Buy­ing Clas­sics Abroad


Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week - Theo Ford- Sagers

The ma­jor­ity of MGBs were ex­ported to the United States, and at one time a num­ber of folk in the UK were bring­ing them home. Si­mon Lu­cas of CCHL, an MGB spe­cial­ist in East York­shire (, 01482 441551), was one of them.

‘Some of the rust-free cars com­ing from south­ern Cal­i­for­nia were in un­be­liev­able con­di­tion, but it lost its edge a while ago,’ he says. ‘Dwin­dling sup­ply of ex­cep­tional, orig­i­nal mod­els was the rea­son, and in to­day’s cli­mate the weak pound doesn’t help.’

But you’ll still find a few Amer­i­can ex­am­ples in to­day’s on­line clas­si­fieds, and there’s some­thing to be said for spend­ing your cash on ship­ping rather than the po­ten­tially hor­ren­dous cost of weld­ing a rot­ted-out shell, even if top-notch un­re­stored USA cars are scarce and com­mand hefty prices. Don’t ex­pect to find a V8 in the States though – only the four-pot was sold there.

Fa­mously, MGBs for all mar­kets ac­quired big rub­ber bumpers and a taller ride height in 1975 to com­ply with US safety leg­is­la­tion, but if you’re set on a chrome bumper cars, you’ll find them in all mar­kets.

Like most Bri­tish ex­ports, Amer­i­can mod­els were de­tuned to meet emis­sions reg­u­la­tions so you’ll want to change the carbs and in­let man­i­fold to get the most from the engine. By the time you’ve paid for ship­ping and duty, then con­verted to RHD (around £1500 de­pend­ing on the model) and de-re­stricted the engine, you might find it’s more worth your while to buy a half-de­cent one in the UK and put aside some cash to spend on it. Only you can de­cide. Parts are widely avail­able, and com­plete shells can be bought in the UK for around £9000.

Plenty of MGBs can be found through­out Europe, so you’re not short of op­tions. Driv­ing one home to the UK would make a rather spe­cial sum­mer hol­i­day. Or if you’re feel­ing in­trepid, take a look in the south­ern hemi­sphere where the toasty cli­mate and right-hand drive of­fer a win­ning combo. We’ve found some tempt­ing of­fers in Aus­tralia.

As prices of even medi­ocre ex­am­ples con­tinue to lift, it’s pos­si­ble that im­port­ing could one day be­come more widely vi­able again, but much will de­pend on the state of Ster­ling. Would Si­mon ever con­sider do­ing it again? ‘I’d look into it, but it doesn’t make fi­nan­cial sense to fly out and visit the car your­self,’ he says. ‘ You re­ally need to trust the per­son who’s de­scrib­ing it for you. Ide­ally I’d want to see it for my­self, but it’s not some­thing I’m rush­ing to do right now.’

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