60th Anniversary MGB event – Gaydon
Huge numbers of MGB fans attended a momentous celebration of MG’s biggest-selling model of all time, at the British Motor Museum, Gaydon on Sunday 25 September. The occasion marks six decades of the nation’s favourite classic car and is hosted by the MGB Register of the MG Car Club and the MGOC.
The reasons for The MGB’s popularity are easy to see. Affordable, straightforward mechanics, and economical to run and fix. The MGB is a key part of British motoring heritage because it made sports car ownership truly attainable for the masses.
A landmark anniversary like this doesn’t come along very often
Amongst the many hundreds of MGBs that was on display from club members and enthusiasts, there were some extra special MGBs
The biggest ever collection of MGB Berlinettes ever seen in one place attracted excited interest with nine in attendance. These very rare and incredibly special MGBs were designed by Belgian Jacques Coune and were unveiled to the public in 1964 at the Belgium Motor Show. Just 56 were built and the design featured a fixed roof, which pre- dated the factory MGB GT, with a modified front featuring recessed headlamps enclosed by teardrop shape light lenses.
The MGB Marathon Car was present also. Owned and restored by the MG Car Club, the Marathon rally car was driven by Jean Denton and Tom Boyce in the 1968 London to Sydney Marathon Rally. It will appear at the event sporting its huge ‘Roo-bars’ and Jerry Cans of fuel.
Celebrating the MGB in motorsport
The BMC Competition Department campaigned MGBs extensively in motorsport and the MGB60 featured a vehicle that was one of the very first MGBs to be shipped to the USA before it competed in the 1964 12 hours of Sebring. After a gruelling race, the plucky MGBs finished 3rd and 4th in class that year; the red car taking 17th overall and this, number 48, in blue, taking 22nd. It was a respectable result for the model’s first outing.
The following year, the MGB registered as DRX 255C ran in the 24 hours of Le Mans for what would be Abingdon’s final campaign in the world-famous endurance race. Paddy Hopkirk drove it with Andrew Hedges under the watchful eye of team boss Peter Browningand the car featured a “droop – snoot” nose design to gain extra aerodynamic advantage on the Mulsanne straight.
The motorsport heritage continues with the MGB LBL 591E, which competed in the 1968 Targa Florio. Paul Woolmer from much respected specialists Woolmer Classic Engineering will be supplying the car which took on the brutal Sicily based rally with, again, Paddy Hopkirk and Andrew Hedges at the wheel. LBL 591E competed at Sebring in 1968 and 1969 before going into private hands and competing in the American SCCA races.
It was even more poignant to see these works built racing MGBs following the death of Paddy Hopkirk earlier this year, who drove them to so much success with Andrew Hedges. The event will pay tribute to Paddy Hopkirk’s incredible talent and achievements for MG.
Ken Costello is credited with being the man the first put the Rover V8 into the MGB in 1970. The factory eventually did it for themselves of course, but this was where it all began and two of the original Costello conversions have a special place in the MGB60 line-up.
When BL decided to close MG’s Abingdon home, many feared it would be the end of the marque. However, there were plenty of options for MG’s future. In October 1979, Aston Martin announced plans to buy the MG name and the Abingdon works along with it. Their intention was to produce almost 30,000 revised and modernised MGBs per year.
That offer produced one unique MGB. It had various styling tweaks intended, including the possibility of an O-Series engine, which this replica has, so MGB fan Trevor Broadbent, has created a worthy tribute. The Aston Martin MGB replica is an amazing restoration achievement and will be on display at MGB60 for all to see and ponder where the model may have gone next if history had played out differently.
As well as the huge number of historically important MGBs in display, the event offers live music from bands ‘Wipeout’ and ‘My Favourite Things’ plus there will be an extensive trade show selling everything from real ale to custom seats.
Tickets also included entry to the British Motor Museum and Collections Centre; home to the world’s largest collection of historic British cars, including a special cross sectioned MGB GT to show you the inner workings and design of this famous car.
The MGB Register of the MG Car Club, is also offering the opportunity to purchase event rally plates and other regalia to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the MGB. These can still be purchased from the event website www.mgb60.com.