For those who han­kered af­ter an MGB but wanted more power, Abing­don had its own an­swer

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Buying & Selling - WORDS Chris Ran­dall PHO­TOG­RA­PHY Magic Car Pics

‘ With us­able ex­am­ples to be found from £8000, the V8 is tempt­ing’

There are nu­mer­ous rea­sons why the MGB is such a ubiq­ui­tous clas­sic, from its mod­est val­ues to the ease with which a DIY me­chanic can tune and re­pair one. And be­ing pow­ered by the re­li­able B-se­ries en­gine is no bad thing – ex­cept for the fact that the re­sult isn’t that quick.

Which is where the GT V8 comes in, a devel­op­ment that took MG the best part of ten years fol­low­ing the orig­i­nal model’s launch. Engi­neer and racer Ken Costello had al­ready stuffed a V8 un­der the ’B’s bon­net but by 1973 Abing­don was ready to do it for it­self, choosing the light and pow­er­ful ex-Buick Rover unit for the job. With twin SU car­bu­ret­tors and slightly de-tuned over other in­car­na­tions, it pro­duced a use­ful 137bhp and, more im­por­tantly, a healthy wodge of torque which would get the coupé (no road­ster due to con­cerns over struc­tural rigid­ity) to 60mph in 8.2 sec­onds, top­ping out at 124mph. The V8 set-up isn’t per­fect and can end up hot and both­ered in traf­fic – which is why you’ll of­ten see cars fit­ted with af­ter­mar­ket bon­net lou­vres and ad­di­tional cool­ing sys­tems –but there’s some­thing very ad­dic­tive about its bari­tone snarl and am­ple mid-range torque. The Rover en­gine also re­sponds well to sim­ple tun­ing, so it’s rel­a­tively easy to coax more than the fac­tory-ap­proved 137bhp from be­neath the bon­net.

Re­main­ing in pro­duc­tion for only three years, just 2591 GT V8s were made. That makes it a rar­ity to­day, but with us­able ex­am­ples to be found from about £8000 Bri­tain’s mus­cle car is more tempt­ing than ever.

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