・One of only 92 to this specification ・Marvellous condition throughout ・Rare and desirable V8!
There is something very special about a British car with a V8 engine, and more so when it comes to British Leyland products. The much-maligned company is often a source of derision and ridicule, and sadly what people say is mostly true but the brand also specialised in what is known as the flawed gem. One prime example is the classic MGB GT. The car was actually one of the better cars in the BL stable, as proved by its popularity here and abroad, particularly the States.
The cars able chassis proved fun to drive and after the relative failure of the earlier straight-six 3-litre MGC which, BL decided to investigate the idea of installing the Rover V8 engine into the GT. Original prototypes were very similar to Ken Costello's cars, an MG racer and tuner had successfully converted several versions for customers. The V8 engine was known for its flexible torque, which transformed the performance of the car with a 0-60 time well under 8 seconds. The Alloy V8 engine also weighed 40Ib (18kg in new money) less than the cast iron B Series engine, which meant the keen handling was retained. The body needed slight torsional improvement, which was carried out to all MGB's but the installation of the engine was surprisingly hassle-free - thanks in part to Costello's development work.
Production started in 1973, which in view of the fuel crisis, was unfortunate timing. With an average of 20mpg being recorded when new, the overall fuel consumption was actually not significantly worse than the standard 1.8-litre version. It's likely that the high asking price of the car was more of a factor. As a result, just 2591 cars were built at the Abingdon factory before BL pulled the plug on it in 1976 - a perfect ingredient for an instant classic. A handful was converted into LHD for US export but there simply was no space to install the bulky emissions control apparatus, so any potential exports to the states were instantly quashed. Those cars (including two that were sent out for presentation at the 1973 New York Motorshow) were returned back to Abingdon and were eventually sold to European customers. The other train of thought is that the MGB GT V8 was not pushed for export in the states, as the forthcoming Triumph TR7 was hoped to take over as BL flagship sports car…
Finished in a colour known as Tundra, the olive green hue suits the lines rather well. It is one of just 92 cars that were finished in this colour. It sports the favoured chrome bumpers which have been fitted at some point in its life, as the chassis number corresponds a rubber bumper car, in this case, a March 1975 car that was originally registered new by a dealer in the North East. It is very clear to see that the car has been subject to a recent restoration, the underside, as the owner was very keen to point out, has been coated in rust inhibitor. All the panels are original but have been repainted with new chrome numerous, grille, headlamps and other exterior trim.
Paperwork of the car's history is sadly not with the current owner, so other than the V5 there is very little to present, but the overall condition and finish of the car should give any potential buyer confidence. However, It is believed that the car covered just 79,000 miles in 44 years, having been with the previous owner since 1982. The vendor informs us that it may be possible to track the previous owner and restorer to verify the actual work carried out, however have been unsuccessful thus far. It's possible the survival of the car has been attributed to its low use and the Ziebart treatment that had been applied when the car was current.
Typically for an MGB, the interior is austere but cosy. The whole ambience is that of a '60s car as BL didn't feel the need to unnecessarily upgrade the cabin with modern trappings - mostly by the lack of available funding rather than by design but if your customer base didn't complain then why change it? The gauges and switchgear are said to be fully functional, with the iconic 3 spoke MG wheel dominating the dashboard. There is an aftermarket cassette player too. The Autumn leaf (Orange to those who don't have a traditional UK Autumn!) firmly places the car as a seventies product but offsets the car nicely. The condition of the seats, carpet and boot area is excellent. Still in the boot area, the lid stays are as new, and a quick peek under the cars reveals a decent fully legal alloy with good tyre thread and an opportunity to view a very solid boot floor pan and suspension mount. The door cards and elbow padding are, as to be expected, colour coded and in great condition. The car also has rubber matting and black carpets. The headlining is perfect, with the rear bench (I am reluctant to call it a seat) has not seen many backsides on it - for obvious reasons - the front seats are in excellent condition, with a little sagging which considering the age of the car, is to be expected.
The chrome is in excellent condition, with trim, rubber and glass suggesting signs of a relatively recent restoration - a quick check on the traditional areas that the MGB usually suffers from, the sill, base of the A-pillar and wings do not present us any nasty surprises. It sports the unique V8 wheels, with the alloys and matching brand tyres being in rude health - as a minus detail, one MG hub cover is missing. The panel gap finishing on the MG while not the worst in the BL family, is something that differs from car to car - in this case its actually pretty good, although the doors do seem to be slightly off - a typical flaw that the car has had since new. The glass, door rubbers and badge detailing are exceptional. It is difficult to find any major flaws and must rate as one of the better MGB V8's on the market today.
Mechanically the car as to be expected seems to be in fine fettle, the engine sounded fine, with no noise from the gearbox and the engine was incredible smooth running. While the car was on, the double fans did not need to kick in. It has a recently fitted starter motor, new battery, renewed rear brakes, new water pump, as part of the recent restoration project. The suspension components are as good as you'd ever hope an MGB to be - one minor criticism, as it is beginning to be hard to find an issue with the car, is that it is caked with underseal underneath - not a bad thing but sometimes it is nice to see things like leaf springs. But, it is down to a personal choice. The exhaust is clearly a new item and even if it was in bad condition, anyone who knows MG's will be able to obtain every mechanical component with a series of clicks online. The engine has not been over-restored and is in clean order although the Lobster claw air filter assembly dominates the engine thanks to its cleanliness. The ancillaries and pipework are excellent with a new looking radiator to add a little extra confidence.
It is no secret that the MGB is the UK's most popular classic sports car. There is a good reason for this, as demand has always been steady since the last ones rolled off the line in 1980. Mechanically durable, with excellent parts availability, they're great to drive and the low driving position evokes the memories of a low slung racer. The V8 takes the advantages of the MGB one step further, combining one of the best classic V8 engines in a car that will simply always have a demand. However, due to its ubiquitous nature, the standard MGB will not give you the opportunity to stand out of a crowd but this is where this V8 comes in. It's often said that owners prefer originality in a classic car but by replacing the unloved rubber impact bumper that was created specifically to meet US regulations, this car should be considered the most desirable version of the MGB and with its impeccable finish, eye-catching colour and the reliable V8's reputation for mechanical simplicity, then this has to be the one to go for.
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