Up to 3000 MGBs braved terrible weather to make the pilgrimage to Blenheim Palace (near the firm’s old Abingdon factory) for the culmination of the model’s 50th anniversary celebrations.
Reflecting the day’s international flavour was an example of the MGB Berlinette (main image) styled by Belgian Jacques Coune. Built in ’63, it preceded MG’s own GT and featured Perspex headlight covers and a Kamm tail. MG turned down Coune’s design because it “looked too Latin”.
The pretty coupé joined a display of Abingdon Competition-prepared machinery, spearheaded by the works MGB from the 1965 Le Mans 24 hours. Now owned by Barry Sidery-Smith, the aluminum-bodied car finished second in its class at the legendary circuit.
Four years in the planning, MGB50 featured a timeline display, from the earliest models of 1962 through to the RV8.
The modern face of the brand was represented by Frontline Developments' LE50 (see September’s C&SC), shown below. It was conceived as a celebration of the B's half-century and features a 215bhp Mazda engine installed in a modified version of British Motor Heritage's replacement bodyshell. It shared space with the MG Centric trade stands and three of BMH’s own MGBs.
In a prize draw sponsored by Lancaster Insurance, David Blake (below) won an MGB, and there was a people’s concours for all attending cars.
Don Hayter, author of MGB Story – The Birth of the MGB in MG's Abingdon Design & Development Office, held a signing and was joined by MG royalty such as former manager of the BMC Competitions Dept, Peter Browning, and Lady Christabel Watson (nee Carlisle) who raced MGs in the ’60s.
Entertainment was provided by the Abingdon Town band.
Pictures: Mike Taylor