V8 - the MG with effortless performance
in August 1973, the V8 powered MGB combined the popular fixed head
coupe body style with a powerful three and half litre light alloy
V8 engine. The Rover powerplant ran with a reduced compression ratio
but an increased torque compared with the similar engines then used
in the Rover saloons. The result transformed the MGB, creating a very
nimble car with the luxury of multi-cylinder power which is both flexible
and economical - features which continue to have a special appeal
for V8 enthusiasts today!
Teal Blue 0691 owned by Paula Cottle. (Photo: Paula Cottle)
On the road the MGBGTV8 has an effortless performance, accelerating
rapidly in the higher gears with 125 mph available in both direct
and overdrive top. Hills just melt away and the torque gives the car
an unfussy manner. The 0 to 60 time of 7.7 seconds is still 30 years
later, a time many of today's sports saloons cannot touch. Even when
asked to work hard, the exhaust note retains its very pleasingly modest
but purposeful burble in keeping with its understated manner.
The V8 engine,
although from an old Buick design from the early fifties, contains
hydraulic cam followers which give the MGBGTV8 a quietness that
compliments the smooth power. Under the bonnet, the lightweight
aluminium V8 engine seems much bigger than the original four cylinder
steel engine but is only just a little heavier when the engine ancillaries
are included. The lightweight benefits are good front to rear weight
distribution and an appreciable increase in the power to weight
ratio, even from the detuned 137 bhp V8 power unit.
A surprising feature
of the MGBGTV8 is the fuel economy. Even driven on the open road
with a sense of fun the enthusiast can enjoy with V8 power, it is
quite easy to achieve between 27 and 31 miles to the gallon. The
overdrive unit gives the MGBGTV8 long legs with around 29 mph per
1,000 rpm or 3,000 rpm at 90 mph. The convenient overdrive facility
is available on top gear at the flick of a stalk switch on the steering
column and on many of the earlier chrome bumpered examples of the
model, it is available on third gear as well.
The MGBGTV8 is
however not without its poor features - excessive wind noise at
speed and a choppy ride at slow speeds from the stiffer rear springs
which are needed to cope with the higher power output. The gearbox
has to be treated with consideration when punching the additional
power through to the road wheels.
At its launch in
1973, the MGBGTV8 was welcomed as a powerful example of the MG marque
but generally regarded as arriving several years late in a popular
but ageing bodyshell and suspension package, then over ten years old.
The MGBGTV8 is very much an MG combining the famous marque's Safety
Fast! features - speed and performance with predictable and forgiving
handling characteristics. At the time of the launch, the specification
of servo assisted brakes, tinted glass, distinctive light alloy wheels,
fine cord covered adjustable seats, two speed wipers and an overdrive
as standard made it a refined sports car for 1973 and good value at
its launch price of £2,294. In so many ways the MGBGTV8 is an undiscovered
classic sportscar and prices have never been driven up by "chequebook
remains a sports car that a small band of enthusiasts enjoy and
see as very good value today in every sense. It is much liked by
Harvest Gold 1089 at the Hook Norton Brewery
in Oxfordshire. (Photo: Victor Smith)
This note is part of the Classic Power Profiles from the
V8 Register - the leading specialist group for MGV8 enthusiasts.
The V8 Register is part of the MG Car Club.
Banner photo: one of the BL Publicity photos produced for the launch
of the MGBGTV8.
many V8s were made & in what colours?
What body paint
& trim colour combinations were used?
three useful guides
by Dave Wellings
Regular use guide
by Gordon H-Jones
from Geoff Allen
history of an MGBGTV8
V8 restoration references
information for the MGBGTV8
V8 workshop manuals & handbooks