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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

5 British roadsters holding steady in a volatile market

With all that's going on in the collector market these days, good-old-fashioned British sports cars are often overlooked. Mainstream models from MG, Triumph, and Austin-Healey offer that rare mix of gorgeous-yet-unpretentious styling and a fun-focused, minimalist mindset that's missing from most cars built since 1980.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/market-trends/these-5-british-roadsters-are-holding-their-value-or-bet...
83 REPLIES 83
tmkreutzer
Detailer

I feel like I've already missed the boat. Some lovely, wonderful cars here but for me they would essentially be a toy, and I just can't see spending that much on a toy. My British roadster of choice would be the TR6 but the nice ones bring big money these days and the less than nice ones usually have serious water and rust issues.
AmazingWaldo
Pit Crew

HEY! What about the MGA? I think they are the prettiest of all the low priced British cars. Rather sleek with beautiful rounded fenders they make the MGB look rather boxy.
avideo
Detailer

They were fun assuming you didn't have the Prince of Darkness - Lucas Electric - killing your lights. Or enjoying a cold wet morning with side curtains that let in as much rain as they kept out of your car.
I was more fortunate than most MGA owners with a nice dry garage to dry the car out in after driving in the rain.
Tsaxman
Advanced Driver

Oh, man, I am flashing back to my first car, purchased in 19 hundred and 71: a 1964 MGB. Ran sporadically on damp days, top let in rain and always leaked oil. Whew.

Still great for that occasional successful trip to and from the beach.
Dhturk
Intermediate Driver

Reminds me of the old joke, “Why do Lucas workers get off by 5pm?” “To get home before dark!”
rixsix
Pit Crew

When I rewire mine I ran a 12 gauge ground wire around the entire car grounding it all the way, soldered ground wires to all light sockets and connected them to the main ground and finished with a relay for the lights. This and a few cans of Lucas Wire Smoke keeps it running.
RG440
Instructor

Not to mention…or too many times to mention how the car ruined every night time date you ever took out in “the car”. Your all stressed out because “it” just stopped working and she’s all stressed out with “yeah right”… a real night time relationship killer until the Mopar muscle rolled into the driveway, then you were “my hero”…
denali94
Intermediate Driver

You were one of the lucky few if your side curtains kept out half the rain! Mine seemed to funnel the rain and snow straight into my face and lap when heading to work in the morning. But all things considered, I would like to have another drive in one. After the MGA it was a Healey 3000 for a few years (more side curtains), a gap for some Detroit muscle (with real windows) and then I met my wife's, fresh from the factory TR6 which she still has. After almost 50 years and a frame off restoration I am all too familiar with every nut, bolt, washer and have left shreds of skin in almost part of that car - but she still loves it.
MOGdriver
Pit Crew

What no Morgans? I have a '64 Plus 4, insured by Hagerty and just got an email saying I should increase my coverage from $53K to $63,5K without any explanation. Called customer service and no-one knew why the increase. Could not verify reason for increase using valuation tools --not enough data.
Longbranch
Intermediate Driver

The price of ash wood went up so therein lies the price difference.??  😉

sclin10
Instructor

I would imagine it's due to inflation, plus the fact that with new car prices going through the roof, it stands to reason used car prices will follow.
helman
Pit Crew

I increased mine last year but was not prompted to do so. Mine is a 4/4 series V from 63. Nice that of all the types mentioned above Morgans are still made in the original factory by workers many of whom learned their skills from family members who came before them at the company. No badge engineerimg for Morgan. It is the ral deal for good and all.
Greg_I
Hagerty Employee

@MOGdriver I am sorry to hear about the confusion. We examined the book of business and identified cars that COULD be underinsured, in some cases based on our analytics we made a value suggestion based on the price guide.

 

I am sorry that you had a bad experience with the phone call and I will pass that on to management. Based on the price guide, if your car is in very good to exceptional condition, it could be underinsured. If you feel that you should increase your value, I would speak to another agent to get that taken care of.

 

Again, I am sorry to hear about the confusion and poor experience.

MOGdriver
Pit Crew

Thanks for the response Gregg. If I were told the cost to restore the car, after a crash, had gone up, I would have understood but I belong to an East Coast Morgan club with 275 members so I know the approximate cost to buy a "64 Morgan in B condition and it's nowhere near $63,500.Steve 
JonTribe
New Driver

Hey @MOGdriver, which East Coast Morgan club do you belong to?
MOGdriver
Pit Crew

The 3/4 Morgan Group Ltd.I am also the Editor-at-Large of The Morganeer, the journal of the club.Attached is the latest edition. July-August 2022 Morganeer 
Smilodon
Instructor

I've wanted a Morgan for years, but live in Fargo, ND, not the kindest place for an open car. We have DanteHell winter, wind& closed roads spring, bugs creating fur on the front and welts on the skin summer, then almost winter, a couple of perfect fall weeks to enjoy a bike or roadster. Dream car is an Aero8 in BRG over saddle. How may I subscribe to the Morganeer? Retiring soon, moving to a more congenial climate. Thank!
sego
Intermediate Driver

Had a signal red 63 TR4, then a conifer green 68 TR250 and lastly, a jasmine yellow 71 TR6. Loved them all.
pcbrig
Pit Crew

I, too, have a Jasmine '71 TR6, which I bought as a junior Army captain from its second owner while I was stationed near Seattle. I still have it, happy to say. Great car, and still in excellent shape. (My first car was a used '73 TR6; Carmine Red with the factory striping. Also a great car, but not in as solid conditions as my '71.)
JoeCal
Pit Crew

Nice Triumphs sego! My first Triump was a French Blue 74 TR6 I bought from a Triumph dealer in 1976 when I was 21 years old. That was my daily driver for about 2 or 3 years, not very good in snow,lol. My next was a 64 TR4 that ended up being a parts car for a project TR4. My last Triumph was a Gold 80 TR8 with a built motor, that was a fun car and sounded like a muscle car.I did enjoy all of mine too!
RJMatt
Intermediate Driver

The one I miss, and I KNOW it's never going to be on this list, is my Jensen Healey. I owned a '74 1/2 for about three years, and loved it. Like all things British, it rusted but fit me and handled like a go cart!
sclin10
Instructor

I had a friend who had one. It spent more time in the shop than on the road.
JHDESOTO
New Driver

I’ve had a 74 1/2 since 2003. Bought it not running with 125,000 miles. Rebuilt the engine and have driven over 70,000 mi. since. Longest trip was 6200 trouble free miles. Probably sorted they are a great car. 

DonLafferty
Pit Crew

Although not a roadster the Jaguar XK series is a beautiful car and you can still get them at a fairly low price. They are based on the Type E so they have the curves and IMHO look about as sexy as a Type E.

I'm just posting this because they scratch the UK made itch and are a very nice car.
Smilodon
Instructor

The early ones are simply gorgeous.
richard2
Intermediate Driver

Well, I was not terribly impressed by the article for a few reasons.

First, some of the age ranges were just... wrong. MGB 62-80. Seriously??? You are lumping together the great MGB 'wire wheel & chrome bumper' in the same category as the emissions control and rubber bumper and MGs? One is a classic, the other... well... There's a reason a lot of rubber-buggie-bumper folk immediately swap over to chrome. (beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder).

So they are really NOT AT ALL the same thing in terms of collector appeal.

As for the other autos, well... unobtainium is the word. You cannot reasonably find a TR-3 or TR-4 (or variant) unless you won a lottery. Likewise anything Austin-Healy. The last time any normal human who is not Jay Leno could afford a Healy 3000 was... like before 2000 (maybe?).

Likewise the much older MGs. Anyone who is not made of money simply can't find or afford them, not even in poor condition.

So not really much of a story, IMO.
sclin10
Instructor

Wow, somebody got out of the wrong side of the bed!
Tinkerah
Engineer

And is confusing market movement with feature similarity.
mandybeedandy
New Driver

I'd throw in the Sunbeam Tiger.
Backseatdriver
Pit Crew

I used to joke about my ‘72 TR6 being obsolete when it was brand new. By that, I meant that the engine block and cylinder head had been “Seasoned”. So the rumour goes: engine blocks and heads were cast out of poor quality iron back in the day. This produced internal stresses that could cause warping and cracking. To combat this, these pieces were laced out in a field in a North-South orientation, for several years ( thereby supporting my claim that a brand TR6 was old or obsolete right out of the factory). This exposure to the elements and the polar alignment, supposedly relieved the iron of its internal stresses.

What gave this away was the results I got from machining valve seats, boring the cylinders and grinding casting flanges smooth. I had a hell of a time with my tools and die grinder, but when I was done, the surfaces that were finally machined, looked like they were chrome plated! I did some reading and found that this seasoning process had much to do with this result. It turns out that the iron molecules where brought into magnetic alignment making a brickwork-like matrix that stitched the molecules together making a stronger chunk of iron.

I read also that Rolls-Royce did the same for their aircraft engines during WW 2.

Tinkerah
Engineer

I love learning about innovative manufacturing techniques but tying up inventory for years to reduce casting stresses? I've done no research so will not call BS but had shot peening not been invented yet? We had a '73 TR6 in the family for awhile and the ONLY things that never gave us any trouble were the engine and...electric system.
toy83h2ssj53
Intermediate Driver

Long many years ago, I read an article, (with pix), about Mercedes Benz putting their blocks out in the weather to "season" them. I don't remember the time spent, but it was definitely through the winter.
Tinkerah
Engineer

After a bit of Googling and reading I'm not the only skeptic, and you're not the only one who recalls seeing photos even though no one has been able to unearth any. Myth: plausible.

denali94
Intermediate Driver

Glad you called this a rumor for in almost fifty years of twisting wrenches on five TR6's we have owned (one since new and is still in the garage) and reading everything I could find on these cars, I have never heard this "seasoning" story. Not saying it is not true but if it is, I missed it. As Tinkerah said I have never had an engine issue - discounting the one time a piece of debris punctured the oil pan which led to a small problem with the mains.
PinkChicken
New Driver

I knew my lowly Spitfire wouldn't make the list!
greatscott73
Intermediate Driver

I'd take a Spitfire over any that did make the list...
elvacarsdallas
Intermediate Driver

Hey, what about the 1958 to1963
Elva Couriers? They had mostly BMC engines, a Firm ride and no rust with a glas body. I know, there were only about 600 or so made. That was where McLaren started.
( I am the only orginal Hasting built Courier) I still have fun with it.
thomas_w11
Pit Crew

I always was a fan of the unloved child, the Jensen-Harley. With today’s possibilities to improve the mechanical side of the car like oils, dampers and so on the Jensen-Harley is a real roadster with the right power to weight ratio.
sclin10
Instructor

"Jensen-Harley"? Was that a combination sports car and motorcycle?
thomas_w11
Pit Crew

Sorry, auto corrected BS.
Should have checked it before posting.
sclin10
Instructor

I've always loved the TR6 with the oversized wheels.
Dhturk
Intermediate Driver

Back in the 70’s, one of the guys in our dorm had a 71 Triumph 250. He’d constantly berate TR6’s to whomever would listen, including TR6 owners. It’s been a long time since then. So to those in the know, remind me what’s the difference between the two (they looked the same to me)?
Dhturk
Intermediate Driver

I’m guessing on the year of his car since I don’t remember. It was early 70’s or late 60’s.

MGVman
Intermediate Driver

The TR250 had the TR4-styled body with the carbureted TR6 engine and drivetrain that was sold in North America. The same car with fuel injection sold in the UK as the TR5. The TR6 replaced them with the Michelotti updated body with revised front and rear.
GC
Intermediate Driver

The TR250, or TR5 in the UK, basically looked like a TR4 with a horizontal stripe across the nose as I recall, but had the 6cyl engine instead of the TR4's 4 cyl.

Not as pretty as the TR6 in my opinion. Loved the look and sound of the TR6, and always thought I would buy one, but bought a new 240Z instead.
wdb
Advanced Driver

TR250 weighed 200+ lbs. less than the TR6. Those gigantic wheels and tires everyone loves on the TR6 wreaked havoc on the handling with their massive addition to unsprung weight. In other words your TR250 owning friend did have some legit gripes.

TR6 had a roomier, nicer interior and was arguably a better looking design. That design was also far more popular, which allowed British Leyland to continue building what was essentially a 1950's chassis and drivetrain all the way through the 1970's.
Scamersaxe
Pit Crew

It looks like the MG Midget was left out! Man that thing was so small, that sitting in the driver's seat, I could roll down the passenger side window and adjust the mirror on that side. But it was great, it was a (barley) street legal formula V car. Such a fun ride, but like everything British it was high maintenance.
Keep Driving.
FloridaMarty
Instructor

I too had a '79 midget back in '86, it was a fun car, and didn't really have many problems. Pageant blue with saddle interior. I replaced the carpet and top and the starter. That 's pretty much what I spent on repairs. One day I was cruising at 60 on the highway and saw my face's reflection in the chrome center cap of a semi's trailer wheel, was when I decided the thing was just too small and too low. Fun though.
KwikDraw
Intermediate Driver

I started driving in a 1971 MG Midget. And later had a 1976 Triumph Spitfire. I immensely enjoyed both. I know all the old jokes about the electrical problems and I have heard of complaints about mechanical problems. But I never had any problems with my cars. I bought them used and then drove them for about 7 years each. I always felt like if you take care of a car, it will keep running without any serious problems. Which leads me to my Corvette story, but I will save that story for a more appropriate day and time.