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Published: 19th Feb 2014 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!
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Think you know all about how to tune an MGB? Sam Skelton may have some surprises...

Yes, it’s another MGB article. Yes, there have been MGB articles in magazines like this for well over twenty years, and you’re probably bored of reading them by now. But don’t turn away just yet. It might be a little bit of a “safe” choice, a little boring, and it might be possible to liken the B to a sports Sherpa van in terms of the drivetrain. But the MGB can always be made into a very fun little sports car with just a few tweaks, some old, some new.

BEFORE YOU START

There are so many MGB buying guides we needn’t go into specifics here; chances are if you’re buying a car to hot up you’ll know what you’re looking for and want to replace a lot of things anyway – a good bargaining point on an average car of which many are about.

Naturally, the big enemy with these cars is rust. MGBs were amongst the first monocoques made by BMC, and as such they were over-engineered to ensure they didn’t fall apart – but they still rot for England! The sills are particularly bad areas – there are seven pieces, and if the whole lot needs replacing it’s £740 per side to have done, and done well otherwise the doors won’t shut properly. In particular, the castle rails must be solid or the whole thing will flex, wobble, and safety will be compromised. Wings rot out too, as do inner wings in the engine compartment (they go all squishy) when pressed firmly. Check the suspension mountings closely; chances are if you’re going to give it more go it’ll be driven hard, and these areas will be put under more strain than normal.

Bear in mind that you can buy brand new shells from British Motor Heritage. Not a cheap exercise but there again nor is professional body repairs. Another good point is that BMH can supply ‘competition’ shells which are strengthened where necessary.

Mechanically there’s almost nothing to worry about, however and anyway as we said earlier, a lot of the running gear will probably be replaced in the quest for more of a B-sting.

HOTTING UP

There are so many MGB specialists and so many performance mods for the B-Series that we’d run out of room even if we listed them by bullet points! We recommend a five-bearing unit for anyone looking to increase performance even though the earlier unit is freer running.

Budget tuning – which works well incidentally – should centre around better breathing with the likes of K&N air filters and a sports exhaust, including manifold. This £3-400 spend should liberate around 10 per cent more power – and we reckon anther 3-5bhp on top if you have the engine fine tuned on a rolling road to get the optimum mixture and ignition timing settings for that engine.

Want more go? Larger valves and gas-flowed ports always work wonders on the B’s cast iron head along with a CR of around 9.5:1 (don’t go higher), but think twice before installing a too racier camshaft (there’s plenty to choose from) as it compromises what’s so good about the venerable B-Series.

HOTTING YOUR CAR UP

BUDGET

• Performance air filters,exhaust upgrade
• Electronic ignition, rolling road session
• Gas-glowed cylinder head, re-jetted carbs

FULL THROTTLE

• Larger bore Stage 2 engine (2-litre)
• Supercharger conversion (30 per cent more power)
• Advanced alloy cylinder heads,  including cross-flow
• Fuel injection & mapping kits


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