Matters Of Moment, September 1973

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An Eight-Cylinder MG

The history of MG has taken another leap forward. In the middle of last month British Leyland announced a new version of the long-lived and very popular MG-B, in the form of the very first eight-cylinder of this make. It follows the expected lines, using the Buick light-alloy V8 3.5-litre power pack which BL borrowed for the Rover 3500 V8 and the dignified 3.5-litre Rover in its final form, the latter, alas, recently discontinued after having served our Royalty downwards with every satisfaction. To cope with the 137 (DIN) b.h.p. of the big-bore, short-stroke five-bearing push-rod o.h.v. engine the BL engineers have done what amateur special-builders did in vintage times and the speed shops or “soupkitchens” do so well today, namely adapted other parts to the original concept of the well-loved B. Thus the carburetters are at the back of the engine in order to get it in, the water radiator (there is also an oil radiator) has been enlarged, two thermostatically controlled electric cooling fans are used and the gearbox casing has been enlarged to take a bigger clutch.

It is good to know that the intermediate gear ratios have been raised, apart from the substitution of a 3.07 to 1 axle ratio in place of the 1.8-litre MG-B’s 3.91 axle. Very strong new Dunlop 5J wheels are used, claimed to be the strongest ever fitted to an MG, 80 mm. main instruments replace 4 in. dials as a collapsible safety steering-column is fitted, and an o/d top gear, brake servo, and tinted glass are standard on this brave new MG-B GT V8. There will be those who will scorn the car as just another BL badge-engineered hybrid, not in the traditions of sports MGs, although this is not valid when one recalls the spacious 2.3 SA and 2.6 WA pre-war MG saloons. The interchangeability of parts in one group-range enables costs to be cut in modern specialist cars and is used by all the big-output manufacturers. BMC bits always were usefully interchangeable, as so well portrayed by the remarkable Morris Special of Ashley-Cleve which won its class of last year’s VSCC Shelsley Walsh hill-climb, although dating from 1927. MG has played a very notable part in motoring history, whether it be by winning important races in this country and abroad or breaking records at speeds of over 100 m.p.h. from 750 c.c. as long ago as 1931 to all but 255 m.p.h. from 2-litres in 1959.

Those with “Cecil Kimber” memories may say the new MG V8 (which supplements but does not replace the B) is not a true MG. A more valid criticism might be that it employs the same Pininfarina-styled body shell as the MG-B GT, which dates back to 1965. Moreover, its price (£2,294) is not all that far removed from that of the Triumph Stag (which we road test on page 1014), which has another permutation of BL V8 power unit. Nevertheless, the idea of a very smooth and effortless multi-cylindered MG coupe for which 120+ m.p.h. is claimed is most attractive on paper and next month MOTOR SPORT hopes to publish a full road-test report on the new Abingdon-engineered Rover-MG, after taking it to a Continental motor race.

Further Facets of History

The August issue of the Bentley Drivers Club Review contained some very detailed information about the technical development of the original 3-litre Bentley engine, by Nobby Clarke, believed to be the only surviving member of the Bentley Co. staff of 1919, (also a most interesting description of a run W. O. and H. M. Bentley made in a DFP in 1922, covering 654 miles with but one meal-break, and a description of his Bentley-Napier by David Llewellyn) and the 12/50 Alvis Register magazine recently published the result of interviews by Peter Wright with several ex-employees of the Alvis Company who worked there in the days of the 12/50 and FWD cars. The Driving Member, journal of the Daimler & Lanchester OC, has been serialising Francis Hutton-Stott’s account of his veteran-car activities, one of the best reminiscences of the beginning of the movement, reprinted from the 1945 issues of MOTOR SPORT.

Morris Jubilee Endurance Run at Silverstone

Cars spanning nearly 50 years of Morris took part in an endurance run at Silverstone recently as part of the Morris Diamond Jubilee celebrations. The cars ranged from the 1926 Wellsteed Special built on a Morris Oxford chassis, to a current Marina 1.3 coupe. At the end of the 12-hour test 500 miles had been covered in 311 laps of the Club circuit, at an average of 40 m.p.h. Also a 1936 Ten Six Cunard Special – one of only two surviving models – a pre-war Minor, Series E, Morris 8 and the first Morris Minor of 1948.

New TVR, but 3000M continues

Our road-test of the TVR 3000M makes reference to an up-dated version with lift-up tailgate and revised sun-roof, implying that this model will replace the version tested. TVR Managing Director Martin Lilley has decided that the revised version will be a more expensive and luxurious addition to the range and the 3000M as tested will continue in production.