MG

SHOP

WALL ART

MGB

YEARS MADE

1962-80

NUMBER MADE

526,943

ORIGINAL PRICE

£950 (B roadster in 1962)

MECHANICAL LAYOUT

Front engine, rear-wheel drive

RANGE OF ENGINES

1798cc, four-cylinder; 3528cc V8-cylinder

MOST POWERFUL ENGINE

137bhp (3528cc)

FASTEST VERSION

125mph (3528cc)

BEST OVERALL FUEL ECONOMY

21mpg (1798cc)

WHEELBASE

2311-2375mm

LENGTH

3884-4019mm

NUMBER OF SEATS

2+2

MG Midget MK3

YEARS MADE

1966-74

NUMBER MADE

100,345

ORIGINAL PRICE

£684 (in 1966)

MECHANICAL LAYOUT

Front engine, rear-wheel drive

RANGE OF ENGINES

1275cc, four-cylinder

MOST POWERFUL ENGINE

65bhp (1275cc)

FASTEST VERSION

95mph (1275cc)

BEST OVERALL FUEL ECONOMY

30mpg (1275cc)

WHEELBASE

2032mm

LENGTH

3495mm

NUMBER OF SEATS

2

The MGB was, at 18 years, the longest-running MG ever, and the most popular by a country mile. It did more to establish Britain as [italic]the]italic] sports car maker than any other.

It had unitary, chassis-less construction but relied on familiar hardware by retaining the MGA suspension and live rear axle. There was extra passenger and luggage space, and the MGA’s familiar overhead-valve B-series engine was enlarged to 1798cc, giving 94bhp.

Performance easily licked the MGA. Top speed was 110mph and 0-60mph took 11.4sec. Road behaviour, meanwhile, was exhilarating: solid roadholding shifting to entertaining handling when you pushed it.

The MGB was sales dynamite, and strong American demand spurred production. Paddy Hopkirk and Alan Hutcheson drove one to 12th place at Le Mans in 1963; in 1964, Hopkirk and Andrew Hedges only managed 19th but, after averaging 99.9mph, grabbed the trophy for fastest British car. In 1965, the MGB came 11th.

The pretty fastback MGB GT arrived in 1965, while the 1973 MGB GT V8 proved the car could handle more power. The 137bhp Rover 3.5-litre V8 was installed, providing 125mph and 0-60mph in 8.6sec.

The MGB grew old gracelessly. US regulations foisted a 1.5in height rise (headlight rules), an engine detune (emissions), and gross polyurethane bumpers (safety) fitted on the car. Performance and dynamics suffered and the B went out on a whimper.

With this car in 1961 MG, pioneer of the mass-produced sports car, had become a badge on the Austin-Healey Sprite, with all its virtues and shortcomings. The MG Midget was not for competing at traffic light stand-offs – more for winding its burbling way down secondary roads with the top down.

As on the Sprite, the engine was enlarged from 948 to 1098cc in late 1962, and by 1964 the Mk2 MG Midget had gained a taller windscreen, wind-up windows and door locks, semi-elliptical rear springs, and an extra 3bhp. In 1966 came the Mk3 MG Midget, with a 1275cc 65bhp engine and a permanently attached hood to replaced the rather flimsy canvas and tube affair of the early cars.

Top speed improved by only 2mph, but it gave more mid-range power that really meant the MG Midget’s undeniable driving fun could be fully exploited. In 1969 came a comprehensive cosmetic makeover, including rounded rear wheelarches and trendy Rostyle wheels, and sales continued apace despite the little roadster’s creaking design.

Indeed, the MG Midget got yet another new lease of life four years later when, to keep the car saleable in the USA, it was bestowed with prominent plastic bumpers, an increased ride height to meet Stateside safety laws, and the 1493cc Triumph Spitfire engine and gearbox which could meet emissions laws. The MG Midget continued in production until 1979.

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