Oh the MGB, the last great British Sports car?
A motor that refused to die even though British Leyland simply couldn’t stop messing around with it. The MGB is an example of a car that went from one of the most loved and lovable cars in British motoring, to what many describe as an empty husk broken and bent for legislation purposes. But the MGB would have its way in the end!
The story behind the MGB begins in 1962, when the car was designed to incorporate an innovative, modern style utilizing a monocoque structure instead of the traditional body-on-frame construction used on both the MGA and MG T-types and the MGB’s rival, the Triumph TR series. However components such as brakes and suspension were developments of the earlier 1955 MGA with the B-Series engine having its origins in 1947. The lightweight design reduced manufacturing costs while adding to overall vehicle strength. Wind-up windows were standard, and a comfortable driver’s compartment offered plenty of legroom. A parcel shelf was fitted behind the seats.
The car was powered by a BMC B-Series engine, producing 95hp and giving the car a 0-60 of 11 seconds, perhaps not the briskest acceleration, but of course this car was more a comfy little cruiser, ambling about the countryside in sedate fashion admiring the views. The MGB was also one of the first cars to feature controlled crumple zones designed to protect the driver and passenger in a 30 mph impact with an immovable barrier (200 ton).
The roadster was the first of the MGB range to be produced. The body was a pure two-seater but a small rear seat was a rare option at one point. By making better use of space the MGB was able to offer more passenger and luggage accommodation than the earlier MGA while 3 inches shorter overall. The suspension was also softer, giving a smoother ride, and the larger engine gave a slightly higher top speed. The four-speed gearbox was an uprated version of the one used in the MGA with an optional (electrically activated) overdrive transmission. Wheel diameter dropped from 15 to 14 inches.
Upon its launch the MGB was given almost unanimous acclaim, largely due to its advanced and innovative design combined with its beautifully and sleek styling. Previous sports cars of the same calibre had always been levied with a reputation for their ropey nature, with a majority of previous models being simply remodelled versions of the MG’s and Triumphs that dated back to the end of and in some cases even before World War II. But the MG was different, and if I’m honest, a large part of its appeal is due to its small, low body, and it’s poky round headlights that make it look rather cute. It’s the kind of car you could give a name, preferably a girl’s one. Either way, the MGB sold in hundreds, disappearing off to all corners of the globe, touring the South of France, storming across the deserts …