The MGB debuted in 1962 and remained in production for 18 years until finally coming to an end in 1980. Over 9,000 Australian assembled MGBs were built from 1963 until a change in government taxing policy led to the closure of the line in 1972. MG Cars built the roadster coupe as a two-seat car first and then in 1965 added the 2+2 format.
The novelty of design for the MGB, as well as its modern race car looks, was that it was constructed as a monocoque shell. The design was of its time, with an elongated bonnet, prominent rounded wing with inset headlights, chrome trim windscreen, and short rounded boot with tail fins and wrap around chrome bumpers.
Throughout its history, there were a number of modifications. The MkII, in 1967, saw many alterations to the interior with a new foam/plastic dashboard being added. Bringing out the MkIII in 1972 incorporated alterations to the front end with a redesigned grille, the inclusion of rubber bumpers, and raised suspension to lift up the headlights for safety reasons.
The company also produced a MGB Grand Tourer in 1965 and employed the talents of Pininfarina to give it a distinctive athletic, coupe style. The MGB GT featured a right angled rear bench that created more legroom and luggage space in the hatchback. The ultimate in the MGB range came in 1973, with the building of the lightest V8 in the world. The MGB GT V8s lasted three years, and British Leyland Motor Corporation ceased production in 1976.
The original MGBs were fitted with 1.8L OHV straight four engines. These were measured at 75Kw, were capable of producing 145Nm of torque, and a top speed of 166Km/h. Performance could be enhanced with the use of the overdrive switch, which in earlier models was located on the dashboard and on the gear knob on the post 1974 versions.
The production of the MGB GT V8 included an aluminium cast block engine, which weighed considerably less than the previous cast-iron Rover engines that MG Cars used, and modifications were necessary to fit it into the engine bay. The V8 kicked out 105Kw of power and had a torque rating of 74.2Nm. Linked to its 4-speed manual gearbox with overdrive, it was capable of reaching 210Km/h and had an acceleration rate of 0-100Km/h in 8.3 seconds.
All MG cars up until 1967 were fitted with a 4-speed gearbox with optional overdrive. In ’68, a full synchromesh was introduced in the MGC cars, and there was also the possibility of mating a 3-speed Borg-Warner automatic gearbox but these were not a popular choice.
The company equipped the MGBs with non-ventilated discs on the front and drums on the rear. It was not until 1975 that servo assisted breaks became available.
The classic cars of the pre-1980s tended to come with very little in the way of optional extras and special standard equipment. Standard kit on the early MGBs included leather -upholstered, reclining bucket seats that had adjustable headrests, vinyl trim, padded sun visor, leather-covered steering wheel, seatbelts, map pockets, cigarette lighter and ashtray, heater and demister unit, and floor mats.
The standard package by 1971 gave one rubber bumpers and steering column lock. Options though were starting to creep in and a choice of Targa roof, AM/FM radio, electric clock, wire spoke wheels, wood rim steering wheel, and wood gear knob were available.
Over the years, the MGBs came in a wide array of exotically named colours too, including such classics as Flamenco, Glacier, British Racing Green, Tahiti Blue and Bronze Yellow.
The 1960s and ‘70s were the era of the roadsters. There were hundreds of thousands made and shipped all over the world. This was the time for the boy racers, and the leading car manufacturers produced the vehicles to match.
The early sixties machines came up against the established Sunbeam Alpines and the Triumph TR4As. Later in the decade, more roadsters and sports cars were coming onto the market to threaten the popularity of the MGB. The likes of the Nissan Datsun 240Z were similarly priced and performed just as well.
The Triumph TR-Series were always in competition, and the TR7 in the seventies was a strong rival, along with the Triumph Spitfire, the Jaguar E-Type, Mercedes 240SL, and the Chevrolet Corvette.
In total, there were over 500,000 MGB s manufactured, and its popularity hinged on its simplicity, style, and performance. The deciding factor on any classic car is going to be looks, practicality, performance, and reliability. However, these are rarely indicators when one chooses to buy a smart, old looker. If someone is after an iconic car from the sixties and seventies, then the MGB certainly fits that criterion.