HAMBRO AUTOMOTIVE CORPORATION was the U.S. importer for MG, and in November 1962 it performed a full-press marketing of the MGB, the first revamping since this classic sports car eschewed traditionally styling with the 1955 MGA.
R&T celebrated with an all-singing/all-dancing eight pages plus cover, including a history of the marque and a full road test of the MG-B 1800.
I suspect they celebrated to the bank as well, what with a four-page ad insert (on cover-quality stock) from Tony R. Birt, Advertising Manager, Hambro Automotive Corporation. It began, “Dear John: Here is our brand new MGB…. Everything is new but the Octagon.”
Here are tidbits about the car gleaned from the road test which was subtitled “Civilization has come to Abingdon-on-Thames.”
Styling. “The new ‘B’ isn’t quite as much of a change as the ‘A’ and no wails have been heard around our office. Our styling experts (who really are) never had much good to say about the lines of the A. It was ‘corny, out-of-date in 1955, had poor surface development, etc.’ But there’s no complaint over the fresh new look for the B.”
An Early Summation. Coming in the report’s third paragraph: “Our enthusiasm did not wane during 700 miles of driving. In fact, it grew stronger, and frankly this is the first British car in several years which created no arguments among the staff—even the Italian and German sports car owners forgot their private battles and admitted they liked to drive this new English job.”
Ride and Handling. “The ride seems to be unchanged and this is both a fault and a virtue. There’s no doubt about it, the ride begins to feel firm after an hour or two, yet it is this taut feel which gives the car its typical good handling in sharp corners or in fast bends.”
Power. “The larger 1796-cc engine feels happier too…. smoother and quieter than the 1622-cc unit we tested two years ago…. The 4 cylinders run like clockwork up to about 4000 rpm—above that there is a harsher note—but no vibration all the way up to the red line at 5500 rpm.”
The day of testing (“very hot and the engine was barely broken in”) revealed a 0-60 time of 12.5 seconds. (A Renault Caravelle S tested in the same issue required 19.4 seconds for the same activity; the issue’s Austin-Healey 3000 did it in 11.2.)
Fuel Economy. R&T reported a normal 24/29 mpg for the B, compared with the Renault’s 26/32 and the Healey’s 15/21.
This reminds me of a conversation I had years later, in more fuel-conscious times, with the U.S. MG rep. I was chiding him on the car’s less than admirable mpg and he replied, “Do you think it’s easy cramming all that fuel through that itty-bitty engine?”
The best defense is a good offense. And a cordial sense of humor.
Accommodations. “The seats are now much better contoured and we got a surprise when we moved them all the way back…. Two 6 ft. 4 types did not need the seat all the way back and they still had headroom.”
The top, R&T reported, “folds neatly and flush into the well but the number of hinge points and top bows is confusing and it’s easy to get pinched in the process.”
You can read in the ad about the two choices of vinyl soft tops. It appears the R&T test car had the optional “attached folding top which lowers into the carpeted area back of the seats.”
R&T noted, “The wind-up windows (for the first time) are a great boom. They fit well, crank up or down with just over 2 turns and had a tendency to rattle on rough roads.”
As an ex MGB GT MKI owner I’ll agree it was a pretty good car for the times .
The comment about cramming fuel through the engine is spot on ~ I took some time to properly finish the cylinder head on one of these and the increased flow improvement was so great it required re jetting of the carbys .
If these had been built with better assembly quality and every U.S.A. car fitted with overdrive they’d have sold quite a few more, the design IMO was very good but English cars in general and BMC in particular suffered greatly from awful quality control .
Once one took the time to properly fettle the car they made great daily drivers, long distance tourers (when fitted with overdrive) and passable rally cars .