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MGB Published: 23rd Dec 2015 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

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Do you drive this great classic or are thinking of buying one? Here’s how to ensure that you get the best out of your car for years to come

If there’s one thing that even detractors of MGBs have to admire then it’s their sheer simplicity to maintain at home due to the sports car’s orthodox mechanicals which are little more elaborate than a Morris Oxford! Even if you are not keen on DIY, then most small local garages can do it for you – or best of all the army of specialists who have also developed useful upgrades and dodges over the decades, all making this great classic even better. Now it’s your turn to do the same…

1. ENGINE OUTPUT

 

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Anything from 105-130bhp is attainable from the B-Series reliably by dint of better breathing (start with K&N filters from MGOC at £59.95) followed by a better head and exhaust before replacing the already good camshaft. A 40 per cent hike care of supercharging costs £3000 and the engine must be in good order. Latterly, fuel injection and alloy, (even cross-flow) cylinder heads are marketed. SU carbs are quite ok for most states of tune as Webers only gain advantage at higher revs.

 

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Pre-ignition can be a problem, and hard to cure. Valve seat recession affects B-Series more than most so best use a fuel additive. Cooling system went to V8 spec in 1977 and worth updating to. Engine can become tappety but it’s rarely dire. Peter Edney produces some exotic roller rockers although are mainly for racing use. If carbs are worn, Moss Europe offers its new Mikuni ‘bike’ carb kit, a good alternative to Webers at £985.

 

2. BOTTOM END

 

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The robust B-Series can be taken out to 2.1-litres for more torque but 1950cc is easier, more popular and cheaper. MGOC sells standard engines from £1530 and £1980 for a 2-litre, or £2190 if balanced; fully blown 2.0+ engine costs almost £3750. Moss’s ‘Stage 2’ alternatives range from £2587-£3478. It’s worthwhile having the crank and rods balanced during a home rebuild.

 

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Original ‘three bearing’ blocks are rare now due in part that many find their way into MGAs. Besides, the five bearing is more robust and plentiful if not as free-revving. Many MGBs were fitted with Marina TC engines over the years. Low oil pressure on any B-Series is usually simply general wear and a failing oil pump. The sump can be dropped in situ to access the crank and pump.

 

3. TRANSMISSION

 

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Higher gearing helps this MG when touring which is why overdrive is essential. It’s not hard to convert to although if your MGB lacks it, also consider a five-speed fitment instead as popular Ford Sierra conversion boasts better 2nd/3rd ratios plus a slicker change. It costs around £1500 as a kit but gearboxes are becoming scarce; all major MG bods can help. MOSS also produces an overdrive upgrade that costs some £400 although it’s more suited to competition.

 

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The standard overdrive unit rarely gives trouble but can become lazy, pointing to simply low lubricant level or an electrical switch/solenoid fault – the latter are awkward to renew. Most gearboxes become noisy but it’s an irritant rather than an ailment and rarely terminal; try a special oil or additive first. Lever zizzz is cured by a cheap anti-rattle kit (£3.25). Replacing the clutch requires taking the engine and gearbox out as one assembly so you need a heavy-duty hoist and some help.

 

4. FRONT SUSPENSION

 

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Take care that you don’t make springing too hard and as a result the ride intolerable; lever arm dampers still ok for road use (£168, Moss) but ultimate is MGOC ‘Evolution3’ front axle and suspension featuring coil over damping and adjustable geometry (£1550). Moss offers Frontline telescopic conversion for £1000 and a cheaper Spax kit for £324. There’s choice of anti roll bars and a Moss adjustable type for £200. Power steering kits also available.

 

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Trunnion and king pin condition is critical and a safety issue. Regular lubrication is the answer; EP90 gear oil is recommended but 95 per cent are greased which is easier but not so effective. If you need to replace a trunnion, it’s best to renew both sides at the same time. Wishbone bushes quickly age and collapse; straightforward to renew using tougher, tauter V8-type ones for under £40. Castor adjustment kits lighten the steering on chrome bumper cars and well worth fitting.

 

5. REAR SUSPENSION

 

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Telescopic conversion is worthwhile and dedicated kits are readily available from less than £180 (Spax). However the ride usually suffers especially if the springs have also been uprated. More sophisticated rear end formats are available from the likes of Frontline at £1795 but unnecessary for road although anti tramp bars £195 (Moss) and a Panhard Rod (£355) are worth having to tie down the axle.

 

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Lowering a rubber bumper car to ‘previous’ ride height? MGB Hive sells a simple kit costing just under £70 but it’s best to first ensure the correct springs and roll bar sizes are used (especially post ’76 cars) or handling could be worse than before. Leaf springs prone to settle with age; if the tops of rear tyres aren’t visible then they have sagged a bit too much. MGB Hive sells standard springs from £57.50 (each), MGOC offers parabolic set returning comfort levels for £200.

 

6. BRAKES

 

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Standard brakes aren’t bad so just an overhaul plus better pads may suffice before opting for better discs and callipers (full kit £633 from Moss). Actually, the RV8 set up is as good as any – speak to experts who have racing connection such as Brown & Gammons. Rear discs kits available but only needed for high power or track stuff but braided brake hoses ensure a better, firmer pedal feel.

 

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There’s no particular points to fret about. With a disc and pad set from MGOC costing under £40 and rear shoes at less than a tenner, it’s folly to chance it with secondhand components. Servo was fitted for 1973 but if pedal feels hard it’s because the unit needs an overhaul. Is the original master cylinder still fitted? Then budget for a new one (£39.20 from Moss Europe). Alas, original metal reservoir type is now obsolete

 

7. WHEELS AND TYRES

 

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MGBs always ran on 14 inch wheels. Today, a very good quality 185/70 profile is the best all rounder in terms of grip and ride quality but steering will be even heavier unless you add a castor kit. The chassis was designed to run on crossplies and so the castor angles were accordingly set but as modern radials need less self-centering help, correction kits make the tiller that bit easier to handle. It’s a good, cheap modification from most MG suppliers at around £90.

 

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Wire wheels look the business on any B although bear in mind that original MG ones were 1/2” narrower than the standard steel wheels so can’t take wider modern rubber as easy. Converting to wires is simple once you have the necessary hubs or you can fit V8 alloys which were fitted on later cars. Negative wishbones arms (£60 from Moss) are worth fitting if originals are worn. It gives better handling especially once the steering ‘toe-in’ is set to 1/8-1/32in.

 

8. PANELS

 

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The beauty of owning an MGB is the fact that all you need to make yours better than new is freely available and quality is better than when car was contemporary. Converting rubber bumper to chrome must include all the mountings etc to make it look right and typically costs £585 (MGB Hive) if using new parts. There’s also racing Sebring-style conversion kits – go to http://www.veebee. com and the Upgrades4MGs websites for some ideas; Moss wing set costs £388, for example.

 

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Know your MGBs! While they all look much the same, subtle differences were regularly effected during its long production run. For example, if you are looking at second-hand front wings, bear in mind that they slightly changed in 1968. MGOC sells front wings at £495, rears £525, bonnets £424 and outer sills £56.45 each (full set £129.95 from MGB Hive) although bear in mind that replacement is involved and a professional fitting repair will run into four figures.

 

9. TRIM

 

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The potential for improvements are enormous, from simple cosmetic improvements to full retrims along the lines of the RV8. MGOC markets its own specially styled sports recliner seats at £1139 a pair. New standard seat covers cost £220 (per pair) with a standard carpet set £150. MGB Hive sells ‘Leyland Quality’ hoods at £185 – or how about heated front windscreen from Moss (£205 (Roadster)), walnut dash £208 and electric windows at £210?

 

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Sagging but good seats can be cheaply restored with new foams and diaphragms for between £25-£38. As a general guide, full interior retrim kits at £170- £250 and carpet kits for less than £200 (from Moss) show there’s no need to live rough – or pay over the odds for second-hand trim. Many GTs sport a sunroof but if original, some parts, such as handles, etc are now obsolete and you may have to have a complete assembly fitted.

 

AND ANOTHER THING…

Electronic ignition and a rolling road tune up are the first steps to carry out before adding any orthodox performance tuning. And go to somebody who knows their MGBs for this as experience counts. Fuel injection works well on an MGB but it’s expensive. However, East Anglian-based Specialist Components (www. specialist-components.co.uk) has devised a low cost ‘single point’ EFi that’s also a DIY fit yielding an added 15bhp, better flexibility and a claimed 40mpg. Too thirsty? Well you can also go diesel by fitting B-Series engine from a Sherpa van and see 60mpg. We featured this mod in depth a few years ago – photocopies are available.



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