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MGB

MGB Published: 29th Aug 2018 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

MGB
MGB
MGB
MGB
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Want some extra fun or usability from your classic? Then here’s our top tips

If there’s a friendlier classic to own and maintain than the evergreen MGB then let us know! Thanks to 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. Best of all, there’s a wealth of tweaks, both old and new, to give your B a real sting – or bling

Rear end

Rear wheel steering common and it’ll be because the U-bolts and rubber bushes which locate the rear axle have come loose or corroded. However, it’s cheap to fix costing £20 at most. To lower a r/b model ideally requires far more than lowering blocks

Wheels

MGB on aftermarket wheels common; wire wheels in general are half an inch narrower than standard unless you specify otherwise. Negative camber wishbone are a worthwhile mod if they need replacing with toe-in rest to 1/8-3/32 says Moss

Body and chassis

Apart from a surprising shortage of brand new front bumpers, all you need is available new or used. However, if you go the latter route bear in mind that subtle differences lurk in the panels; for instance front wing designs changed for 1968

Transmission

Tide is turning towards the excellent BMH approved Mazda gearbox conversion from Vitesse as Ford Sierra units fast dry up as are early three-synchro gearbox, parts are getting scarce. Converting to a later all synchro box requires major body mods

Steering

The MGOC initially developed a Peugeot-based electric power steering system but this has been changed to a mechanical set up for a better feel. If the steering is too heavy, remember that MG altered the ratio for 1997 models; a cheaper option

Front suspension

Before any mods are carried out get the basics right checking that the wishbones, trunnions and king pins aren’t past it (many are); fit tougher V8 bushes. Stouter anti roll bar is an effective single mod, doubly so if complemented by a telescopic damper kit

Engine

Tappet noise always evident. At tickover there should be 15-25psi oil pressure, rising to 50-65psi at 3000rpm. Anything less means the crank or oil pump is worn. Dropping sump to renew shells mains bearings and pump doable but fiddly in situ

Engine swaps

Hardly individual but, the Rover lump is still seen as the best choice reckon experts as many other American V8s are too heavy and still can’t match the potential power. Four cylinder swaps major on the BL O-Series and K-Series where kits are available

Brakes

Servo assistance was fitted from 1973. If it feels like there’s no assistance, it’s because the seals have gone on the servo, allowing the brake fluid to be sucked into the engine and burned. If the original master cylinder resides it’ll need replacing before too long

Top tips…

Even for a standard MGB consider fitting an uprated radiator if it needs renewing as cool running helps prevent valve recession, that the B-Series engine can be prone to. Electronic ignition and a rolling road tune up are wise steps before any further performance tuning is carried out and go to somebody who knows their MGBs for this as experience counts – ditto suspension and steering geometries. 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

Going the extra mile

Want to give your MGB more sting and bling? Then here’s some top tips

More go

An ancient design but there’s always something new like alloy and crossflow heads, mapped ignition (Alpha) and fuel injection. That’s too rich in spec and price for most so stick to better breathing by way of head and cab rejetting plus exhaust and manifold – worth 10bhp at least. You can see an easy 40 per cent hike by supercharging but it costs £2000 and the engine must be in good order. A hotter cam can spoil the low speed lug, roller rockers do pretty much the same thing without an engine strip.

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 V8, the Ital-sourced O-Series and later K-Series engines fit with kits and work very well.

Go one better by going bigger

The robust B-Series can be taken out to 2.1-litres for more torque but 1950cc is easier and cheaper to attain; you can buy ready to run engines from just over £2100. 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.

Keep the overdrive?

Higher gearing is desirable and its overdrive is as usable as pricey five-speed conversion (MOSS produces an overdrive upgrade that costs some £400) which can cost up to £3000 for the new BMH approved Vitesse Mazda MX-5 conversion although it fits like a glove. Where five speeders score (including Rover SD1 ’box, Ford Type 9 and MX-5) is with their far superior spread of intermediate ratios.

Go modern?

This is where many come unstuck; 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 the 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. Good value castor adjustment kits also lighten the steering.

Telescopic tales

The ideal solution is to ditch the old style lever arm dampers in favour of a telescopic conversion. It’s a straightforward job as dedicated kits are available. The downside is it usually makes the ride extremely hard (parabolic spring helps alleviate this), if the springs have been altered or poly bushing has been carried out as well. More modern rear end formats are available from the likes of Frontline Developments and Hoyle but unnecessary unless you’re going on the track. Lowering a rubber bumper MGB properly needs more than simple lowering blocks – seek advice from a specialiist.

Those round things

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, which the majority run on, need less self-centering and special kits are available to make the tiller easier to handle – a good mod.

Beautify that body

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 a rubber bumper car look authentic although new bumpers have virtually dried up plus it costs some £3000 to do it right; cheaper is a Sebring-look kit at under £600 plus shaves off some 80kg bodyweight. If you are toying with the idea of reshelling, remember that BMH offers a competition spec bodyshell that is stronger and stiffer.

First class travel awaits you

Like the exterior the potential to improve is enormous from a standard period look to a luxury touch to ape the RV8. Yet why not look at MGOC’s more modern carbon fibre dash (£325) and fittings which doesn’t look out of place at all. One particularly nice touch from MGOC is an under dash cowling that hides that untidy wiring plus provides good spot for any extra switchgear to be added (£31.25).



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