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1962 - 1980
4 cyl.
1798 cc
95 bhp
4 spd. man & overdrive
Top Speed:
170 km/h
Number Built:
3 star
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 3

The Biggest Post War MG

With a cubic capacity of 1.8 litres the MGB was the biggest post-war MG - and the fastest. Not only was the B bigger in power than the superseded MGA, it was also the first MG roadster (in Australia) to use unitary construction to make the car both stronger and lighter than any comparable separate chassis arrangement.

The jump in engine capacity from 1622cc in the MGA to 1798cc in the MGB was courtesy of using a re-cored version of the BMC B-series block. There was an immediately obvious improvement in the car's torque characteristics. The B was a third and top gear car. It would pull from as low as 15 mph in top and 10 mph in third. Of course, being a sports car it is never intended to be driven that way - but when in traffic it was handy to have a car that was tractable and would not require constant gear changes.

Developing 94 bhp at 5500 rpm the engine had an 8.75 to 1 compression ratio which must not have agreed with local fuel mixtures of 1962. Many road testers claimed there were running-on problems, however none reported the bigger problem of pinging. Coupled to the engine was a stock four speed gearbox with synchro on the upper three ratios. Only on very rare occasions was it necessary to select low when the car was on the move, as 2nd gear was a real gem and provided ample flexibility.

Only very fast changes would beat the synchromesh and cause that nasty crunching noise which was common to most BMC gearboxes of the era. The clutch offered a light action, and showed no signs of slip during testing and, to its credit, some US motoring journals claimed it to be one of the easiest and smoothest clutch mechanisms then available on a mass produced sports car.

On The Inside

The pedal placement was not all that good, however, maybe its just us but if you get behind the wheel of a "B" you will find that it is near impossible to heel-and-toe when braking and changing down simultaneously. Nevertheless the handbrake and the gear lever were well placed, along with all the minor controls. Some confusion could occur when operating the electrical switches at night. Non illuminated on the early models, it was all too easy to reach across and turn off the headlamps instead of the wipers.

The instrumentation was good. The dials were neatly arranged in front of the driver. The speedo and tacho took pride of place with fuel contents gauge and the combined oil pressure and water temperature dial flanking them. Even a very tall driver could find a comfortable, long-arm position behind the wheel. The seats had a very wide range of adjustment and they gave excellent support. The squabs would not tilt forward unless you have a spanner and five minutes, which could be awkward when you are trying to stow bulky goods. But that aside, the "B" was a roomy car inside.

Quite a lot of mechanical noise was transmitted to the cockpit, which can be tiring on a long trip. Wind noise was at an acceptable level when cruising fast, although even with hood up it was far from draughtproof. The wind-up windows of the "B" were much better than those on the MGA, - fameless, they had ventilation panels and did not rattle in the thick doors which housed them. With the weather equipment in place, visibility in all directions was good, although a heating system was an option - not uncommon in th early 1960s. The wipers were self parking and swept a large area of the screen. A screen washer was standard equipment.

Getting the hood up and down was something of a task which is best attempted with two people rather than one. The plastic top itself was separate from the bows which came apart in two sections. The whole lot was then packed into the boot which, unfortunately, restricted the available luggage space. The boot locked externally with the key it shared with the glovebox lid. The complete car could be locked securely - an important thing on a cloth top comvertible, but however well the doors may have locked, a determined thief could easily get into a soft top.

On The Road

Out on the road the MG-B was fast. It was capable of cruising all day at 80mph. The standard equipment oil-cooler kept the engine temperature to a decent level so there was little risk of cooking the bearings when the car was being thrashed. Disc front brakes were used and drums at the rear. The combination made for very sure and fast stopping, even from the maximum speed. Just about every road test noted that there was never a trace of fade or grab - some only noted a bit of a smell - which meant they really were trying to find the limits.

Both braking and hard cornering were accompanied by considerable tyre scream which discouraged forceful driving techniques around town. Roadholding was as good you would expects from an MG. There was very little body lean and only a trace of understeer on corners. Steering, by rack and pinion, was light and very positive and accurate. Past and slow corners could be lined up smoothly and confidently and, if some correction was needed, only a few degrees of wheel movement were necessary to straighten things out again.

Hard driving would get the fuel consumption down below the 25mpg mark. A mixture of city and country driving would return somewhere between 25 to 28 mpg, which gave the tank a range of up around the 250 miles between refills. In 1965 this model was joined by the BGT which had occasional small rear seats and tail-gate rear doors. It was more than 70kgs heavier than the roadster but boasted a five-bearing rear engine. Mk II models of 1967 used the all-syncromesh gearbox and optional auto transmission.

1969 produced some cosmetic restyling with black grilles and trendy wheels with some minor changes to the interior as well. In 1974 the car started using ugly black bumpers and increased ride height in order to keep the aging car legal in America. Its performance suffered - it could barely manage 160 km/h, and it handled badly because it was higher. Despite this, it continued to sell, surviving until 1980.

MGB Quick Specifications:

Engine: four, in line; Bore and stroke - 80.26 by 88.9 mm; Cubic capacity - 1798cc; Compression ratio - 8.75 to 1; Valves - pushrod; Carburettor - twin SU; Power at rpm - 95 blip at 55 rpm; Maximum torque - 110 ft/lb at 3000 rpm.
Transmission: Manual; Ratios: First -14.21; Second - 8.66; Third - 5.35; Top - 3.91; Rear axle - 3.91
Suspension: Front - independent coil; Rear - semi-elliptic; Shockers - telescopic.
Steering: rack and pinion; Turns, lock to lock 3; Circle - 32 ft.
Brakes: disc, drum
Dimensions: Wheelbase - 7 ft 7 in; Track, front - 4 ft 1.25 in; Track, rear - 4 ft 13 in; Length - 12 ft 9.25 in; Width - 5 ft; Height - 4 ft 1 in; Weight - 171 cwt.
Tyres: 5.60 by 14
Performance: Top Speed - 103.3 mph; Maximum Speed in Gears; First - 29 mph; Second - 48 mph; Third - 78 mph; Top - 103.3 mph; Standing quarter mile: 18.7 sec; 0 to 30 mph - 3.1 sec; 0 to 40 mph - 4.7 sec; 0 to 50 mph - 8.3 sec; 0 to 60 mph - 11.2 sec; 0 to 70 mph - 15.9 sec; 0 to 80 mph - 23.7 sec; 20 to 40 mph - 9 sec; 40 to 60 mph - 8.9 sec; 60 to 80 mph - 14.1 sec; 0-60-0 mph - 15.5 sec; Fuel consumption - 25mpg.

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Also see:

MG Heritage
The MG Story
MG Performance Chart
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