Original British Leyland Press Release for the MGB GT V8

Not to be published until Wednesday 15th August 1973



The new MGB GT V8, with its lightweight 3.5 litre V8 engine and exceptionally high overall gearing, is the latest in a series of grand tourers to bear the MG octagon symbol. If it was the great international racing and record breaking successes over four decades that established MG as one of the greatest of sports car marques, it was with high speed tourers that the story began.


Back in the early 'twenties, Cecil Kimber was a bright young Morris Garages manager mildly tuning and restyling the staid Bullnose Morrises of the day. He eagerly seized on the opportunity presented to him in 1924 when Morris introduced a new, long-wheelbase Morris Oxford. He took the chassis and made small but important alterations to produce the MG 14/28; the springs were flattened, the brakes and dampers were improved, the steering was raked down, the engine persuaded to give a little more power and on this much improved basis he mounted a superb polished light alloy four-seater open body set off by contrasting dark red or blue wings and matching button-pleated leather upholstery. It was a stunning outfit with its sloping windscreen and shiny wheel discs and it was a brisk seller at a realistic 375 pounds.

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In the early 'thirties, MG toyed with touring cars with such confections as the 1100cc L-type Magna, but the preoccupation at that time was the full-blooded sports models, and it was not until the 1935 Motor Show that a new type of MG touring car was introduced. With a specification much closer to other models in the Nuffield Group than previous MGs, the SA had by the 1936 Show emerged as a smoothly styled long bonneted 2.3 litre touring car on classic lines and with an 80 mph maximum. Like many touring cars of the era it was on the heavy side, but offered considerable comfort and silence and, like the old 14/28, it was exceptional value for the money. It represented formidable opposition to William Lyons' somewhat similar SS Jaguars.


In a company as devoted to the principle of design progress as was MG, it was only to be expected that this first foray would be improved upon, and in 1938 the 2.6 litre WA appeared as a similarly styled saloon with characteristic tiny double rear windows. To match the larger engine there were improvements to the chassis, the axles and to the brakes and the car possessed an ability to cover long distances at satisfyingly high average speeds.


The war intervened and the success of the MG Midgets in world markets left little scope for touring cars until in 1954 the compact and neatly styled MG ZA Magnette saloon appeared. Powered by a redoubtable 1.5 litre B-series engine, the Magnette was a comfortable and acceptable four-seater saloon which proved unexpectedly suitable for competition work by virtues of the capabilities of its powerplant. Many enthusiasts mourned its passing as the last of the true MGs.


But another true MG series was hot on its heels. The MGA of 1955 was the first of a new generation of sporting models. It was followed by the fixed head coupe which derived from it in 1956 which was, in turn, followed by the MGB in 1962 which, itself, was supplemented by the MGB GT in 1965.

With a handsome and robust grand touring body which had received the attentions of the Italian stylist Pininfarina, the MGB GT is a thoroughly practical touring car, offering a 90 mph cruising speed and good fuel economy. It has dual purpose character; the practical layout of the body with its big rear door gives access to the whole interior and the 95 bhp engine proves equally happy pottering about on shopping trips or hurrying along on international motorways.


But nothing is so good that it can't be improved and the car's structure is so robust that it permits a much greater performance to be achieved. In 1971 the men at Abingdon took a hard look at that lightweight V8 and went to work. The new car is the satisfying fruit of their labours.


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V8 Register Meet in August 1983
A "V8 Register" meet in August 1983

V8 Register Display as Silverstone in 2002
The V8 Register Display as Silverstone in 2002

This article is part of a set of FIVE!  If you enjoyed this article, check out:
      MGB GT V8 Press Release - Introduction
      MGB GT V8 Press Release - "Description of the Car"
      MGB GT V8 Press Release - "Development of the Body and the Engine"
      MGB GT V8 Press Release - "Technical Specifications"

BritishV8 Magazine has assembled the largest, most authoritative collection of MG "MGB GT V8" information you'll find anywhere. Check it out!   Access our MGB GT V8 article index by clicking here.

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