I had the good fortune to purchase your September issue at Auckland airport in late August, whilst flying back to Sydney from Canada, where we’d been on holiday. I was especially interested in the MGC article, as I’d owned one in the UK for a short while in 2004 — more of that later. I really enjoyed Donn’s article, and fully agree the car was blighted from day one, not helped apparently by the BMC press fleet cars having under-inflated front tyres! Donn’s article made mention of the Australian-derived six-cylinder version of the B series engine as a possible source of the MGC’S engine. This engine, known as the Blue Streak ‘six’, had been an Austin-derived design study in the UK in the mid ’50s as an alternative to the existing C-series six, but was dropped from UK plans. It showed promise in the Australian market, where it was used in the Austin Freeway saloon, then in competition with the home-grown sixes in the Holden, Falcon, and Valiant saloons coming on stream at the time.
One of these Blue Streaks was imported from Australia and dropped in an MGB at Abingdon. They coaxed 86kw (115bhp) out of it and it proved to be a great car, managing 202kph (126mph) on the Western Bypass before the police stopped the driver, Roy Brocklehurst, stating this isn’t an MGB. The ‘Light Six’ prototype, as MG called it, showed great promise, but sadly Morris Engines was unable or unwilling to commit capacity to it. A few years ago here in Australia I saw that someone had dropped one of these Blue Streak engines into an MGB and it was up for sale — an intriguing conversion, no doubt.
As to the MGC GT I had in UK, it was one of the rare 1960s Downton Tuning converted MGCS to Stage 3 tune. Three two-inch SUS, big valve and ported head, dual exhaust, lightened flywheel etc., good for around 130kw (174bhp).
It changed the whole performance level of the car, improved fuel consumption, and it sounded magnificent. If only MG had spent a little more time on tuning the engine, but by then the kitty was empty. It is also important to note that when the 101kw (135bhp) Rover V8 appeared in the MGB GT V8, it used the Range Rover tuned engine. Whereas I think it should have been the 116kw (155bhp) unit as fitted to the Rover P6B.
Mark Nelson, Sydney
An MGC GT producing 130kw must have been an exciting car to drive, Mark, and it’s probably one you wished you’ d kept hold of. AFW