Style Steer: the MGB GT is a Rugged Charmer

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‘Your mother wouldn’t like it’, ran the ads – ding-dong marketing to the cad sans the cash to bag an Aston. Carry On sauce promising pulling-power at every turn; that’s how MG positioned the B GT in-period.

Not that my Mum took offence: Dad drove an early roadster at the time they first met. A sagging, green rust-box replete with boot rack and steel wheels. Tales of 100mph blasts to Yugoslavia. Parents improbably cool as young people. Faded memories of heady days that made up my mind: I had to have a B, and it had to be GT.

Launched in 1962, the MGB packed the best of its ageing predecessor into a svelte, new body with a rigid monocoque underneath. That meant solid handling, torquey motor and a doughty spirit. The formula proved an instant hit; for some, the model’s greatest failing.

Pub bores claim it’s common and lacks sophistication. They’re not wrong. 523,836 examples found buyers across 18 years of production, and the mechanicals trace their roots to the YA saloon of 1947. None of which stopped it ranking among the world’s best-selling sports cars. Still, the armchair enthusiasts persist: an Alfa Spider beats it top-down – slick five-speed ‘box; sonorous twin-cam; shapely Pininfarina curves…

How ironic that this quintessential carrozzeria helped refine the B into a baby grand tourer – its deft touch producing a three-door, two-plus-two in 1965.

Today, the proportions remain oh-so-right.

Long of bonnet, squat in haunches; cohesive and resolved. Broad, toothy grill; Havana-round front wings. Tiny and tight; roofline flowing into a fine confluence of rear hatch and tail fins. Every inch the rakish coupé.

Mine was a sleeper hot-rod in full-house rally spec. Old English White with black leather; trick 1,950cc engine, 145bhp; Weber 45DCOE carb; competition clutch, brakes, suspension and exhaust. The only giveaways to its performance were Minilite alloys and an ear-bashing blare…

Such a characterful little thing; almost vintage in feel. Simple, useable, analogue, fun. Robust enough for daily duties – with parts availability to build another from scratch.

There’s nothing delicate about a B GT, except its looks; nothing exceptional, but its charm. Take it anywhere: people just point and smile. An MG’s friendly familiarity inspires nostalgia not envy.

20 years on, this most accessible of classics drifts in my dreams like a love that never left me – one of few to gain mater’s wholehearted approval. High praise, indeed.

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