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HomeFeatured VehiclesPick of the Day: 1980 MG MGB LE

Pick of the Day: 1980 MG MGB LE

An affordable British roadster

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The first sports car I ever drove myself was an MGB. It was 1980 and there was a little British car dealership, right next to my family’s favorite Mexican restaurant, in Tucson called World of Wheels. It was a converted gas station that sold new MG, Triumph and Fiat cars. When we ate at the restaurant, I would always slip out and go next door to the dealer and sit in various cars. One late spring night, I wandered over to the dealer while the rest of the family was eating, and while browsing the lot found myself looking at a brand new 1980 MGB in Hunter Green with a tan interior. For the first time, after all the times I’d visited the dealer, a salesman came up and asked me if I liked the car. I said I did and that I loved the color. He then asked if I wanted to take it for a test drive. Of course I said yes. He handed me the keys and told me the test drive route to take. I jumped in the car and took it for a two mile drive up speedway Boulevard.

That MGB was exactly what I thought a sports car should be. It had enough power, great steering, and the engine sounded amazing to me. With the top down on a nice Southwestern spring night the car was perfect. Realizing I had been gone from the restaurant for quite awhile at this point, I quickly drove the MGB back to the dealership, handed back the keys and thanked the salesman saying I might be back. Typical story, except for the fun fact is that in 1980 I was only 13 years old. My parents never had a clue that I had test driven a brand new MG sports car that night. I am still stunned that I got to do this, and I’m guessing at 6-feet tall at 13 years old, the salesman thought I was old enough to have a license. Alternately maybe he had seen me before and was being nice to a kid. Regardless of why, I am forever grateful to him for giving me the opportunity to drive a brand new MGB. Sadly this is an opportunity anyone younger than me never got to have.

World of Wheels struggled on for a few more years and then went out of business around 1982. To me that marked the end of an era. Today their old location is occupied by a Trader Joe’s and a T-Mobile store, which is a bit sad.

To this day I still have a soft spot for the MGB, and despite popular opinion, I do like the rubber bumper ones as that was the first one I ever drove. I have owned a pair of chrome bumper cars, but still find myself looking at the late cars, hence this car as my Pick of the Day, a 1980 MG MGB Limited Edition for sale on ClassicCars.com.

The MGB LE was an idea proposed by MG’s advertising agency as a way to sell more cars. They basically created a trim package for the car that included special alloy wheels, a special steering wheel, special rocker stripes, an integrated front spoiler, a plaque on the glovebox, and a rear luggage rack. All the cars were black and came with either a black or brown interior. MG as a brand was ending in 1980, and they were likely trying to move the cars as fast as possible and make a little extra money. That being said, I feel that the MGB LE is the best looking of the rubber bumper MGB roadsters.

The seller describes this MGB LE as having only covered 31,000 miles from new. It is completely stock with the exception of an aftermarket radio.

The car is powered by its stock 1800cc inline 4 cylinder engine fed by its stock single Stromberg carburetor. Yes, the Stromberg is not a great carb but there are plenty of choices out there to replace it with, any of which will increase the performance dramatically. An especially nice feature of this specific MGB LE is that it is one of the ones that has the optional overdrive gearbox, a great feature when driving on a highway. In addition it has a Crane Cams electronic ignition installed.

The interior on this MGB LE is in its stock and original black vinyl basket weave that looks to be in great condition. The carpets are in equally excellent condition, as is the dash.

This 1980 MGB LE looks to be a true survivor car, with no noticeable paint nor interior work needed. They state that it is an all original car, and I believe it based on the photos in the advertisement. The car includes its original owners manual, tonneau cover for the top, and its two sets of keys.

Unless you have a time machine, this 1980 MGB LE is about as close as you can get to driving a brand new 1980 MGB as I did back in 1980. Of note as well is that the 1980 MGB marked the very end of the British roadster. The asking price for this car is $20,900 but when you consider the car’s condition this price seems quite reasonable.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

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Andy Reid
Andy Reid
Andy Reid's first car, purchased at age 15, was a 1968 Fiat 124 coupe. His second, obtained by spending his college savings fund, was a 1966 Ferrari 330 GT 2+2. Since then, he has owned more than 150 cars—none of them normal or reasonable—as well as numerous classic motorcycles and scooters. A veteran of film, television, advertising and helping to launch a few Internet-based companies, Reid was a columnist for Classic Motorsports magazine for 12 years and has written for several other publications. He is considered an expert in European sports and luxury cars and is a respected concours judge. He lives in Canton, Connecticut.

19 COMMENTS

  1. I sold the last 2 like this in tronto in the fall of 80 to a father and daughter….was a captain of a 747 and were going to put away for an investment

  2. The 1980 MGB did not mark the end of the British roadster. That was the MGF, also known as the MG TF, a seriously successful car sold between 1995 and 2011 – just not in the US!

  3. As a proud sole-and-still-owner of a 1978 BRG roadster (bought new in March 1978 at T&T Motors, Edison, NJ), I concur that the MG set an indelible mark as THE sports car of choice. Triumphs and the like were nice, but MG, and specifically the “B,” were the top.

  4. I had an MGB in 1981. I was 18 yrs. Old.
    White convertible. I Loved Loved that car. It was so much fun !! And growing up in southern California well you couldn’t ask for better top down weather !
    But…My real first car in 77-78
    Was … a 128 Fiat coupe . And that was pretty special and a fun car too.
    Great Memories. Thanks for sharing Andy

  5. What you really need to drive is a MGB-V8 , I had a 1973 that I converted to the Buick all aluminum V8 , with a Jaguar 5 speed, and a ford 3-3-1 limited slip ,.10.5-1 compression, slight high lift cam, roller for the valve train. And fuel injected. Doing over a 100mph in third gear. And 34-36mpg it will blow your mind

  6. I still have my 1980 MGB LE, along with my FIRST MG, a 1974 MGBGT and a 1977 ‘hot’ roadster with weber outlaw carb and a racing cam!! My plan is to never sell them…

  7. Had a 1969 MGB, butter yellow with black interior. My first sportscar. In 1974, I bought a brand spanking new 1974 MGB, bracken orange, taupe interior, roll bar. What a cool car and I wish I still had it!!

  8. Had a 1969 MGB, butter yellow with black interior. My first sportscar. In 1974, I bought a brand spanking new 1974 MGB, bracken orange, taupe interior, roll bar. What a cool car and I wish I still had it!!

  9. Fine story. I have had four MGBs beginning in 1964. And now my second 1977( the first a victim of the flood after Hurricane Katrina). The MGB has orovided much pleasure and at times stress therapy, even when it falters.

  10. I loved your story ,I’ve had a couple of mgs and never thought age 76that I would have another but when I saw an add for a 78 model I just had to have it .love the B

  11. Great Story Andy!!! Bought a 1980 MGB limited edition as my first car in the spring of 1984. Took it up to school with me up in New England. My friends at the time were all driving Camaros and 280Z’s etc. Kept it for over 25 years and although I’ve since owned a Miata and currently a 99 M roadster, nothing can compare with the feeling of taking that car out with the top down on the first warm spring day.

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