Sixty Years of the MGB
September 2022 sees a landmark anniversary in the motoring world, the MGB is celebrating its 60th anniversary. The classic two-door, soft top sports car always was and always will remain an icon of British car manufacturing.
In a bid to find a replacement for the iconic MGA, design work for a new automobile commenced in the late 1950s under the direction of Syd Enever and was completed by early 1961. The car styled by Don Hayter was influenced by the MG record breaker EX 181, which was piloted at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah by Sir Stirling Moss in 1957 and another F1 legend, Phil Hill in 1959. To be successful the car to be known as the MGB had to succeed in America, a monocoque construction was used and the car was to incorporate some refinements over the MGA such as wind-up windows.
The first production car was completed on the 22 May 1962 a left hand drive roadster, with an Iris Blue right hand drive car, chassis number G‑HN3 ‑101 being completed a few days later. The car was launched to the British public at the Earls Court Motor Show in September 1962 and was priced at £690 plus £259 purchase tax.
The first major change came in the 1965⁄7 period with the introduction of an all-synchro gearbox, five bearing crank engine and a Salisbury rear axle, however the most significant change was the addition of a GT to the range. This had been styled at the Abingdon design office and later sent to Pininfarina in Italy who made only detailed changes. The result was a car which at launch was described by Autocar as “perhaps the prettiest Sports Coupe ever to leave the British Motor Corporation drawing boards”. Another major development to the car during its production life came in 1975 and was brought about by American safety regulations related to impact resistance this was directly responsible for the introduction of rubber bumpers and raising the ride height. Over the coming years American emission rules would also result in an engine which for this market produced significantly less power.
During the life of the MGB only two special editions were produced firstly the jubilee cars produced in 1975 with a build of 750 cars all GT’s finished in BRG, then finally MG announced that the last 1000 cars produced before the Abingdon factory closed in October 1980 would be a ‘Limited Edition’, the final car being a Pewter GT, chassis number G‑HD5-523002.
The final chapter of the MGB however was to be written following the closure of the factory, a consortium headed by Aston Martin tried to purchase the MG name and went as far as producing a roadster based on the GT bodyshell (a concept used twelve years later by Rover in the RV8) however financial problems prevented the car going into production.
During the nineteen years of production of the MGB, 512,112 cars were produced, a figure greater than the total of all other models of MG produced at Abingdon. The MGB can rightly claim to be “The Greatest British Sports Car” as stated in one of MG’s advertising slogans of the 1970s.
The MG Car Club have a very active MGB Register within the Club that caters for all the needs of an MGB owner, or those interested in the MGB. This being the 60th Anniversary of the MGB, the MGB register are celebrating in style at the British Motor Museum, Gaydon, Warwickshire on Sunday 25 September 2022, and with over 1600 MGBs attending it promises to be a sight to behold. From the very early 1962 MGBs, to the very latest new build fully electric MGBs in attendance at the show, the MGB is still as popular with people as it was at it’s launch in 1962.