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New MG roadster, how might the MGB look today

The MGB is the car that you want to see return more than any other, but what would a new MG roadster look like?

Wind back the clock half a century, and you’d find yourself amid the heyday of British engineering and design. The likes of Jaguar, MG, Triumph, Aston Martin and countless others were coming up with new and daring sports cars by the dozen – some which go for record fees at auction today. 

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Given the fondness for the era, it’s no surprise that when Auto Express ran a poll asking our readers which legendary car they’d most want to see resurrected, the MGB emerged as the clear favourite.

• Most wanted car - MGB roadster

The original MGB remains one of the great icons of early British sports cars and a pillar of the nation’s automotive history. The roadster first saw daylight in 1962, powered by a raspy 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, good for 94bhp and 145Nm of torque.

As with its Midget, MG chose to build the MGB around a monocoque structure, instead of the more traditional body-on-frame design, making the car lighter and more rigid – this resulted in excellent steering and handling.

As sales began to grow, more models appeared. A fixed-roof MGB GT penned by Pininfarina joined the ranks in 1965 with a sloping roof structure, while the MGC saw a straight-six cylinder engine replacing the in-line four in the late sixties. A MGB GT V8, with an eight-cylinder engine from Rover, hit the roads during the early seventies, too.

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The front-engined sports car was also ideal for motorsport. MGBs have graced the special stages, competed at the Targa Florio in Sicily and survived endurance stints at Germany’s fearsome Nurburgring.

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For 18 years, the MGB came off the line at the Abingdon plant in Oxfordshire, with over half a million models finding new homes. The MGB remains MG’s best selling car to date.

It’s now over 30 years since the last MGB rolled off the line and with the brand now making a comeback in the UK with the MG3 and MG6, we wondered what an MGB might look like if it was reimagined for the modern era. To find out, Auto Express joined the UK MG Car Club and laid down the challenge to the next crop of design talent at Staffordshire University’s Transport Design course.  

The club was quite clear on what it wanted to see, advising the students that any new MGB must be “the definition of what a British sports car should be”.

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It added: “The success of the MGA, MGB and MGF was down to the balanced mix of modern design and connection with heritage. The new look shouldn’t be retro, but needs to combine the two aforementioned details to create the classic MG look and inviting feel. The modern MGB would ideally have the open headlights that everyone recognises, along with an open top.”

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So what did our students come up with and how did the Car Club rate their efforts? Read on as we reveal all...

MG GE (George Eyston) by Phillip Haynes

Although designer Phillip Haynes sees the modern MGB as an electric roadster, he hasn’t forgotten the car’s roots.

The single bulging headrest-fairing is classic British sports car, while the silver zip-line running across the side, rear and interior is a modern take on the chrome overhangs found on the original MGB. Other details include the use of materials found in cars preceding the original MGB.

Haynes told Auto Express: “The bonnet fastening holds a leather belt; it’s a nod to the MG K3 driven by George Eyston which won the Mille Miglia in 1933, as is the circular decal on the side of the vehicle.”

The sport-inspired two-tone paint job is made all the more attractive with the metallic British flag engraved on top, too.

New MGB by Sam Such

“I wanted my car to be a traditional roadster,” designer Sam Such explained. “The front-engine rear-wheel-drive layout allows space for a long bonnet, and means the driver would sit almost over the rear wheels – just how a roadster should be.”

He also added a subtle design touch with the styling of the A-pillars. Such explained: “By having the paintwork stop halfway up, it gives the impression that the windscreen has been chopped down, bringing with it a heightened sense of speed.” 

MG 6R2  by Jack Carter

Designer Jack Carter describes his idea as a “track focused car for the road”. He told us: “The 6R2 has a very short rear overhang with large bulging arches to exaggerate its low, wide stance.

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“It also features an integrated splitter at the front and a large intake inside the door, creating a very aggressive looking car.” The original MGB was a lightweight sports car, something Carter mimicked.

He added: “There is no roof at all for the car, which helps keep the weight low.”

MG Horizon concept by Dwayne Graafland

Thanks to a lightweight design and nippy handling, the MGB didn’t fare too badly as a race and rally car. Designer Dwayne Graafland wanted to bring some of this motorsport heritage to his interpretation of the modern MG.

He told us: “The MG Horizon Concept combines the historical roots of previous MGs with the brand’s rally heritage; the foglights have been inspired by those found in early race cars, and the colour combination looks back at the GT rally cars. 

“The overriders in the rear are inspired by the 1973 MGB GT, but have been redesigned to fit the Horizon Concept’s design language.”

Graafland also envisions his car using electric power, while the interior keeps to a clean layout, with a touchscreen replacing many of the buttons found in the old car. The original oval lights have been replaced with a more aggressive set of LEDs.

MG Roadster by Kerem Sayan

Designer Kerem Sayan also referenced MG’s motorsport heritage when designing his car. He said: “I wanted to keep some of the key features of the classic car, like the long bonnet and British racing green, plus bring something new.”

Sayan introduced some innovative aerodynamic designs to his car. He told us: “As a designer, I could not help but to try out something new. There’s some fun features in my design, like an active aero wing on the front bumper, and a gap that feeds air through the grille and exits at the top of the bonnet.”

And what did the MG Car club have to say?

UK MG Car Club general manager Adam Sloman was impressed with the effort that had gone into all of our designs, but had one clear favourite.

He told us: “I really like the Horizon concept. The targa top is back in fashion these days – it looks great on the current Porsche 911. It reminds me of the Midget with its short, squat dimensions.” Sloman also liked the GE, and added: “It is a great looking car, but perhaps a little generic. It needs a bit more character to give it the stand-out factor of the original.”

Which is your favourite MG roadster design? Let us know in the comments section below...

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