I’ve always found that there are cars typical of a certain sort of event or gathering.
Few typify a classic car show in the UK or Ireland quite like the MGB GT either; the model is almost a staple of car culture at this point. I’ve never really appreciated them that much though, which is sort of surprising when I look at one closer. In many ways they’re a very nice car.
They’re well proportioned and are immediately recognisable from afar. I think the main issue with MG and in particular the BGT model, is that they’re rarely used in exciting ways, and tend to be a bit, well… boring.
I think Al McNabb must have had similar thoughts as he neared completion on restoring this rare original Irish car. You see, a car that was originally registered in Ireland and not imported at a later date is seen as being much higher in stature here by the classic car community. So, to cut one up is seen as bordering on blasphemous.
Thankfully, this wasn’t a classic car event and we enjoy a bit of automotive blasphemy around these parts. The visual cues are there for all to see on this car, you just need to approach it with your eyes open. The SSR mesh wheels aren’t exactly a normal sight on an MG, although the car shares its PCD with the AE86 amongst a plethora of other Japanese cars.
The side-exit exhaust was another clue. I would discover later that Al had no choice but to run the exhaust this way as there’s no room under the car for a full system to exit out the rear.
The bonnet bulge is something that never even occurred to me, such is its subtle implementation. It only becomes more impressive when you discover that Al crafted it himself by hand too. It’s not just for looks either, it serves a purpose.
As Al reached the end of the restoration he took one look at the original MG engine and decided that it wasn’t enough by any measure. Instead, he sourced a Nissan Silvia SR20DET engine and matching 5-speed gearbox and shoehorned them into the vintage British chassis.
In order to maintain balance it was necessary to position the SR20 as far back as possible, which has resulted in some engine ancillaries and piping requiring a little bit of in-cabin real estate. The gearbox tunnel has been completely reworked to make it fit, and you can see where the shifter has ended up, which is much further back than the original.
The SR20 produces around 240hp – an absolute sh*t tonne of power when compared to the BGT’s standard mill. To cope with this increase the car has been fully poly-bushed, fitted with adjustable Gaz shocks and given an EBC brake upgrade too.
I think Al said that Auto Heroes was the car’s first real public appearance since completion, although I have urged him to bring it to a couple of typical Irish classic shows this year to see what reaction he gets.
He describes the MG as being “just a little bit scary to drive,” but that’s good. We all need a little bit of fear to remind us what it feels like to be alive.
Bravo for throwing up some vintage British iron. As an owner of a 79 B, 72 BGT, and 58 A, I wholeheartedly approve. You need to come to the States where Bs and BGTs are running around with Chevy V6's, supercharged or turbocharged B series', Chevy LSx's, Ford V8's, Zetec's and Miata repowers.
Comparing the yellow and this feature car, the feature cars motor seems to sit a lot higher. My best guess is that it has little to do with heat and more to do with the crossmember. The front suspension crossmember is a large heavy thing. The later cars, 76/ 77 and on, had it sightly notched from the factory to make room for the front pulley on the V8. Most people who do a repower will notch the crossmember to allow the motor to sit lower. The builder of the yellow car probably did just that.
The MGB is the British version of the Ford Model A. SO much can be done with them and little ground is left to be able to claim anything as ground breaking.
Keep it coming!
Great to see a MGB story and one done a little different, i would love to do an engine swap on mine one day
I once looked at a BGT. Seller said it had an MOT and had just had an engine rebuild. I took my car down there, let them test drive it to see all was working before he led me on to "the car" as we had planned on a straight swap.
It was hand painted with a brush and the engine definitely hadn't been turned in the last 5-10 years, petrol tank was empty so had to have fuel from a can but as luck should have it the battery was flat, flat tyres etc etc. Would you believe I don't want an MG BGT anymore. The guy even had the cheek to say his car was worth more than mine in the end and asked if I'd front a few hundred (Triumph Dolomite Sprint). Ain't no car that's not road legal worth more than a road legal one in my eyes. I laughed, turned the key in my car and drove off. Not something he could have done that's for sure!
Paddy, thanks for the find! Do you know why the owner needed the hood bulge? Kyle's SR-powered BGT still has the factory hood:
@SW1 Looking at the two, you can see from the heater motor housing that the featured car's engine seems to be mounted much higher, perhaps instead of creating a custom sump?
@Cucuronaise beautifully made, classic multipiece wheels?
I'm sorry paddy, I keep getting to where it says "SR20DET," giggling like a child and having to start over again as I can't take in anything else.
Up until there it was ace.
I myself own a 75' MGB and its always nice to see someone go down the road less traveled with this car 👏
Absolutely miss the shit outta my Midget. This car is glorious...I love the MG shapes, and with a decent engine and running gear, this is gonna be the happiest MG owner in the Isles
@D1RGE I miss my Midget too (I had one for 10 years and sold it a couple of years back). Whilst I mostly look at Japanese stuff these days I must confess that I've wanted to build a Japanese style B GT for a little while. It would be loads of fun for sure!
I bet this thing rips. Definitely not the purist's choice for an engine swap but I bet it's amazing fun to drive.
ok, so I wasn't a million miles out with the engine guess, however, I would like to see one of these with either an Audi 5 cyl turbo, or a ford/volvo 5 cyl turbo in it with perhaps E46 rear end?
@CianHa I miss my BGT \U0001f622
@eamonambrose They get a bit of "flat cap" stick, but they're a great classic. On my "future garage" list!
@CianHa I drove mine from London to Limerick on a beautiful sunny day with the Webasto open. Best drive ever. I beamed the whole way