Being There [Part One]

Symphony in B.

Image: caradisiac

National Treasure is a term which gets bandied about rather a lot in the media nowadays, particularly amid the world of showbusiness. Normally bestowed on the basis of merit, but in some cases it is as much a matter of longevity, dogged persistence even. But regardless of rationale, most recipients tend to exhibit a common sense of virtue. It is therefore perhaps fair to suggest that all of the above traits have contributed to the MGB’s beatification in afterlife, a seemingly impregnable status close to the pinnacle of historic car national treasure-hood. For in the UK at least, a classic car event without at least one MGB in attendance really cannot authentically call itself a classic car event at all.

This of course is not to say that even the rarest, most pristine (production) MGB is ever likely to make its owner wealthy – there were not only too many made for that to be the case, but the MG marque, while subject to a deep and lasting regard amid public and aficionado alike, additionally lacks the cachet of an Alvis, an Aston Martin or even an Austin Healey. Traditionally prey to an element of snobbery, MG has been unable to fully escape its somewhat humble origins, despite the innumerable European and domestic competition successes, the speed records, not to mention the marque’s strong association with the nascent post-war US racing scene.

But if by its 1980 demise, the MGB had become something of a weak joke, it was viewed at its Autumn 1962 debut as a thoroughly up to date and wholly logical progression from the well regarded MGA – the marque’s first truly modern sports car offering. Unlike the A, which employed a separate chassis-type construction, the B employed a full monocoque bodyshell, albeit with a good deal of technical carryover in chassis hardware terms.

As with all MGs, cost was a primary consideration, especially given the expense of tooling up the unitary bodyshell for EX205 (as it was dubbed at Abingdon); so much so that MG General Manager, John Thornley believed his BMC masters would never sanction it. What this meant was that hoped-for developments such as Syd Enever’s coil-sprung independent rear suspension, which had been specified on paper would be rejected. Unlike the MGA however, which was unashamedly a roadster in open form, the B offered a somewhat less penitential experience, with decadent comforts such as winding windows, door locks, decent weather equipment and the option of a heater.

Carried over from the MGA was the coil spring and wishbone front suspension, and beam axle rear, with damping by Armstrong lever arm dampers. Retained in principle too was the twin-carburettor B-series four cylinder engine[1], but in this installation, upgraded to 1798 cc. With a compression ratio of 8.8:1 and developing maximum power of 95 bhp (net) at 5400 rpm with a maximum torque figure of 110 lbs. ft at 3000 rpm, the B, which left a broadly similar impression upon the weighing scales as its predecessor, provided usefully improved performance. With accurate and direct rack and pinion steering and front-mounted disc brakes, the MG gave a good account of itself.

The UK motor press were certainly impressed, noting that the MGB was not only appreciably quicker than its predecessor, but found it to be more refined, more commodious and more economical, while just as capable dynamically. Amid certain quarters, especially in the UK, a tooth-rattling ride remained a prerequisite for a two-seater sports car at this time, so the B was deemed more of a GT in spirit, since it at the very least bid lip-service, not just to passenger comfort, but to space utilisation, weatherproofing and overall civility. However, in this (and in a number of other areas), attitudes were quickly changing, driven by more sophisticated US market tastes and more sybaritic rivals like the Sunbeam Alpine.

Following on from the voluptuous elegance of the MGA – perhaps the prettiest British two seater since the Jaguar XK120 – the MGB’s styling was once more an in-house job[2], albeit, one from which can be detected a strong Corso Trapani influence, with distinct reflections of contemporary two-seater designs from Pininfarina, especially at the rear, with its cut down tailfins. Exactly proportioned, with a strong foursquare stance, there wasn’t a visual element out of line[3].

The MGB’s visual appeal would go up several notches three years later with the advent of an even better looking B GT model, dubbed by MG’s John Thornley as ‘the poor man’s Aston Martin’. With a fastback styled canopy, this time designed with assistance from Pininfarina, the B was transformed into a versatile close-coupled 2+2 gran turismo, with a useful rear hatch and occasional rear seating. With a weight penalty of 220lbs over the open model, acceleration was blunted slightly, but its cleaner shape lent the GT a higher top speed, while the slightly stiffer rear suspension settings, newly fitted Salisbury axle and more rear-biased weight distribution aided road manners.

Image: adclassix

Success was immediate, sales for 1963 to 1966 outstripping projections, especially demand from the United States. The GT model broadened the B’s appeal further; to some extent bolstered by social and economic changes which took place at the time, when (from time to time at least) credit became more affordable to Britons, and lifestyles (slightly) less regimented. Additionally, and in no small part down to its improved practicality and user-friendliness, not to mention more civilised road manners, the B now also appealed to female drivers, who had previously not made up a significant proportion of sports car sales. There was no doubt, MG hit a market sweet-spot with the B.

Image: viaretro

Towards the latter end of the decade, the design, while still competitive in appearance was starting to feel dated, and while the MG’s popularity remained undimmed, more modern rivals like Fiat’s 124 Spider and later, Datsun’s 240Z would eat into the B’s market[4]. Furthermore, increasingly stringent passive safety and emissions mandates from MG’s core market would disproportionately impact upon Abingdon’s resources at a crucial time. Following from initial efforts to update the B’s technical specification, a decision had been made around 1966 to propose a new, more forward looking car (dubbed EX234), employing hydrolastic suspension, with a comely, if more compact two-seater body by Pininfarina. But this ambitious programme would be dropped following a review under Donald Stokes in the aftermath of the Leyland takeover[5].

While initial prospects of the rival Austin Healey marque moving towards the exit amid the new BLMC order might have been greeted with a certain relief at Abingdon, MG would instead be faced with an even more formidable in-house foe: Triumph. With both Donald Stokes and Triumph technical director, Harry Webster in ascendant within the new car giant, the prospects for MG were to put it mildly, uncertain. In the short term, this would mean the MGB would remain in production, largely unchanged, but as the Seventies dawned, few could envisage just how long this would be made to continue.

Part two follows shortly.

[1] The MGB’s engine bay had been designed to accommodate BMC’s stillborn V4 engine, which would prove fortunate later. 

[2] The MGB’s styling is attributed to Don Hayter. Read DTW’s profile of this Abingdon stalwart here.

[3] Perhaps the MGB’s greatest aesthetic enemy was its sheer ubiquity.

[4] In the UK market, saloon-based cars like Ford’s Capri, despite being very different products, would also nibble into the MGB’s market share as the ’70s dawned. 

[5] A mid-engined MG design was proposed, but was abandoned owing to cost constraints and evidence from US market research suggesting that American buyers favoured a more traditional, orthodox technical approach – as Fiat would also find as the traditionalist 124 Spider would prove more to US tastes than the more delicate and technically advanced X/19.

The MGC will be profiled separately.

Sources: MG Owners Club/ ARonline/ Classic and Sportscar.

Author: Eóin Doyle

Co-Founder. Editor. Content Provider.

68 thoughts on “Being There [Part One]”

  1. Good morning Eóin. The MGB really is too easy to overlook or take for granted, so it’s nice to be reminded of just what a good car it was at launch. BMC and its successor companies on so many occasions launched cars that were flawed in design terms, underdeveloped and/or poorly built, but the MGB was excellent from the get-go, and the styling was perfect:

    If I were to be hyper-critical, I’ve never liked the way the chrome bodyside trim strip touches the top of the front wheel arch. I remember reading about a restored example where the strip was moved up slightly, and it looked much better, seeing some bodywork between the top of the arch and the strip. Alternatively, it could be deleted altogether.

    Time to get my crayons out…

  2. Here we go, original first, then chrome strip deleted (there is a bodyside crease immediately above the chrome strip, which I’ve left.) then chrome strip retained but wheel arch flattened off a little:


    1. Wasn’t there a welding seam under the chrome strip because the wing was made from at least two parts?

    2. Hello Daniel, I think I prefer the middle one, without the strip, although it makes it look a slightly bulkier design.

      I’m glad this range of cars is being covered, as although it is indeed an institution, it’s not one I’ve read much about. A large part of the Mini’s legend stems from its involved development story, and by comparison, the MG’s was more straightforward.

      They look very good – especially the Aston-esque coupé, but my memory of having been in a late version was how agricultural it felt, which is a shame.

    3. Hi Dave. Funnily enough, I thought the same, but apparently not. Here are a diagram of the body sections and a replacement front wing, both from British Motor Heritage:

    4. Hi Charles, the middle one without the chrome strip is my favourite as well. When the MGB was designed, it certainly wasn’t intended to be the last word in sophistication or refinement, so it’s little surprise that it felt agricultural by the standards of two decades later. I imagine that it was quite acceptable at launch, but I must dig out a period road test to see how it was received when new.

  3. Looking back the MGB in spite of its success was hampered not only hampered by the lack of IRS and inability to develop it in parallel to a conventional saloon model, but also only being available with a 1.8-litre engine instead of featuring a more extensive range of 4-cylinder engines as on the likes of the Sunbeam Alpine, Datsun Sports, Fiat 124 Sport Spider and Alfa Romeo Spider. Which unlike the MGB were based on the Minx, Bluebird/Cedric, 124 and Giulia saloons, unless one is willing to count the Marina (and by extension the Sherpa van for those very critical of the MGB).

    A larger 2-litre of some form was considered for the MGB many times over the course of its production only to be dismissed for one reason or another, while at the same the MGB was also said to be underpowered with the MGA 1.6-litre engine during its development (thanks to packing on the kilos over the MGA) with short-lived provision being made for carrying over the MGA Twin-Cam engine before that idea was abandoned due to its infamous reputation.

    It could also be said that the lack of a quicker 2-litre MGB acted as a glass ceiling that hampered efforts at providing the smaller Midget / Sprite with a larger 1.6-litre engine as on the MGA-powered Project MARS (EX221) prototype, its 106 mph top speed and 0-60 figure of 9 seconds pretty much outperforming a regular MGB.

    It was a rather hasty for BL to drop EX234 in hindsight since a rebodied version similar to how the Triumph Bullet evolved into the TR7 would have allowed the company to replace the MGB, Midget and Spitfire at the same time while reducing overlap with the bigger TR7. Again it would have also helped that a provision was made for a related saloon, though understand the idea was later revisited with the ADO77 project that was envisioned to underpin an MGB successor prior to its cancellation.

  4. I’m really pleased to see the MG B featured by Eóin. At launch, it was a neat and tidy design (love those wheels on the red car featured in Daniel’s reply), and perfectly competitive. The GT was almost exotic in its looks and will forever hold a special place in my memory as an uncle of mine had one and I thought both it and he were super-cool.

    Of course, as ever with BMC/ BLMC/ BL, it stayed in production too long with too-little development, and so has unfairly become an item of ridicule for some or even many. I am pleased, therefore, that Eóin’s writing is giving it a fair and balanced hearing.

    1. Good morning S.V. Yes, those steelies with the simple chrome hubcaps are really rather nice.

      A neighbour of ours has an early B GT in primrose yellow, a colour I wouldn’t normally like, but it suits the car very well:

    2. Very nice – a very heritage colour. Would prefer it on the steelies of the red car …

  5. Thank you Eóin for covering both this car and this marque, two things I find absolutely fascinating. It really was like a lot of BMC/BLMC’s creations; left too long in production and allowed to wither on the vine when there was so much potential for development and a customer base aching to buy it.

    I once read somewhere, possible here actually (long time lurker lol) that at one point MG was once considered one of the most recognisable and desirable brands in the world. And in America they literally couldn’t get enough of them. So naturally of course, they did very little with it and then got rid of it.

    As a kid a neighbour of my grandparents had one of the latter MGBs, a red one with the rubber(?) bumpers. I thought it was the coolest car in the world, especially because in the short years afterwards, the MG Rover era Z cars started to appear on the roads and I just thought they were absolutely the ones to have. This may have been the start of my fascination with cars in general actually, which would make MG even more important to me.

    Daniel your middle example with the strip removed is a thing of beauty!

  6. Around 1979/1980 MGBs and Spitfire MkVs were sold very cheaply. The Spitfire’s image was so bad that it found very few customers but the MG sold to people who wanted to get an old fashioned, simple sports car.
    With those impossibly ugly rubber bumpers and only 79 emission strangled PS it was a rolling museum piece.

    A guy I knew sold his Alfa Spider 1300 and replaced it with an MGB with chrome bumpers and 97 PS. He liked the rustic feel and the torquey engine of the MG. One day the engine overheated badly and when we stripped it down we found the head was distorted in every possible direction after the gasket had failed. We found that a complete replacement engine astonishingly cost only about half as much as having the head put right in an engine repair shop so he duly bought an engine.

  7. Hi Eóin, having become aware of cars by the time the MGB was toppling off its last legs, and not being British, the car always seemed ‘to exist’. There was – like you mention – always an MGB present at any remotely vintage car related event. Nice exhaust note for a four cylinder, though. Funnily enough a car like the Alfa Bertone coupé (105/115 GTV) was off the market for a bit longer at that time; whilst not being necessarily less ubiquitous than the MG, it had become a bonafide (affordable) classic and therefore more desirable. To me at least: it still holds a special place in my heart.

    It boggles the mind that Fiat once had the resources to develop not one, but two small sports cars.

    Daniel: I’m not sure about the chrome strip. As far as I gave the MGB much thought (ubiquitous as it was), I share your dislike of the strip touching the top of the front wheel arch. I think I like the strip-less one the best. I thought I’d try and lower the strip to see how that looks, but I’m not convinced:

    Some editorial nitpicking: in the last-but-one paragraph there are references to footnotes 3 and 4, which should be 4 and 5, respectively (3 having already been used earlier).

    1. I can lower than that 😉

      But I too prefer the car sans chrome strip.

    2. I think we might draw a polite veil over your effort, Tom! It reminds me of those awful bump strips they used to stick to the sides of US market Jaguar XJs in the 1970s.

      Freerk, I think you’re onto something with your strip beneath the door. It gives the opportunity to paint the sills black (like they did on the Midget) which makes it look longer and lower. I’ve also tidied up the rather misshapen front valance:

      Regarding the horizontal weld on the front wing, I could live with that, as long as it’s neat and consistent. My Boxster has a horizontal panel gap between the door and rear wheel arch which I didn’t particularly like at first, but now I’m used to it:

    3. >It boggles the mind that Fiat once had the resources to develop not one, but two small sports cars<

      In its eighteen years on the market more than half a million MGBs were sold.
      Alfa sold 125,000 105/115 Series Spiders in nearly thirty years.
      Fiat was mad enough to make 424 Mk2 Dino Spiders.
      No wonder you can buy every imaginable spare part for the MG and not much (except for mechanical parts) for the Italians.

    4. Tom V: Grateful thanks. The piano has been drinking (not me).

    5. That’s a good effort, Daniel! I’m torn between this and the one without any strip.

      Do pianos suffer from hangovers?

      (no movies about ill-tuned pianos please…)

    6. A slight restyle of the later MGB was looked at when Aston Martin looked at taking over Abingdon and keeping the MGB in production with the ‘O’ series engine as a replacement for the emissions challenged ‘B’.
      They dropped the chrome strip and went to a two tone paint scheme, and brought back a very truncated grille.

  8. 30 or so years ago I worked in a garage which specialised in MGB. There is a weld under the trim strip on the front wing, although the wing as a whole is a larger item as shown above. I think the wings have to be removed to replace the windscreen.
    I remember a customer’s car which had the trim strip removed with the holes and weld filled. It didn’t look right and the strip was re-instated.

    1. According to BMH Spares the front wing is made from ten parts.
      Here’s somebody working on a wing

    2. 10 parts? Sporty. This probably explains a bit of the reason why this company never really had much money for development.

    3. Most probably it was necessary because PSF could only handle tin snippets because they lacked the expensive tools for larger 3D contoured parts. Ten parts is the number BMH states on their website. I searched for a picture of the inside of a wing to show the welding seam and found this information on their website. I think they didn’t much change the production process it was alwaysdone that way.

  9. There’s another reason I’m glad this article was created, because it gives me an excuse to ask a question I’ve wanted to ask for ages; how well do you think BMC’s hydrolastic suspension system would have worked in a sports car, especially a RWD one?

    I’m just wondering if it was ever possible for BMC to have created a hydrolastic MGB type replacement. Assuming it was viable, would it have even been a good idea?

    1. Well, the MGF of 1995 had Hydragas suspension, but when the TF came along in 2002 it was changed for coils. Whether the reasons for this were based on performance or money I don’t know. There was also, apparently, a Hydrolastically suspended MG-branded Indy car in the late 1960s: see .

    2. JCC: MG part-developed a potential MGB and Midget replacement (EX234) which did employ hydrolastic as the suspension medium. Its roadholding and handling was highly rated – by John Surtees, no less, who evaluated the prototype at (I think?) Syd Enever’s request. I see no reason why it wouldn’t have worked. Whether it would have been viable in the US market is another matter entirely of course. EX234 was axed shortly after the BLMC merger. Stokes had other ideas.

  10. Thanks for this reminder of what an absolutely spot-on design the MGB GT is. If it were less ubiquitous (and had been blessed with a less protracted demise), it would undoubtedly be held in higher regard. There is, indeed, something a bit Aston-like about it: The rear fastback reminds me of the DB-S.

    If I’m completely honest, the delightful 124 Spider would be my roadster choice, though that is not in any way to disparage the MGB.

    Now my ZT will probably refuse to start…

    1. There’s a little treasure trove… Thanks for pointing it out.

  11. I always thought the chrome trim would be nicer in more coke-bottle flourish that echoed the profile of the bonnet, window and boot lid. The hyper-straight line, to me at least – always felt out of character with the more beautiful curves on display. Other than that it’s a 10 out of ten. I always liked how shallow the windscreen is – sort of like it was a Kustom with a roof chop right out of the factory.

  12. @Johnathon

    Oh yeah I’d forgotten that lol. Would be very interested to hear from anyone in the know how it performed. And I suppose there’s a possibility that it was ditched for cost reasons, since I think by then it was the only model actually using it.

    About the chrome line too; while I still think it probably looks nicer without it, what if it was exactly level with the front bumper, running through the front wheel?

    More than half a million MGBs sold over 20 years seems like a great run, especially considering how undeveloped it remained. Did it have good profit margins?

  13. @Eóin

    Thanks for replying! I think I saw that one before, it was based upon a mini wasn’t it? Or am I thinking of something else?

    Was hydrolastic too complicated for America? I know they liked to keep things simple. And I suppose in a way that was part of MG’s brand values; simple (and small and sporty).

    And everyone always talks about the 1100’s great road holding ability, so yeah hydrolastic must have definitely had its sporty performance merits.

    And Donald Stokes…him again lol.

    1. JCC: I’m afraid you are confusing your stillborn MG prototypes. The Mini based car was ADO 34; the Pininfarina designed edition remains in the British Motor Museum’s permanent collection. (There was also an MG-designed version, lost to time). However, EX234 was a rear-wheel drive car, intended to replace both Midget and B, with in line engines and hydrolastic. Styled by Pininfarina, its delicate lines have more of an Alfa Spider flavour. It still exists – in a private collection, I believe.

      You ask was hydrolastic too complicated for America? Yes and no. No, insofar as it isn’t as if Americans wouldn’t appreciate its advantages, but yes in that from a servicing and durability perspective, given the vast distances, lack of service outlets and lack of service experience (and necessary servicing hardware), it probably wouldn’t have flown. It certainly didn’t aid ADO 16s prospects in the land of the freeway.

      BMC tried hydrolastic on a number of rear-drive designs and it acquitted itself well.

  14. @Eóin, thank you again. This is why I love this site, I’m always learning something new lol. EX234 was a nice looking motor, certainly had potential imo.

    But I suppose in the end it was a better idea to keep things simple. Arguments could be made that they should have worked on their dealer and servicing networks but admittedly that would have been a huge undertaking.

    Europe was a different story though; I imagine that a rear wheel drive hydrolastic sports car would have went down a treat in Italy and the like.

  15. Very strange coincidence, as I was walking along Harley Street in London this morning and saw what I thought was an MGB in excellent condition up ahead. Getting closer I noted that there was no badging on the boot lid, which seemed odd, but otherwise all seemed well. As it was waiting for a red light to change I had the chance to check the front and instead of the octagon it had an RBW badge, and as the roof was folded back I asked the driver what RBW stood for (he had no idea). Checking them out online I found – looks like a very neat “restomod” with decent range and speed.
    My birthday has just gone, but should anyone be thinking of what to get me for my 60th in 2024…

    1. I had no idea what RBW meant either. Apparently it stands for Rose, Becky and Wesley, which are the names of the children of the founder of the company. Converting to an EV is quite the restomod.

    2. Here it is:

      Apart from the new powertrain, it looks like a very nice updating of the MGB. (And no chrome boduside trim either!)

    3. You can get ‘B’s resto-modded with an MX5 engine, which is a much better idea.

    4. Mervyn, I’m not saying you’re wrong, but without doing a comparative test, why do you think you’re right?

  16. Interesting that the MGB has acquired its current iconic status – it was not always so. During its production run it was rightly, in their own opinion, acclaimed by its fans – and equally rightly, in their opinion, derided by its detractors. But let’s be clear about one thing; it was not a sports car. At least not as the term was generally understood at the time. As Eóin points out, it had embryonic GT leanings. Others, however, did that rather better; the B was simply too agricultural by half.

    MG had lost the sports car plot – the Midget was too cramped in comparison to Triumph’s Spitfire (probably at its best in Mk 3 form) and in any case an Austin with an MG badge and both marques’ traditional appeal was doomed by association – with each other and their ownership.

    Viewed from this distance, I confess to finding the MGBGT quite an attractive looking thing. But for me any affection for it is no different to the affection I might feel for a Morris Minor Traveller……

  17. I was looking for the reminiscences of MG’s Roy Brocklehurst online: there was an article I happened on before in which he recalled the stillborn V4 as a very smooth engine amongst other things, but I was unable to find it.

    However, I did find this which provides much food for thought:

    Click to access 25_years_mgb_t+cc_jan87.pdf

    1. That pdf has a reference to a light six engine installed in an MGB, (not the ‘C’ series MGC motor), and how quick it was. This was undoubtedly the ‘B’ series with two added cylinders that went into production in Australia as the ‘Bluestreak’ six fitted to the Austin Freeway and Wolseley 24/80.
      Yet again we are all left wondering why this obvious development wasn’t followed. Based on the earlier 1600 ‘B’ motor the six can easily be uprated to the later 1800 bore and stroke and in Australia was available with a factory developed triple SU induction kit. An MGB with 50% more power and six cylinder smoothness sounds appealing. A few cars in Australia and New Zealand have been converted

    2. There have been more critical accounts concerning the stillborn V4 engine as amongst other things including its weight, etc, Syd Enever was said to have disliked the uneven exhaust note of its V4 configuration.

      Another option recalled by Don Hayter, which was favoured by many at Abington, was essentially a 2-litre 4-cylinder C-Series created by cutting a cylinder from each end of the C-Series 6-cylinder.

    1. What is even sadder about the Blue Streak Six is had BMC produced a 2-litre version of the B-Series 4-cylinder earlier instead of leaving it as a prototype (to later evolve into the O-Series when the idea was revisited yet the tooling was completely in need of replacing), it would have pretty much negated the need for the larger heavier C-Series 6-cylinder.

      As the B-Series 4-cylinder was said to be only slightly lighter than the all-alloy Rover V8 used in the MGB, did wonder how much the B-Series could have had its weight further reduced via thin-wall casting techniques or what was intended for the revised C-Series engine.

    2. A 2.0 litre four would lead to a 3.0 litre six, but even with a 2.6 it would have made the BGT into a 240Z/TR5/6 competitor. The use of the Rover V8 later, while seemingly obvious was always constrained by engine supply, the V8 wasn’t able to be sold in the USA, partly for this reason.

    3. What is appealing about the idea of a 2.7-3-litre Blue Streak Six (let alone a 2-litre B Series) is how the tuning applied on the 1.8 B-Series to put out 120 hp, would have roughly equated to about 200 hp at most off the bat.

      A reliable Twin-Cam or earlier B OHC opens up more possibilities.

      Thinking about it further, apart from strangled US emissions spec it would have been more useful in some ways than the Rover V8.

  18. They really could have done so much more with the B series engine. They should have at least got it up to 2 litres, especially after the Triumph 2000/Rover P6 showed which way the wind was blowing.

    Speaking of Triumph Rover, after the formation of British Leyland, was it feasible to have fitted Triumph engines into the MGB? Specifically thinking of the Dolomite engines. Though I imagine the stupid politics would have made that a non starter.

    1. The history of the British car industry is infested with ‘what-ifs’ and ‘why didn’t they do thats’, perhaps more than any other country?

    2. IIRC from David Knowles book on the MGB, it was said the Triumph engine dismissed because it would not fit into the car without extensive modifications.

    1. Correction – It is David Knowles book on the Triumph TR7 where it was mentioned that a Slant-Four was tried in an MGB, although according to Triumph’s Martin Smith:

      “It was an extremely tight fit! It was one route that MG were keen to use, but the engine bay was very narrow in the B and the chassis rails were also narrow meaning the engine had to sit up quite high, not a problem for the height other than it raise the centre of gravity and made the transmission line through the tunnel high as well.”

      Also worth mentioning that the Triumph Slant-Four could not be mounted transversely into FWD models, whereas Saab IIRC had to redesign its own version of the Slant-Four twice to fit into the transversely mounted 9000 and the 900 NG (that at least was said to be better than the Triumph version that suffered from cost-cutting during its development).

      The O-Series was also reputed to cost £85 at the end off the engine production line vs £170 for the 8v Slant-Four and £240 for the 16-valve Slant-Four, so taken together it was unsurprising the Triumph unit was the one to fair unfavourably on cost grounds.

      The notion formerly rival marques would happily co-exist with each other in the aftermath of a chaotic government-backed merger as part some sort of British GM is a fantasy, short of the government at the start providing more than enough money to offset the time, money and investment various marques had already put into their future product plans for the next decade (and ignoring the protests by local divisions of the US Big Three).

      That being said on the Sportscar front, it would be somewhat doable in the short-term had ADO34/ADO35 (plus a Metro-derived successor) and EX234 been approved for production respectively, thereby reducing overlap with the TR7 and family however it is likely to be unsustainable in the mid/long-term.

  19. Which leads me to believe that that was just an ‘excuse’ by their former rivals to not help out in any way.

    It was all so stupid imo; MG, Triumph (and Jaguar) could have all happily existed under one roof without stepping on each other’s toes, by being firmly aimed at different segments of the market (MG cheap and fun, Triumph mid market, Jaguar premium high end). But that would have taken gumption, which apparently they didn’t have at all.

    1. Exactly.
      Though I think some of the problem has to do with the class system and ’empire’, though to disentangle it would be more than a few PhD theses. As the Brexit debacle hints at.

    2. Those cost reasons make sense. The ‘B’ series, an all iron, ohv pushrod 8 valve motor made using well amortised tooling, would cost far less to make than an alloy headed ohc with tensioned chain drive, made using new tooling.
      But in a way this showed what was wrong with management and it’s failure to reinvest in their product and improve it’s saleability. Compare the MGB with Datsun’s first Fairlady. This was very much an MGB competitor, but the second Fairlady was, with it’s six cylinder motor but similar sizing, a vastly more successful car. And much more profitable too, with it’s higher price point.

    3. Would Agree. In isolation at BMC as opposed to the mess that is BL, one could argue that an upscaled 6/8-cylinder capable version of the MG EX234 should have been developed either succeeding or in place of the MGC and MGB GT V8.
      BMC could have also followed the example of Nissan in developing the former as part of a modular RWD platform family (above a roughly Maestro/Montego-sized ADO17/6X), which included a smaller lighter 3-litre analogue.

      Similar to how at Nissan there was greater commonality between the Skyline C10, Laurel C30 and Bluebird 510. While the Z platform was basically new, it is likely a given that to keep costs management components were sourced from other Nissans particularly including the above.

      Did feel Datsun should have developed an open version of the Z and the Silvia S10, on top adding more visual appeal to the latter as a 4-cylinder Z in place of the S10’s styling. It was an easy decision for Nissan to make in adopting the Prince developed 4/6-cylinder L engine, yet would have been interesting to see how far they could have taken the J engine.

      Using envisioned brief of the 1967 revised C-Series as a guide for a properly updated B-Series 4/6-cylinder that likely includes a green-lit B OHC (prior to the tooling being completely on its last legs as was the case in the early-70s), it would have basically brought forward the O-Series by over a decade yet with the addition of a Six at a lower cost.

  20. The benefit of hindsight, but remember even GM thought there would be no more convertibles. The XJS and TR7 both appeared as convertibles much later. Datsun were selling as many ‘Z’s as they could make, so why bother with a roofless version. MG aren’t making that mistake with their new roadster that has no cylinders.

    1. I’ve always liked the original Z4.

      But the rear hails from elsewhere. IMO they would be better off quoting the tail lights verbatim.

  21. Yes, the Z4 the replacement for ‘The Worst BMW Ever Made’, the Z3. The first model of which is the only only car that Bangle’s razor-edged curves and crossing lines ever really worked on. I can see why they’d copy that. On the other hand, the less said about the current miasma of styling carbuncles that is the current Z4 the better, other than it’s not as misformed as the Z3.

  22. What was wrong with MG utilising the E-series range of 4 and 6 cylinder engines in the B?

    1. Good question. It was quite a tall engine, and I think the first version was rough and overpowered. But I don’t see why it couldn’t have been worked with, unless there’s a technical issue I’m not aware of.

    2. For one thing, MG were never going to get anything other than hand-me-downs, and in addition the four cylinder E was nobody’s idea of a meaningful advance over the B-series. Furthermore, the B was both a known quantity and reassuringly low-tech – an important consideration in the US market, and it was fully homologated. There were (as has been pointed out), no shortage of potential power units (the 2.0 O-Series came close to getting the green light I believe when the B-series could no longer meet the regs), but it always came down to money.

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