The MGB – Iconic Classic Car of the 1960s and 1970s
The MGB was launched by MG cars in May 1962. It followed on from the MGA and it was intended that it should be a much more modern ‘squarer’ design. The initial model was a four cylinder roadster however in 1965 A coupe version was introduced, the MGB GT. The latter became an iconic classic car very quickly and was produced throughout the 1970s, until 1980, 15 years after its launch. Thet was the end of all MGBs as the car plant was closed by the Tory government during their privatisation campaign whish killed off a large portion of the UK motor industry amongst other things. At the time of closure, MG was a separate entity under the umbrella of British Leyland. With the huge outcry about the loss of the classic MG marque, the fat cats at BL realised that they should hang onto the name. And so it has continued but not as a corporate entity.
When it was launched, the press loved it. Its performance and handling (plus the luxury touches of having windows that wound up and down and a glove box) were high for the times and it was able to surpass the 100mph barrier without feeling as if it were about to explode. The press hype undoubtedly helped create its iconic status and The MGB became the highest selling MG ever built. It was not just popular in the UK, an estimated 500,000 were exported to the USA.
The USA wasn’t the only overseas market, MGBs were assembled in Australia. Almost half of the parts were shipped out from the UK and it was that fact that put paid to production down under when the Australian government altered their protectionist policy as cars assembled ther needed to be 85% locally produced or face crippling tax duties. Still, over the 9 year period, about 1000 Aussie MGBs were made each year.
The MGB has spawned a wide range of merchandising, for example, coffee mugs, keyrings and the usual model cars. We had a quick look on Amazon and found the following …
The MGB was a long time on the drawing board. It was originally intended to be A closed car however, the initial version was a monocoque roadster. The original engine was a previous production model that had been used since the early 1950s in its predecessor, the MGA, but re-bored to a larger capacity or 1.8 litres for a bit of an extra kick. Until 1967, the gearbox was a bit of a pain as there was no synchromesh on first, however that was rectified and the MGB was fitted with the fully synchromeshed ‘box of the MGC. A bit overengineered but effective. Overdrive was an option. The design itself definitely moved away from the classic rounded shape that had been popular with post war sports car designers, the line of the wigns followed through right to the tail end of this classic car. Despite being shorter, there was more passenger room in the MGB than the MGA and more luggage room too, which made it a great touring 2 seater. Technically, the car moved away from the chassis supported design to a monocoque design. That gives a better power to weight ratio with no compromise in strength.
The Coupe version, the MGB GT is classed as a 2+2 seater, although anyone other than a child (or a shortarse) who has travelled any distance in the back of this stylish classic car might dispute that. Still, it was useful for the extra bit of luggage. A couple of thousand well beefed up V8 versions were produced between ’73 and ’76.
Through the production lifetime of the MGB, there were 3 ‘Marks’ and 4 phases, only the ‘Mark II’ was an official designation. The final phase of production was the Rubber Bumber phase. The eponymous bumpers were actually a polyurethane resin and steel composite. Most of the changes that mark each phase were introduced to suit legislation in the large US market and the rest were generally fairly cosmetic.
If you are thinking of buying an MGB, here are some books from Amazon that may be of interest …