MGB GT V8
For those who hankered after an MGB but wanted more power, Abingdon had its own answer
‘ 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.