MGB

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I was flattered to be asked to contribute To the January-February 2018 edition of The London Magazine – the Capital’s oldest. I was asked to write their 25th “My London” piece which you can see here please – My London by Mark FR Wilkins . I refer to one of London’s tribes, as a  “typical” MGB owner. I suggest that this still holds largely true, despite that the owner may now be in his 70’s although the corduroy’s will still be worn!

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These are adored British cars that have even described by Simon Chalesworth in his brilliant piece on the MGB in February 2018’s “Classic and Sports Car”, as the “gateway drug into whatever this is that we do with old cars”. I understand, that a good quality example of an MGB can be acquired at reasonable cost and by a proficient mechanic or a hired hand it can be up, running and looking fine in reasonably short order and comparable cost.

The MGB is a four cylinder, two-door British roadster – open topped/rag roofed sports car – produced by British Motor Corporation, later British Leyland, between 1962 and 1980, from its famed Abingdon (Oxfordshire) works. It used braking and suspension from the MGA and the engine dated to a design from the late 1940’s.

A previous outing of the MG brand was seen in Aestheticons with the MGA – please see here our previous piece – MG – MGA

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The MGA is a stunner and I thought it couldn’t be surpassed but those who know tell me that the MGB is infinitivly more fun and certainly a greater level of comfort – particularly later models – over its predecessor. The Sunbeam Alpine, also featured here before, seems to have set an newly raised bar one that the MGB sought to attain –  see our earlier post here – Sunbeam Alpine – Bond’s first car

Below is an MGB Mk 1, in Tartan red with a black interior and red piping. It was built in Abingdon in February 1963 and was an early car; the MGB being first shown to the market in September 1962. This car, a stunning example, is Norwegian owned and had 22 previous owners!

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The MGB with its 1798 cc BMC B-Series engine – which was upgraded in 1964 and again in 1967 – initially achieved a 0–60 is around 11 seconds but required detuning in 1975 to be comply to stricter US emission standards, the US being a key export market – you’ll note our featured image is a left hooker. The same year the MGB, which was one of the first cars to benefit from crumple zone technology, was fitted with black polyurethane bumpers to comply yet further with the US Health & Safety codes – some see these as a blight the MGB’s otherwise clean lines and great looks.

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Variants including the MGB GT – which first appeared in 1965 – the MkII MGB and MGC that both appeared in late 1967 with the latter benefitting from a six cylinder engine in a MkII MGB body. With around 9000 examples of the MGC made by August 1969 it was withdrawn and is highly regarded by collectors for its ride and handling.
 In 1993-5 the MGB bodyshell was brought out of retirement by Rover and used for a limited 2000 MG RV8 roadsters to celebrate the MGB’s 30th Anniversary.
As much as I adore these splendid small English sports car my garage is destined for others. I’d be more than keen to have a die-cast model of an MGB on the shelf in my Man Cave – join me by clicking the Amazon link below the image! 

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Photo credits with grateful thnaks – Trygve Sørli/www.petrolicious.com, The London Magazine, Marc Vorgers,

London A-Z street atlas – The Knowledge

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A few weeks ago, in praise of its very practicality, we ran a piece on the iconic London “A-Z” street atlas – see our earlier post here – London “A-Z” street atlas.

We had a massive response from our audience who clearly are still very familiar with the London A-Z and use it frequently.

As noted, the guide and associated materials are often used by London’s would be Black Cab taxi drivers as they undertake the training to be accredited with the Carriage Office’s precious badge allowing them to ply their trade in London and the suburbs.

Well, as often happens Aestheticons and respected UK tv station, Channel 4, were obviously thinking along the same lines. See here the announcement in February of this one off special. Channel 4 – The Knowledge

On Wednesday 12th April at 9.00 Channel 4 (10.00 CET) are showing “The Knowledge – The World’s Toughest Taxi Test” and the presence of the London A-Z in the trailer The Knowledge trailer reinforces its role in this a rite of passage for London’s dedicated and trusted Cabbies.

 

London “A-Z” street atlas

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In these days of innumerable Apps and virtual maps a really good piece of advice to  arriving summer-school or university students and all tourists is to buy a London “A-Z” street atlas – book style! My guarantee is that you will use it weekly, if not daily – and that’s if you don’t find a job with Deliveroo, when you be glued to it!

The iconic London “A–Z” street atlas is produced by Geographers’ A–Z Map Company Limited. It was originally compiled in the 1930s by Phyllis Pearsall, who, having had the idea for the “A-Z” when she got lost on her way to party, in 1936 founded the company, which is now the largest independent map publishing company in the UK.

Fearing the loss of the company’s independence in the event of her demise, Miss Pearsall established the Geographers’ Map Trust to hold her shareholding on trust for the benefit of the employees. A variation of the original Trust still operates the business today and employee welfare continues to be a key priority.

In July 2014, the expanding business moved to a new site on a business park in Sevenoaks, (Kent, UK).

Since 2016 the Central and the Greater London “A-Z” street atlases have both been available as an App, priced at £6.99 and £3.99 respectively. I have used the latter, it’s useful, but there is still something more evocative about the printed version.

My old copy dates from the late 1970’s and the paper has a newsprint quality about although it doesn’t seem to smudge. Rather irritatingly a former flat-mate ripped out a single page at some point in the early 1980’s – all I can hope is the date he was trying to find was worth it – but it does mean that I would be lost in the further reaches of Islington!

Prime consumers of the London “A-Z” are London’s “Black Cab” taxi drivers. They are required to hold one of two types of license – All London (Green Badge) or Suburban (Yellow Badge). To obtain their chosen license would-be taxi drivers need to learn “The Knowledge”. Initiated in 1865 “The Knowledge” is an in-depth training course that involves a study of street routes and places of interest in London. Trainees are often seen on scooters with maps attached to a front parcel shelf as they follow planned test routes and determine the best ways to avoid heavy traffic, road works or other delays.

The London “A-Z” – is also published as a flat sheet or as a laminated map for ease of use – helping learners Cabbie’s to get to grips with the over 26,000 streets within a six mile radius of Charing Cross. The average time to prepare for the examination is thirty-four months and applicants will usually need at least 12 ‘Appearances’ (attempts at the final test) to pass.