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The mighty MGB – the sports car for everyone

16 January 2023

In 2022, the mighty MGB celebrated its 60th birthday. It was not only MG’s highest selling model, but one of the highest selling sports cars of all time. It continued the MG legacy for building ‘sports cars for the people’ as the Abingdon based company continued to democratise the performance cars for the everyday motorist. 

The reasons for its popularity are easy to see. Affordable, straightforward mechanics, and economical to run and fix. It was the sports car that you didn’t mind taking home to meet the parents – according to the publicity at the time!

 

The Launch of the MGB

The story begins in 1959, as an “EX” project like the MGA did beforehand. This EX205 as it was known developed over two years at the hands of Syd Enever, MG’s top design engineer and a body draughtsman that had been newly recruited from Aston Martin, Don Hayter.

It was launched at the 1962 British Motor Show priced at £949 and although it followed in the footsteps of the MG Midget in using a monocoque design, it retained the venerable B-series engine and the basic suspension design from the MGA to keep the price point low.

 

The MGB in the 1960s

By 1964, it had gained a more durable version of the engine with a upgrade to a five bearing crank. The GT arrived quite some time later, in 1965 and enjoyed tougher rear springs and the addition of front anti roll bars as standard.

In 1967, the MGB’s body received some subtle updates and the drivetrain benefitted from an all-synchromesh gearbox and even an Auto version!

 

The MGB in the 1970s

A nose job followed as the ‘B’ buzzed into the 1970s, with updated styling often attributed to an influx of ex-Ford personnel to Abingdon. In 1973, you could buy an MGB with an integral soft-top, instead of the ‘frame -tent’ arrangement found on earlier models. The design updates employed a new, more traditional looking grille, and new trim options. Amazingly servo brakes finally arrived as standard as did hazard warning lights! The switch gear in easy reach of the driver’s hands whilst on the steering wheel, also operated many functions from a single stalk.

There was a V8 version as well, although factory versions are a rare find these days. The Rover V8 engine transformed the MGB GT into a growling cruiser as the factory built on the successful conversions already carried out to aftermarket customers by car builder Ken Costello.

The 1973 model was undoubtedly the most refined that the MGB had managed to be in over 11 years of production but then, US legislation struck.

The car was lifted by one-and-a-half inches and the chrome was unceremoniously ripped off, to be replaced with big black rubber impact bumpers.

But mock the rubber bumper MGBs at your peril. They are arguably the most practical of the MGBs and certainly the most refined. The MGB was more comfortable than it had ever been and in 1977 the anti-roll bars returned so handling was improved again. The electrics fed from a single 12-volt battery proved more reliable than the original aged design of two six-volt packs. The overdrive switch fell neatly to hand on the gear knob and at last – you could open the glovebox without taking the key out of the ignition!

 

MGBs in Motorsport

The MGB was successful in motorsport as well, both in rallying and circuit racing with Paddy Hopkirk and Andrew Hedges enjoying multiple high placed finishes between 1963 and 1965 at Le Mans.

MGBs Today

Sadly, on 22nd October 1980 the MGB was cancelled. It went out with a superb special edition, the LE and marked the end of MG production at Abingdon.

Today the rubber bumper MGBs represent exceptional value for money, continuing the MG tradition of making the sports car accessible for all.

And thanks to the availability of heritage replacement bodyshells, the MGB is one of the best survivors of the golden era of the British sports car. Whatever you are looking for in a sports car, GT, Soft top, tuneable, practical – the MGB can do it all.

MGB - Sports car parade | Classic MGB Insurance from Peter James Insurance

Classic MGB Insurance with Peter James Insurance

Peter James insures many, many MGBs and so we know first-hand just how much fun these popular classic cars can be to drive and own. Owners enjoy them with us in all sorts of ways, from show cars to concours right through to European holiday tours.

The MGB also has a huge variety in values with early models commanding quite different market prices than the later models, plus you have the convertibles and GTs, the MGB V8s and even some of the stunning specials like the Berlinette models. So, it’s important that you insure your MGB with a classic car insurance provider that truly understands the model and can give you a valuation that truly reflects it worth.

Happy 60th birthday to the plucky sports car that, to its fans, is simply the “B’s Knees!”

 

Get a Quote Today – Classic MGB Insurance

Talk to us all about your MGB insurance and we will be able to arrange the best cover we can for you.

Call our expert team on 0121 274 5400.

Or, if you’re a member of an MG car club, you’re able to get a quote in just 6 questions – click here.

 

As a guide, insuring an 1971 MG BGT with Peter James Insurance would cost £125.08 and includes:*

✔️ Legal Protection

✔️ UK & European Breakdown Cover

✔️ Insurance Premium Tax

 

*Price is for a club member aged 50 who owns a 1971 MG BGT with an agreed valuation of £10,000 with unlimited mileage.  Premiums may still vary depending on the risk information that you provide.

Information correct at time of writing, quoted price is subject to change.

 

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