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MGB

Mod & Mend Published: 12th Jul 2013 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

MGB
MGB
MGB
MGB
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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 a friendlier classic to own and maintain than the evergreen MGB then we’ve yet to meet it! Thanks to the orthodox mechanicals which are little more elaborate than a Morris Oxford, the MGB is a brilliantly easy car to keep on top of maintenance-wise, requiring little more than a basic workshop manual, toolkit and a grease gun. And if you are not keen on DIY then there’s an army of specialists who will do it for you – many who have developed useful upgrades and dodges over the decades – at extremely reasonable cost as well

1 ENGINE OUTPUT.

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Anything from 105-130bhp can be coaxed for reliable road use; better breathing with a head and exhaust mainly, the carbs are okay after rejetting. You can see a 40 per cent hike by supercharging but it costs £2000 and the engine must be in good order. If you don’t want to go the V8 route, the Ital-sourced O-Series and later K-Series engines fit with kits and work very well.

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Pre-ignition can be a problem on later engines and hard to dial out; valve seat recession affects head more than most so use a fuel additive if you drive hard. Cooling system went to V8 spec in ‘77 and worth updating to. These engine can become tappety but its rarely dire, unlike crank rumble. Peter Edney has produced some exotic roller rockers mainly for racing use.

2 BOTTOM END

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The robust B-Series (also used on other BL cars and vans) can be taken out to 2.1-litres for more torque but 1950cc is easier and cheaper to attain. It’s worthwhile having the crank and rods balanced plus lighten the heavy flywheel to improve throttle response but it’s not a high revving unit anyway unless you go for exotic crankshaft and con rods to suit.

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Three bearing blocks are rare now as many find their way into MGAs. Besides the five bearing is more robust and plentiful; many MGBs were fitted with Marina TC engines over the years. Low oil pressure on any B-Series is usually general wear and a failing oil pump. The sump can be dropped in situ but alas not all mains are accessible – engine has to come out with ‘box attached.

3 TRANSMISSION

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Higher gearing really helps the MG when touring which is why overdrive is essential. It’s not hard to convert although if your car lacks it consider a five-speed fitment instead as the Ford Sierra ‘box also boasts better 2nd/3rd ratios plus a slicker change. It costs around £1500 as a kit and ‘boxes are becoming scarcem but all major MG bods do it. MOSS also produces an overdrive upgrade that costs some £400 otherwise.

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The standard overdrive unit is rarely gives trouble. If it has become lazy then it points to low lubricant level or an electrical switch/solenoid fault but the latter are swines to renew. Most ‘boxes become noisy but it’s more an irritant than an ailment and rarely terminal; try a special oil or additive first. Replacing the clutch requires taking the engine and ‘box out as one so you need a heavy-duty hoist.

4 FRONT SUSPENSION

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Take care that you don’t go too hard and make ride intolerable; lever arm dampers are acceptable for road use but ultimate is fitting complete R V8 front axle. There’s a choice of anti roll bar sizes – speak to a specialist to see what’s best. Dedicated retro fit power steering kits are available while the rack’s ratio was changed in ‘76 to allow a smaller steering wheel to be tolerated. Castor adjustment kits also lighten the steering.

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Trunnion and king pin wear so condition is a safety issue as they can fail with dangerous results. Regular lubrication is essential; EP90 gear is recommended but 95 per cent use grease instead. If you need to replace a trunnion it’s best to renew the pair at the same time. Wishbone bushes age and collapse but are straightforward to renew; use the tougher, tauter V8 ones when it comes to replacing them.

7 REAR SUSPENSION

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The ideal solution is to ditch the old fashioned lever arms in favour of a telescopic conversion for better damping. It’s a straightforward job as dedicated kits are readily available. However it usually makes the ride extremely hard, especially if the springs have been altered or poly bushing has been carried out as well. More exotic rear end formats are available from the likes of Frontline Developments but quite unnecessary for most owners.

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If lowering a rubber bumper car ensure the right springs and roll bars are also fitted or the handling will be worse than before. Speak to a specialist on the best set up to opt for. Leaf springs are prone to settle with age; if the tops of the rear tyres aren’t visible then they have sagged a bit too much.

8 WHEELS AND TYRES

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MGBs used 14 inch wheels all its life, with 165 SR rubber over cross-ply tyres on later cars. Today a moderate 185/70 profile is the best all rounder for grip and ride but steering will still be heavier. The MGB was designed to run on crossplies and so its castor angles were accordingly set. However modern radials need less self-centering and special kits are available to make the tiller that bit easier to handle –  it’s a good mod.

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Wire wheels look the business on any B but 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. Check the wire spokes regularly for looseness and any broken ones – if dodgy they must be renewed as a matter of course.

9 PANELS

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Virtually all you need to make an MGB showroom fresh is available and quality is better than when car was new. Bumpers must include all the mountings to make it look authentic – many opt for early type grille but it looks wrong on a W-reg!

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Know your MGBs. While they all look much the samem subtle differences were regularly effected. For example, if you are looking at used wings, bear in mind that they slightly changed in 1968. Interiors altered if originality matters to you.

AND ANOTHER THING…

Even on a standard MGB consider fitting an uprated radiator if it needs renewing as cool running helps prevent valve recession. Electronic ignition and a rolling road tune up are wise steps before any further performance tuning are carried out and go to somebody who knows their MGBs for this as experience counts. There’s shed loads of period tuning gear around from the likes of Janspeed, Downton and Oselli if you want to keep the car nicely in period. V8 conversions are common and there’s plenty of books on the subject but it’s more involved than you think if you want to do it right. You can also go diesel with a Sherpa van engine and get 60 mpg!



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