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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.