Prior even to the successful introduction of the MGB Roadster in 1962, John Thornley, General Manager of the MG division of the British Motor Corporation, had wanted to build a ‘closed’ GT car: the ‘Poor Man’s Aston Martin’ – he described it at the time.
However, he would have to build a new roadster first to replace the MGA (1955-62). Together with Syd Enever (the division’s Chief Engineer), they tried out various redesigns in attempting to put a solid roof on the MGB Roadster; eventually, however, they sent the project to the renowned coachbuilder Pininfarina in Turin who rapidly came back with the beautiful MGB (Mark 1) GT. A revolutionary hatch-back it its day, it was introduced at the Earl’s Court Motor Show in 1965.
The MGB GT is constructed with a chassis-less, unitary bodyshell with built-in box members. It incorporates MG’s classic wishbone and coil-spring suspension with a four-cylinder 1798cc engine producing 95 bhp. It could accelerate from 0-60 mph in 12.2 seconds and achieve a top speed of 103 mph.
LE50 (‘Limited Edition’)
The first limited edition MGB, the ‘GT Special’ came out as early as 1967 but it was only marketed in the USA. Various other LE’s followed in the 1970/80s. Rather more recently, and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the MGB Roadster model in 1962, Frontline Developments near Abingdon-on-Thames decided to develop the MG ‘LE50’ in 2012. It’s a limited edition of 50 ‘modernised’ MGB GTs, of which this car is number 20. Starting with a ‘sad’ 1966 blue GT, Frontline took a new Heritage bodyshell, seam welded and rustproofed it, and rebuilt the car with a factory-supplied Mazda two-litre engine and six-speed manual transmission. This engine produces a whopping in comparison 212 bhp; weighing in at just 941 kilogrammes, this car therefore produces a notable 225 bhp per tonne. The fully adjustable suspension and four-wheel disc brakes are essential for dealing with all that extra power. It can reach 60mph in 5.1 seconds and has a top speed of 160mph – something of a performance improvement then on the original car!
Frontline works closely with its clients to create bespoke vehicles, matching exactly the client’s requirements. This particular car has a beautiful leather interior trim ensuring high level comfort to match the superior performance.
Displayed courtesy of Neil and Alison Sims from Monday 18th March to Sunday 24th March 2019.