MG B in the driving report: See you in Abingdon

Hardy Mutschler
MG B in the driving report
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5 0 years MG B - this story can only, no , it has to start at the center of the MG universe: on the grounds of the Kimber House on Cementery Road in Abingdon-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, England.

'Pull-Handle' or Push-Button 'makes a big difference with the MG B

The red brick building is right next to the entrance to the former MG factory and the former Administrative complex of the traditional brand: Cecil Kimber, the legendary founder of the brand, went in and out here, and later of course John Thornley, MG manager from 1952 to 1969, the golden era of the group. Nobody would argue that this area is historically significant In front of the Kimber House, which now houses the MG Car Club with its brand archive, an iris blue MG B Mk I is already parked, ready for a birthday lap around Abingdon, born in 1964 This roadster is still missing two years until its fiftieth, but it is still a 'pull-handle' specimen that is particularly valued by purists, the door handles of which point in the direction of travel and have to be pulled t the doors open. However, because similar handles on the Mini caused injuries to passers-by, in April 1965 the MG B also switched to normal 'push-button' handles for safety reasons.

Testing takes place on the official test route from MG

The first part of today's route has already been determined: It is the official MG test track west of Abingdon, on which all of the Group's models had to complete their first miles before delivery. However, anyone who expects a closed circuit with a steep curve and slalom course will probably be disappointed. The tests were carried out on country roads and small back roads, in other words in real life instead of in the test tube.

The turn for the MG B-Roadster and the later presented GT versions measures exactly 5.8 miles, while the models with V8 engines were driven twice as much - certainly also for the fun of the test drivers. as Julian White, General Manager of the MG Car Club, suspects.

MG B engine: a small miracle by British standards

One turn of the ignition key is all it takes to set the deep cast ironFire power source in MG B. However, it takes a moment for the 95 hp unit with the camshaft below to run smoothly. One should therefore not underestimate this four-cylinder, which has in principle powered various MG A models since 1955, explains owner John Watson, who has already traveled through half of Europe with his car: 'This engine is a small miracle by British standards because he's always running. ' Watson's confidence in the quality of domestic automotive technology seems slightly clouded.

However, the almost 20-year success story of the MG B can truly be largely attributed to this simple and undemanding machine. Obviously one has been forgiven for being too temperamental for a two-seater sports car. And which, strictly speaking, was only significantly revised once, when the crankshaft, which was initially triple-supported, was given two additional bearings in 1964. This engine does not seem to have needed any more maintenance in order to provide service in a total of 387,675 MG B roadsters until 1980. If you add the closed GT versions, this adds up to more than half a million copies in which the four-cylinder was used - someone like that actually deserves a monument.

MG B in city traffic with innate composure

On the way in the MG B Finally the first meters through Abingdon. From Cementery Road turn right onto Spring Road and immediately right again onto Marcham Road, which heads west out of town. Wonderful Victorian houses pass by and pubs called 'The Black Swan' or 'The Brewery Tap'.

Abingdon has a lot to offer. After all, it is the oldest populated part of England, John still had with him Gave away. His MG B slowly comes up to operating temperature, the roadster endures city traffic on this mild day in February with the innate serenity of a long-stroke.

A machine gun is one of the exotic ones

At the sign 'Frilford, Shippon & Dalton Barracks' it goes again to the right and finally out into the country. Long hedges, behind them pastures on which cows and horses graze and houses built from dark stones with deep-drawn roofs - England like from a Rosamunde Pilcher film, where hardly anything seems to have changed since the roadster was introduced 50 years ago.

Only the cars approaching the MG B signal that time has not stood still in the end, because they have long since ceased to come from the United Kingdom, but from Japan, France or Germany. Even around its hometown, MG is obviously one of the exotic ones these days.

British styling par excellence

Those However, those who discover the blue two-seater show upexcited. Whatever convertibles of the modern age promise, the MG B mercilessly demonstrates them with its unadulterated, puristic appearance. Its no-frills shape with the flat windshield is considered a great success and also a lesson in classic roadster proportions.

Aerodynamics? A guy like B doesn't believe in making such concessions to modern times. He much prefers to put his radiator grille upright in the airstream, which in combination with the two round lamps and the bumper horns makes for a slightly grim facial expression. Anyone who comes across as brash and unmistakable doesn't really have to draw attention to themselves through engine power or sporting success in order to leave the stage as a bestseller in the end.

' The Dog House 'was a popular sprint stage

The road makes a wide curve to the left, the runway of the former Royal Airforce bomber base in Abingdon extends on the right, the Black Horse Pub comes into view on the left and immediately afterwards - after a total of 2.9 miles - the Sheepstead Crossroad roundabout. MG B test drivers had to turn their cars around and return to the factory here, while the V8 drivers were only just getting started: The following straight to that quaint pub that goes by the name of 'The Dog House' is short, However, it was considered a popular sprint stage.

Open and honest roadster

We follow the further course of the V8 Route and turn north on the A 338. The 95 hp of the bumper motor in the MG B are still enough to glide relaxed through modern traffic. And the MG B demonstrates how a transmission can work like no other vehicle: the gears are right before the word click is even pronounced. Switching has definitely not been as fun as it was on this day for a long time. And actually wouldn't be necessary that often, because there is enough torque just above idle in every gear.

After 4.6 miles, the A 420 leads the MG B back south, and after more two miles through dreamy Tubney. The peculiarities of the car are no longer unknown. The leaf-sprung rigid axle ruthlessly guides every bump into the driver's cross. Tight bends require strength, and even at moderate country road speeds the wind sweeps through the interior like a hurricane from all sides. In short: the car communicates openly and honestly. But presumably British roadsters have to be just like that.

It would be about five miles from here to Abingdon. But we turn off the test track and continue to Blenheim Palace, north of Oxford. On September 23, there was a big celebration on the occasion of the 50th birthday of the Roadster, organized by the MG Car Club. John Watson and his blue MG B wereon site, of course.

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