Historic racer: MGB Roadster

Time to put the MGB away and start saving up for the 2018 campaign? Not exactly, as Nick Trott explains

The winter season. As many club racers will know, this is a quiet time – where the car is tucked up, incurring no costs and resting peacefully until the new season arrives.

This is, of course, complete tosh! The off-season, it would appear, is nothing of the sort if the MGB is any barometer. Indeed the ‘off’ season seems to have the potential to cost more than the ‘on’ season…

BRX 855B raced infrequently before owner Ed Foster dug it out for 2017, so he always knew that winter would be important to analyse and tweak the car – if it survived the season, that is. Well, mechanically the car did survive – although the bodywork received some damage at an early event. Less obvious were any mechanical foibles, so regular fettler and race support Roy Gillingham took the car away for a health check.

This included leakage, compression and power tests on the engine, weighing the car, brake function and condition tests, half-shaft and bearing checks and a geometry analysis.

The good news? The car weighs 855kg – the lightest Roy (a racing MGB expert) has known. The bad news? Um…

Well, the engine has an air leak that’s under investigation. We know this because the top MGBs produce 114bhp at the rear wheels and BRX, well, doesn’t. On the rollers, the dial topped out at 94bhp. Of course, Ed and I immediately felt a lot better about our decidedly average 2017 results upon hearing this news. The plan is to fix the air leak and tune the engine as best we can without incurring the cost of a full rebuild. If we can find another 10 per cent we’ll be happy (and hopefully closer to the sharp end).

We’re also taking this opportunity to switch the rear to parabolic leaf springs – as used by the top racing MGBs. We have experienced a rather unstable rear end during racing, and in particular roll oversteer. Parabolic springs, which use two rather than multiple leaves, are a step towards improved stability.

And the brakes? It looks like we need new front calipers, and the system requires a general service – hopefully curing the struggles we had with inconsistent braking performance and feel in 2017.

Finally – the gearbox. Notoriously the Achilles heel in racing MGBs, we’re looking at a full winter rebuild to ensure top performance and reliability throughout the 2018 season. And the price? Not sure yet – much depends on what’s found in the gearbox and engine, how much time is required on the rollers and for the geometry set-up, but £4000-£5000 is a sensible estimate. For now…

Next month: Results from the engine tuning and general mechanical fettling
Thanks to: www.chequeredflagclassics.co.uk; Ed Foster; www.equipegts.com