Click here for:
History of the MGB
The MGB tourer was built from 1962 to 1980, with total production reaching
386,789 units, of which nearly nine out of every ten were exported, mainly to
In 1965, the MGB GT was added to the range, and by the end of production in
1980, 125,323 had been built, with rather less than half going to export.
A grand total of 512,112 tourers and GTs made the MGB the world’s top selling
sports car of its era, the first to reach half a million and the top British
sports car of all time.
The total UK market volumes were 49,810 tourer and 64,907 GT - perhaps a
reflection on UK weather! Many MGBs were re-imported to Britain from America
over the years as demand for ‘classic’ versions grew.
The MGB was the first
unitary construction MG sports car, designed for high integrity without a roof.
In GT form it is therefore rather like a bank vault. When John Thornley,
General Manager of MG, negotiated the tooling cost of the MGB with the then
independent Pressed Steel company, he only expected it to run until around
1970. On this assumption, he reduced the up-front charge from £628,000 to
£280,000 by accepting an extra cost of £2 per bodyshell. When the MGB
production had reached half a million, he admitted that his canny deal didn’t
look so smart - however Pressed Steel became a BMC subsidiary in 1965, so any
extra ‘profit’ stayed in house.
The MGB’s toughness and reliability suited it well to long-distance motor
sport. Successes included outright wins of the 1965 Guards 1000 race (Brands
Hatch) and the 1966 Marathon de la Route 84hrs (Nurburgring); there were class
wins at Sebring in 1966 and 1967, in the 1966 Targa Florio and in the 1966
1000km Spa race. At the 1964 and 1965 Le Mans 24 hr events, where simply to
finish was an achievement, the MGB netted second place in class each time.
The enduring popularity of the MGB led to it becoming the best-supported
classic car of all when it came to spares, and the first to have a
series-produced replacement bodyshell, launched by British Motor Heritage in
1988. A special version of the Heritage shell was used to produce the
commemorative MG RV8 in 1992, which helped to keep the MG sports car flame
alive until the MGF launch in 1995.