By the late 1960s the MGB, now with a 1.8-liter engine, had been in production for five years and was firmly established in the hearts of enthusiasts around the world. Its performance, however, was outpaced by sports models and-on occasion-tuned sedans from other factories. The engineers at MG's Abingdon works knew there was plenty of development in the B's compact unitary bodyshell and running gear, and in 1967 the 3-liter MGC-GT and roadster were unveiled at the Earls Court Motor Show.

BMC had shoehorned into the B's bodyshell a seven-main-bearing, 2912-cc straight-six engine with pushrod valves and twin SU carburetors, evolved from that used in the big Austin-Healey.

The new engine yielded 150 horsepower, significantly better than the four-cylinder's 95 horsepower, and endowed the C with a top speed in excess of 125 miles per hour. However, the long engine dictated that a front cross-member be removed and torsion bar independent front suspension had to be introduced. Rear suspension was the same as the MGB.

Other worthwhile improvements included a new four-speed all-synchromesh gearbox (with optional overdrive) shared with the MGB Mk II and larger, servo-assisted disc brakes at the front.

Wheel diameter was increased to 15 inches to allow Dunlop SP41 tires to be fitted. Apart from a broad bulge across the bonnet to clear the engine and an identifying badge in the rear panel, there was little to distinguish the C from its smaller-engined brethren, but the character of the car was radically changed. It was now a high-geared, very fast grand tourer.

Well-made by a factory workforce who took much pride in their jobs, the car still received a cool response from the motoring press. But during its three-year production life, MG enthusiasts took the type to their hearts, and it has long had what can only be described as a cult following.

The certificate supplied by the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust confirms that this MGC was originally a right-hand-drive UK model produced on May 17, 1968. It was sold new through Manchester agent Joseph Cockshoot & Co. The document also notes that its present mineral blue with black interior livery is the same as when it was originally sold, and that at some stage it has had an engine change, although the correct MG replacement unit's number correlates with the series of the original.

In more recent times the car has been the subject of a $30,000 restoration by marque specialists Autech of Bromsgrove. This work is detailed through a comprehensive file offered with the car, and supported by photographs. It was subsequently acquired by the current owner in 1995 from MG specialists Former Glory of Middlesex.

This MGC remains in excellent condition and, although it appears to have seen limited use in recent years, it has been regularly maintained and performed well on a recent test drive. It is presented complete with convertible top and full-length tonneau cover.

SCM Analysis


This car sold for $13,348, including buyer’s premium, at Christie’s London sale, March 25, 2002.

Though the MG engine has the same bore and stroke dimensions as the Healey, and consequently the same capacity, it was a complete redesign. The engine has seven main bearings to the Healey’s four, is two inches shorter, and 44 pounds lighter than the Healey engine.

As had been done with the Sprite and Midget, BMC originally planned to badge-engineer an Austin-Healey 3000 Mk IV out of the MGC to replace the outdated and less comfortable 3000 Mk III, in addition to selling the car as a high-end alternative to the MGB. However, Donald Healey refused to have his name attached to a car that he thought was rife with compromises.

The lukewarm press response isn’t surprising. The engine weighed in excess of 200 pounds more than the MGB, making the car distinctly nose-heavy. It handled, many said, like a lorry. Though top speed was higher and the engine smoother, acceleration was lazy due largely to the heavy flywheel.

The car cost almost 20 percent more than the MGB but was almost indistinguishable on the outside. It had exactly the same interior, too, which was another negative in the marketplace.

Even with the price differential, however, high development and manufacturing costs made the car unprofitable. With the creation of British Leyland in 1968, the bean counters wasted no time in ending production of the MGC, so it was never able to reach its potential.

Modern enthusiasts have found ways to improve the suspension, and with some mods to the drive-train, including substantially lightening the flywheel, a fine performing highway cruiser can be achieved.

Value guides disagree on whether or not the MGC should command a premium over the MGB, so condition ends up being more important than model in deciding which to purchase.

In our view, an MGC simply offers different qualities than the MGB. If you expect to do a lot of long-distance driving, the C would be preferable, but if you just want a quick, good-handling sportster, the B is the better choice. Assuming this car was in the good condition characteristic of most Christie’s offerings, its price was in line with market value, and certainly represented a bargain compared to what was spent on restoring it.-Gary Anderson

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