One of my uncle John’s great joys was a 1974 MGB Roadster.
He worked on it for 15 years, taking it completely apart, right down to the frame. It was 9 years before he was able to get it on the road, but it was definitely worth the wait! Any part that could not be restored to original condition was replaced with new parts that were as good, or better than, original. From Mini-Lite rims to the Heritage body, he put a lot of time, money and love into his car! Aside from having the engine rebuilt twice over the years, he did all of the work himself in the garage of their home in Sunderland Ontario. In 2008, he and aunt Linda drove “the B” out west and back. That’s when I first saw it – as they arrived in Calgary, Megan and I had dinner with them. I’d never really paid much attention to MGBs prior to this, but this one made an impression on me!
A year later, my uncle John passed away rather suddenly. He was my closest uncle… we all miss him.
I talked to aunt Linda the following spring and told her that I’d like to buy it from her to keep it in the family. Not knowing what he was working on last, nor having a list of what he’d done to it over the years, we decided to fly out and drive it across the country again to it’s new home in Calgary.
I’ve decided to post a profile, journal entries and generally make good use of the online forum The MG Experience. My profile and posts posts can be found here. These pages will be the story of the John Henry edition, ’74 B… now affectionately known as “Dorothy“!
A mag tear-out that my uncle had. Easy to see the inspiration…
“Fire up the 2.1 litre motor and very un-MGB like noises bark from the big-bore stainless exhaust. Thanks to the fast road camshaft you get a purposeful lumpy idle. The uneven running stays with you during the normal driving at low revs so it takes practice to make smooth progress. Unless you’re in a hurry there’s no need to pile the revs on as you would with some engines packing a hot camshaft: although the power band is shifted up the rev range, the extra torque from the bored and stroked five-bearing engine compensates.
You do need to wind up the engine to get sucking maximum air and fuel through the twin SU HS6 Abingdon Special Tuning carbs into the polished and ported cylinder head. Let the rev counter play in the 5000rpm zone and all hell breaks loose, just as the standard car would be wheezing out of go. And it’s quite easy to stay up there, thanks to the balanced engine and lightened flywheel.
Brake hard before a bend and the modified rear wheel cylinders shift balance to the front. They allow the fade-resistant fast road front pads to bite the discs harder, but the nose still dives heavily, unsettling the rear wheels. Ease off the brakes on turn in and poise is restored. Front wheels respond sharply to the chunky 14-inch Moto Lita rudder, thanks to reduced losses through the urethane-bushed suspension.
Front springs are standard rate but roll at this end is reduced by a thicker (3/8in) anti-roll bar. Telescopic dampers firm things up at both ends and ensure that the suspension is less troubled by mid-corner bumps than the old lever-arm setup would be.
The overall effect is an exhilarating blast, with a little extra comfort to make the car easier to live with.”
[I’m unsure of what magazine this is from, or who the author is. Please let me know if you can ID it – thx!]