As I am still not able to drive a manual safely (although making progress), I have made it known that I am interested in classic cars with automatics.

Consequently, I have done a deep-dive into a world of cars that I have actively disdained over the past few decades. Cars that, if I were walking by them and spied an automatic shifter rather than a manual gearchange, I would quicken my pace and not look back.

It turns out that there are several advantages to being a hoarder of Borg Warner orphans.

First, there is a dramatic price reduction for automatics, sometimes up to 50% over the price of a manual. Second, I have found that most of the cars with autos have lived easy lives. These Borg Warner slushboxes are not terrible, but they are no PDK, so running to redline and slamming a quick shift have never been a part of these cars’ lives.

I have also learned that while I will always prefer a manual, there is joy to be found in cars with automatics.

At the same time I have been looking for automatics, I have been adjusting the size and shape of the SCM collection.

To that end, Matt Crandall at the Avant-Garde Collection will be putting some of our cars up for sale on BaT. Watch for our D90 turbo-diesel (5-speed) and our one-owner SCM Suburban with just over 90,000 miles and all service records from new. (We only used the Suburban for our annual trips to Monterey, and while we wait for the collector car world to establish a new normal, we want to free up the garage space.)

We still need an AWD for Oregon winters, so a Land Rover Discovery (automatic) has once again become part of our family. I am well aware of the terrible reputation these rigs have, and I have owned a bad one in the past. But I have confidence in this one – I’ll explain why at another time.

Which brings me to the topic of today’s blog. As all listings for classics with an automatic seem to immediately land in my inbox, I was not surprised when one for an MGC-GT popped up. Currently listed on Hemmings, the auction ends this week.

Used Car Whisperer Rob Sass waxed enthusiastic about the MGC and its 6-cylinder engine. I enjoyed the Pininfarina-designed MGB-GT we drove on “The Road to Reno,” but found it under-geared and underpowered. The six-cylinder and automatic solve both of those issues.

My question is, as we already have the 1971 Jaguar E-type 2+2, isn’t the MGC just another way to scratch the same itch?

When I posed this to a friend, his response was, “Didn’t you own seven Alfas? Why does owning two similar cars trouble you?”

I am conflicted. I’ve never seen an MGC-GT with an auto. I like the sunroof and the presentation of this car. But is it ridiculous to have two British 2+2 slushboxes in the garage?

What would you do? Walk away or create a matched pair here?

17 comments

  1. It is always easier to correct the error you made buying a car than the one made not buying it.

  2. Keith, I know back in the late 50’s and early 60’s wheI was looking at an engine swap, we ALWAYS looked for an engine that came out of an automatic gearbox. This was for the same reason that you recalled, they were not pushed to redline very much if at all.

  3. Well, learned something new. Didn’t know there were ever MG automatics. I wonder how many MGC-GT’s with autos were made?

  4. Buy a C2 Corvette . If you’re going to own a car of that era with an auto , American iron was the best .

  5. Kieth: I have a customer with a 1993 Porsche 968 Automatic. Production date 8/92 57,900 miles. Probably always a Texas car. Red with Tan interior. Drivers seat is worn which makes me think this was an around town car all its life. She has lived in this area all her life in the same house. We have done substantial service on the car. Let me know if you are interested. al zim ZIMS AUTOTECHNIK 800.356.2964

  6. Hi Keith,
    I for one, would pass on the MGC-GT if you’ve already got a Jaguar E-Type 2+2. One automatic Brit car
    should be gracious plenty to provide ample time on the flatbed/rollaway. I don’t recall ever seeing an
    automatic B-GT, but there may be a few out there. I’ve had several vintage Brit roadsters (MGA, AH 100-6)
    and have move on to German cars. Perhaps you might consider one of Mercedes’ 4-Matic sport sedans
    or even a 400E wagon. The wagon behaves like a GT car in many ways. My E500 4Matic handles the curves almost as well as my ’87 Carrera Targa.

  7. I owned a yellow MCG GT in the early 90’s that I had resurrected . It had the auto which was very well suited to it as a GT cruiser. I had owned a MGB roadster earlier and the two cars were different beasts. the B was nimble and light in comparison to the C. I had a friend at the time who had a C manual roadster and that too was a different driving experience as the heavy six seemed to run the handling. The CGT with the auto seemed a suitable balance , sporting with a reasonable crisp shift, yet very happy burbling along on the freeway.
    Not a fan of sunroofs in general, especially so for Webasto style ones, that along with opening up new areas of leakage, ruin the lines of whatever car they are installed .

  8. MGC-GT’s are interesting, beautiful little cars and they pair well with an automatic transmission, but the steering remains heavy and they do have small interiors. Although they are different, if you already have an XKE, I would probably look elsewhere

  9. I’d sell the XKE and buy the MGC. Be a little different from the crowd. I had a ’69 MGC-GT in the early 1980s in Alaska and enjoyed it a lot. I took it from Anchorage to Dawson City once (yes, up and down the Taylor Highway!) for a conference, and it did great. It was a 4-speed with overdrive, bought as a basket case and rebuilt and repainted. The steering box was a problem, and parts weren’t available, but I think that issue has been rectified. Everything else was available. There was a good owners support group.

    Bear in mind that the MGC doesn’t handle as well as the MGB (I had several of those) — too much front-end weight. But you do notice the extra power.

  10. get the mac, put a–derrington?–aluminum head on it with triple webers, and have a great time. I’m pretty sure new alloy heads for that engine are still available.

  11. I have owned a CGT auto for 30 years but have never driven it and viewed it as a decent car waiting for a trans swap and restoration. As I age and years of wrenching have wrecked my knees, it is moving up the priority list, might be done in ten years or so!

  12. If you want two British slushboxes, then why not complement the E-type with a Mark 2? Can’t beat four doors and a trunk. And pretty soon, your son can chauffeur you around in style!

  13. If you are looking for another British slushbox, how about a Mark 2 to complement the E-type? You can’t beat four doors and a trunk. And in a few years, you can use it to have your son chauffeur you around in style!

  14. Keith: You have a 1971 British sports/GT car. One should be enough. Try a slightly different direction. Drive the Jag for a bit. Then see if you can find a friend with a 71 C3 Vette. Drive it on the same roads for a comparison. I had a 71 LS5 with the TH400 3-speed back in the day. One of the best cats I ever owned. Sadly it turned into a down payment on my first condo when I got married. Wish I still had it.

  15. I second the vote for a Jaguar MK2 3.8 automatic for a number of good reasons: it’s big and powerful enough as a four door sedan to handle today’s traffic on any road or freeway. And that extra comfy room for family and friends is always a plus. It’s easy to get in and out of for all passengers. The automatic version is considerably discounted from the manual with OD. And the wood dash and smell of the interior will make you feel like you’re surrounded by leather bound books in the library of an English castle. That MGC is too small, and I’ll bet parts are scarce. You’ll never regret a MK2. PS, you’ll recall you drove mine shortly before I sold it in 2010.

    1. Oh, and the little folding tables in the seat backs of the MK2 are perfect for tieing flies when you’re on the riverbank. And the car gets more looks and high fives than the XKE, in my experience.

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