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MGB GT LE Service on Car

MGB GT LE Service on Car

My MGB GT LE was serviced on the weekend. The car looked like it had been well maintained and became more obvious during the service. During the service it also became clear a couple of items would require future attention. More on that later.

Following is a checklist for the service:

  • Drain engine oil and refill with new oil.
  • Check levels and condition of oil in the diff and gearbox. The oil was clean and levels were good.
  • There was some oil leaking Laycock LH Style Overdrive MGBaround the Laycock L.H. Style Overdrive unit. A quick online search revealed the overdrive unit shares oil with the gearbox. Accordingly, no top-up was required.
  • Brake pads on the front discs were good and an adjustment was made to the rear drum brakes. There is a little vibration of the steering wheel whilst braking on a steep decline so the rotors will need machining sometime over the next several months.
  • Replace spark plugs. Although the old plugs were ok we decided to replace them anyway.
  • Check the distributor cap, points and condenser. These parts looked like they had been replaced in the past 6 months. We decided to leave these and return those parts for a refund.
  • The mechanic had already made some impromptu adjustments to the twin SU carburettors and the timing. The final adjustments left the timing advanced a smidgen. The trade-off was to optimise performance with enough advance to the timing without the pinging.

Items for future attention:

1. Oil Cooler

The oil cooler has two fixing brackets and one of them had completely broken off. Being fixed with one brake the oil cooler is flopping around a bit. Not a good scenario in the long run and a repair will be carried out as soon as I can source a new oil cooler unit.

2. Exhaust Leak

The second item was a small leak where the exhaust is connected to the extractors, held on with a pipe bracket. This is not an issue that requires immediate attention. I am intending to have a sports exhaust fitted to the extractors in the near future which will resolve the issue.

3. Front brake rotors

The front disk brake rotors need machining or replacing as the brakes.


A full service was not required. Accordingly, the distributor parts were returned to the store for a credit of $96.00. In the process of tuning, the timing slightly advanced the car is running smoothly.  As per above, there are a few other repairs to be carried out.

Parts list:

Oil Filter Z38
7811 spark plugs
HP 30 20w60 HPM oil

MGB GT LE Service on Car

Review 1980 MGB GT LE UK Edition

Related Posts ==> Other MG Reviews

When I first started looking for an MGB, I had already decided I would be buying a GT model. In Queensland, where we have long, hot summers, it seemed to make more sense than a roadster. As luck would have it, and all the factors that come together when we make these choices, I settled on a 1980 MGB GT LE (Limited Edition), UK model.

It was a long-distance purchase that required transporting the LE from Melbourne via road freight. The transport worked out very well, and I discovered that people buy, sell and ship cars all over Australia. It’s common practice.

Cool Factor:

The MGB GT LE UK edition was a good purchase, if only for the “James Bond” factor that unexpectedly accompanied it. It seems the car has some resemblance to the silver Aston Martin DB5 that triggers memories of Sean Connery in Goldfinger. A comment I received recently was, “You must be James Bond!” So this LE model has lots of cool factors going on…thanks to Carrozzeria Pininfarina for the ‘fast back’ styling.

Cosmetic Condition:

Buying a classic car sight unseen from another state can be fraught with disappointment, but the LE came to me in excellent condition. I organised an independent pre-purchase inspection that resulted in an excellent report. However, there were a couple of items the pre-purchase inspection missed.
This MGB GT has received a respray at some point. Hence, the finish is in very nice condition… There is no rust. External trim, including the bumpers and factory fitted spoiler also found on the American “Limited Edition” models, is in excellent condition and very little pitting to the brightwork.

The cast alloy rims fitted to all of the GT LE cars produced, are the same rims fitted on the American “Limited Edition’ cars and believed to have been sourced from British Leyland’s store of rims for the Triumph Stag. They are in excellent condition, which according to receipts that came with the car were refurbished a few years ago – and they look it too.

The original GT LE silver and grey interior trim and cloth seats are in excellent condition. Likewise are the black carpets that may have been replaced. If they have been replaced, it would have been some time ago as there are some rub and ware patches in the usual spots but nothing that requires replacement. Most of the switches and knobs work as they should, including the funky centre console-mounted interior compartment lamp.


Many years have passed since driving an old school car like the MGB, which, by the way, is a very different experience from driving a modern car. In the ’60s and ’70s, it was normal to drive a car with no air-conditioning, no power steering, distributor and points with a condenser that needed replacing or adjustment at 3-month intervals, carburettors that need tuning, in the case of the MGB twin SU’s that also needed to be balanced, wiring systems with inherent limitations, old suspension, no keyless entry, etc.

We’re talking “old school” driving here – you have to use the choke to start it and let it; you have actually to steer it through corners, you have to use some muscle to maneuver it in and out of car parking bays, you have to give the brake pedal that extra bit of pressure, use your gears to slow down, you have to use the quarter windows to get airflow to the interior, you have to use your key and walk around the car to unlock doors and hatches. You don’t expect explosive performance from a standing start with the factory 90 Hp (67 Kw in modern speak). But, it is still a great driving experience.

What these cars are made for is a gentle drive around town or over country roads. Being close to the road gives the feeling of speed without necessarily going fast and handles the bends with ease whilst feeling very secure. It has a button on top of the gear knob to electronically switch into overdrive without operating the clutch or changing gears. There is plenty of legroom too. I am relatively tall (185 cm or 6ft), and the seat is approximately 3/4 of the way back. Getting into the car is certainly not as easy as my big SUV, but it is not too difficult. It has a 15-inch steering wheel which does make contact with my thigh.

One of the surprising things I found driving this car is the lowish internal noise levels whilst driving. Even with the windows down, my wife and I can have a conversation quite easily whilst driving. I expected the internal noise level to be louder. I was also surprised at the effortless way it cruises down the freeway with the overdrive switched on. It is a cool and enjoyable driving experience.

Interior Space:

The interior space is surprising. The MGB GT looks very narrow, more so than I remembered from the ’70s, yet I am also surprised at how much internal space there actually is. It feels very comfortable with two adults in the car, and I don’t feel cramped or claustrophobic. In the case of the GT, the fastback styling provides quite a lot of space in the rear hatch area, which I think adds to the sense of spaciousness.

The legroom is excellent, and the foot pedals are spaced well enough to operate comfortably, even with my larger dress style work shoes. However, wearing a pair of large safety boots might present a challenge. Seat adjustment is adequate, both forward/back and tilting the backrest.

The original steering wheel is 15in, and there is no adjustment for the steering column.

The dashboard area is old school and cool – (right to left): Temperature gauge; Tachometer; Fuel gauge; Speedometer; Oil Pressure gauge; Hi-beam indicator light; Charge indicator light plus Dash light brightness control. In my normal driving position, my right-hand blocks the temperature gauge view, so to check that, I need to lean forward a little. The passenger side has a reasonable glove box in size for a small car and works well. Under the glove box are the bonnet release lever, a lever to open/close the air vent, and a small compartment in the footwell area that would easily hold a street directory plus more.

The middle console – (top to bottom) – Various switches for the fan, internal lamp, and hazard lights; Cigarette lighter, Internal Lamp, Choke Leaver; Radio; Fan Temperature Control, Clock (unique to the LE), and Air Fan Control Knob; console platform surrounding the gear leaver, ashtray and a console compartment that is small and narrow but somewhat functional. The hand brake lever is attached to the tunnel, but it does rub against my thigh whilst driving.

The rear seat is not functional for passengers to today’s standards and does not have seat belts. This area would be very suitable for storing handbags and similar-sized items. A medium-sized dog would fit there quite easily. My brother has researched fitting an air conditioner in his GT and was advised this area could house the internal condenser unit with some creativity. So this area is quite functional.

The rear hatch area is very nice. Not large but quite adequate to transport shopping, picnic supplies, or even a swag and associated
camping gear for an overnight camping trip, or luggage for an overnight glamping trip if that is more your style.

Seat Belts – being a 1980 model car, the LE had factory-fitted inertia-style seat belts with the fixed latch anchored at the base of the tunnel. In my case, both of those seat belt units have been replaced. One of those, the driver’s side, was replaced recently by me.

Related Posts ==> Seat Belt Replacement

Given the size of the car, I find the internal space surprisingly adequate for normal daily use.


A standard MGB is by no means a performance car. A lot of the technology is old, even beyond the car’s age, with the B series engine having its origins in 1947 with a few different versions – 1200cc, 1500cc, and 1600cc used in the MGA’s, and the MGB’s 1800 cc engine. My wife’s car is a standard 2016 Toyota Corolla 1800 cc engine which is a zip machine – it just zips everywhere and quickly. No comparison with a stock standard MGB.

Some people carry out various engine performance upgrades. Fitting a supercharger is a popular option that does increase the performance quite a lot. My understanding of a supercharged MGB is the added torque makes low-speed driving in traffic and the suburbs very friendly with fewer gear changes, and highway driving is much more spirited and fun.

This LE came with the original twin SU carburettors, and aftermarket extractors were fitted on the car when I got it, with standard size exhaust and muffler.

Gear Box:

The MGB is a 4-speed manual. This LE has full synchromesh and overdrive gearbox. The overdrive switch located at the top of the gear knob was used on earlier Triumph cars for some years. The LE overdrive operates in 3rd and 4th, standard on all RHD cars from 1976. On North American cars from 1977, it operated only on top gear.

Operating the clutch in my LE is very smooth – a lot smoother than I can recall in any other manual cars I have driven. The gearbox is quite close and notchy and works very well. Given the reverse position, which is down and to the left, the first couple of times I drove the car when changing from 1st to 2nd, I maneuvered the gear stick too close to reverse, which responded with the usual protest. I very quickly made the appropriate adjustment and no longer having any trouble with that change.

The overdrive, a Laycock LH type, works very well and drops the revs by approximately 4000 rpm, making a big difference on the highway and even around back streets. It makes for a more comfortable ride.


Brakes on the MGB GT LE are period standard – disk brakes at the front (no brake boosting system), drum brakes at the rear, and a hand brake lever that operates in the normal way with a button release. Before purchasing the LE, I read a review on old car braking systems. In many cases, the conclusion was that the issue many drivers are concerned about is often the “feel” of the brakes compared to a modern car. Once you get used to that feeling, the brakes are adequate for a standard MGB. Keeping that in mind, when I had some test drives, I very much agree with the concept of “feel” – you might need to give the pedal a bit more of a squeeze, and that’s where the feel comes in. However, the brakes work fine. I notice the difference more when I jump back into my modern SUV, where at first I tend to stab at the brakes.

I also recall from my driving experiences of the ’70s that I quickly got in the habit of using the gears to assist with slowing down – truth be told, as a 17/18-year-old in the 70’s my driving style was a bit more radical than it is now.


Keep in mind that a 40 plus-year-old car is a classic car, and they do need care, time, money, and periodic repairs as they arise. Many old classic cars are club cars and don’t clock up a lot of miles, so the upkeep is reasonable provided it is done regularly. I was also a little surprised at the low cost of insurance on my LE, so make sure you have appropriate insurance.

Potential Upgrades:

Many upgrades can be carried out on old classic cars. We have a post that provides
more details on this topic, but here is a brief list of ideas:

Electronic Ignition
Brake booster upgrade
Disk brakes rear
Gearbox upgrade to 5 speed
Supercharger for that little extra performance
Air conditioning
Suspension upgrades
Bumper/valance upgrades
Extractors and sports exhaust
15in steering wheel
15in wheels and lower profile tyres
Wiring looms
Electric window
Central locking
Engine cooling system
And much more

That’s a Wrap:

So that’s a wrap-up on a brief review of owning an MGB GT LE. This particular car is in very nice original cosmetic and mechanical condition. It drives very well and, for a car from this era, it drives better than expected. It also gets attention when I’m out and about in it.

The one thing the GT LE has over all the other MGB’s – it has that unique James Bond factor, courtesy of the Pewter Metallic silver, resembling the Aston Martin DB5 in Goldfinger – “You must be James Bond!”

So there it is – shaken, not stirred.

Happy trails.

Seat Belt Installation Inertia Type 1980 Model MGB GT

Seat Belt Installation Inertia Type 1980 Model MGB GT

Related posts ==> Other Repairs

Broken Seatbelt

My MGB GT LE is a 1980 model and over 40 years old.

The plastic cover over the original driver’s side seat belt latch broke recently, resulting in the release button falling out and the seat belt latch no longer able to clip together with the buckle.

Buying Tips

There were no inertia seat belt parts available from the regular MG parts suppliers looking online in Australia. I also checked the local auto parts stores, and no luck. I then found a local seat belt supplier company that could supply a suitable inertia-type replacement seat belt unit. The new unit was supplied with the seat belt unit, mounting plate, sleeve washer, bolts, and spring washers.

Following is a summary of buying tips:

  • The online search offered two seat belts – a simple lap strap and latch unit or a lap/sash inertia unit. Given the year of production (1980), my MGB GT had factory-fitted inertia units.
  • After looking closer, the passenger side seat belt unit was aftermarket, and the driver side unit was the original factory fitted unit.

Installing Tips

Following are some installation tips:

  • The mounting plate – Installing the after-market unit was fairly simple but offered a couple of small challenges. The first being the mounting plate. The original mounting plate/metal bar was shaped to maintain a level release spool for the strap to release when pulled, which will not actually release if not relatively level. I first fitted the spool unit with the flat metal mounting plate supplied with the new unit. Given the mounting nut’s position, which is slightly to the rear and the side from the top of the wheel arch, the spool unit was not level, and the belt did not release. I then noticed the original mounting plate had a slight twist, allowing the spool unit to sit relatively level. I re-installed the spool unit with the original mounting plate, and all work properly.
  • The second challenge was the wiring on the original latch component that sends a signal to the SEAT BELT warning light on the console of my 1980model MGB. I decided to cut the wires and leave them unconnected, making the SEAT BELT warning light inactive.
  • The original spring washers seemed to have less spring than the new spring washers supplied with the new unit, so I replaced the old with the new.
  • A couple of the new bolts were a little long, so I used the original bolts. I also used the sleeve washer to mount the new spool unit on the wheel arch, lifting it slightly higher.
  • The new spool unit was supplied with a hard plastic cover that does not clip anywhere and moves around. I plan to cut that cover off.


The new seat belt installation was fairly quick and simple and would have been quicker if I used the original mounting plate the first time around (see photo). The new unit works well, and the car is now ready to obtain a Road Worth Certificate for registration.


Faulty Ignition Relay  Symptoms and Resolution

Faulty Ignition Relay Symptoms and Resolution

Related posts ==> Other Repairs

After purchasing a MGB GT LE interstate I was looking forward to picking it up from the transport yard. It was at this point that a problem with the car had been revealed. The car was difficult to start and when it did, it would only travel about 2 km before stopping. Regretfully, the car coming home unceremoniously on the back of a tilt tray truck.

After getting the car home the alternator and voltage regulator were checked. Both were ok.

A local auto electrician identified the fault as a burnt-out ignition relay, which, in an MGB, also controls the blinkers and some dash gauges, causing issues with those components..

The replacement part cost $5.00 but caused a lot of grief and some unexpected costs including a new battery, tow truck and a fairly large invoice from the auto electrician. I checked the symptoms of a faulty ignition relay which described almost exactly what the car was doing.

Symptoms of a faulty ignition relay include:

  • The car suddenly stalls while operating – yes
  • Car not starting – yes
  • Dead battery – yes
  • Intermittent issues starting the car – yes
  • Starter stays on after engine started – no
  • Clicking sound coming from the starter – yes

If your MGB displays any of these symptoms then check your ignition relay. The issue of the blinkers failing and dash lights coming on were caused by some of that wiring in my MGB also passing through the ignition relay.


Search online for symptoms and how to resolve them. If I had known what the cause was I could have saved a lot of grief AND money.

Purchase and Arrival of MGB GT LE

Purchase and Arrival of MGB GT LE

Related Posts ==>  Faulty Ignition Relay

Whilst thinking through purchasing options for an MGB, I decided I have limited time to allocate to any kind of restoration project. Accordingly, the criteria for my first MGB experience was either a car that had received a lot of restoration work or one that was original and in very good condition, requiring minimal work.
I had also established a preference for a GT. Living in South East Queensland, with a subtropical climate and long hot summers, a roadster would be too hot.

I had spotted at least one MGB GT that had received a lot of restoration work but I was a little slow in the uptake and that opportunity slipped away fairly quickly. Although I didn’t get the opportunity to look at or demo the vehicle, it was clearly a quality car that had received some high quality work. Speaking to the owner over the phone confirmed the extent of restoration work carried out. Given the very reasonable price, it is no wonder the car sold very quickly.

My next inspection was a roadster listed locally. Although I was looking for a GT, the intention of looking at this roadster was to get a better feel for what to look for. That turned out to be a smart exercise. Although the price was quite low, it was also a substandard example of an MGB and revealed the types of issues to look for. It was a regular drive for the seller, no effort was made to present the car well, it was clearly not well looked after and likely had mechanical issues to match, had obvious signs of rust in the normal places (sills, doors etc) and I couldn’t even test drive the vehicle as the seller didn’t have the key.
The next example I looked at was the car I eventually purchased. It was a reasonably priced MGB GT LE UK edition listed in Melbourne Vic. At the time Victoria was in the middle of a COVID-19 lockdown. Given severe restrictions on movement around town locals couldn’t carry out any inspections. I engaged a local mechanic to carry out a pre-purchase inspection. Based on that inspection I purchased this vehicle for the following reasons:

  • price was very good
  • the seller had carried out limited but key repairs including a new steering rack and new brake system components
  • the seller maintained a file of work carried out, including all work carried out by the previous owner
  • the car had for many years been a club car and been very well cared for and maintained
  • condition of the car was clearly very good and confirmed by the pre-purchase inspection
  • mechanically the car was in very good condition
  • in the words of the pre-purchase inspection mechanic, the vehicle was “faultless”

My expectation on pickup from the depot was to jump in the car and drive it home. Sadly, this was not the case as some issues started to reveal themselves at the depot.
Firstly, the car would not start. I had a new battery fitted but still no start. The car eventually started and I left the deport with my wife travelling behind me. It travelled about 500 meters and stopped – just cut out as it had run out of fuel. As the seller mentioned it was low on fuel I assumed the tank was empty. I subsequently put some fuel in and it started again. Another 500 meters later it stopped again in a similar fashion.

At that point, my wife and I agreed she would drive back to the transport depot and request a tow truck to pick it up and deliver home. My wife and the yard manager returned with some more fuel as there were no tow trucks available at the time. Thinking it was low on fuel the yard manager commenced topping up the tank but it quickly overflowed. So the problem was obviously not fuel. It started again so we decided to give it another shot at driving approximately 15km home. Buoyed by the car driving 5 km further I thought it was going to make it home but sadly it stopped again. It seemed to stop as if it had run out of fuel and some odd electrical things were going on like blinkers not working, dash charge light coming on etc.

The car ended up getting home unceremoniously on a tilt tray truck. A mechanic friend and I were able to carry out some basic checks. Believing it may have been the alternator and or associated voltage regulator, we removed that and had it checked but nothing wrong with that.

I then took it to a local auto electrical workshop and the problem was eventually tracked down to a faulty and burnt out ignition relay. That relay also controls the blinkers and some dash gauges, hence the other odd electrical symptoms also resolved.

It was an interesting learning curve as this little $5 part caused a lot of grief and some unexpected costs (new battery, tow truck and auto electrician).

See this post for further details on symptoms and resolution of faulty ignition relay.

Faulty Ignition Relay