The rather voluptuous lines of the MGA were starting to look dated as the Swinging Sixties dawned, but the British Motor Corporation was ready with one of its few great success stories – the MGB. This brilliant sports car with its clean lines would be around for nearly twenty years and well over half a million MGBs (and derivatives) would be manufactured, making it the best-selling British sports car of all time.
The two-seater roadster was introduced in 1962, and this neat convertible was joined in 1973 by the hatchback MGB GT coupe -nominally a 2+2, though the rear seating would only have been adequate if Snow White were driving. This version would continue to be produced in virtually unchanged form until it was dropped in 1974, though a meaty V8 evolution was offered from 1973 to 1976.
The roadster had a comfortable interior with wind-up windows and a parcel shelf behind the seats. The car featured a four-cylinder 1.8 litre engine and – unlike the MGA it replaced and the Triumph TRs with which it competed – had monocoque rather than body-on-chassis construction, which reduced weight and costs allowing the MGB to be sold at an attractive price. It was an instant success with sporty drivers because the MGB was (and is) a joy to drive, with good acceleration, excellent roadholding and an ability to top the ‘ton’ when flat out.
The roadster was upgraded as the Mk II in 1967, with an all-synchromesh gearbox and the option of automatic transmission. Various other cosmetic changes took place until the Mk III was introduced in 1972. This had a better heater and new fascia, and would be the final evolution. The last MGB rolled off the line at Abingdon in 1980, to end the era of mass-produced Great British sports cars.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1962 (until 1980)
1,799 cc Straight Four
Top speed of 103 mph (166 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 12.2 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
For MGB purists, the last year that really counts is 1973 – for that’s the last year the car was produced with traditional chrome bumpers, rather than the large, black rubber monstrosities introduced the following year to comply with US regulations.