British Sportscar Center
A Very Special 1972 MGB!
This car came into our
possession as a body we bought “sight unseen” to cut up to repair a
damaged ’65 B we were restoring. Despite missing its front fenders, hood
and trunk lid, it was obvious that the car had never been in a serious
accident and there was no rust whatsoever. Most of it had even been
stripped of paint by its previous owner, who had started a restoration
before becoming overwhelmed at the magnitude of the task. So good was
the car that we decided not to cut it up. Instead, over a period of
time, we gathered the missing body panels and started planning what to
do with the car.
The decision was made to
build an MGB that would showcase some of the performance modifications
currently available, in a customized body that would combine eye-appeal
with practicality. We started by picking the color – a 2002 BMW medium
metallic blue that, to our eye, was a shade that perfectly suited the
shape and proportions of the MGB. While the body was away being painted
(after being stripped to the bare metal, of course) we set about
assembling the mechanical components.
For the engine, an 18V block
was chosen, bored 60 thou. oversize, decked and fitted with new cam bearings.
A late B crankshaft was Magnafluxed, ground .010"/.010", cross-drilled and
bevel-edged. Rods were Magnafluxed, straightened, re-sized, re-bushed and
fitted with new flat-top 3-ring pistons. The flywheel was lightened,
re-surfaced, fitted with a stock pressure plate and an oversize disc. All
rotating and reciprocating parts were balanced statically and dynamically.
fitted a Delta D-9 camshaft with vernier adjustable timing gears, new duplex
chain and new lifters. An up-rated oil pump, new water pump and all the other
new parts usually fitted during a rebuild completed the bottom end. New head
studs were added, to hold down an aluminum crossflow head that had been
carefully ported and polished and fitted with larger valves ground to 3-angle
seats. Flow-bench testing revealed substantial improvements over stock
figures. Further improvement came from using a set of roller rockers to
increase valve-opening distance and reduce friction.
A custom intake manifold was
built to accept a pair of HIF4 carburetors – the decision to use this size
rather than 1-3/4” carbs being that the car was intended for everyday use
rather than all-out track use, so a torquier engine was preferable to one
that made all its power at very high r.p.m. The exhaust leaves via a Peco
system, the header of which has been given the Jet-Hot treatment. Cooling is
managed by a high-efficiency radiator core in a set of original tanks,
adapted to hold a temperature switch (at the bottom, to measure the cooled
water) which turns on a single electric fan fitted in front of the radiator.
An oil cooler is, of course, also fitted.
The gearbox is an all-synchro
MGB unit fitted with an LH overdrive working on 3rd and 4th gears. New
U-joints in a balanced driveshaft take the power to a rebuilt rear axle
running the stock 3.9:1 gears (although the engine makes so much power, we’d
like to find one with a higher ratio!). Stopping power is provided by a 1978
MGB power-boosted master cylinder operating rebuilt front calipers working on
drilled & slotted rotors with semi-metallic pads and stainless steel brake
hoses. The rear brakes are stock new MGB parts.
The front suspension has
negative camber A-arms, BGT springs, Armstrong lever shocks with competition
valves, and a ¾” sway bar. At the rear, new stock springs are controlled by
Spax shocks and anti-tramp bars of our own design and manufacture. All
suspension bushings are red poly bushings. Wheels are American Racing
Vortec Series 7, with center caps modified to include an MG logo (and to
clear the MGB hubs), fitted with Yokohama Avid T4 185-70-14 tires.
Once the painted body was back
in our shop, we assembled all the mechanical pieces to the car. A new wiring
harness was modified to suit some of the changes we felt necessary: relays
for the horns, Wipac headlight high and low beams, and Lucas fog and spot
lights fitted with halogen bulbs. At the rear we fitted a late MGB license
plate with chrome lamp covers, as we didn’t want to fit overriders to spoil
the clean lines of the bumpers.
The windshield frame was stripped and polished before being fitted with a
new, tinted windshield.
|| Inside the car we
fitted a late MGB dashboard and center console, with the late MGB gauges
re-faced with cream backgrounds, brown lettering and a small blue MG on
each face. These gauges, combined with the burlwood dash trim kit, give
the interior an aura of classic elegance not found in a stock B (and the
instruments are much easier to read at night!).
|Mazda Miata seats were
selected for their all-day comfort and the fact they have radio speakers
in the headrests. Along with the custom wool carpeting and interior
panels, they are finished in two-tone grey and blue, with a tasteful blue
MG on the faces of the headrests.
|The convertible top is of
the “stow-away” variety, in custom grey vinyl with a zip-out rear window.
The car also has a custom grey full tonneau cover.
Was it worth the effort?
Everyone who has driven or ridden in the car thinks so! The power is
significantly greater than that of a stock ’72 MGB, the handling and braking
are outstanding, ride comfort is excellent, and the car even returns close to
30 mpg on road trips. The cooling system is more than adequate for Northern
California’s 100-plus degree days, even in heavy traffic. As for the looks,
well, the car has already won its class in a couple of car shows and it turns
heads everywhere it goes.
Can you buy this car? Not
this particular one, as it now lives in Florida. However, we could
build another one, or restore your MGB to the same or similar
specification. All it takes is lots of money and the desire to own a
truly remarkable MGB. Call Lawrie at 530-676-7226, or send an e-mail to
British Sportscar Center to learn more
about the possibilities.
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