MGB History

From The Driver - The North American MGB Register publication

From the MGB Registrar - 1970 a Year of Transition

The year 1970 represented a year of considerable change in the by now very popular MGB. It was a year of transition, moving to the next step in the evolution of Don Hayter's dream. This model year saw the MG Car Division of British Motor Corporation become part of the Austin Morris Division of British Leyland. The name however was not the only thing to be different as we were very soon to see.

The car itself went through significant change at this time with the traditional flush grille giving way to an open mouthed style to be forever known as the 'Recessed Grille'. Overriders were given a black rubber insert thus eliminating those nasty little dimples when someone backed unknowingly into you. Newly designed Rostyle wheels replaced the old original pressed steel style as standard while the traditional wires remained an option as before (unless you lived in Canada where their sale ended mid-way through the 1969 model year).

Paul Daoust's 1970 MGB

Fenders fore and aft sported side marker lamps for the first time (North American Market only) and a further addition to the fronts were the British Leyland house badges, those items of such contention between purists as to correct location during a restoration. Rear fenders sported the redesigned tail lamps which were more square in design but much more highly visible. Oddly enough, our North American market lamps were different from the home market in that the turn indicators were reversed in position relative to the driving lamps. Ours in the middle, theirs on top.

This of course leads to the most controversial of changes, the split rear bumper. This was common to the North American market only and was the single most identifying feature of the 1970 MGB. For those of us who remember it's introduction, it was met with less than rave reviews and was replaced again the following year with the original one piece style. Who at British Leyland could have known then that now, twenty eight years later, their ill fated attempt at restyling the rear bumper would result in some of the more fortunate of us owning a rather unique MGB.

With all these changes made for safety compliance, styling or economic reasons, 1970 represented one of the highest sales year for the entire MGB production run with over 36,000 units being produced and sold. This year saw the MGB we first knew and enjoyed in the early sixties evolve into a refreshed version aimed at an entirely new generation of sports car owners. As we had, the MGB matured, with a vision to lead the world of affordable sports cars into the seventies.

The changes I've mentioned so far represent only a few of the more obvious design innovations for the 1970 model year. For a more exacting view there are many fine resource books on the MGB such as Graham Robson's The MGA, MGB and MGC, Brian Laban's MGB the Complete Story and of course Anders Ditlev Clausager's beautiful Original MGB with MGC and MGB GT V8. These represent the definitive word on the history of the MGB by the true experts and are a 'must read' for any MGB owner.

Accompanying this article you will find photos of a beautiful Bronze Yellow 1970 MGB owned by Bob and Joan Houillon of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. This MG has been a consistent prize winner at John Twist's Summer Party and other regional shows. The Houillon's are well known by enthusiasts in the mid-western United States and are heavily involved in the MG scene in the Wisconsin area. From Bob's photos you can see many of the above mentioned changes along with the pride with which they own this MG. A rather unusual feature to note is that this car also has the early console/armrest combination advertised in sales literature of the period but seldom seen today.

My thanks to Bob and Joan for graciously providing me with both photos and details on their 70 'B making my job just that much easier. Next issue I hope to continue on with my look at transitional MGBs by profiling the early rubber bumper, raised ride height 1975 MGB. Another rather unique example but until then-

Drew Hastings


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