If it\’s got an engine. . .

Dorri probably likes it

We don’t need engineers

Posted by ifitsgotanengine on September 21, 2005

I’m sure that was the general feeling at British Leyland — owners of the MG brand — in the seventies. After all, their cars were already designed. All that they needed to do was just keep building them and selling them.

I became certain of this after owning a 1972 MGB. There were a lot of very good things about this car. I’ll list them if I can think of them.

It also had some pretty serious faults. One of the most severe was the convertible top design. The MGB Experience website pretty much sums it up:

The Brits never did quite get the hang of making a convertible top that is easy to lower and raise. Folks who own a Fiat or Volkswagen (or virtually anything else built outside the United Kingdom) who can simply flip two toggles and throw the top back don’t know how fortunate they are. Proceeding under the assumption that lowering the top on an LBC is just as easy can produce disastrous results.

Another shortfall of the MGs was the draconion maintenance requirements. I understand that maintenance is required, but the MG’s requirements were a bit excessive. Most american cars built in this timeframe would run for 100k miles with nothing more than oil changes and maybe a fresh set of spark plugs. By comparison, the MGB required routine maintenance approximately every 30 feet.

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What finally convinced me that British Leyland had no engineers on staff was the layout of the choke cable. The fact that this car, built in 1972, still had a manual choke was bad enough, but this design would have any engineer in tears. I assumed that mine was just installed wrong, but no; they meant for it to be that way. The cable itself is firmly fixed to a bracket underhood (bonnet?). The sheath around the cable is connected to the choke lever. When you pull the choke knob in the cockpit, the cable tries to unkink and, in the process, manages to actuate the choke.

It’s like someone hooked it up wrong and it just happened to work, sort of. So they left it that way for 18 years of production.


One Response to “We don’t need engineers”

  1. Ben K said


    I had a 69 B. Some good things:

    * girls calling from the side of the road, “I love your car”.
    * my then girlfriend, now wife, laughing as we drove in the rain and didn’t get wet
    * The general feel of the thing. It was crude and under-designed but it had that undefinable something that was just fun.

    I’d have another one in a shot.

    I agree with you on the roof — mine had the frame that came apart and stored in the boot/trunk. Also – splined wire wheels? Even the desingers apparently hated them — they were marketings idea.

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