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Engine paint color

Posted by PRC79MGB 
Paul Cummings
Olean, NY, USA   usa

The engine in my 79B is red (after I cleaned all the grundge off). Is this the factory color with a british green body color? I would like to keep it close to the correct color or maybe then I just may spray it black.

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lbcnut Avatar
James Woolf
NC, USA   usa
1964 MG MGB

Factory color was black for a 79, no matter what color the exterior was.
cfrench Avatar
Carl W. French
alfred, Maine, USA   usa

The car may have either an earlier engine or a previous owner may have resprayed it in either MGB Maroon or TD red or anything else he had laying around that day. Blakc would be correct BUT there is something about the red/maroon color that increases it's vintageness? or Britishness?

Then of course there is John Moore and 'Ole Greenie' smiling smiley

Carl W. French
Alfred, Maine
Southern Maine LBC welfare shelter
67B will be in our will
73BGT Daily driver
73BGT Wife's car
Many more that change often

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Jim Barker
Northeast, IL, USA   usa
1970 MG MGB GT "The Bearcar"

I agree, the Maroon or the Green engines somehow exude a classic, more vintage appearance than the black, but it really all depends upon what style you prefer to display.
PaulM Avatar
Paul McLaren
Lower Mainland BC, Canada   can
1968 MG MGB
1970 MG MGB "Miss Lou"
1970 MG MGB "Dolly"

Does it have the engine number on it? It is probably a High Compession.

In I think Nov. of 71 the colour was changed to black.

Paul McLaren

1969 MGC GT
1970 MGB Roadster
1970 MGB Roadster
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sailadams Avatar
Larry Adams
Atlanta, GA, USA   usa
1967 MG MGB GT "Jose The GT"
1969 MG MGB "Raggedy (Ann) Roadster"

PRC79MGB Wrote:
Quote: The engine in my 79B is red (after I cleaned all the grundge off). Is this the factory color with a british green body color? I would like to keep it close to the correct color or maybe then I just may spray it black.

Well... that's just wrong.
Or maybe you have an 18GG or earlier motor. But body color doesn't matter.
Then again the motor on my '69 18GD motor, in what was originally a racing green body, is also bright red, with mg maroon valve cover and air filter covers, so maybe I am totally and completely mistaken, and perhaps this is a complementary colour combo devised by Morris Garage to keep us confused but happy?
ingoldsb Avatar
Terry Ingoldsby
Calgary, Alberta, Canada   can
1971 MG MGB

It was red up to the 18GK engine, black after that (18V). The exception were the Gold Seal engines supplied as factory warranty engines. I believe they were gold. I got a gold seal transmission and it was sprayed gold.

Terry Ingoldsby
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Paul J Avatar
Paul Jennings
Locust Grove, ok, USA   usa

PRC79MGB Wrote:
Quote: The engine in my 79B is red (after I cleaned all the grundge off). Is this the factory color with a british green body color? I would like to keep it close to the correct color or maybe then I just may spray it black.

It depends whether you want to restore it as factory original or just anything that suits your taste. The original color is BLACK! ALL 18V engines were black. All previous MGB engines were red / maroon, depending on the year. A red engine in a 79, is like putting your shoes on the wrong feet, it just doesn't fit. Of course you can do anything to the engine compartment you like, as this fellow did by installing a V12 in his. I don't think it would do well in a concourse judging though.

Paul Cummings
Olean, NY, USA   usa

Well thanks for all the replies. One side of the block has stamped pretty large 1800 cc while the other side has these #'s.

I don't have a clue as to what these all mean. So if anyone else can tell me that would be great. BTW, the oil pan is black but the block is maroon. It would be nice to know the exact engine cause I need to order a bunch of gaskets and other parts. Thank you

Derek up North Avatar
Derek Nicholson
Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada   can
1961 MG MGA

I'm sure that the people at MG didn't give a second thought to what colour the engine was. It's only relatively recently that they've started using stylists under the bonnet. By all means, paint it any colour you want, if it matters to you. Healey green, pink for your wife or colour co-ordinated with your favorite beer (Strawberry Wheat). My preference for my '73 is the original black (also correct for your your car) with polished (very occasionally) alloy bits. But I'm not out to WOW Martha Stewart while trying to get votes at a car show. I just want presentable and (occasionally) clean so I can work on the car without getting too dirty.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/04/2007 08:00AM by Derek up North.
Paul Cummings
Olean, NY, USA   usa

Ok but what about the year of the engine? It doesn't appear to be an 18V engine.

I have decided on basic black for engine color, nothing fancy just clean.

Paul Cummings
Olean, NY, USA   usa

Well I guess I was wrong. I found the tag, it reads 18V890AEL008609. What do all these #'s mean?

Derek70mgb Avatar
Derek Gale
Victoria bc, Canada   can
1970 MG MGB

copied this from the library section . Might help

MGB 'B' Series Engines.

Prefix Main Bearings Model Market Date if known

18G Three Mk1, GHN3/D3 All Oct 1962/64

18GA ,, Mk1, GHN3/D3 ,, April 1964/Oct 64

18GB Five Mk1, GHN3/D3 ,, Oct 1964/67

18GD ,, Mk2, GHN4/D4 UK/Europe Oct 1967/69

18GF ,, Mk2, GHN4/D4 USA Oct 1967/69

18GG ,, Mk2, GHN5/D5 UK/Europe Oct 1969/71

18GH ,, Mk2, GHN5/D5 Europe Oct 1969/70

18GJ ,, Mk2, GHN5/D5 USA Oct 1969/70

18GK ,, Mk2, GHN5/D5 USA Oct 1970/71

18V ,, Mk3, GHN5/D5 *** Oct 1971 onwards.

***18V was followed by a code which indicates such things as exhaust emission control, evaporative loss control, etc, for the USA market; overdrive, carburetter crankcase ventilation, etc for the UK and Europe markets. If there is a 'Y' in the prefix, it is a Europe spec engine; if a 'F' a UK spec engine; if a 'Z' a North American spec engine, and if an 'AE' ( after 1975) this indicates a catalytic converter, Californian spec engine. You need to see the workshop manual, as it gets very complex. Luckily, the UK spec hardly changed from the 18GG, through the black painted 18V, to the end. 18V engines have casting number 12H3503 on the block.

MGB Cylinder Heads.( UK Specifications only.)

1962 to 1970 part number 12H1326, 18G, 18GA,18GB,18GD, 18GG.

all with double valve springs, and inlet valve 1.562" dia.

1970 to 1975 part number 12H2708, 18V 581, 582, 584, 779, 780.

all with single valve springs, and inlet valve 1.625" dia.

Oct 1975 on part number 12H4735, 18V 846, 847, all with single

valve springs, 1.562" inlet valve, and offset oil feed hole to the rocker's.

Note that the BL 1800, from 1968 to 1975, used a 1.625" dia inlet valve, and that its equivalent 18H ( to the MGB/Marina 18V,) used double valve springs, and is identical to that used on the MGB 1971 to 1974. The 12H1326 heads are prone to cracking between ports, inspect carefully. The small inlet valve was re-introduced in 1975 to make the engine comply with EEC 15 Exhaust Emission Regulations.

Paul Cummings
Olean, NY, USA   usa

The block does have the 12H3503 so at least I can presume it is an 18V engine but there is no way of telling the year? Thanx

Joe Mac
USA   usa

I want to paint my '69 MGB GT engine block in the original color. Does anyone have the correct color name and/or paint code number? Also, can you recommend an online dealer for this item?
Thanks, Joe
Swamperca Avatar
Swamper CA
-, Nor Cal, USA   usa
1968 MG MGC GT
1968 MG MGC GT "California Chrome"
1969 MG MGB GT "Rat"
1969 MG MGC GT "C-Rod"
1970 MG MGB GT "Widow"   → more

Maroon looks great, but it probably came black.
Paul Erslev
Annapolis, MD, USA   usa
1969 MG MGB "Betsy"

Joe, Advance Auto has the paint. It's a Ford truck dark red color. Someone here probably has the Code. Or, Moss has the paint, but at a higher price.
pburchins Avatar
Patrick B
Atlanta, GA, USA   usa
1976 MG MGB "Spalding"


You can tell the dates of the top and bottom of the engines by the stampings on them. On the passenger side of the engine blook for a marking that looks like the first photo attached below. This is called the casting clock. There are three positions on the clock at 8 o'clock, Noon, and at 4 o'clock. The 8 o'clock position represents the month of the year. A=Jan, B=Feb, Etc. The Noon position on the clock is day of the month. The 4 o'clock position = last digit of year. I believe that the 60's engine were double digit. So, in the picture below, the date the block was cast was April 9th, 1976. Compare that to the built on date on the plate on the frame inside the drivers door. My car was born in May of 1976. So, I believe that the block is original to my car being cast about a month prior to the car being built.

Of course, your engine head could be completely different than the bottom of your engine in case they had to put a new head on it. If you go to this link you will be able to figure out what head you have on the top of your engine. The head on the top of my engine block was from 1972-1974-1/2 because I found these numbers stamped on it....12H2923 with AFIH under it. I believe that just because it was stamped with this number it is not an indication that the head was created then. This was almost like a model number for the head. Kind of like my Winchester Model 1894 .32 special lever action rifle was actually built in 1950 not 1894. I hope I have explained it correctly. If not, I am sure I will be corrected. spinning smiley sticking its tongue out

Best of luck!


NOTE: For some reason, in course of uploading the photo the Clock Stamp in the photo has rotated clockwise. The number 9 is actually in the Noon Position on my photo. Strange, why it did that.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/13/2011 02:20AM by pburchins.

IMG_0185.JPG (33.2 KB) –

Speedracer Avatar
Hap Waldrop
Greenville, SC, USA   usa
1967 MG MGB "The Biscuit"

In reply to a post by PRC79MGB It would be nice to know the exact engine cause I need to order a bunch of gaskets and other parts. Thank you


Paul, not a big deal, not much changed in them as for parts over the years in the 5 main engine. Bottom end gasket sets are all the same, only difference in the head gasket set is the type of carb/s you have, the 5 main oil pumps are all the same, F&R seal are the same. later cars came with a single row timing chains and gears but can be converted to a double row, and both take the same chain tensioner, the early cars had the big angled rods and take 3/8 rod bolts, while all the straight rod engine take the 11/32" rod bolts, earlier straight rods are bushed for floating pins, later rod pressed fit, a quick look at the piston to see if it has the circlip or not will solve that mystery, early head heads had wide groove keppers and a clip on the top of the valve reatier, later engine have a narrow groove keeper and no clip on the top of the retainer, water pump changed over the years, earlier cars had a water pump with a long snout on them and deep pulley, where cars later had the short snout water pump and the shallower pulley, later cars had a larger diameter harmonic balancer than the earlier cars, but it all interchangable. If you are rebuilding and need help with parts for the engine, I can help and will make sure you the right parts at the right price. I work with this stuff hands-on everyday and know it like the back of my hand.

As for engine color, you should do what you want, if you want originality, then it was black for that year model, but it's your car so you can do what you want. Im starting on build for a 74 MGB engine right now, it would have been black too, but the customer and myself talked about it, and orginality was not a big issue for him, and we decided on MG marooon, I think that color looks alot better than black, and most of us are not going to enter concourse judged shows, so we should make these cars what we want.

Joe, the color alot of use for the MG maroon is Duplicolor Perfect Match Dark Canyon Red, I have the part number at the shop, but it has documented here many times. It actually alot better paint than the Moss paint, the big gripe I have about the Moss paint is the dry time, and sometimes it never completely dries, I had tons of problems with Moss MG red, not so much with the Big healey met green or the Sprite/Midget olvie green.

Hap Waldrop
Acme Speed Shop
Performance Street/Race engines- modified heads, and DIY engine rebuilt kits
New alloy wheels options for MGBs, see vendors forum for details.,2657584
Be sure to check my engine rebuild kit thread in the Vendors forum for weekly tips.,1828263

Member Services:
MG/ Triumph Performance Street/Race Engines - Cylinder Head Porting - Modified SU HS Carbs - DIY Engine Rebuild Kits With Tech Advice - Alloy wheels for MGB/TR6
hunter shaw
tx, USA   usa

I find it odd that there are not rebuild kits with everything needed for the top end and lower end or total overhaul. It is sort of tricky to pick through the catalog and remember all the pieces you need. Has anyone every constructed a Parts list? Is Moss or Victoria better for parts?
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