・Upgraded 1840cc engine with Piper cams & 5 speed box
When it originally broke cover in 1962, the MGB represented a sea-change in MG’s engineering approach, eschewing the body-on-frame construction of its forebears for a new unitary structure. Proven elements such as the suspension, brakes and drivetrain were adopted and evolved from the MGA which it replaced, meaning that the MGB was able to offer an alluring fusion of new-for-’62 modernity along with dependability and affordability. A pure two-seater, it made better use of space than the MGA by offering more passenger accommodation and more room for luggage while also actually being slightly smaller, and the combination of the peppy B-Series 1.8-litre motor and low kerb-weight meant that performance was pleasingly brisk. It was never intended to be an out-and-out sports car of course; no, with its pleasantly soft suspension and its willing character, it’s as much a friend as a car – something eager to join you on open-top adventures through the countryside, or perhaps the odd continental jaunt. The MGB has always been a machine intended for playfulness, mischief and hijinks, but with none of the complexity of its European cousins. You can treat it as a toy, or you can use it every day. And the example we have here is what many view as the purest version of the model: the original Mk1 four-cylinder roadster. For while the 2+2 GT offered a rakish profile and the V8s rumbled to an aggressive beat, it’s the simple, elegant formula of the buzzy two-seater that truly captures the imagination in sepia-tinted 1960s style.
It’s not often you come across a car of this age with so few keepers listed on the logbook… but this is no ordinary MGB. This is a car with some tales to tell. Back in 1979, the current owner’s father bought this car; he was running a vintage car as a daily driver and taking a bit of a ribbing from his mates, so he purchased the MGB as a ‘sensible’ everyday vehicle. The MG was twelve years old at the time, and having been used as a daily runaround throughout its life, it was already staring down the barrel of an MOT failure in 1979. He had a friend who was a welder and, since parts availability wasn’t then what it is now, the two of them hand-fabricated the necessary repair panels from sheet steel and got the MGB in roadworthy order. Fast-forward a few years and, his wife having learned to drive in the car, it was passed down to the son – its current owner. He was 17 at the time (and this was 19 years ago); he’d always played about with the car in the garage as a kid, and now it was time for him to sit in the big chair. A bit of welding was carried out here and there to get it legit, and it became his everyday plaything.
A few years down the line, he was coming home from university and, having learned to weld, was looking for a sports car… and, of course, there was one sitting right there. This one. So he duly stripped the MGB down to bare metal and gave it a full restoration – it required new sills, floors, bonnet and boot, wings, and naturally a repaint. And with everything shipshape, the car immediately became his daily driver, taking him to work, to the shops, on holiday, everything. With the original engine put into storage, it was replaced by a fully rebuilt 1840cc unit with a bit more oomph, and this motor has taken it all over Europe as well as being faultlessly reliable day-to-day.
Sure, the car’s not a concours example, but it’s a solid and usable one with a lot of stories behind it. But sadly, as the family grows and more seats are required, the MGB just isn’t getting used as much these days – so it’s time for it to go to a sympathetic and caring new home, to write the next chapter of this beloved British classic’s life story.
There isn’t a huge amount of documentation here, quite simply because it was never the intention to sell the car, so it wasn’t deemed worthwhile recording everything. Furthermore, the restoration work and running maintenance has all been carried out at home. What we find, however, is two extremely reassuring documents: firstly we have the V5, showing just 2 former keepers. And secondly, we have the original receipt from when the owner’s father bought the car back in 1979. And that’s the sort of nostalgia you can’t put a price on.
This MG has been well-used on a regular basis for a great many years, so as you might expect the interior is functional and careworn rather than pristine. But that’s not to say it’s worn out or unappealing; in fact, it’s a joyful place to find yourself because it feels as if adventures are oozing from every pore.
The car is fitted with a pleasingly thick-rimmed Mountney steering wheel, and all of the original-spec gauges are present and in working order. The dash is tidy with no cracks, and the door cards and carpets are presentable enough. It’s all dry and solid inside the boot too – admittedly it could perhaps do with a coat of paint in there, but there are no skeletons in the closet. And the most noteworthy element of the interior – which is a selling point in itself – is that it’s been equipped with ISOFIX. The seats were sourced from a Mazda MX-5, and have the correct anchoring points to safely affix a child seat if you’re so inclined. The seats also have heated elements – they’re not wired in at present, but there’s potential here to have an MGB with heated seats, which would be a very appealing thing.
The bodywork here is supremely honest. It’s a car that’s been used every day in all weathers, so don’t go expecting a showroom-fresh trophy-winner. Yes, there’s the odd bit of flat paint here and there, a smattering of surface corrosion creeping in around the headlights and one or two other spots… but this has always been a machine run for ‘go’ rather than ‘show’. As such, it’s solid in all the important places: there’s no rot in the chassis, and the panels are all structurally sound. The doors and boot lock and unlock as they should, the windows wind up and down, and when it comes to roof options, you’re spoiled for choice… the soft-top is in outstanding condition, and seals reassuringly against the elements. The car comes with an exceptional hard-top that was purchased new six years ago and hasn’t had a lot of use since – and there’s also the option of another hard-top to take away too. In fact, it’s worth mentioning the spares at this point, as there are a heck of a lot of them: the seller has accrued all manner of spare parts over the decades, and has also kept the old bits when he’s swapped replacements in – so the buyer will be able to take away the original matching-numbers engine, a couple of spare gearboxes including a four-synchro ’box, the original seats (which would need new foam and a retrim, but the frames are sound), a tonneau cover, a bonnet reportedly sourced from one of Barry Sidery-Smith’s race cars, and much more besides – see the photos for a decent sample of what’s available.
The buyer would perhaps need to bring a buddy with a trailer to haul all of this stuff away – although the seller says that he’d actually be willing to deliver the car plus all of the spares to the buyer; the journey would be cathartic for him as a way to say goodbye to this lifelong automotive friend.
The running gear has always been the main focus of this car, and as you might expect it’s all tip-top. The owner points out with a wry smile that whenever he takes the car down to Goodwood or along to classic car meets, this is the one that’s always cruising happily in the fast lane while other MGBs that don’t see a lot of use can be found languishing on the hard shoulder! The engine that’s been fitted is an 1840cc unit with a Piper 270 cam and a 9:1 compression ratio – essentially the spec you’d find in an MG Cup race car, but with a milder cam for improved road manners. It runs very sweetly, starting first time every time and always keeping its cool, whether pottering about town, haring down B-roads or cruising down the motorway. The car is also fitted with a Type-9 5 speed gearbox, with the proven Frontline Engineering kit.. There are no issues reported with the transmission, brakes, steering or suspension, everything’s just as it should be. A thoroughly usable and dependable MG.
The key lure of the MGB Roadster is that the reality is every bit as good as the dream. It may be an iconic and essential ingredient of British culture, but you don’t have to put it on a pedestal: it was engineered to be a joyful and entertaining open-top thrill-seeker, and that’s still very much true today.
And while some collectors seek out gleaming show-ponies to pamper in heated garages and take out once a year for trophy-hunting, this isn’t that sort of MGB. This is a car that’s always, always been used as MG intended, daily-driven in all weathers, holidayed across the continent, a plaything for the family – indeed, an integral part of the family. So if you’re looking for an MGB that’s always been relied upon, enjoyed, and cared for like a sibling, then this is definitely the one for you. The seller is, quite understandably, keen for it to go to a very good home – somewhere that it will continue to be enjoyed as its maker intended!
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