1963 MG B 1.8 petrol 4 from North America
Great fun at a reasonable price
Not much. Please remember this is a 45+ year-old car now.
Clutch hydraulics, some hydraulic brake work.
Carbs rebuilt. Still running the original engine and other mechanical pieces, which are still strong.
MGBs are seriously fun if approached with the right frame of mind -- as a classic, open-air car that sounds great and is very nice looking, if not a car which causes most people to pant.
Performance is not up to much by modern standards -- I expect you'd be out-dragged by a Prius -- but were good for the time and aren't terribly slow. Without overdrive the cars are a bit busy at modern motorway speeds, but can keep up with traffic. With overdrive, highway journeys are much more pleasant -- overdrive gearboxes are difficult to find on early cars and you'll pay a premium for them.
Handling is a joy. The car feels solidly attached to the road, and with the top down you can have a great deal of fun at legal road speeds, something which is missing in modern sports cars. The rubber bushings in the front can wear, and the rear axle u-bolts are well-known for loosening over time. Rear springs sag, too -- go for the springs from a GT when you replace them, the extra leaf helps keep the sag away.
The engines are long-lived and have decent torque, but they also have a typically British long stroke so aren't particularly revvy. Power is roughly 80 - 95 HP, depending on wear and specification. Early cars had a three main bearing engine, which is slightly freer revving but is not as strong.
Transmissions are like working a bolt-action gun when they're in good shape. Again, early cars have a lack of syncromesh on first gear, not hard to live with. Worn syncros on second gear are not uncommon.
Rust, as always on an old car, is your biggest enemy. The body design is over-engineered -- the cars can rust fairly extensively and still roll down the road. But if you can see any bubbling at the bottom of the front fenders or behind the doors, you're looking at a fairly serious problem which takes skill (or time or money or all three) to fix properly. The car is a unibody design and the sills are the main structural member, so don't buy a car stuffed with bondo in these areas, and don't do so yourself!
There is no such thing as "a little rust" on any old car. There either is rust, and you should prepare yourself to deal with it, or, far less commonly, there isn't.
Interiors are leather with contrasting piping up through the mid to late sixties. The cars originally had rubber mats on the floor, not carpeting, but it's rare to find those still in place these days. The interior tends to weather as people leave the tops down when it rains, tops leak, etc.
Tops are fairly good but take awhile to put up, as it's somewhat like putting up a tent, not a simple "reach behind your seat and pull forward" arrangement.
Wire wheels are nice looking, but require more maintenance and have more than can go wrong with them. In addition to the wires going out of true and rusting, the wheels are spline drive -- they work well when maintained, but there's more to go wrong, too.
You can get very nearly everything for the car, including a new body! Parts prices are decent and availability is good.
I love my MGs (I have a slightly later GT as well as two '63 roadsters). People like seeing them and they're fun to drive, easy to own, cheap to insure and not expensive to own. Prices are still reasonable... as of 2009, you can spend $5,000 and probably get a car you can have fun with, or spend $10,000+ and get a very nice car indeed.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 3rd November, 2009