In a Comment of the Day post, regarding a comment to a discussion about Ralph Orlove MG 1100 Review, Jalop Nacho PhD commented disparagingly that MG ownership is equivalent to flushing money down the toilet. I have owned the same MGB twice, and can assure you, it’s not like that at all.
As an example, I felt compelled to head out to the garage after reading Nacho’s comment, just to see how easily my 1974.5 MGB would cold-start after winter storage in an unheated garage in St. Louis. It was super easy. Here’s a potato video of this:
Here’s the thing about MGs: if you are good to the car, the car will be good to you. What I mean by this is that MGs require a certain type of owner. The type of owner who notices an odd noise or smell hundreds of miles before a part fails. The kind of owner who senses things continuously and really feels what the car is doing all of the time. My MGB’s radio hasn’t worked in the 8 years I’ve owned the car (twice), and it has made me a better mechanic. I hear things, feel things you don’t in modern cars.
There are a few rules to MG ownership:
1. 90% of Lucas electrical problems can be solved by simply checking the grounds. The car literally has 4 fuses. If you cant quickly solve any problems with a multi-meter, the problem isn’t the car. It’s you.
2. Oil leaks? The car is 35 years old at the youngest. Replace the leaking seals and enjoy the car, leak free, for at least another 10 years. New BMWs leak as much or more than 50 year old MGs.
3. Adjust the valves and parking brake annually. It’s right there in the manual.
4. No matter what, don’t mess with the carburetor linkage on twin SUs. They’ll never be out of sync, unless you screw them up. Whatever you think is wrong, it’s definitely not the carbs.
Follow these simple rules, and ownership isn’t nearly as bad as you’ve heard, as long as you pay attention.
Furthermore, MG parts are both plentiful and dirt cheap. I receive two 100+ page parts catalogues quarterly, and here’s an example of how cheap parts are:
Oil Pump: $41.95
Valve cover gasket: $1.45
Full exhaust (stainless steel): $299.95
Brake Caliper: $69.95
That’s cheap! This is by far the cheapest classic I’ve ever worked on, and it’s also elicited the most attention from bystanders when I drive it. The most taxing thing about classic MG ownership is having to talk about the car everywhere you go in it. People will roll down the window to ask questions at stoplights. People will be waiting next to it when you come out of the store. They will regale you with stories about their father, their uncle, or their grandfather owning one. You will become the sentimental center of the Universe, whether you want to or not.
In closing, (lest I go on too long and become the David Tracy of MGs) MGs are beautifully simple to work on, easy to maintain, and dirt cheap to repair. If you find the ownership experience daunting, it’s not the car. It’s you.