SOLD for £8,925
“M.G.B. Safety Faster - and More Comfortably.” Road test of the MGB, Motor magazine, 24th October 1962
The MGB took up the cudgels from the A, which with its separate chassis it is fair to say had its roots in the pre-war design period. Charming though the MGA was, the B’s unitary construction moved the game on by some margin as far as the driving experience went. Still the quintessential sports car for the average bloke, if anything it could have done with a little (if not a lot!) more power. The venerable push-rod iron blocked four cylinder B Series unit could be encouraged to clear the 100bhp mark reasonably easily but with room for a bigger unit altogether, some saw the best tool in the quest for more poke as the Buick designed all-alloy (and hence lightweight) 3.5 litre V8 available from within-the-Parent- Company Rover organisation. Internal politics and some frankly rubbish excuses such as ‘It won’t fit’ to ‘Fast, open cars are too dangerous’ (right up there with ‘the dog ate my homework’ in our opinion) prevented the marriage of American-derived muscle to true-blue British sportster, at least not with the blessing of BLMC. This didn’t stop creative chaps-in-sheds doing it themselves, most notable of who was Ken Costello. The suits eventually relented but only with the coupe GT body and a mild state of tune for the V8 so it was still left to the tinkerers and fettlers to produce what the market obviously wanted; the open MGB with decent helpings of power and torque.
And this is a prime example of just that though it has to be said, very professionally executed. Fitted with a 3.5 litre Rover V8 and associated LT77 five speed gear-box liberated from the company’s SD1 executive express in 1993, the B boasts that ‘decent’ power plus an extra cog to exploit it. The conversion and associated extensive restoration is covered in some detail in the car’s history file and the associated expenditure comfortably exceeded £10,000 (in 1993 remember), on top of the cars purchase price of £3,000 six years earlier. Rubber bumpers were ditched in favour of the more desirable chrome versions and the body received attention with new front wings and doors. On the mechanical front the engine was topped with a Holley carburettor taking power, we understand, to over 200bhp – perhaps actually more than ‘decent’ then. A tour around the photo gallery is worth taking to check the quality of the conversion.
Some nigh on twenty-five years later and the B still looks in great shape with a virtually unblemished body aside from a small dent in the bonnet as shown in the photograph, possibly caused by a slight clearance issue with the Holley’s supersized, deep dish air cleaner. The paintwork is of decent quality and may respond favourably to a good polish. The chrome is generally in good order with just a small bleb on a rear bumper over-rider – please see the photo gallery. Five Minilite-style 14” wheels are shod with near unused Firestone tyres, the rears still displaying their mould ‘pimples’ and the fronts with apparently only a few more miles under them. The B’s fast road specification is emphasised with a purposeful stance showing a little negative camber on the front wheels while the body coloured hard top and Lucas fog lights further add to the business-like look.
That said the emphasis here is on the road rather than track (for which see our listing of a full race MGB sister car) and this is actually a pretty civilised beast. The interior, in good condition throughout, sports generous, comfortable seats trimmed in leather; just nicely mellowed with light creasing, they look as inviting as they are to sit in and the hard top offers a surprisingly decent amount of headroom. Inertia reel seat belts, Moto-lita leather rimmed wheel, back-date classic chromed dials, leather centre arm rest, full carpeting and the fully lined hardtop keep the quality high if not exactly threatening Aston Martin. The summer option of a proper convertible hood is welcome, especially as it is a high quality, fully lined cloth example. An alarm and cut off switch are sensible additions in case less upstanding members of the community agree that this is indeed a very desirable bit of kit. The carpeted boot is tidy but could certainly do with a good vacuum. Car covers, a hood cover, jack and wheel brace sit beside the spare wheel encased in an elasticated cover.
Mechanically the car feels very ‘up together’ and the considerable hike in power is reigned in by ventilated front discs. Though the engine bay is not the cleanest we have seen, it is honest, hard won road dirt and engine grime. The V8 certainly fills the engine bay but to us they look as though they were meant to be partnered. Temperatures are kept under control by a decent sized radiator with twin fans plus an oil cooler, fed via a remote Mocal oil filter positioned a la Factory cars.
If cosmetics are your thing, the underside is a significant step up from the under bonnet with a nice coating of protection over an apparently super solid structure. The sills, jacking points and castle rails are very sharp with drain holes all crisp and clear while cross members, outriggers and floors all look in tip top shape.
The fat history file contains meticulous expenditure records such as the £3,000 purchase price of the car in 1987 and accompanying invoice from S+H Richardson. The conversion and restoration work is well recorded and there are a vast number of invoices, though they are not particularly well organised; the new owner will doubtless be able to spend many a long winter evening sorting through them all.
Owned since 2001, the B has been used as a ‘high days and holidays’ vehicle covering four or five thousand miles a year until usage tailed off a few years ago and precipitated its sale. What it really needs now is a new owner to give her a thorough work out on a regular basis. With the closest factory equivalent, the MG RV8, now changing hands in the £25 to £30,000 area, we feel this represents a cracking opportunity. Visually pretty standard this B V8 makes a great Q car and as a counterpoint to the B racer we are currently offering, it is very much a case of horses for courses – or not for courses as the case may be.