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MG MGB Technical - Acceptable modifications

Having been a long time watcher and occasional poster to the BBS, I have a question to pose for comment.

Following a conversation with a fried of mine (TR6 owner) we disagreed on what are acceptable modifications to our ‘daily’ driven classics.

I have an electronic ignition (very reliable), electric fan & digital thermostat, electronic instrument lamp dimmer, modern radio/CD/mp3 and a stage 2 engine. All of which in my mine enhances the driving experience in today’s traffic and also has improved the reliability of my car. I may consider in the future updating the suspension, both bushes and perhaps springs and dampers and maybe a 5 speed gearbox, but that will be to improve the fuel consumption.

Anyway, my friend totally disagrees, and likes to keep his classic ‘original’ constantly attending his points and worrying every time he stops in traffic.

My question is out of curiosity more than settling the argument with my friend, as we all have different levels of what we consider to be acceptable modifications.

So what is your acceptable degree of modification? And which are the best or preferred devices to fit or be modified?
Denis B

I think any modification is acceptable that does not require hacking up the car, i/e if you can unbolt it and bolt the original equipment back on. This gives you a lot of lattitude, but eliminates thinks like small block Chevy engines and such. It's your car, do what you like.
John H


I also like to fiddle with points and keep my MG's original, I do approve of intelligent upgrades like gearboxes, brakes, suspension, cooling etc.; on an other one's car. More so if that car is used daily (something I don't do).
I do "frown upon" too flashy stereos in full sight, better to fit the old Radiomobile and hide the Sony?

I think I read an auction/market report on classic cars and it was noted that there is a growing market for cars that have modifications like above. So maybe you can corner your friend by saying he's not reacting to the current market?

What's more important than your choice of modifications, is your choice of friends; I for one would hesitate to call a Tri*mph TR6 owner a friend? LOL
Willem van der Veer


He is the original type. Thats great but makes the car less likely to be driven when his modern car is presumably more ready to go anywhere.


"I think any modification is acceptable that does not require hacking up the car, i/e if you can unbolt it and bolt the original equipment back on. "

Our 3.4L GM 60 degree V6 with 5 speed (or auto) fits into and is completely reversable to any 1975-1980 MGB- nothing is changed about the sheetmetal and would be within that zone. You use the stock shifter hole, stock radiator, stock most everything except you do have to convert your speedometer with a correction box and same with the correction box in the tachometer.

The 1974 and earlier cars need the motor mounts cut out so therefore earlier cars are not acceptable according to your terms.

Although I like your terms, I don't think that you ever expected to hear that a conversion was that easy or could get away with that! My '80 is going to be just that, fairly stock with only the mods a person would do to "modernizing"/ backdating any latemodel MGB. Using the Stock MG wiring, I am going to splice into mine because I am installing FI, not a carburettor but I could always place a stock harness back into the car. I can tell you that the late model MGB will never be worth much in stock form so modifying it to make it an enjoyable car and one that is driven is well worth it.


BMC Brian McCullough

I was going to write a long post as to my thoughts on this subject and decided that the only answer for me is as John H said, "it's your car, do what you like."

1) I've always wanted a TR6... I just don't have time for a new set of friends!

2) Don't count on a five speed (although lighter) improving fuel milage. Our cars are pretty blunt, and fuel milage is a function of horsepower. It takes the same horsepower to push our cars at speed regardless of lowering RPM. If you want more flexibility, find and install an overdrive transmission appropriate for your car. It's much cooler.

3) Radios? Who can hear them in a roadster? lol

4) Intermal engine mods are good, suspension mods are good, speed mods are good, except for the Weber conversions. Webers do little, are hard to set up, and take away one of the coolest things about our cars, the SU carb.

5) In reference to above, it is good to desmog your car, but leave the fuel evaporative systems in place. The smog gear was set up to satisfy specific federal testing and longevity requirements which bore little resemblance to the real world. Keep your engine in perfect tune instead. Add a coolent overflow tank to protect the environment and your pets as well. Contrary to common sense, a non pressurized container will allow coolent to go up and down with temperature, wasting none.

6) It's your car. It is original just once, but can be restored many times. There are enough perfect examples out there that you don't need to worry about preserving a museum piece. Enjoy!

7) The opinions expressed are mine, and should not be taken as gospel. Some of them, if I read them tomorrow, I'll disagree with too!

Dave Braun

Everyone's car is their own personal posession and so they are free to do anything they like to it including hack it about. However I always think that is a pity as it is destroying part of our heritage. Personally I would not fit up to date DVD players etc and would stick with the original style radio neither would I be so severe as to fit a five speed box. I also believe that classics should be kept in one of the colours in which they were originally produced.

However I have no objection to replacing points with Pertronics etc and would favour uprating suspension bushes where better materials are now available neither have I any objection to fitting a stage 3 engine as this was a modification available through Special Tuning in any case. I guess what I am really saying is to preserve the original look of the vehicle at all costs and avoid anything which would be out of period.
Iain MacKintosh


I forgot about engine replacement mods. My comments are more for a person keeping his B series engine. If an engine/transmission change is desired, that is cool if that's what you want to play with

Electrical system mods are just plain smart for a driver when you consider the age and condition of some of our switches and circuits.

Dave Braun


I like the B series motors and drivelines and work on a few dozen 'new' ones every year. There is quite a bit you can do to them to make them ever more reliable and fun. I own several A and B series powered cars. A couple of my cars are GM V6 repowers because there is a limit to how much power you can get out of any engine reliably and affordably.

My own cars are determined on originality vs. modification by:

#1 age.
#2 how rare they are.
#3 what I will be using them for.

My determination is not based upon what the current market value of the car is because that would mean i am enjoying it for someone else. MGB's are very common yet worth far more tehn my rare '59 A40. The A40 is staying completely original. The BGT and the '80 B are both being converted because they will be closer to daily drivers whereas the A40 (as many Spridget upgrde parts I have laying around) will remain as stock as possible becuase its fun to own that car and drive it as stock.

Back to the beginning and Denis' question, if a person has a car that is so stock that they do not enjoy it, then it is not worth owning, the value would plummit as in rubber bumper smog California cars no one but a few really want. Original is good unless it makes you dislike the car. Those who enjoy setting points (or having a shop do it) every now and then and watching the temp gauge closely should continue leaving their car completly stock.

BMC Brian McCullough

I've a TR6 and an MGB and I think if a modication makes you happy, it's fine, one man's meat is another man's poison, personally I don't use modern electronic ignition because of a bad experience with it but both my cars have improved suspension components and improved comfort ie MX5 seats in the 6, I think if I had something rare or unusual I would leave it completely standard though.
R. Algie

There are 500,000 MGBs out there. Prices are low, parts availability is high. I think there is enough room for personal expression.

The basic truth is that you are totally free to do what you like with your car. More expensive cars punish the owner more for modifications. A 100 point Vet with a mod drops thousands of dollars. A $5000 MGB with electronic ignition could actually be worth more.

Also if you drive a car, making it more suitable for that role is good.

I have a 65 with a 5 speed, an alternator, a gear reduction started, Peter Burgess heads, 12 Volt battery, 70 spoke wire wheels, A re-cored radiator, electronic ignition, solid state voltage regulator, electric fans, radiator recovery tank, KN air filters, 2 speed wipers, 2 speed heater motor, an electric windshield washer pump, and my center muffler is cut out. Am I an MG sinner??? I am a much happier driver. I walk less. I have 100mph capability too!

Frank Baker

Oh oh Frank - "I walk less". You've now opened this up to the fitness nazis. There will now be one more argument on the side of the sinfulness of modifying an original car in any way ;) Cheers - Dave
David DuBois

Whatever you want - it is your car and you can do whaterver you like :)

MGBs are not exactly uncommon so the argument that you are destroying a rare car does not apply IMO!!

In todays traffic i personally would not want to drive a 'standard' B daily.
My modifications prior to taking it off the road for a full re-build and conversion to fast road/track day spec were enough to make it a comfortable commuting car and quick enough not to get in peoples way :)

The new spec will not be to everyones taste being a Sebring replica with heavily mofidied suspension and brakes. But then again car ownership is about pleaseing yourself NOT other the moral is do what YOU like as long as you enjoy it (either way).

While i personally don't like the concours/polishing side of things i will not attack them....therefore i would appreciate the same sort of response from them when posting about modifying cars......


JB Charlesworth

MG owners have been improving their cars since day one. In fact, the entire history of MGs goes back to the days when mechanics at Morris Garages) would take a standard Morris automobile and “improve” it for discerning customers who wanted a little better performance, then affix an “MG” emblem to their radiators (now you know where the name “MG” comes from. MGs have always been enthusiasts’ cars, and it is just in the nature of things for enthusiasts to improve their cars. Only the most rabid of purists would object to an owner doing period-correct modifications to it. What entails “period-correct” modifications, you ask? Quite simply, anything that was being done to the cars when they were still in production, including really interesting work done by the factory race team. This includes, but is not limited to, changes such as: camshaft, headwork, valvetrain work, exhaust system work, carburettors, intake manifolds, air filters, distributor modifications, changing transmission and differential gear ratios, suspension modifications including different springs, damper rate modifications, stabilizer bars (both front and rear), lowering the chassis, adding a Panhard rod, wheels, tires, and just about anything else that the mind had conceived of in those days, which is a lot. I have never met an MG owner who has actually done all of these things to his car, but if I ever do, you can bet he will be wealthy. I can see no reason for any MG enthusiast to have a problem with pointless ignition, better headlights, better brake friction materials, radial tires, or anything else that is a reversible “improvement.” To those enthusiasts who take pleasure and pride in tinkering with and improving their MGs I say: “You are the true keepers of the MG Heritage.” To those who insist that an MG should be exactly as it was when it left the factory at Abingdon, I can only say this: “You are missing the whole point of the Marque and its history.”
Steve S

I feel as long as its done tastefully its fine... I do have a gripe with rims that are not stock or not minilites, I just dont think they look good no matter how hard you try.

I also like the sebring look a lot. This being an owner of a 79'B. Its cheaper than crome bumper conversions (minus body work). Not sure what people would think when the Hartop comes off during the summer with the sebring look. With a nice Rover V8 inside as well... Maybe the fender flares... But I would keep the interior stock and have it as a daily driver.

All this just a dream... I am sure that should raise some eyebrows but its one of those ideas floating around in my head and is exactly what this thread is about. How much is too far...

Ive always felt, stick the v8 in any 75B and above, thats why the engine bay is bigger anyway, keep it out of any earlier B's... (Us Rubber Bumpers need something to brag about) Convert the BGT V8's to the sebring look outside with fender flares etc and ditch those rims...

Keep V8's out of Jag's no matter how much more reliable and available parts are, although there should be a good argument in putting them in XJS's before Ford started building them.

Let the Apline's hack up their engine bays craming that V8 in.

And let people keep sticking V6's in TR7's

And if they were readily available all hard tops should be the factory look but they aren't readily available and I envy those who have one.

Last but not least Morgans should drop in price drastically so we can all own a modern reliable daily driver with a V8.

Well im running on too much coffee and have time to kill at work, my rant has finished. I will read it in an hour and just might feel different.

To be totally redundant, it's your car, make the modifications that make you happy.

The attitude I apply to my car is any modification is one that can be easily reversed and does not need to cut metal. I figure if the day ever comes that I sell my B (when they pry it out of my cold, dead fingers) someone could use it as the base of a concours restoration.

But since I'm 3rd owner, and a DPO had already made some modifications that I had to correct, I felt no guilt in installing a five-speed gearbox, upgraded suspension bushings and a supercharger.

Now I've tried to keep the interior stock (with the exception of a newer stereo) and the body stock so that anyone just walking by will have no clue about what's under the hood.

Just my 2 cents worth.

Ken V.
'77 MGB
Safety Fast!
Ken Vandruff

A lot of it boils down to: If your car makes you late for work too many times, it may need a mod.

If your car makes you late for work too many times, you may need a Toyota..... or better yet, quit the job and drive the MG for pleasure all day! (Until the savings dries up anyway).

This is a question I have stuggled with. I have a 67 GT that when I bought it was going to do a V8 conversion. Once I got the car, I found that is was so nice, that leaving it original seemed to be appropriate.

I kept the car as close to factory as I could with a few exceptions.

1. Electronic Ignition
2. Negative Ground
3. Altinator
4. Headrests
5. New AM/FM CD radio

What I like is that all the above can be reversed in a matter of an hour if I ever wanted to show the car as original.
BEC Cunha

If you want an M.G., leave it as close to stock as you can. If you want a custom car based on an M.G., modify it to your heart's content. There is nothing wrong with either. MGBs aren't in any danger of becoming rare.

I prefer driving an old car so I keep mine as stock as possible and enjoy the real vintage motoring experience. Some people want the convenience and power of a modern car in a package that resembles a vintage one, so they install modern power plants, accessories and electronic systems in their MGB. And of course there are many in between who want only some areas modified away from the original design. It's apples and oranges. Do you want an apple or an orange? It's a personal choice.

My only request to those who modify their old car is to do it in good taste and, if it's a rare model then try not to permanently modify anything.

PS... There is no reason to worry whenever you stop in traffic or constantly fiddle with points. A properly sorted car is very reliable. I have driven completely stock MGs daily for much of the past 20 years.
Steve Simmons

I have an apple that I am thinking of making look like an orange...

I am appalled at your suggestion that you would consider making your apple look like an orange. Granted an orange will roll better than an apple, but the classic shape of an apple is what gives it its charm. You shouldn’t even consider changing the color since apples come in enough colors. Although they are common enough that it would be wrong to use the expression, “they don’t grow on trees” it don’t mean they should be altered in appearance. I’m not saying there should never be any changes what so ever to the appearance of the apple, for example if the leaf is dried out anyway it would be OK to replace it with a different size leaf as long as you don’t go to extremes. Some apples don’t even come with a leaf and that’s fine, but stripping off the stem also is uncalled for and doesn’t really save much weight.

It would be entirely different if you wanted to change the function of the apple to be more like an orange. Although it’s possible to get juice from an apple it’s much easier for anybody to get juice from an orange. One must have taste when altering the flavor.

Whatever you decide you must keep in mind that to you the result may seem like a peach, but the next owner may feel it’s a lemon.
George Champion

To George Champion....
Clap, clap, clap, clap, clap, clap (thats applause! ) Very funny reply !!!

Dennis from Downunder

Dennis Killeen

Great stuff George! Thanks! LOL!!!
Steve Simmons

For me it depends on the condition of the car when you get it. Some cars are not worth the effort to bring back to original. I have a 37 where the proir owner made so mods and I figured I might as well continue but keeping the original drive train and look of the car. Also it depends on the car I love chopped 50's mercs but hate anything more than diffrent wheels on a 64 mustang
RHM Massie

I personally came to this hobby somewhat later in life having always had an interest in British Cars when as a 16 year old teenager after having saved up enough money to buy a 1971 Triumph Spitfire the purchased was nixed by my father (I guess he really did know what he was talking about). Now in my later years I have both the time and finances to pursue the hobby. My first restoration project was a 1942 Ford GPW (WWII military jeep). I restored this to showroom condition and although quite proud of how it turned out was too afraid to really take it out and enjoy it so when I purchased the MGB to restore decided this would not be councours but rather a car I would enjoy driving. My modifications have always been reversable but extensive none the less. These include coil over suspensions front and rear, a supercharger with custom cold air intake system, leather interior, electronic ignition, Panasport wheels, etc. Since I didn't grow up in a family that did their own work on cars and therefore had very little knowledge about cars in general, the restoration and modifications have been as much for the opportunity to learn about cars and what makes them tick as it has been for improved performance or reliability. If and when I sell the car I will never get back what I have invested from a monetary standpoint but the gains in knowledge and friends I have made in this hobby are priceless and far ooutweigh any monetary loss I will suffer.
Frank Mooring

I will agree with a little bit of everyone. I like non visible upgrades to improve performance and reliability. I am currently running a 5 speed box with a mild cam with a weber. At a glance the weber is the only thing that doesnt appear stock. Your car is your own. I think anything that suits the owner is opinion varies with the car though....there are plenty of MGB's. The rarer the car, the more strict my opinion gets.

I must say this has been one of the best threads I've read in a very long time..I will have to say this...
There's been an MG in my driveway on and off since the early 70's when my Dad bought a '72. Consequently, we have had many, many "B" friends and we've all had a nice time with upgrading and modifying them to our liking and standards with little to no objection at all. It's all in good fun and the spirit of simple ingenuity in making our lives with our cars more fun and enjoyable..

Having said that, I have my very best friend who is a life long Triumph guy, and I have attended countless Triumph club events, organized outings, car shows, races etc...These folks( most of them, damn near all of them), are genuine and true to the marque to a fault. I cannot tell you the dead seriousness they carry on about with every detail of maintaining even the most daily of drivers..I used to laugh, as I'd be introduced as his friend with a MGB, and they'd tell me "That's OK, you're welcome here anyway! Funny as it is, there's a little bit of truth in every joke...

OK, gotta run now, need to finish installing my 22" spinner rims on the old '71B. Of course I had to cut away nearly every bit of the front and rear fenders, but ya gotta do what ya otta do, right! IT'S GONNA LOOK GREAT!

I'd be introduced as his friend with a MGB, and they'd tell me "That's OK, you're welcome here anyway!"

Reminds me of when I was due to meet some Jag owners with another MG owning friend, but work commitments got in his way. When the Jag owners heard he couldn't make it one of them said "Oh, coming in his MG, was he?"
Paul Hunt 2

Frank, I hope you installed hydraulics with those 22" spinners to make the front hop!

You are not your friend and he is not you, so why should it be reasonable for his values to appeal to you or vice versa? There are more than enough of these cars extant that we have all the museum pieces we need and those who enjoy the work and owning them should enjoy our gratitude for giving us historical reference point.

For the rest of us, it should be hard to make it crime for any OWNER of a car to do as he pleases with it. You can be as tasteful or as tasteless as you like if you are doing what you are doing to it to please yourself and insuring your enjoyment. It reminds me of an old Ricky Nelson tune, "you can't please everyone, so you gotta please yourself" It is very likely there ain't anyone else paying the bills on your car.
Bob Muenchausen

One line of attack I have not heard of yet is " Err Indoors"
I bought my B with the sole intention of having a car I can be proud of and driving it around with my best mate next to me. ( If this is not possible then the wife will do).
Seriously the wife was my first priority, if she can be involved then all will be rosy.
First I have a V8 so I needed to modify the car to make driving more pleasurable for the non go-cart enthusiast.
I have fitted elec windows, power steering, insulated hood, soft suspension, CD radio with Radio 4 (UK joke), latest Leather seats, and every engine mod possible to improve reliability.
I am sorry to the purist but if my other half wants to come with me on our tours it makes it worth all the effort and I enjoy it all the more. (She even helped me build the car)
From one very happy V8 driver.
Dave (& Teresa)
D M Tetlow

I recently had the opportunity to see a 1969 MGB GT with the following modifications: Oldsmobile 3.8 V6, power steering, automatic transmission, power windows, power door locks, upgraded brakes and suspension. Externally the car looks perfectly stock except for lettering on the back indicating Automatic. The interior: seats, door panels, dash, headliner and carpeting were exceptional in the workmanship and still retained the basic appearance of the GT.

The owner of the car is an 82 year old lady who has been an MG enthusiast for years. Her son is in the car restoration business and built the car for her.


Regional Verwalter in Deutschland. Arbeitszeit ca.12 Stunden pro Woche oder ca.2-3 Stunden taglich.Voraussetzungen:
Gute Englishkenntnisse(mindestens im Schrift), Alter ab 21 Jahre, Maennlich oder Weiblich, ein Pc. Der Lohn startet ab 1500 EUR pro Monat. Bitte senden Sie Ihre Fragen und Bewerbungen an : [b][/b]
Mit freundlichen Gruessen

Michael Moore
Controlling Manager

Regional Verwalter in Deutschland. Arbeitszeit ca.12 Stunden pro Woche oder ca.2-3 Stunden taglich.Voraussetzungen:
Gute Englishkenntnisse(mindestens im Schrift), Alter ab 21 Jahre, Maennlich oder Weiblich, ein Pc. Der Lohn startet ab 1500 EUR pro Monat. Bitte senden Sie Ihre Fragen und Bewerbungen an : [b][/b]
Mit freundlichen Gruessen

Michael Moore
Controlling Manager

There isnt a swinging dick in the world that has domain over my car other than me. Who takes it on themselves to tell others what is and is not acceptable? The audacity of these people is beyond belief - I feel damn sorry for thier offspring.
JC Nelson

Hey JC,
Calm down buddy. As long as u dont have Nitrous Im sure we are all fine with it buddy... Its just our opinions.


This thread was discussed between 11/07/2007 and 08/08/2007

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