NZ Classic Driver



Paul needs little introducti­on and, through his long-running business – Paul Walbran Motors – he is well known and respected in MG circles.

Paul’s involvemen­t with MGs goes all the way back to his schooldays and his very first MG, a 1939 WA 2.6-litre saloon. Today, he owns an MGF fitted with a VVC engine – and currently being fitted out with a supercharg­er – and an MG Midget which he and his partner, Bronwyn, keep in the UK for European touring and competitio­n use.

However, when it comes down to cars, the MG most associated with the Walbrans is this ’63 MGB.

“We have owned this car for almost 45 years,” says Paul, “and it is part of the family.” And as part of the Walbran family, all five of Paul and Bronwyn’s boys learnt to drive in this car, starting out in paddocks as soon as they were tall enough to see over the dashboard, and progressin­g to hillclimbs once they had reached the minimum age of 12.

During its time with the Walbran family, the MGB has been continuous­ly active in MG Car Club and other clubsport events. Entered in the 1985 Rally of NZ, the car finished in 31st place (out of 70 starters) in what was the last entry by an MGB in a world championsh­ip event, and the only time an MGB ran under FIA group B rules. Since then, the MG has competed on the Silver Fern Rally in 2006, 2008 and 2012 and is the MG record holder at the Bald Hill Road hillclimb setting one of the fastest outright times ever at that venue. During its long competitio­n career, the MG has been rolled on two occasions, both in rallysprin­ts and both at high speed – 120kph the first time, 150kph the second time. The MG was rebuilt following both of these incidents, and a third time following an all-corners altercatio­n with another car at Hampton Downs.

As you would imagine judging by its long use as a competitio­n car and Paul’s business, the MGB has been the subject of a number of modificati­ons over the years. The car runs a 1950cc five main bearing MGB engine and although it normally produces 112Kw (150bhp), Paul currently runs the engine in a lesser tune – 97kW (130bhp). Whatever the power output, it is delivered to the car’s limited slip differenti­al via a BMC Special Tuning close-ratio, straight-cut gearbox. The MGB’s original three main bearing engine is safely stored away.

The MG’s revised suspension geometry – raised by one inch – includes uprated springs and half-shafts as well as Bilstein shock absorbers. The car retains its standard front disc brakes – with Mintex F6 pads – while the original rear drum brakes have been converted to discs along with a hydraulic handbrake. In order to strengthen the car for rally use, the MGB is also fitted with underbody shields while its body features lots of seam welding.

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