The Story of an Early MGB in a Fascinating Place

Owner: Thor Håkon Theodorsen // Photographer: Trygve Sørli

This is an MGB Mk 1, Tartan red with a black interior and red piping, as-finished from the factory in Abingdon, Oxfordshire when it was built in February 1963. The MGB was only first shown to the public at exhibition in the summer of 1962, making this car an early example.

The car and I live in Sarpsborg, in the southeastern part of Norway, close to the Swedish border—a landscape that offers lot of nice roads for classic cars.

I grew up in the ’70s, and my interest in cars started in my childhood, as it did for many other boys. Many of our neighbours drove nice cars, especially my best friend’s father, who owned an early BMW 2002 that we enjoyed “playing” Monte Carlo Rally in. The car featured four big Hella lights for countryside driving and looked like a real rally car. My friend’s brother drove a very cool Mini Cooper as well, so there was lots of inspiration around. Because of this, and time spent as a boy dreaming of being in the Monte Carlo Rally, I have owned three different BMW 2002s!

In 1989, when I was 18 years old, I read an issue of the Swedish classic car magazine Automobil that included an interesting article about MGB. I had always liked sports cars from the UK, and decided then and there that I was going to buy an MGB some day—but which one?

Looking for new projects all the time, I looked at several MGBs and owned a few until I found this one. It was as close to what I most wanted out of a MGB: an early example with ‘pull’ doorhandles, wire wheels, and Tartan Red, my favourite colour on the MGB.

When I bought it, the car was sold on a wooden pallet—with all the welding finished. The rest of the car came in 12 boxes of parts. This meant I had the chance to get the car completely back to stock. After looking at many overpriced cars that still required lots of work, I found this project to be a good solution, especially as you can still buy almost every part for the MGB at reasonable prices!

I know that it was exported to Sweden as new, and one of the earliest MGBs in this area of the world. Incredibly, it had 22 owners before me! I’ve owned the car for 14 years. During that time, the car has been through an extensive restoration to put the car back to its original looks—and it drives beatifully.

I love to just cruise around, but if I go a bit faster, I’ve subtly upgraded the suspension to handle a bit better, and take better advantage of the engine’s bottom-end torque when exiting corners. Although crusing at 60-70 mph is no problem, I prefer cruising at 40-50 mph in local areas, together with other classic sport car enthusiasts.

Even better: this year I’ll finally be able to drive my latest project, an early MGB GT that will be on the road soon.

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