Monday, November 14, 2016

Kicking off the work week with a yellow-bellied varmint!

The neighborhood and waterfront of Red Hook was cut off from Carroll Gardens and the rest of Brooklyn by the BQE. From Atlantic Avenue to Hamilton Avenue the highway sits in an open cut 30 or so feet down from street level. It was on this stretch that I encountered this queasy little crumpet:
This car has jaundice! What we have here is a 1974 MGB GT in the rare factory color Citron. If it weren't already yellow enough the owner has elected to install some matching headlights.
The MG Midget and the slightly larger MGB were built by the British Motor Corporation (though it was BLMC by the time this car was built, the L meaning Leyland). Most examples were 4 cylinder, manual transmission, rear wheel drive convertibles. However in 1965 this hardtop hatchback was introduced, adding GT to the name.
I don't know why the hood is black but that spoiler is legit.
These cars are super fun to drive in the classic sports car tradition; slightly underpowered, very mechanical, low to the ground, and prone to rattles & glitches. The Achilles heel is the standard British car complaint of the past century; wiring. The Lucas company did most of the wiring for cars built in the UK and the shoddiness is legendary. My own father had a '78 MGB that burned to the ground due to a short while just a few years old!
Another curiosity of the electrical system is that it is 12 volt, but the arrangement consists of 2 6 volt batteries set "in a balanced position"! Basically there are 2 small wells under the rear seat, each holding a battery. WHY? Weird weird set up and totally unique in the automotive world (I think).
The proportions are great on this body style. 2 door hatchback mini-wagons are rare. The Volvo P1800ES is another.
That long hood most likely contains an 1800cc inline 4 cylinder engine. Another version of this same body style called the MGC had an inline 6 cylinder. In a supreme act of awesomeness MG decided to release the MGB GT V8 between '73 and '76 that shoehorned a 3.5 liter Rover engine under the bonnet. The V8 engine block was made out of aluminum and as a result weighed 40 lbs less than the inline 4 cylinder! Performance wasn't as robust as you might imagine in factory form, but they are very collectible today and many extra horses can be coaxed from the engine.
To see any MG derivative totally rust free is astonishing! This color is hard to replicate and was an original option for this year so I'm thinking this is the factory paint. One benefit of having a cool car with terrible wiring is that many of them hibernate in garages for decades before someone comes along to fix them up.
I didn't get much info in this pic unfortunately but the beautiful wooden steering wheel is on display. You can barely make out the e-brake handle which is on the far side of the hump due to its British origins where the wheel would be on the right.
This is quite possibly the only car that the revolting NJ license plate color looks alright on.
The gas cap is exposed and in a tough location for anyone who doesn't want to drip fuel all over the paint and bumper. The reverse lights are as basic as can be.
This is the final year for the GT body style in the States. The aerodynamics were so much better with the hatchback even though it weighed more than the convertible it had a higher top speed.
Gotta love that period correct MGB stripe! The passenger side mirror was an option.
These spoke wheels are the genuine article; you need a huge wrench to remove that center nut to change the tire.
The charming looks of this ride are due in part to the small chrome grill in the front. However there is a 1974.5 edition that made it to our shores before the GT body was cancelled that sports the enormous black rubber front end of the late '70s MGBs. The federal safety crash regulations called for an answer to the delicate front bumpers. In a ridiculous over-solution MG replaced the grill and bumper with one massive rubber schnoz. My fathers flammable MGB had the big black snout on it as did all U.S. bound MGs through the final year of 1980. Because the '74.5 GT was a limited run they are actually collectible and sought-after.
Well that's that for this little MGBGT. If you want a fun classic and don't mind either chasing gremlins or re-wiring your ride this might be the perfect choice. They've been beloved and collected since they were introduced so parts and support are easy to get.

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