How to Identify your ‘Australian’ MGB
• Serial Numbers
• Original invoice
• Registration papers
• Other places to search
After 50 years, a number of owners, modifications, lack of documentation, imported vehicles, the fact that original records were disposed of by Leyland and the somewhat quirky Australian numbering system, it becomes harder to be certain as to the pedigree of a particular vehicle.
Firstly, for those not aware, let’s break down what all those numbers and letters can tell us
Explanation of the symbols
Car Serial Number
Let’s take a look at a typical serial number – YGHN3 – 1628
Y this is an Australian CKD (completely knocked down) vehicle
G this is an MG
H this vehicle contains a ‘B’ series engine
N this vehicle is a two-seater
3 this vehicle is the 3rd series
1628 this is the vehicle’s serial number.
YGHN3 = MGB Mk I (also MGA 1600 Mk II!)
YGHN4 = MGB Mk II O/D. These were made concurrently with the last YGHN3 cars into 1968. It is suggested that 256 of these were produced
YGHN5 & YHN5 = MGB Mk II O/D. From January 1969. Some later in the run were stamped ‘YHN5’, with the ‘G’ omitted for reasons unclear.
YHN6 = MGB Mk II Non-overdrive cars. (Only about 360 in total).
YHN7 = MGB Mk II Automatic transmission
YHN9 = MGB facelift (also termed ‘MGBL’ in Australia)
YHN10 = MGB facelift (‘MGBL’) Automatic transmission
The engine number is stamped directly onto the RH side of the cylinder block just below the cylinder head joint-face. (this was an Australian practice, as opposed to the riveted plate elsewhere in the world)
Where identification plates or compliance plates are fitted, the engine number is included in addition to being stamped on the block.
Explanation of the symbols
Let’s take a typical example 18GA/U/H 1573
18 this signifies that the engine is 1800 cc
G this signifies that it’s for an MG
A this is the series identification
U this signifies centre gear change (R for overdrive, A for automatic transmission)
H this signifies ‘high compression’
1573 this is the engine number
NB. Engines used:
18G/18GA/18GB/18GD,used with GHN4 and GHD4 series/18GG, used with GHN5 and GHD5 series.
These identification plates were deleted from vehicles produced from approximately mid-’69 until Jan ’70. For this period, the serial number was stamped onto the LH side of the bulkhead shelf in the engine compartment.
Commencing 1970 production, in addition to the stamped number, Vehicle Compliance Plates were fitted. The serial number, date of manufacture, seating capacity and the numbers of the Australian Design Rules incorporated in the vehicle, are shown on this plate which is fixed to the oil cooler support panel in front of the radiator.
The gearbox number is stamped on the top of the gearbox casing adjacent to the dipstick.
The identification plates fitted to the Mk I and early Mk II vehicles included details of paint finish. From mid ’69, when these plates were deleted, the paint details were indicated on a label located on the inside of the RH guard valance. Be aware that many of the paints were unique to Australian vehicles (see Paint Codes).
The numbers before and after the paint colour name can be quite confusing. Using the ID plate below,
you can see that it is 1/ SAPHIRE BLUE /3
first numeral – type of paint (1 = enamel, 2 = lacquer, 4 = acrylic enamel)
second numeral – manufacturer (1 = Balm Paints, 2 = Lusteroid, 3 = Berger, 4 = Brolite, 5 = Taubmans, 6 = Spartan)
Therefore, the car above was painted using enamel paint, in the colour of SAPHIRE BLUE, supplied by Berger
So, what do you do with this information?
As mentioned in the beginning, Leyland, in all their wisdom, disposed of all production records. Some visionary staff, realising their historical importance, managed to retrieve some of these important records. However, the records are incomplete; original Zetland staff are getting older and with the passing of time, a lot of this information has become lost. This website is making attempts to fill in as many gaps as possible to give owners/enthusiasts as close an approximation to the position where a specific car fitted into the production line (see Production details).
“Oh, to have one of these!” If you are fortunate enough to have, or have the opportunity to acquire such a record, all of your questions about the provenance of a vehicle should be answered. Unfortunately, hen’s teeth are easier to find.
Original Registration Papers
In some states, it is possible to have an archival search done for a small charge (Vic-$16)
UK and US produced MGB’s production details are able to be verified by obtaining a Heritage certificate from British Motor Heritage Ltd.
The British Motor Museum: Banbury Road, Gaydon, WARWICKSHIRE, CV35 OBJ, United Kingdom
Tel: 44 01926 641188 Email: https://www.britishmotormuseum.co.uk/archive/heritage-certificates
Unfortunately (and possibly inexplicably), all CKD kits sent to Australia were not recorded by BMC. Therefore it would be a waste of money to seek production verification from this source. Some people have been given ‘approximations’ by referring to engine numbers etc. but this can never be conclusive.
Other places to search
Be aware, the information that follows can only be AN APPROXIMATION and should not be used to reach conclusions about production dates.
Windscreen wiper motors have a date stamped on them. It can be a reasonable assumption that if you add xxx weeks for shipping, you can be reasonably sure that a vehicle was not assembled before that date (provided it is the original wiper motor). Be aware though that these items were all placed in a bin and it is not impossible that a particular part kept falling to the bottom of the bin, thereby minimizing its usefulness as an indicator.
Many other items, such as starter motors, alternators, etc. also show dates of manufacture that can assist in placing a vehicle in its historical position (above provisos apply).
Transition from MkI to MkII
One of our readers (who goes by the name of ‘Pooch2’ on another website) prepared the following explanation of what he had found when looking for a ’67/’68 mgb:
Different gearbox tunnels
The two photos attached give you an idea of what we are talking about when we refer to the different gearbox tunnels…
The Confusing years – 1967 -’69
Once again we are grateful to Tom Aczel for preparing the following explanation of the difference between vehicles produced over this 3-year period…
the confusing years
The following attachment is EXACTLY what I hoped this website would achieve. Not only does it solve one of the mysteries about the Australian assembled mgbs but also gives the reader a really good insight into a) the knowledge that is stored in the heads of people who were there (which we could lose if not recorded) and b) the knowledge and keenness of enthusiasts who hold an amazing ability to synthesize all this information for everyone’s benefit. We are all grateful!
The following article was produced and sent in by Stuart Ratcliff (president, MG Car Club (Sydney)…
MGB ID Article
BMC PRODUCTION DETAILS
The following two attachments highlight details about some of the vehicles assembled in Australia. The second attachment appears to be derived from the first attachment. Note: the correct heading for the last column is ‘Delivery Date’, NOT ‘Date Finished’ as in the second attachment. Evidently, these details were compiled from registration of Warranty cards returned to BMC/Leyland from the dealers. Also note that with the second attachment, you have to deduct 4 from all years stated.
Australian MGB Production Records-1 (2)
Production Details – MGCCC-1 (2)