MGB GT

A self-shift­ing hatch­back MG turned out to be the per­fect prac­ti­cal clas­sic for this owner.

Classics Monthly - - Contents - Words Martyn Mor­gan Jones Pho­tog­ra­phy GeRAR D Hughes

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

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