Red MG Roadster

MGB Roadster

The MGB was launched in 1962 and was hailed a great success. It was aimed directly at the US market; the car was praised not only for its modern design but also for the improved space inside and the notable upgrade the engine and gearbox enhancements gave along with better weather gear and overall ease of use.

It had some big boots to fill taking over from the MGA. Still, it looked as though MG had pulled it off with journalists and buyers all giving positive reviews, the comments proving the bold move of making the car a stronger and comfortable machine in comparison to the MGA had paid off.

The sales figures proved the MGB was a hit and continued showing no signs of slowing down for the first few years, the introduction of the GT in 1965 cemented its status as a desirable yet affordable sports car of the ’60s.

Not until 1967 did sales start to slow, this was a trend that lasted a few years until the refreshed model was introduced in 1970.

This brought new buyers who bought into the updated offering even if the die-hard enthusiasts were not as supportive. They did not like the idea of vinyl seats and rubber-faced over-riders and a completely revised recessed front grille, all in all there were mixed reactions.

Overall the MGB was a commercial success, quickly overtaking the early MGA for sales. The MGB’s 25,000 plus annual sales were fairly modest in comparison to some, but it was the best-selling model Abingdon had ever offered. It showed they were still capable of producing a car to compete with its rivals.

A major factor of the MGB popularity was the price. This was a desirable proposition for many, especially when compared to the likes of Jaguar and Triumph. In the UK, the price started at £949, £60 cheaper than a very basic Triumph TR4.

Fortunately for British car buyers, the Chancellor of the Exchequer cut the tax rate significantly just weeks after the MGB’s introduction, so by the 1964 model year, the advertised price had fallen to £836 this included purchase tax even though the base price had not changed.

Just like the MGA, most MGBs were sold abroad. North America taking the lions share with the bulk of production, but the MGB also sold well in other countries. To avoid import charges, MG developed CKD (completely knocked down) kits which were to be assembled locally in Ireland, Belgium and Australia, more than 9,000 MGB roadsters were built down under between 1962 and 1972.

The most significant changes for the MGB occurred in 1974 when, whilst still retaining its overall silhouette, the shape was marred by the change of larger black rubber bumpers, for many this was the decline of the MGB as we know it. The major factor for this addition was the North American market which pretty much dictated what was going to happen with the MGB as it was the largest single buyer of the car.

Raising the ride height by one inch and removing the shiny chrome bumpers with heavy and large black rubber offerings was to enable the car to comply with stricter crash regulations for the US.

The car was too long in the tooth to redesign completely, and a new model was out of the question, so the only way forward for British Leyland was to modify and adapt what they had. In fairness, it still sold reasonably well until the late ’70s and figures remained fairly consistent. Still, the car that had essentially the same body shell and lines for nearly two decades was showing its age. It was starting to look dated in what was becoming a hot hatch market.Tastes were changing and was reflected in the likes of the Mk1 Golf GTi. There was a movement away from two-seater sports cars lean towards a larger more refined market for people who wanted a practical hatch with sportier credentials.