The 40th anniversary of the British-built MGB sportscar will be celebrated at the Heritage Motor Centre in Gaydon, Warwickshire, about 100 miles north of London, on Sunday 4 August.

A special guest on the day will be Don Hayter who joined the MG Company from Aston Martin in 1955 as chief body design draughtsman, and was responsible for styling of the MGB.

The 'B', the bulk of which were exported to the US, is now one of the most popular classic models amongst enthusiasts around the world and the centre is expecting a large crowd of enthusiasts to turn out for the 40th birthday celebrations. Many of the MGB owners attending will also be members of the dozens of MG owners' clubs around the UK and further afield.

Launched in September 1962, the MGB replaced the BMC (British Motor Corporation)-built MGA sports car and was larger and more comfortable than its popular predecessor.

At launch in the UK it costs £690, plus £259 purchase tax. Two months later on 5 November, the Chancellor of the Exchequer reduced UK purchase tax from 45 to 25%, slashing the 103mph, 28mpg B's retail price to £834.

The newcomer's competition at the time came mainly from the Rootes factory's Sunbeam Alpine, which was not quite so fast or economical, and the Triumph TR4 although this model was a slightly faster car and heavier on fuel.

Nobody envisaged the MGB would be so popular, surviving 10 years after its natural model life - 18 years and half a million cars.

Inevitably the MGB became a classic in its own right and the most popular British car to be sold in America.

For classic car enthusiasts, the B is arguably the ideal entry point to classic car ownership. In both the UK and the US there is a ready supply of enthusiast-owned cars at still-sensible prices and almost any spare part from a lamp lens to a complete new body shell (made from original tooling by British Motor Heritage at a factory in Oxfordshire) can be obtained new 'off the shelf'.

MG Facts and Figures:
* 1928: MG Car Company established in Edmund Road, Oxford
* 1962: MGB replaces MGA, using BMC's B-series 1.8 litre petrol engine
* 1963: Paddy Hopkirk and Alan Hutcheson driving a long-nose MGB come 12th in the 24-hour Le Mans race
* 1965: The MGB GT, a hatchback-style coupé is launched
* 1967-9: Short-lived six-cylinder MGC derivative is launched - only 9,000 are made. Queen Elizabeth 2 buys one for Prince Charles who, many years later, gives it to the Queen's head chauffeur. Recently restored, the car is currently on display at the Heritage Motor Centre's 'A Royal Tour' exhibition marking the Queen's 50th jubilee year
* 1973: MGB GT V8 introduced with 3.5 litre Rover V8 engine
* 1974: MG models received restyled with rubber bumpers and increased ride height to meet new US lighting and safety legislation
* 1977: USA sales of MGB increase 33% in a year to 22,902
* September 1979: British Leyland announces closure of MGB production at Abingdon
* BL decline offers from Aston Martin to sell the MG name
* July 1980: MGB production ceases at Abingdon
* 1981: On-the-road end-of-line list prices: MGB roadster £6,127; standard GT £6,595; MGB LE Tourer £6,445; LE GT £6,937
* 1981: Henry Ford II acquires last of US-specification MGB Limited Edition roadster for display in Dearborn museum