Installed! MGB Dynamic Suspension

Alan Patterson

Moss Europe customer Alan Patterson, MGCC Norwester Competitor, reports on fitting the MGB Dynamic Suspension to his MGB. Originally a Moss Europe product, it’s now available here in the US.

I am an out and out enthusiast of the MG marque in general, and of the MGB roadster in particular. As an enthusiast, I have no qualms about altering the standard set-up to one which will improve the overall performance of the vehicle. I currently own two B roadsters, one of which I use everyday, and another which I have actively campaigned in the MGCC Cockshoot Race Championship for the past six years.

I have had an ambition (no doubt as many enthusiasts have) of building an MGB that reflects how the car may have been developed by Leyland, had they not taken that fateful decision in 1980. I have often mused with colleagues and friends exactly what changes would be appropriate. A redesign of the front suspension was always high on the list of priorities, and lo and behold, Moss Europe has come up with a package, probably as good as anything I had discussed in the past.

I heard a rumor that this package was under development and was quick to put my name on the list for early delivery. Seeing the suspension on the Moss stand at MG World only made me more impatient to get hold of a kit. That day dawned on the 7th of November, and I made plans to fit the kit on the 17th, my first free Saturday.

The kit is very comprehensive and even includes the two drills required to make a slight modification to the front crossmember. Let me say early on that this conversion is completely removable, unlike some current conversions available from other outlets. A good plus point in my view, especially of a later sale of the vehicle may be prejudiced by the modifications, is that you can always return it to the original specification.

Anyone who has already rebuilt the front suspension of an MGB will have no difficulty in completing this conversion in 4 – 5 hours, and no doubt in some cases, much less time than that The only extra tools required (other than those normally used to rebuild the standard suspension) are an electric drill and a half round rough file.

If you have not had your front suspension apart for a long while (over 18 months), I would recommend you start first thing in the morning. That way, if you encounter any dismantling problems, like seized bolts (let’s face it, who hasn’t with MGB suspension!), not only will you have time to cope, but your local MG parts shop will still be open to supply any necessary replacements.

The conversion process itself is covered in comprehensive detail in the instructions supplied, and if followed to the letter, will present no problems. My conversion took a little longer than the time described above, but I have to admit, this was due to two self-inflicted problems. Firstly, I tried to be clever and only release the anti-roll bar link from the pan. Fine during dismantling, but the trap was sprung on reassembly, when unbeknown to me, I burred the thread over when reinserting the link. To cut a long story short, a new link was required to save the day, one and a half hours later! The moral of this story is to follow the instructions properly. Secondly, I did not at that time possess a good half round rough file, which would have saved the half an hour of filing per side caused by the small, almost smooth, excuse for a file I had. These points apart, the conversion went very well without any seized bolts to contend with.

At the time I fitted my kit, there was very little information about spring settings (to adjust ride height) or damper settings, and I spent an enjoyable time finding the best settings to suit my taste. One thing that did drop right first time was the ride height. This is set by adjusting a ring on the damper unit, and I set mine up with three threads showing under the locking ring from the bottom of the unit. This gives a ride height of approximately 1” lower than standard. Ride height and damper settings are of course, a matter of taste, as is spring rate.

My overwhelming first impression with the kit fitted was like a magic carpet ride compared to the standard set-up. My car had been absolutely standard, apart from a ¾’ anti-rollbar and V8 wishbone bushes. I had made mental notes about the ride, prior to fitting the kit. It was clear the standard suspension did not really start to absorb today’s road bumps until travelling at 40-50 mph. Then after 70 mph, things deteriorated once again. With the kit installed, all but the severest potholes are absorbed with great ease from 10 mph upwards. Steering feel has been retained and improved by transmitting the sense of the suspension’s working, but not so much of the physical bumping. The most telling improvement was on my first journey home on a wet night, approaching a well-known roundabout, with a particularly bumpy entry. Normally these bumps caused one of the front tires to lock up intermittently. However, with the new suspension, the wheels tracked the surface of the road more closely and gave better braking. Quite an eye-opener!

In terms of handling, turn-in has been improved and the precision in response to steering wheel input enhanced, so that positioning the car, especially in bumpy corners, has become a science rather than a vague art. Finally, the B’s Achilles heel, of push-on understeer, has been lessened, especially in the wet, though no doubt if I really pushed hard in the dry, the same improvement would be apparent. I have not yet found a safe, open, dry corner to test this.

Are there any drawbacks, I hear you ask? Well, if I were truly picky, steering effort at parking speeds has marginally increased, although in my opinion this has been compensated for by a better self-centering action. Out of interest, the difference in tracking before and after was just 1/32” less toe in, too marginal to affect things this much. However, I have not been able to measure changes in castor, although in theory this should not have changed.

My general feelings are (if you have not already realized) very good indeed. For years I have advised all new B owners to invest in a good set of HR radials as the best instant fix to improve MGB handling, but now I have found an equally effective measure to take the MGB the next step forward. If you are an enthusiast, treat yourself right now!

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