’65 B Roadster of John Winter

An American MGB Association Queen B is the ’65 B roadster of John Winter from Rochester, Minnesota. Here is the story:

I grew up and live in Minnesota, but as a child my family took its vacations to the San Francisco Bay Area where my grandparents, aunts, and uncles lived. Both of my uncles were bitten by the British car bug in the early 1960s. One of our many trips was in 1963 when I was 10. On that trip I saw my uncle’s new 1963 MGB. Shortly after we returned I devoured a book called “The Red Car”. I was immediately caught up in the story of the wrecked MG TC that was repaired by a young man and then went on to beat a much more powerful Ford in a race. Wow.

Two years later, in 1965, we again traveled to the Bay area for a family visit. This time my other uncle, a student at Cal State-Berkeley, had just purchased a new MGB for his college and Navel ROTC commuting. My passion for MGs deepened.

Several years later in 1975 I again made the journey to Burlingame in the Bay Area. This time on my own near the end of college break. I drove my 1973 Vega GT. No, not British, but it made the trip without a hitch. This time during my visit I learned that my grandfather had purchased the MGB from my uncle as a hedge during the gas crises of the 1970’s. However, he was not able to enjoy it due to a back ailment. Was it for sale? Would he sell it to me? The answer was no, but I let my offer to buy it stand.

A year later he called. The MG was for sale. I could buy it for what he paid my uncle for it, $1,250. It included the Blaupunkt three band radio that my uncle liberated from the 1963 B before it was traded (tubes and it still works), but I had to pay for the servicing needed to make it ready for a trip east. I scrounged funds, arranged a flight, and was off to get my car. After a wonderful 4th of July visit with my family, I was off to MN. Aside from cleaning out SU carb bowls in Eureka (1/4 inch of silt in the bottom) and installing new generator brushes in Burley, Idaho the trip was uneventful. Well, there was that early Saturday morning in Livingston, Montana with glass pack equipped MGB rattling windows downtown as we made our way to the interstate. Thankfully, law enforcement was somewhere else.

In the early 1980’s I freshened the car with a paint job and some cosmetic clean up as my uncles were coming to MN for a family wedding. Since then it has demanded very little. A battery now and then, a fuel pump, brakes and tires recently (the new tires replaced 1983 Michelin ZXs), but the B has always gotten me there when called upon, Lucas electrics and all. This year I celebrate 40 years of ownership. Seems like just yesterday I was heading north out of San Francisco on the 101 in my new, then 12 year old, MGB.

Today the B is nearly all still from Abingdon as built. The SUs work great, suspension is relatively tight, the motor makes good power, and runs very well. The motor could use a freshening, the throw-out bearing is a bit off (I had the hydraulics checked and all is fine), and an overdrive transmission would be nice, but it is still a thrill every time I pull the choke and crank it up to hear the “throaty burble” as it roars to life. What a kick! My little four year old is absolutely thrilled with the shiny “red car” too.

'65 B roadster of John Winter from Rochester, Minnesota.
'65 B roadster of John Winter from Rochester, Minnesota.
'65 B roadster of John Winter from Rochester, Minnesota.

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