Every once in a while, there comes a car that not only checks all the boxes in the appearance department but is technically adept and has all the elements to make it one for the ages. The MGB Roadster happens to be one such car. A product from MG’s Abingdon facilities, the Roadster marked a departure from the separated chassis construction of the MGA cars. The popularity, however, remained the same among car enthusiasts on both sides of the Atlantic. During its 18-year-long reign in the British motor scene, the Roadster remained one of the most loved MG cars, the reason behind which we attempt to probe here.
An improvement on its predecessor
The different approach to the construction of the MGB Roadster made it a desirable alternative over its predecessor – the MGA. This newer model featured a singular body and chassis structure that reduced the car’s length compared to the MGA. However, while the MGA’s body-on-frame chassis had a smaller passenger compartment size, the MGB Roadster saw a six-inch increase in the passenger compartment and a one-inch increase in width. Thanks to the chassis switch, the MGB boasted more legroom and luggage space.
With MGB Roadster, MG Motors produced what later came to be known as the first modern MG car.
For the pleasure of driving
MGB Roadster featured a 1.8 litre, 4-cylinder engine. With dual overhead valves, the Roadster engine clocked a torque of 110 lb.ft and 95 hp of power. The Roadster also offered a quieter and more stable ride, while the monocoque chassis gave it better handling and refinement. The suspensions were softer, and the engine was mounted impeccably into the body, adding to the riding experience. Other features, like weather protection and interior additions, were well received by customers.
The shape and looks of the MGB Roadster were heavily inspired by the iconic MG EX 181, a.k.a. – the Roaring Raindrop (Link to the article on MG EX 181). During its wind tunnel testing, the MGB Roadster was envisaged as the likeness of EX 181, but with on-road features like a radiator grille, headlights, and passenger compartment. And its vertical slat grille on the front offered a refreshing, stylish look.
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The MGB Roadster was projected as a sports car, and its top speed of 103 mph was enough to defend this title. Additionally, its affordable price made it suitable for daily driving. The MGB Roadster came at a basic price of GBP 690, excluding car taxes, making it one of the most affordable roadsters in the 1962 market. In the same year, its competitor Triumph TR4 was priced at GBP 750. That was reason enough to understand why, between the 1960s and 80s, the MGB Roadster was the perfect daily-use car with sporty looks.
Evolved to match changing styles
Although the body shape remained relatively the same, the MGB Roadster featured several interesting changes in its features and looks. This was done to stay in vogue as well as to comply with the norms at the time. Initially, to keep the engine cool, the oil cooler was fitted to the radiator in the export models and was provided as an option in domestic ones. An open-top car, MGB Roadster, also offered a detachable glass fibre to its customers. Reclining seats and pressed steel wheels were introduced by 1970, with changes to the front grille.
Visual upgrades continued in 1973 with interior changes and a honeycomb front grille. To meet American compliances, front and rear black PU bumpers were added, and the ride height was altered in 1975. During its 18-year tenure, the MGB Roadster maintained its popularity and relevance with timely upgrades along the way.
It is not much of a surprise that the MGB Roadster continues to pop up in car resale ads and gets lapped up by roadster aficionados.
MG Cyberster, four decades later…
Its been over four decades since the last MGB Roadster rolled out of Abingdon, and MG has since built a formidable reputation as makers of eco-friendly and premium SUV variants. But with Cyberster Roadster, MG reinforces its roadster heritage. An incredibly futuristic concept, the Cyberster is also an obvious nod to the design aesthetics of the MGB Roadster. The LED strips on the sides seem to be an ode to MGB Roadster’s chrome strips. The Cyberster also has the same open-top, stooping silhouette and fluidic curves. As it gets unveiled in the 2021 Shanghai Auto Show, MG looks into the future with the Cyberster while paying rich visual tributes to one of the MG legends – the MGB Roadster.