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Greg's List: 1971 MG MGB
By Greg Warner

Classic Car Articles by Greg Warner MG stood for "Morris Garages" of Oxford, England which began way back in 1924 or 1925, at a dealer of Morris brand vehicles which were then modified into various, special, "sportscar-style" bodies. The actual year of inception discrepancy depends on which version you read from historical documents available. Anyhow, the marque was actually started, as a stand-alone brand for certain, in March of 1928. Sir William Morris of Morris Motor Company, co-founder of "MG" and Cecil Kimber, co-founder of "MG", an engineer and designer, was the main driving-force behind the founding of the MG Car Company Limited. The MG brand was in existence through many changes of owners and mergers from 1924 to 1980. The brands continual production of vehicles, from 1924 to 1980, was only interrupted during WWII, when all manufacturing efforts were focused on the war. With a long history of building sports cars at the Abingdon, England factory, under their "MG" marque, it was in 1962 when they released the first, of their last series of sports cars to be made, the venerable MGB models! Unfortunately Mr. Kimber would die in a strange railway accident in 1945 and never get to see the future legacy of the vehicles he so loved to design and build.

The first MGB's, referred to as MkI's (1962 to 1967), were all 2-door roadsters with convertible soft-tops and 1798cc, 4-cylinder engines and rear-wheel drive. In 1966 they also released a 2-door hatchback, coupe version with 2+2 seating, called the MGB-GT, also with the 1798cc, 4-cylinder engine, which would last only through 1974 for the U.S. market (but would continue through 1980 in Europe). An attempt to make the MGB-GT a viable option, and to compete with other more powerful vehicles of the day, they shoe-horned a version of the Buick/Rover designed, 215 ci, V8 engine into it and called it the MGB-GT V8. This model would only last from 1973 to 1976 with very few units actually crossing the "pond" and landing in the states. They even released a version of the roadster, called an MGC, albeit for a short period (1967 to 1969), with a 2912 cc, in-line 6-cylinder engine, which proved to have lackluster performance and created unsavory handling issues due to the added weight, (in comparison to their 4-cylinder versions). The MkII MGB's carried on (from 1967 to 1971) with the 1798cc with several upgrades along the way including dual master-cylinder brakes, "negative" earth (ground) electrics, an alternator instead of a generator, a fully synchronized transmission and even an automatic transmission was available (mainly only in the European market) for those "lazy" drivers! Bah! Such sacrilege! The MkIII MGB's would carry on (from 1971 to 1980) basically unchanged, except for minor upgrades to creature comforts and ongoing technological evolution, many of which were thought to "ugly-up" the nice looking little sportscar. For instance, in 1974 they added a large, rubberized front and rear bumper fascia to comply with safety laws imposed, which dramatically took away the sleek look of the former, chrome counterparts. When the last units rolled out of the Abingdon Factory in 1980, they closed the doors forever! But, oh what a run they had!

The U.S. market was largely responsible for the demise of the MGB, due to our ever changing safety laws and emissions regulations which were forced on all manufacturers, which many times reduced horsepower ratings and added weight, two things that don't bode well with sportscars! The MGB's were innovative at their time of inception with their unique monocoque chassis design, making them lighter, stronger and even less expensive to manufacture. Most other vehicles of the time were based on the tried-and-true body assembly bolted to a chassis/frame assembly. They had plenty of legroom and were actually quite comfortable, even for taller people. The MGB's were one of the first production cars to incorporate "crumple-zones" into their body design in order to protect passengers in the event of an impact with an immovable object at 30 mph. Performance was snappy with a 0 to 60 mph rating of just over 11 seconds and handling was superb with good, balanced weight distribution. Fewer than 20% of all MGB's were equipped with the optional electronic overdrive unit and are today, very desirable vehicles. Front braking chores were handled, by more than adequate 11" disc brakes, with Girling dual piston calipers, rear were standard drums. Electrical system components were mainly supplied bu the Lucas Electric Company (affectionately referred to as the "Prince of Darkness" by those of us who have had a love affair with these great little cars over the years!) Overall units manufactured in the entire run of the combined MGB models was 523,836 in just over 18 years.

MGB's were (and still are) raced very successfully in many events, venues and series including the Monte Carlo Rally, winning the GT category at Sebring in 1964, and winning in 1963, 1964 and 1965 at the grueling LeMans 24 Hour endurance race while beating many more powerful vehicles at the same time! These affordable classic cars are readily available on the market today and are a big-bang-for-the-buck!

In a 1963 NASCAR Grand National race, what driver entered his MGB? Although unsuccessful due to overheating problems, it was the last foreign vehicle to be entered in a NASCAR race until Toyota's entry into the series just recently.

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