A self-shifting hatchback MG turned out to be the perfect practical classic for this owner.
A rare automatic ‘B was the perfect project for a talented DIY owner.
Many MG enthusiasts mourned the passing of the elegant and very capable MGA, but there is no doubting that its replacement, the MGB, which successfully melded modernity with tradition, was the right car at the right time.
And, because it was the right car at the right time, and a very fine one at that, the motoring press welcomed it with open arms; Motor magazine enthused that it was a “delightful modern sports car with a marked bias towards the ‘grand touring’ character and a pleasure to drive.”
The MGB hit the ground running and UK sales were good. Better still, it started selling in droves in North America, a market crucial to MG and one where mechanical simplicity, style, keen pricing and good old-fashioned British charm, were perceived as assets.
Even so, increasingly stringent safety and emissions legislation (particularly in North America), shifting market requirements, and product rationalisation, meant that changes were regularly wrought. Towards the end of 1964, the MGB became the recipient of a raft of improvements including the BMC 1800-derived, five-bearing engine. Driveability was improved, as was durability. Then, late in 1965, the MGB GT arrived.
The original styling for the GT was undertaken at the Abingdon Design Office, but none of the designs were deemed to quite hit the mark. With a view to evaluating the latest trends in automotive styling, Syd Enever and John Thornley travelled to the Italian motor show. Whilst there, and during discussions with Pininfarina, it was agreed that MG would provide a production Tourer for Pininfarina to finesse into an attractive, productionviable coupé.
Within a short space of time, a prototype was duly designed, produced, and then delivered to MG for director viewing. Thanks to Pininfarina’s design flair, this new variant (which still owed a great deal to the Abingdon Design Office and Don Hayter in particular) was not only production-viable, it was an absolute stunner.
Practical too. Having increased the windscreen height by 2 inches, Pininfarina’s artisans shaped the roof so that it arched rearwards in a gentle curve. At the rear was a new panel and a large, hinged, tailgate which made for easy access to the interior loadspace. And there was plenty of loadspace too, especially useful when the small ‘occasional’ rear seat was folded flat.
Naturally, the extra metalwork (some 251lb of it apparently), took the edge off the acceleration. Nonetheless, the redesign actually improved aerodynamics and made for a slightly higher top speed. Swings and roundabouts!
Talking of which, that extra weight (predominantly over the rear), together with the GT’s stiffer rear springs and standardfitment front anti-roll bar, not too mention the extremely rigid bodyshell, improved the handling.
Following a number of minor amendments (to ease series production), the production