MGBGTV8 Police cars

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.

Geoff Allen
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

Police Review article
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

Posted: 180522
Police 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.

Police White 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.
The 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.
Police White 0800 - NOX 8M
Mounted 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 that time.

Later, through 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.

Subsequently 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.

Three operational MGBGTV8s

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
Mounted on 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.

Bracken 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 Police.
MGBGTV8s 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 police area.

During 1974 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.
Fairly 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.
Copyright: estate of the late Geoff Allen