|The MGB turns 50!As much as we love our sleek and exciting American classics, the quirky, sporty Italian numbers and various other Marques, here at The CVVC Directory we do reserve our ultimate soft spots for the great British classics, especially the MGB. This classic British Icon is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, with a variety of events culminating in a magnificent birthday party at the stunning Blenheim Palace on Sunday 23rd September organised jointly by The MG Car Club and the MG Owners Club – for more info see www.mgb50.com|
The MGB managed to define the era of the 1960’s British roadster, becoming the most popular choice for many drivers looking for a comparatively inexpensive sports car and retaining its popularity both at home and throughout the US through to the end of its production life in 1980. The MGB was produced at MG’s Abingdon factory, and introduced by MG in 1962 to replace the MGA as a modern, 4 cylinder roadster. Modifications during the 60’s included a coupe with 2+2 seating in 1965 and a 6 cylinder version in 1967.
The initial design of the MGB was a modern monocoque or unitary (body and chassis forming a single unit) structure instead of the more common place body on frame technique used on earlier MG’s and the Triumph TRs. Initially the MGB was a 2 seat open roadster with removable soft top and square body styling not dissimilar to the Midget. The fixed roof MGB GT which appeared in 1965 was designed by Pininfarina in the sporty hatchback style, giving ample storage space and utility as well as the sportier styling of the coupe. Designed with more driver safety in mind than its predecessors, the MGB was one of the first cars to feature purpose built ‘crumple zones’ to protect driver and passengers in a collision.
Press reception to the original launch was very positive about the cars innovative design and speeds of 100mph + and a 0-60 mph of around 11 seconds. Later regulations in the UK and US meant heavier bumpers (when rubber replaced chrome) and reduced horsepower; which combined with other factors had quite an impact on performance. Handling was fun but reliable, and both the press and public enthused on its ‘drivers car’ qualities.
The MKII arrived in 1967, again in soft top and fixed roof, GT forms. The new model had a better set of ratios, and a new transmission, which meant MG could offer it as manual or automatic transmission. In the same year the MGC was released, which although based on the MGB was not in fact nearly as well received; possible due to a lukewarm reception from the press, and the model only survived until 1969. Various small restyles’ followed, until a major revamp in 1973, which introduced the V8 engine and created the MGB GT V8. This lightweight, good performance engine combined with MGB with relatively little modification, and created a car which performed well, was economically sound and handled beautifully, but this model was also shortlived, surviving only until 1976, ostensibly due to limited supplies of the V8 engine. The absorption of the MG marque by The British Motor Corporation Ltd, later taken over by the Leyland Motor Corporation and eventually becoming British Leyland, meant that during BL’s part nationalisation and dramatic restricting, Abingdon was unfortunately closed down, and the MG marque let go, for a time at least. The last car built at Abingdon was an MGB, finally finishing in 1980.
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