MGB - the modern classic

Launched in September 1962 the new 1798cc MGB Roadster caused a sensation when the car first appeared. The MGB had a shorter wheelbase than the MGA which it replaced and an altogether more squat appearance which produced a sportscar which was immediately attractive to the eye - and many decades later it has remained a timeless design. As the first monocoque MG sportscar it was also a wonderful example of neat packaging - even with the shorter length it was a spacious car giving more legroom, wider seats and cockpit width, luggage space in both the boot and behind the seats and an engine bay which provided extraordinary access. With the upright grille the generous space in front of the radiator anticipated larger future engine options. In those early days many features we think of as standard today were extras - a fresh-air heater, oil cooler, front anti-roll bar and even a folding hood! There was a choice of wheels with 14 inch steel disc bolt-ons or optional wire wheels. In Britain the basic price of an MGB was £950 with tax which compared very favourably with the Sunbeam Alpine at £695, the Triumph TR4 at £750 and the Healey 3000 MkII at £865.

As the MGB had been in production from June 1962, good stock levels meant deliveries got underway following the public launch so the pipeline to the important North American markets was well stocked. All but two of the first 500 cars were earmarked for North America to maintain their position in that important market. With
its familiar MG independent front suspension arrangement and a live rear axle on inclined cart springs, the handling and ride were well received by the press. Any disappointment it did not have an independent rear suspension set up was understandable as it could have achieved significant improvements in handling and ride quality. In fact Abingdon had intended the MGB to have IRS but the additional costs of resolving problems at a late stage during testing of an IRS set up meant they reverted to the conventional live axle.

In 1965 a coupe or GT version was launched and described with the licence common with marketing departments as a "two plus two" but in reality only agile and trim ladies could limbo dance into the "rear seat"! But the MGBGT with its tailgate was an immediate success - again it looked just right. The model was given the more robust Salisbury rear axle and a front anti-roll bar as standard.

Shortly after the launch of the MGB in 1962 a hardtop was available as an option. Many detailed changes followed over the next decade the change from a 3 to 5 bearing engine in 1964, the upgrade to the MkII in 1967, the loss of the attractive grille surround and its replacement with the controversial recessed matt grille in September 1969 and later the welcome revival of the polished alloy surround. A major change in 1974 was the introduction of the "black bumpers" for the 1975 model year to meet US federal impact regulations. Finally the sad announcement in September 1979 of the end of MG manufacture at Abingdon came and then the gates finally closed in October 1980.

Two MGBs with more muscle were built as it was clear to the design team at Abingdon the monocoque structure could handle more performance - the MGC in both Roadster and GT forms (1967-69) and later the MGBGTV8 (1973-76). Later in the 1990s the "MGB Roadster shell" reappeared as the MG RV8 using bodyshells produced by BMH bodyplant, then located at Faringdon.

Today the MGB is still generally seen as the most practical classic sportscar you can buy with its perennial good looks, driver appeal and ease of maintenance for the enthusiast. Roadsters are much sought after by MGB enthusiasts and prices for good examples are significantly higher than for GTs.
MGB facts
Produced: 1962 to 1980
Bodywork: Two door open sports Roadster and GT.
Engine: Four cylinder in line pushrod OHV "B" series 1798cc engine with twin SU HS4 to 1973 and then SU HIF4 carburettors producing 98bhp.
0-60 mph: 12.1 to 12.9 secs (Roadster) and 12.9 to 14.0 secs (GT)
Top speed: 103 - 105 mph.
Fuel consumption: 26-28 mpg
Production: Produced from1962 to 1980.
Specification: Discs brakes at the front and drums at the back, 14 inch steel disc bolt-on or wire wheels, a four speed gearbox and an optional overdrive (standardised June 1975). A Borg Warner 35 automatic gearbox was available as an option from 1967 to 1973.
Number produced: A total of 489,480 cars were produced in Roadster (367,362 or 75%) and GT (122,118 or 25%) forms, with NN% of production exported to the North American market. Some 22.9% were MkI cars (111,987) and 77.1% MkII (377,493) cars.
Spares availability: The spares suppliers are very active so the majorty of parts are replaceable but in some cases quality is a concern. Heritage replacement bodyshells and panels with improved corrosion resistance are available from BMH Witney.
Garage fit? L 12ft 9" (3.89m) x W 5ft 0" (1.52m) x H 4ft 1" (1.27m).
Roadsters CB: £12,000 to £8,000
GTs CB: £1,000 to £6,000
Roadsters RB: £1,000 to £6,000
GTs RB: £750 to £4,000

More MGB information and support

So you want to buy an MGB?
Definitive buying guide published in the July 2007 issue of Safety Fast! This article includes an authoritative account of the development and production of the MGB at Abingdon by Don Hayter. More

Brochures and adverts for the MGB and MGBGT
MGBGT brochure. More
MGBGT adverts to remember. More

MGB Tech Tips & Workshop Notes
Links to our MGB tech tips and workshop notes and workshop notes providing useful maintenance and spares tips. More

MGB seat refurbishment
A useful article from Richard Searle published in the March 2009 issue of Safety Fast! More

Waxoyling an MGB
A two part article first published in Safety Fast! in December 1982. More

Upgrading from twin 6v to a single 12v battery
Guide to several 12v battery conversion options. More

Which brake fluid?
A comprehensive article from Bob Owen on mineral and silicone brake fluids published in the January 2009 issue of Safety Fast! More

MGB Tech Tips
See the general, electrical and mechanical tech tips on the MGB Register website. More

Barrie's Notes - Maintaining an MGB
Barrie Jones, well known to MGB enthusiasts, has released this neat 82 page A5 sized publication. It has a wealth of information and tips on maintaining an MGB. The contents pages run to three and half pages and are reproduced to give you an idea of the topics covered in the book. More
Rebuild references. More

MGB Register - MG Car Club
MGB Register - MG Car Club - the leading group for MGB enthusiasts