Pursuit or enforcement cars of the two-seater variety
were slowly gaining in popularity with constabularies in the early 1970s and probably
the majority of cars of this type in service with Police Forces were MGBGTs. The
model combined a businesslike appearance with a reasonable performance, and was
capable of carrying a surprising amount of equipment. When the launch of the MGBGTV8
was announced in August 1973, it was clear the substantially upgraded performance
would make it one of the finest enforcement cars available and at a reasonable
cost too. The late Geoff Allen noted "there were five MGBGTV8 police cars
- two used as demonstrators and later three were purchased by the Thames Valley
force for enforcement work". Here are details of each of those cars.
Much of the information here was provided by the late Geoff Allen,
our former V8 Historian, who had worked at the MG Plant for over 27 years in Rectifications
Department before its closure.
See our Looking Back series of interesting
items ahead of the major anniversaries year in 2018 - the 45th Anniversary
of the launch of the MGBGTV8 in August 1973 and the 40th Anniversary of
the formation of the V8 Register in 1979. More
MGBGTV8 (Police White 0112) was reviewed by the specialist
journal Police Review in their 17th August 1973 issue. It's reproduced on the
V8 Website with the exclusive permission of the owner of that magazine. Article
White 0112 - GOF 88L|
Mounted on the assembly line as GD2D1-112G
on 30th January 1973, this car is not recorded as passing through paint finishing
until 21st September 1973 with despatch from the Factory on 28th September to
BLMC Austin/Morris UK Home Sales at Longbridge as a Pre-production UK Fleet Sales
car. However prior to formal despatch, the late Geoff Allen's records show the
car was finished in Police White with Navy trim and used as a show car for a while
and then sent out to various police forces for evaluation.
was a colour used for many years on various models supplied to the Bradford Police
and the colour was more correctly known as "Bradford Police White" even
when used by other forces.
car had been owned for many years by Gerry Hiorns, a longstanding V8 enthusiast
in Scotland, who had kept the car in its original colour. He enjoyed the V8 a
great deal, particularly researching and collecting the 1970s period police equipment.
Gerry felt that "as far as
historical and interesting provenance is concerned, I don't think there is another
like this one". In August 2009 the car was acquired by a longstanding V8
enthusiast Malcolm Bailey who has continued to look after the car and exhibit
if frequently at Club shows and events. |
White 0800 - NOX 8M|
on the assembly line on 1st October 1973, this V8 was one of three cars prepared
for the Earl's Court Show for 1973 and was displayed by Hoffman Balancing Techniques.
It received an award in the bodywork section for cars in its price range. In show
form it it had two 18 inch strip lights fitted inside - one each side of the cant
rails over the doors as they were more of less standard on MGBGT show cars at
Austin Morris Publicity, it was transferred to the police, probably at the date
of invoicing in mid November that year. In Geoff's records it is marked as a "Pre-production"
car and a "1974" model too. Geoff adds that "at one time it had
a triangular roof illuminated "POLICE" sign fitted on the centre of
the roof with a rotating blue light at the apex, but this appears to have been
removed shortly afterwards". It may have only been tried at the Factory as
many forces at the time liked the car as an unmarked "Q" car.
the car was sold off and had a respray in blue together with fitting a sunroof.
The car is owned by a V8 Register member in Lancashire.
Blaze 1006 - TBH 355M
Mounted on the
line on 14th November 1973 as GD2D1 1006G and finished in Blaze with Black trim
and invoiced to the Stevenage Motor Co Limited on 19th November 1973, the present
owner reported it was first registered on 17th June 1974. The car was purchased
by the Thames Valley Police.
Citron 1036 - PPP 99M
the line on 28th November 1973 as GD2D1 1036G and invoiced to Lex Garages in Gloucester
on 4th December 1973. The car was purchased by the Thames Valley Police.
1378 - VBH 920M
Mounted on the line 14th February 1974 and invoiced to
Kennings of Norwich on 18th March 1974. The car was purchased by the Thames Valley
with the Thames Valley Police|
During the early seventies Thames
Valley Police had three MGBGTs to perform the role of "plain enforcement
cars". They were finished in a "plain" color but not white and
with no police markings. They were effective in apprehending persistent speeders,
usually those well in excess of the speed limit on motorways in the Thames Valley
they were replaced with three MGBGTV8s. They were used by the Thames Valley
Police during 1974 and possibly 1975 and carried no external markings. They were
known at the time as "Q" cars.
The police equipment used in
these cars included the standard police two-tone horns concealed behind the front
grille, two flashing blue lights set back into the front grille, police radio,
fire extinguisher, portable "slow" signs and warning lights, tape measure,
6 red & white cones, and a crow bar. On the rear compartment platform a retractable
"POLICE-STOP" sign was fitted, operated by the crew pulling a
cord which rotated the sign out of its box and at the same time illuminating it.
The sign would lift up to show through the rear window and illuminate with the
words "POLICE-STOP" (with "STOP" in red). As an interesting
footnote, David Willcox, Force Transport Officer, recalled "to detect an
ex-police MGBGTV8 look for the tell-tale small holes in the headlining at the
driver's side roof where the self tap screws were fitted to support the rear window
sign pull cord".
The two Factory produced demonstration police
cars (mentioned above) had the Smiths' police calibrated speedometers fitted
at the Abingdon plant. In the case of the three operation cars used by the Thames
Valley Police, which were purchased through the normal dealer network, those speedometers
were probably fitted at the Police Vehicle Workshops at Kidlington in Oxfordshire.
early in the life of the three V8s with the Force one lost several teeth from
third gear, in turn splitting the gearbox casing. After fitting a new gearbox
all three cars had the overdrive wiring disconnected as a protective measure.
One local show-biz personality wrote to "Motor Sport" magazine at the
time complaining that he had been chased by an MGBGTV8 which overtook him and
raised the "POLICE-STOP" sign; he warned other road users to beware
of this car. Some of the world's fastest production cars at the time saw this
sign in action at speeds well in excess of 100mph.|
At the time of the end
of the production of the V8 model, the late Geoff Allen recalled the Factory grapevine
suggested the Police had asked BL to build three more V8s to replace theirs. Sadly
however it was too late as the build was about to finish. A comment heard at the
time from staff at Thames Valley Police was "had it not been for the demise
of MG at Abingdon we would still be using these now". All three cars were
eventually sold off after covering 80,000 miles, sold at auction for £2,150.96,
£2,159.96 and £2,243.53 respectively.
estate of the late Geoff Allen