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Motoring: MGB - 1962

The MGB is without question the most successful British made sports car ever, not only because it did everything it was made to do so well, it was affordable, had timeless good looks and extended the appeal of the open top roadster from beyond the diehard motorist enthusiast to the avaerge man in the street. The reason for its success is that it has every single ingredient of the classic British roadster. It has a beautiful and pure shape and vintage rear drive handling that is forgiving, it's also simple and robust. It isn't fast by modern standards (at least in four cylinder variants), but its engine has enough torque, even for the enthusiastic driver. And though it is extremely popular with over half a million produced, it's rare enough to make you feel different in the every day ocean of modern tin boxes.

The MGB was launched in September 1962 as the logical development of it successor of the MGA. In place of the MGA's separate chassis was MG's first unitary bodyshell which made the car stiffer than other contemporary sports cars, although it made it rather heavy too. Its mechanical components were mainly based on the MGA's parts, the main difference being a 1.8 liter evolution of BMC's B series engine. Even its taillights were borrowed to keep costs down - from the Morris 1100.

Its advantage compared to its forbear was an unprecedented level of comfort for a traditional sports car, which makes the B usable even today as everyday transport. Differences include softer suspension, wind up windows, better seats, bigger boot and cockpit. The MGB GT (photo above left) became the fastest selling MG of all time. Another important feature to its success was that it shared many parts such as dashboard switches and dials, door handles and tail lights with other BMC vehicles, which brought the cost of manufacture and hence the retail price down to a level that made it affordable for everyone and made it relatively inexpensive to get back on the road after an accident.

1978 MGB roadster
As with most cars which enjoy a long production run, the first model is by far the best looking and subsequent changes to the original shape have resulted in a less attractive looking vehicle with every change, particularly around the grille (above right). The original roadster and the MGB GT with its factory built hardtop are the best proportioned in terms of design and the most sought after models among collectors today.

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