The MGB, especially in GT guise, is a car that embodies the notion of the British classic car like no other. Lashings of chrome, wire wheels, a plucky little engine and diminutive dimensions make it a car that is front and centre when the mind’s eye is tasked with thinking of a classic car. As classic cars go, the MGB is an icon, it’s the car that did wonders for the MG company, but more importantly, it is the car that has, for many of us, served as the first leap into classic car ownership. There is such support out there for the MGB that owning one, even one from the ‘60s, is no more demanding than owning a brand new car. Parts from tiny fixings through to entire body shells are available should you require them. Not every classic car can boast that. And it’s this dedication and industry behind the MGB that has made it such a popular car.
But what if you want the ultimate in MGB terms. What if you want to stand out and have an MGB like few others? Well, you need to roll forward through the alphabet by one letter and invest in an MGC, which is what we have here.
The MGC was a brief offering, being built from ‘67 to ‘69. Known internally as the ADO52, the MGC was different from the B by way of two additional cylinders. Under that long bonnet was a 2,912cc straight six C-series (hence the name) engine. And it was an impressive engine thanks to seven main bearings, twin SU carbs and a power output of 145bhp. It meant the MGC could hit 120mph if pushed, which in the late ‘60s was akin to rocket speed!
Of course, at some 200lb more than the four-cylinder, some revisions were needed. The suspension was improved, the steering too. The engine bay required modification to accommodate the big engine, as did the forwardmost floorpan, and of course, the bonnet gained a ‘power bulge’ and second dome bulge for the twin carburettors.
This particular MGC GT has a wonderful history. The current owner has had the car for some 35 years, and is only selling now due to a planned move to America. Throughout those years, the MGC has remained in regular use, and in doing so, has never wanted for anything. As such, there are stacks of paperwork detailing work which has been done. Most is, of course, regular service and maintenance work, though there is also a great deal of restoration work, too.
All of the history has been condensed into an overview spreadsheet (pictured) and it is rich in detail. From the first owner, who took delivery in 1970 for £1,358 after requesting underseal, a radio, an alarm and a locking fuel filler. The list shows dates and costs for every bit of work he had done. Then there’s the second, albeit brief owner from ‘79 to ‘84 before moving onto the car’s current owner who bought it on the 23rd of May, ‘85. And again, everything (and we do mean everything) that has ever been spent on this car has been included.
There are myriad service and upkeep items like oil, belts, filters and MOTS. And then there is a rundown of all the restorations work, such as a bodywork to the cost of £690 in ‘90, then a full restoration in ‘98 at a cost of £5,866. At the same time, a reconditioned engine was fitted by Autotech at a cost of £2,464 (the car has done 25,000 miles on said engine). The interior was refurbished at a cost of 439 in November of ‘98. And it goes on and on in wonderful, captivating detail. And all of this is backed up by invoices and the like. If only all cars were so rich and detailed in their history.
The main thing to take away from this incredible history is that this MGC has lived a life wanting for nothing. It has been driven and enjoyed, but also been cared for every step of the way. It is truly exceptional in terms of how well it's been looked after and subsequently documented.
It might be cliche to say the pictures speak for themselves, but truly they do. This is a pretty little car no matter what angle you view it from. Is it perfect? No, there are small areas that need attention, but they’re purely aesthetic. The rear valance could use some attention, there is the lightest scratch on the leading edge of the bonnet, the rear arches are showing signs of slight corrosion and there is some bubbling on the inside of the boot lid, but that’s about it. This car has been used regularly all of its life, some some ‘age’ is permitted. In fact, it would be more unsettling if it was faultless.
Small (and you can see from the pictures, they are small) blemishes don’t detract from how attractive and presentable this car is. The chrome wears its age in places, but still shines and polishes up to a mirror-like finish. The paintwork is clean, crisp and reveals no rippling or imperfection on any panel. And speaking of panels, the gaps are spot on - credit to the restorer, there. The fifteen-inch wire wheels are in excellent order, with recent 165/80 tyres fitted. The glass is excellent, with the exception of a light scratch on the screen from the wiper arm - but this again is age, and it’s also on the passenger side.
Inside is excellent throughout. The clocks are all bright and functional, the steering wheel is gently worn and falls to hand well. The seats, which have of course been re-trimmed front and back, are in excellent order. The headlining is free from damage or marks, the dashtop has no cracks and in the boot, the storage area is still wearing original carpet, under which there is a rust-free boot floor and of course, the all important spare wheel - another wire wheel in this case.
Under the bonnet, the big straight-six is definitely wedged in there, but it looks right at home. This is no concours machine, it’s a car for regular use, so the engine bay has oil staining and a thin sheen of dirt in places, but that’s fine. It’s all original and it looks right. There does seem to be a small oil leak that may need investigation. Other than that, everything is present and correct and to the original specification. There is a small amount of surface corrosion to be found on the firewall, which we would encourage the new owner to address, but it is just surface.
The underside seems to be in good order, with a great deal of rustproofing in place. It has, in places, started to come away from the chassis, so you may wish to reapply some protection before putting the car into regular use. The bushes and suspension components look to be in good order, too.
On the whole, this is a pleasingly honest car in excellent condition. It would easily make some so say ‘show’ cars blush, despite being a car to be driven often, rather than be parked in a field every summer Sunday. You can tell it has been more at home on the road more than anywhere else.
As you’d expect for a small car with a large engine, there is no shortage of power. “You put your foot down, and the bonnet lifts and away you go” the owner told us with enthusiasm. It’s not a car you should confuse with the regular MGB. Much had to be done to this model to ensure the handling was decent, and this included work to the suspension as well as the brakes, which were increased in size over those of the B.
The steering is well-weighted, though of course there is no power assistance, so slow speed maneuvering can be a strain, though the large diameter steering wheel does go some way to taking the work out of it. It is by no means light, though. Happily, the brakes are assisted and thanks to being larger in diameter, they do an excellent job of bringing the C to a halt. The suspension, too, with the improved torsion bar setup and telescopic dampers does a decent job of holding the car level. There is some roll, but no more than you would expect.
The big selling point for this car, aside from the engine and the excellent condition, is the transmission, which is a three-speed automatic in this car. Only 335 of these cars were built, and only a handful survive. And for many, the automatic is the transmission of choice, as it transforms the car and makes it effortless to drive. No cramped pedals, no elbowing the passenger to select a gear. It’s just a more relaxing, enjoyable affair. In this car, you truly can soak up the miles, and trust us, that’s exactly what you’ll want to do.
The MGC never saw greatness in the way BMC had hoped. It was going to be the replacement for the big Healey 3000, but that never happened. As such, the MGC only had a short production run of just over two years. However, while it might not have been a Healey, it was by no means a bad car. It had and still has, ample power. It is a beautiful looking machine and in the case of this rare automatic model, it’s a joy to drive. If it wasn’t, if there was any hint of this car being poor, being unengaging or being difficult to live with, the current owner wouldn’t have been so for the last thirty-six years. This is a car that, quite evidently, gets under your skin, that you bond with and that you will fall for in a big way.
More than that though, it’s an MG with exclusivity, it’s not a ‘normal’ MGB, it’s something more interesting, something with a story, something that people will want to know about. It’s a slice of motoring history, an example of where BMC once dreamed of going with power and design. It’s a wonderful classic with massive appeal, it’s in exceptional condition and it’s ready to take you wherever you want to go. All you need do is bid.