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These specifications are presented in good faith researching information from various sources. However, no guarantee or warranty is given to the accuracy of the above information. You are advised to verify the correctness of these specifications prior to using them. Use of these specifications assumes agreement with the disclaimer below. They are provided as a convenience to fellow enthusiasts and the author makes no expressed warranty to their accuracy, use at your own risk.
Specifications for each model group are available by clicking on the buttons on the lower left. An Excel Spreadsheet is available to download with this information as well.
History of the MGB
The MG Model B was produced from September 1962 until July 1980 at the Abingdon Works when the last MG B rolled off the production line. The Plant was closed by Margaret Thatcher as part of the British Government's Privatization Plan. The "B" was the successor to the MG A, and because of the popularity of the car became synonymous with the definition of sports car.
In fact when Mazda was creating the first of the MX5 Miata's their design team used the MG B as the starting point and design model. North American Export of sports cars became a larger and larger piece of the factory's sales, and the "B" was the most popular model ever produced. About a half million MG B's found their way to this side of the pond. This makes these cars still affordable as collector cars, and due to their rather primitive (by today's computerized standards) design still reparable by the shade tree mechanic. I always say, that if you need a finer adjustment, just use a bigger hammer. They are easy to repair, and replacement parts are plentiful and inexpensive to get, which makes them a very affordable car to drive. While some find their way into concours competition, in my opinion, the MG B is a poor choice. Because they are plentiful by collector standards, they never will achieve a high value, and therefore will rarely reflect the value of the investment to turn a 25+ year old car into a 100 pointer. Instead, why not capitalize on the lower purchase price, and easy maintainability, and let these little gems do what they do best. Use 'em, drive 'em, enjoy 'em, and yes love 'em. Take cross country trips, and picnics, rallies, hill climbs, and all the other club events. They were made for driving pleasure, so enjoy them.
As the factory evolved the roadster to meet the tastes and driving conditions of the North American Market the B changed very little over the course of its almost 20 year life span. Most changes were additions to meet mostly US safety and emission standards. The change that would have had the most impact never saw the light of day, scheduled for introduction in mid 1981-82 with the introduction of a Rover V8 engine. Rumors also existed of the introduction of an automatic transmission to market the car to a wider US market.
When first released the 1798cc 4 Cylinder roadster weighed in at about 2,000 pounds and was rated at about 100 Horsepower. The only major changes to the power train were the addition of electric overdrive as an option in 1963, and going from a 3 main bearing engine to a five bearing engine in 1964 1/2. Otherwise Abingdon met each new emission and safety requirement by bolting on new parts rather than redesign and retool the factory. Thus when the last car rolled off the line in 1980 the car had gained 800 additional pounds, and was sporting a whopping 62.5 Horsepower. The advantage to the existing "B" owners is that parts are mostly interchangeable. While this is no consolation to the Concours Crowd, it means that most parts for most years are interchangeable. The only real exception is that the Early B's 1962-65 still used British Standard Whitworth (BSW) bolts and threads. After 1965 the factory changed to the US SAE threads, but generally used SAE Fine threads rather than the standard coarse thread found on US Cars. Want wire wheels, pull the half shafts out from the differential & replace them, or replace the whole rear end, replace the front hubs, and bolt on some wires. It's not that hard to do with some simple tools.
Introduced in 1962, to replace the MG A, the B was a modern sports car. In 1963 an optional overdrive was added. In 1964 the 1798cc engine was changed to a 5 main bearing engine rather than its three bearing predecessor. While this cost some horsepower, it smoothed out the engine, and gave it a longer life to handle the heavier load US Highways placed on the little four. 1965 saw the introduction of the MG B GT a new body shell designed by the Italian Firm Pininfarina.
1966 saw a major change in tooling to SAE Fine Thread from BSW. 1967 saw the introduction of the MG C, which sported a 6 cylinder engine to go head to head with the big Healy's. About this time a fully synchronized gear box was added, and an automatic transmission was optional, though not popular. I believe that in 1968 (1967??), the electrical system was converted from the Positive Ground (Earth) typical of British Cars to the North American Standard of Negative Ground. 1968 saw the addition of the third windshield wiper as well. 1970 saw styling changes which included a new black inset grille and the famous Rostyle Wheels. Side marker lights, and restyled tail lights with amber turn signals. US cars bore the split rear chrome bumper.
In 1972 the grille changed again. Now showing more chrome, with a black "honeycomb" center section. Most changes were cosmetic during this period with 1974 the last of the chromed bumper cars, but featured the over-riders to meet US Federal safety standards.
The first MG's to sport the new US Federal 5 MPH crash bumpers. Additionally, the cars were raised an inch and a half. This caused the 1975 cars to handle terribly, with considerable body roll due to increased height and weight. The twin SU carburetors were replace with a single Zenith Stromberg Carburetor. In 1976 a rear anti-sway bar was added to help restore the late model B's to their predecessor standards.
In 1977 the engines were designed to use unleaded gasoline, and sported catalytic converters. Also in 1977 the cam was changed to the infamous "Smog Cam" reducing horsepower even more. The front wall in the engine compartment was moved forward, to accommodate a future optional Rover V8 engine. California cars facing tougher emission requirements used the Lucas 45DM electronic ignition. 1977-78 Federal cars used the more un-reliable 45D4 and switched in 1979 to the 45DM. As production started winding down the MG B LE was produced in 1980 (about 6500 cars) which used a lot of the odd bits still lying around the factory, and attempted to inject some life into the now failing sales.
All in all 512, 243 MGB's rolled off the line at Abingdon, of which 386, 961 were roadsters, and 125, 282 were MGB GT's. More MGB's were sold than any other British car or any sports car in the world. The MG B defined the meaning and character of the sports car, and gave it life. Detroit tried many times to redefine the image of the sports car into its marketing image... but never succeeded. When all was said and done, the MGB proved to be a fun to drive performance car, that was easy to maintain, and inexpensive to own. And that my friends is what a sports car is all about.
Last modified: April 26, 2005
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