In a world where ’60s icons can easily cost more than a three-bedroom house, the MGB still provides an affordable path to classic sports car ownership. When it burst onto the scene for the 1962 model year, it gave enthusiasts a modern roadster that didn’t break the bank.

The B featured an easy-to-use folding convertible top, independent front suspension, up-to-date looks and a usable trunk. Where most of its contemporaries relied upon body-on-frame construction, the MG featured a unibody.

Power came from a 1.8-liter inline-four fed by a pair of tried-and-true SU carburetors–enough for a top speed of 100 mph, plenty fast for the day. MG soon offered an optional overdrive for the standard four-speed transmission. The car immediately became a crowd favorite.

The first big change came for 1966 when the hardtop GT joined the model line. It even offered a tiny rear seat for equally tiny passengers. The 1968 model year brought more updates. The easiest way to identify a post-1967 car? Look for three windshield wipers. MG also swapped the generator for an alternator in the ’68 cars, while the all-steel dash received a padded vinyl cover in the name of safety.

Planned replacements for the MGB never happened–call it a victim of budget issues and corporate politics–so MG just kept updating the car through the ensuing years. Another significant change happened partway through 1974 in order to meet the day’s crash standards: The original chrome bumpers were replaced with big, black, rubber pieces. (Technically they’re formed in urethane, but most people refer to the MGBs wearing them as rubber-bumper cars.) At the same time, MG raised the ride height by about an inch and a half to meet U.S. headlight requirements. A coinciding switch to a single Zenith/Stromberg also cut horsepower.

Despite the drop in performance, the MGB soldiered on until the 1980 model year.

Figure the manufacturer built about 15,000 to 25,000 roadsters per year, with most leaving England. Add in the GT figures, and total MGB production tops half a million units. Today, the cars are still hugely popular. Club support remains strong, and almost every repair and replacement part is still available–even brand-new body shells built on the original tooling.

Prices have remained fair, in accordance with the original vision for the model, with the chrome-bumper cars outpacing the later ones. Non-running parts cars can start somewhere near free, while good, solid, chrome-bumper drivers cost around $5000. The nicest ones in the world rarely top $35,000.

Want to relive those glory days of the ’60s and 70s? The MGB could be your personal time machine.

Read the rest of the story

skutney New Reader
1/22/20 6:50 a.m.

Nice article. I have a 1980 MGB. I've had it painted, converted to chrome bumpers and replaced the carbs with SU HIF's. I'm amazed at the nice comments that I receive.

wspohn Dork
1/22/20 11:42 a.m.

The MGB was the Miata of it's day. Nothing particularly fast about them, but good basic handling and fun to drive.  Although I am primarily an MGA guy, I have owned MGBs and an MGC (which is a whole different story) and like them. The only one I would have liked to own but never got around to was the MGB GT.

Our Preferred Partners