Driving the "B"
6/9/2012 9:36:00 PM
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The family that allowed me to drive the very rare MG Princess 1100, has also allowed me to drive their other car, a 1978 MGB, the best car that the Morris Garages company ever made. By the time 1978 rolled around, MG had merged with British Leyland.
The MGB was the replacement in the early 1960's for the MGA and it's timeless design allowed it to be built for nearly 20 years (MG had thought the design was good for about five years). This two-seater rides on a 91 inch wheelbase, but doesn't feel all that small on the inside, but it is a sports car and you are a bit low to the ground. Getting in is a little easier than getting out.
Pulling out the choke (nothing automatic about this car) and turning the key brings the 1.8 liter engine to a nice muted rumble. The 1978 models had a single sidedraft carburetor, but over the years, the previous owner installed two high velocity sidedraft carbs, to give it an old school race car appearance. The gear shift is in the perfect position and has short throws between the close ratio gears. Even in 4th gear, just stepping on the gas provides good accleration. My only problem was wanting to shift it into a non-existent 5th gear. Some MGB's had electric overdrive. This one does not.
It has been a long time since I was driving a convertible, and driving the MGB with the top down is an experience everyone should have. As much fun as it is during the day, driving this at night and being able to look up and see the stars gives new meaning to "cruisin'" down the road.
Modern cars with front wheel drive provides for better all year driving, but there is something to be said about the classic front-engine, rear-wheel drive set up that seems more comfortable to drive on the open road. Sadly, the last of the MGB's came off the assembly line in 1980.
One more thing...as much as British cars have had a bad rap for their electrical systems, the electric clock on the dashboard of this car still keeps very accurate time 35 years later.
Many thanks again to the Eggleston and Markley families for the opportunity.