Recently, two close friends of mine both purchased some classic British sports cars. Dan in the form of two Austin Healey "Bugeye" Sprites and Tory with a vintage race themed early MG Midget. Essentially, they're all the same cars underneath. And of course they're giving me the peer pressure that it's time to add a British roadster to my fleet of mostly German cars. But it got me thinking. I've had a Jaguar XK8 in the last few years, and there's been a few Jags in my family. But one car that came to mind that I grew up around was the MGB roadster. Some of my earliest car memories are with the "B". My dad had a couple of them when I was a small child, and there are two that stick out. A brown on tan 1976-77 and a black 1980 Limited Edition which is the one that sticks out the most in my memory.
I can remember as a child riding in the passenger seat with my dad and also sitting on my mom's lap when we would go out in the MG for weekend drives with the convertible top down. Yes, we did have 3 people in it with me not in a car seat. It was the 1980s after all. But here we are in 2016 with the images of the black roadster with silver stripes seared into my memory. I remember playing in the car while it sat in our garage. Helping dad wash it in the driveway and watching him wax it to get ready for a show.
I even still have the dash plaques from some Hartwood Acres British Car Day events we attended, and the showroom brochure for the car. But what is the back ground on the car itself?
The MG-B Limited Edition was offered in North America in 1979 and 1980. It was a marketing endeavor between British-Leyland and the U.S. MG distributorship in Leonia, NJ to boost slipping sales in the North American Market. The production period of the North American version “LE” was 1979-1980. But why black cars? Apaprently there was an agreement between “Leonia” and all North American dealers that the “LE kit” would be only installed on black cars and to buy a black car of that time period, it had to be a Limited Edition only. In total there were 6,668 produced in the two years of production. And while not officially stated, the Limited Edition became sort of a Final Edition car as MGBs went out of production for the U.S. market in the 1980 model year.
The B LE came equipped with the following features as standard equipment.
Front air dam
L.E. Five spoke alloy wheels, manufactured by GKN, with MG hub center appliqués
Silver lower body stripes
Leather covered, padded, three spoke steering wheel with a special center hub. This uses the same MG applique as the wheels
A Limited Edition dash plaque installed on the glove box
I guess it's the emotional part of me that loves this particular MG. The rubber safety bumper MGs are not particularly popular today versus their steel bumper counterparts. But on the LE with the all black paint, it seemed to work.
There are still many 1979-1980 Limited Editions floating around and I'd be willing to bet that my dad's is out there somewhere. MGB's are still affordable and fun classics today. Nice driver cars be found for under $10,000 and a pristine examples are around $12,000. In recent years, I have seen a handful of LE's at car shows and it seems they were available with both camel tan and black interiors. I seem to remember my dad's having black.
Maybe I'll have to start looking for one for myself to create some new memories