guy
Indy - Guy PowerDork
4/22/22 7:18 a.m.

In reply to projectmg :

Your user name is Project MG.

 

I think you already know the answer to your question.

Carl Heideman
Carl Heideman
4/22/22 11:14 a.m.

As usual, I'm a little late to the party.  I've been professionally repairing British cars since the late 1980s, have owned 30+ MGBs, and currently own three MGBs, two MGB/GTs, and four Miatas (like many of you, I have a car problem).  One of my MGB/GTs has a Miata drivetrain and my 1978 roadster a supercharger. Among the Miatas are a turbo Miata and a lift kit.  So I have most of the flavors of both cars and have driven so many more that I've fixed or restored.

I rarely recommend an MGB to anyone unless they really like an MGB.  The minute I hear them say they want to buy and MGB and upgrade it, I warn them that only disappointment will follow.  As already mentioned, you can put a lot of time and money into an MGB to make it almost as fast and nimble as a minivan.  Less time and less money into a Miata will make it way faster, nimbler, and more comfortable.

But if you really like an MGB, buy it and enjoy it as is. And since you said you drove a rubber bumper MGB and enjoyed it, don't believe the internet that rubber bumper MGBs suck.  At one time, I had an original paint, 70K mile bone-stock 1978 MGB on original-style 165R14 tires and my lowered, supercharged, 75K mile 1978 MGB on 195/60R15s (which has Miata seats, by the way).  The supercharged car makes 116HP at the wheels and 0-60's in 8 seconds.  The stock one made 60 at the wheels and 0-60'd in 14 seconds.  The supercharged car performs better and is more "fun" but I drove the bone stock car more because it reminded me of the good old days when I started fixing MGBs.

Rubber bumper MGBs are a bargain.  Most of our customer rubber bumper MGBs are for sale and nobody wants to buy them for the $6-8K they're asking (because most of them are $2500 cars with some shiny paint).  If you can find a solid car, snatch it up and don't pay too much.  Catch up all the deferred maintenance and it will be pretty reliable, but not modern-car or Miata reliable.  The only modifications I recommend are properly rebuilt dual carbs and corresponding exhaust manifold paired (headers are a pain and don't make more power until you hit 7500RPM) with a  recurved distributor and maybe a nice stereo. 

Chrome bumper MGBs are great, too, but not the bargain of a rubber bumper car. And while they handle slightly better, they still handle very poorly compared to modern cars. Rubber bumper cars have a few more amenities and a lower buy in.

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
4/22/22 11:33 a.m.

I had this exact same discussion with a co-worker/supervisor 25 years ago.  He was looking at either some sort of Italian/LBC or a Miata.  The answer from me 25 years ago was "Miata" for the reasons already mentioned.  He bought an NA and was quite happy with the decision. Not much has changed since other than now there are more choices for the Miata.

This is not to say owning a MGB or similar car isn't a fun experience (I have a Spitfire and GT6 myself), but keeping one in operational order will definitely require more work than a more modern car like a Miata.  But owning an LBC is an experience first and a car second. If that is part of your priorities, go for it.

As an example, in addition to my two Triumphs, I also own a 2006 MINI.  All three serve a similar purpose as weekend toys.  The difference is I can leave the MINI sit for months on end over the Winter with no attention, get in the driver's seat, turn the key and it starts right up.  With the Triumphs, that is more of hit or miss proposition.  Right now, neither of the Triumphs will start and I haven't had time to figure out why.

Snowdoggie (Forum Supporter)
Snowdoggie (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
4/22/22 11:45 a.m.

I would like to have another Midget as a track car. They are small, simple and easy to work on. If it breaks down on the track it is nice and light so you can push it back on the trailer. I could probably tow it with the Mustang.

frenchyd
frenchyd MegaDork
4/22/22 12:01 p.m.

In reply to Snowdoggie (Forum Supporter) :

Plus two guys with a 2x4 can act as an engine hoist.   With a budget that won't buy you a set of tires you can more than double the power output.  Or just bolt on a supercharger. 
 Tires don't wear out the age out.  A good collection of spare can be acquired from a lot of retired racers.  
  Towing one to the race track can be done with anything more powerful than a Ford Model T ( yes you could with a Model A ( Wouldn't that be fun?  ). 

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