1968 MG B Roadster Review

By: Glenn Torrens, Unique Cars magazine

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Affordable, simple and tough

Launched in 1962, the MGB is a drop-top roadster classic and, with the Beetle, surely one of the top five classic cars ever.

Replacing the 1950s MGA, the ‘B was a significant advance in design, featuring a monococque body designed for safety as well as performance – it featured rudimentary crumple zones – with front disc brakes and wind-up windows; all thumbs-up stuff for sporty roadsters in the early 1960s.

The MGB is powered by a 1.8-litre four-cylinder all-iron OHV engine.

Tagged the B Series, it’s tough and reliable.

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Its passenger car origins and over-head valve configuration provide the relatively light ‘B with torquey, rather than revvy, performance.

Behind it is a four-speed gearbox – or the rare auto – backed by a simple live axle on leaf springs.

The MGB was especially popular in the USA; nearly nine out if 10 of the more than 380,000 MGB drop-tops built were exported from Britain, most to the USA.

MGBs were assembled in Australia for a while, too, nose-to-tail in Sydney with other Australianised British fare such as the Mini, and Austin 1800 with which it shared the B series engine.

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Of those sent to the US, many were sold in sunny, car-crazy California that is now a good source for restorer/project cars.

With rack and pinion steering and an almost mirror-image dashboard and body, a left-to-right conversion is a relatively easy task.

Speaking of bodies, British Motor Heritage in the UK creates brand-new replacement body-shells using factory tooling. Other spares are easy, too.

The MGB had few updates during its 18-year life, which is both a positive and a negative.

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Really, the design was left to rot on the vine through the 70s, rather than replaced, which meant the MGB was an archaic design by 1980 – especially its 1950s-era pushrod engine.

But that lack of complication with the design – and the good number of identical cars produced over nearly two decades – makes knowledge and spare parts relatively simple.

These days it’s a recognisable, affordable and relatively easy-to-own car.

In 1993, Rover re-launched the MG brand with the limited edition (2000 built) MG RV-8, essentially a British Motor Heritage body-shell fitted with a Land Rover Discovery alloy V8.

MG B Owner: Andy

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"I’ve owned it since 2000," says Andy Peters of his MGB. "It’s my first historic MG. After we bought this, we bought an MG-F for my wife, Shirley, to drive every day but we recently sold it as she was suffering nurses’ back!

"This one gets used just about every weekend and we take it to… anywhere! When we cruise we can get 550 to 600km to a tank. We take it out to the wineries, or for fish and chips. I also do hill climbs in it with the MG Car Club of Newcastle and in the past it’s done motorkhanas. It’s placed 3rd in the National Concours a few times and led its class in speed events, so I have the best of both worlds. Show and go.

"It’s a very easy car to own because you can do most repairs yourself and parts are accessible and not expensive."

1962-1980 MGB Roadster

Engine: 1.8-litre OHV four-cylinder. Four speed gearbox with optional overdrive
The good: I say! Classic motoring with pukka parts backup, ol’ chap! Tally-ho!
The bad: Relatively tame performance… and cleaning those wire wheels. Geez!
You need to know: British Motor Heritage has been making replacement bodies since 1988 – longer than the original MGB was in production. In 1992 that allowed Rover –by then the owner of the MG marque – to create the limited-edition (1982 built) RV8


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