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MG MGB GT V8 Factory Originals Technical - Does History matter???

I posted a thread yesterday re oil changes (Castrol Magnetec' thread) for my car and this prompted me today to look through my history/service file. But at the end of the day - 'does it matter?'
Certainly it is fascinating to read of a car's history
but when looking at values it appears that 'new car'
rebuilds are of more value to buyers than original examples. I suppose this is a matter of choice. 'Yer pays yer money and takes yer choice' as the saying goes. (If you are a conversion fanatic and/or not interested in history may I respectfully suggest you switch off now because this may go on a bit).

My V8 was commissioned in 74 and sold as a demonstrator in APR 75 with 9000mls on the clock for 2320. (I'm ploughing thru 23 pages of closely typed script now to pick out relevent details). Apart from a closely followed service schedule nothing went wrong with the car until Apr 78 when it had done 41503mls and needed attention to the front O/S brake and new brake pads. (and I thought BL was crap - didn't you?)
In the week 13May78 to 21May78 it covered 1550mls 'at high speeds' between 'Edinburgh, Tarland, Inverness, Fort William and Ayr' (not bad for a holiday!), a week after that on 30May a 'slight oil leakage was noticed near the rear hub seal into the brake drum' at 46600mls.

headlamp alignment was checked and corrected at 52660mls and a new shock absorber fitted at 58443. The exhaust went at 71888, Front tyres at 78187.

Am I boring you? Well you must be still reading it!

105080mls (May 81): New clutch fitted. (Apr 82): 112438mls, new brake discs, front bearings, upper bushers, lower pins.

The speedo cable snapped 'at over 120mph with a loud bang' at 123596mls in May83.

Skip all the mechanical detail: First signs of rot; (Oh dear!!) Feb86 general touch up and check for rust. More mechanical details and then...not until Sep89 at 198428mls new sills, new floor, rails, sill plates etc.

Still going strong at 200673 Feb90 'fast run 525mls St Omer and return' 19.17gallons circa 7p.mile or 27.39mpg'

The car was sold in January 1991 for 7995 to an elderly gentleman who covered 1550 mls until I bought it in 1995 (the steering was too heavy and he preferred his E-type) but the history goes on.

With my input to the bills they stand at just a little over 30,000 from 1974 to the present - she has done over 255000mls and hasn't a mark on her.

Now I don't know whether this is a typical factory car of it's vintage or not, but it is certainly a survivor which has done what we would now consider to be 'less than average mileage'. I have my doubts when I see advertisements for factory V8's with low mileages at ridiculous prices. My point is that these cars were not at all special when they were new, and as such clocked up normal mileages for their time. It is nice for me to have the history of mine, but beware out there next time you are tempted by that
'only 50,000mls from new'

I rest my case. If you got this far - thanks!


"and I thought BL was crap - didn't you?"

No. Apart from a Vauxhall Viva which I had for 6 months (hated it) and a Reliant Scimitar I have always bought BL products. Longest owned (before the Bs) was the much maligned Marina for about 6 years and 65k in which time I replaced an interior light bulb and a shock absorber. A new Sierra comapny car was the worst - needed a new fuel tank (leaking) and rear suspension adjustments from new, new ignition system after 12 months, new clutch at 2 years, new brake discs at 3 years. The Scimitar was a great drivers car but hadn't been looked after and it took me 12 months of fixing things before I felt confident I could go out without it breaking down.
Paul Hunt

Have to spoil your record Paul, but my friend Colin who has been a longtime MGB owner, bought a new GTV8 in the mid seventies (don't know exactly which year) and it was the most poorly made and unreliable car he ever owned. I believe it broke down less than a quarter of a mile from the showroom when he first collected it, and that set the pattern for the rest of his ownership.

As for the Marina, other friends who had a new 1.8 four door lost a rear wheel on a roundabout when the half shaft broke - not fun. I used to read "Which?" magazine in those days, and they bought a new TR7, poor things. It was truly appalling. The wheel nuts weren't even tight when they picked it up, and the paint was peeling off in places from new.

But it wasn't just BL was it, it was a seventies malady when the great British worker couldn't give a stuff for what he turned out. My 78 Cortina was dreadful with terminal body rot at five years old, brakes locking on, fuel tank dropping out, etc, etc.

Say what you will about modern "soul-less" euroboxes and jap-boxes, they are bl**dy well made and fantastically reliable.

Mike Howlett


You may be blaming the British worker for problems that were due to poor manufacturing procedures and parts not designed for ease of manufacturing; things at which the Japanese are very good. Probably most of your "jap-boxes" are built by the same British workers.
George B.

Euro and jap boxes - more and more individual complaints about poor Mercedes reliability and customer service these days, and Porche haven't escaped the bean counters. My daughter has a Honda Civic that wouldn't hot start, eventually I diagnosed it to the ignition relay which was of a poor design - heat expansion and contraction causes cracking of the interal PCB. Along the way I typed 'honda main relay' into Google - it comes up with 16,000 pages most of which refer to problems with it. We don't hear much about things like that in the UK media, only home-grown problems, nor the non availability and high prices of replacements. But then I've been spoilt by two MGs, which have to have the most plentiful and reasonably priced (although dead cheap often equates to crap) parts of anything.
Paul Hunt


No, I don't think so. Although it's true that British car factories used to be old fashioned, it was an entirely different mind-set that existed in the labour market of the seventies. Britain had been an industrial giant for 150 years and the unions thought it would always be so. British industry laughed at the early Japanese bikes and cars, as they had done at the VW Beetle earlier. They thought they were invulnerable and the unions led the workforce down the paths of confrontation at every opportunity. As a result our motor industry collapsed because it was bureaucratic, inefficient and non-profitable.

Yes, British workers manufacture several Japanese cars now (including probably Paul's daughter's Civic), as well as the new BMW Mini. But they now work under the practices of their new masters and are in no way comparable with the nightmare that was the seventies.

I'm surprised that Paul has had experience of unreliability in modern cars. My own experience of some very high mileage moderns that I have owned has been excellent, and the hundred or so folk I work with have almost no trouble with their cars, barring routine service items. Mind you we're not exactly in the Merc or Porsche category!

However, Paul and I are in total agreement on one thing - we love our MGs, and as you know, love is blind!

Mike Howlett

Back to Martin's original points - I'll lay a large sum that of all the surviving original factory V8s there are far more nearer 80000 miles than 250000 miles. Focus for a moment on his car between 1991 and 1995, "an elderly gentleman who did 1500 miles" in 5 years - this is not unusual in my experience. Although when new they were used as everyday cars, by the time they were 5 years old many had passed into the hands of MG enthusiasts who ran them as second or third cars and did not rack up the miles. My own car is one such, doing less than 1000 miles per year for the 15 years before I bought it in 1997. I knew the owner for much of this period so it is verified. It has never had new sills, or any other panels other than a small accident way back. It's far from concours, just a well-looked after example for its age. What do you mean by ridiculous prices ? Even a concours winner can be had for under 10 grand, and a good original for 5. Given the age and numbers built, plus the combination of MG badge and V8 burble, this seems good value to me and presumably most people, as the market does have a habit of setting its own prices.

A good instance when history matters is when selling a vehicle, a buyer will plump for the car with documented service records against on with little or no record of servicing.

This thread was discussed between 11/12/2002 and 15/12/2002

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