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The MG marque represents all that is loved and hated about classic British sports cars. Of all the models that have been produced under that brand, none is more iconic and pervasive than the classic MGB. With more than half a million produced between 1962 and 1980, the MGB and its variants quickly became the epitome of the LBC (little british car) group which include MG Midgets, Sumbeam Tigers, Lotus Elans, etc.

The MGB was designed as a succesor to the most beautiful car to ever come out of MG's Abingdon, Oxfordshire factory, the MGA (1955 to 1961). Where the MGA had had to make do with side curtains (i.e. removable pieces of clear plastic) instead of roll up windows and all sorts of other primitive touches, the MGB was designed to be a modern sportscar when it was introduced in 1962.

The MGB was the first MG to employ the then new unitary body construction instead of the traditional body over frame used on the MGA. Though it inherited the MGA engine, displacement had grown to 1798cc and output had been increased to 94 horsepower and the car could reach speeds of up to 100mph (I would strongly recommend against trying this in a stock 'B unless you have a deathwish). The styling was modern and fresh, with scalloped recesses for the headlights in the front fenders that recall Ferraris of the era.

The MGB went through five distinct iterations: the original Mk I, 1962 to 1967(the MGB-GT was added in 1965), the Mk II 1967 to 1969 added synchros, an automatic transmission option and changed polarity to negative earth, the so called recessed grill cars were produced from 1969 to 1972, these cars were considered a heresy by the purists as it eschewed the marque's trademark chrome grill, 1972 to 1974 cars reverted to the chrome grill but added horrible rubber "5MPH" bumper stops and increased the ride height of the car to comply with US regulations which in my eyes, represents the death of the MGB. The final indignity was the full rubber bumpered restyle that also choked the motor down to an anemic 62 horsepower and raised the ride height further which killed the car's handling. Other variants included: the MGC (1967 to 1969) with a six cylinder inline 2912cc engine producing 150 horsepower under the characteristic hood bulge and the MGB GT V8 which stuffed a 3532cc aluminum Rover V8 engine which developed 137 horsepower in standard tune. The marque was revived and currently produces something called an MGF though it was recently sold to a Chinese manufacturer who has moved the entire factory to China.

Owning and driving an MGB today (I have a 1971 recessed grill) sends you back to the days when cars may or may not start, had to be pushed and jumped and you were on first name basis with your mechanic. The experience is vintage all the way as you sit low to the ground, unburned hydrocarbon fumes wafting past you and at the mercy of Lucas, prince of darkness. However, treated well the car can be a daily driver and is quite tractable around town and on secondary roads. Highway driving is another story as you ride wheel high to the largest SUVs.

Though the Mazda Miata's inspiration was the Lotus Elan, it is the spiritual inheritor of the MGB as the classic, rear wheel, light weight, affordable sports car.


Production Period 1962/81

Chassis Unit Construction body, welded steel constuction, front suspension on subframe.

Wheelbase: 7ft 7in
Track Front: 4ft 1.00in
Rear: 4 ft 1.25in
Steering Cam Gears rack & pinion system.
Turning circle: 32ft
Castor angle: 7 degrees
Camber angle: 1 degree
Kingpin angle: 8 degrees
Toe in: 0.1875in
Grade of oil: SAE 90
Brakes Disc front, drum rear.
Disk size front: 10.75in
Drum size rear: 10in
Method of operation: Hydraulic, vacuum servo assisted as option to 1973, standard thereafter. Dual system some markets from '67. Cable operated parking brake.
Wheels Either steel disc bolt-on, or Rudge type wire spoked. Late cars had alloy wheels as option.
For MkI, MkII-on, Wires
Rim size: 4J * 14, 5J * 14, 4.5J * 14
Tyre Size: 5,60 * 14, 165 * 14
Tyre pressure: 21psi front, 24 psi rear
Engine 4 cylinder in line, pushrod ohv
Bore: 80.26mm
Stroke: 88.90mm
Cubic capacity: 1789cc
Power output: Approx 94bho @ 5500rpm.
Oil pressure: Approx. 60psi. Idle at 20psi
Grade of oil: SAE 20/50
Sump Capacity: 7.5 pints
Ignition Timing Varies with Engine spec., see above.
Distributor points gap: 0.015in
Sparking plugs: N9YC
Gap: 0.025in. After 1975: 0.035in
Carburator Type To 1973: Twin SU HS4
>From 1973: Twin SU HIF4
USA Market also had single Zenith 175CD/5T from 1974/76

Jet size, main: SU 0.090in, Zenith: 0.100
Needle recommendation: Various according to carburettor spec
Clutch Borg & Beck Single dry plate
Material: Ferodo
Number of springs: Single Diaphragm
Gearbox Four speed manual, synchromesh on top three ratios to 1965, all synchro after. Electrical overdrive optional, standard from 1975. Borg Warner 35 automatic gearbox was also available 1967 to 1973.
Engine Prefix: 18G- 18GA 18GB on
Ratios: 3sp sync, 4sp sync, B-W auto

Overdrive (where fitted): 0.802, 0.820
Top: 1.000, 1.000, 1.00-1.33
Third o/d (where fitted): 1.10, 1.133
Third: 1.374, 1.382
Second: 2.214, 2.2167, 1.45-1.93
First: 3.640, 3.333, 2.39-3.18
Reverse: 4.760, 3.095, 2.09-2.78

Grade of oil: SAE 30, SAE 20/50 TQF
Capacity: 4.5 pints, 4.7 pints, 6 pints. Add approx. 3pints when o/d fitted

Propellor Shaft Open shaft, needle roller u/j at each end.

Final Drive Live axle, hypoid bevel gears.

Ratio: Manual 3.909:1, Auto 3.7:1
MPH/1000rpm: Manual top: 17.9, o/d: 22.1, Auto: 18.91
Grade of oil: SAE 90EP
Capacity: 1.5 pints
Cooling System Pressurised, thermostatic control, pump assisted. Capacity: 12 pints.

Fuel Tank Capacity Approx. 12 gallons. Tank located at rear of car under boot floor.

Body Styles Tourer, GT
Numbers built: MkI

1962 4518
1963 23308
1964 26542
1965 24179 524
1966 22675 10241
MkII introduced
1967 15128 11396
1968 17355 8352
1969 18896 12134
1970 23866 12704
1971 22511 12169
1972 26222 13171
1973 19546 10208
1974 19713 9638
1975 19967 4609
1976 25860 3698
1977 24482 4198
1978 21703 5652

1980 10891 3424
Dimensions & Weight
Wheelbase: 7ft 7in
Track - front 4ft 1in
Track - rear 4ft 1.25in
Overall length - 12ft 9.2in
Overall width - 4ft 11.9in
Overall height - 4ft 1.4in
Ground clearance - 4.5in
Turning circle - 32ft
Curb weight - 2030 lb
Performance
Max. Speed - 103 mph
Acceleration - 0-60mph 12.2 secs
Overall fuel consumption - 22mpg


International MGB Racing 1963-1978,,http://www.mgb.bc.ca/sport/historic.html,8/1/2004
MGB + MBG-GT History,http://www.realdriver.com/mg/bhistory.html,8/2/2004

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