The Powerful 1974 MG BGT V-8

The 1974 MG BGT V-8 is a rare car today in the United States. The automobile featured in this article is a V-8 that was built between 1973 and 1976 in a coupe model only.

1974 MG BGT

British Leyland, formed in 1968, announced in 1973 that this new Pininfarina designed body offering would be powered by a lightweight aluminum Rover 3.5 Liter V-8 engine that would have a top speed of 120 MPH with 137 horsepower.

This powerful aluminum engine weighed about forty pounds less that the previous cast iron four cylinder. This was a big move in as much as the engine would deliver about twice the power of the current model and with less weight. What was created was a new high power sports car.

It should be noted that a V-8 in an MG was showing to work out quite well based on earlier engine conversions done by mini racer Ken Costello. There is little doubt that this success led MG themselves to come out with their own V-8 product using the Rover engine. MG’s engine however didn’t deliver the 180 horsepower that Costello’s did.

1974 MG BGT

1974 MG BGT

With the addition of the new V-8 British Leyland also made adjustments to the suspension, body and brakes and had to make adjustments as well to the inner wheel arches and engine bulkhead. The suspension changes were not major and had to do with the increase in torque. Most suspension modifications went to the rear.

New to the MG V-8′s

The company promoted the comfort offered in the V-8 BGT in as much that they installed nylon upholstery which was to help keep a driver from sliding around. Also added to the car was a collapsible steering column which was for safety. Because U.S. law called for impact absorbing dashboards, the V-8 MG’s had smaller tachometers and speedometers to fit in the larger steering column. This was not an issue at the time in the British home market.Other than the reduced size gauges on the dashboard, the interior changes from the MGB model were indistinguishable.

1974 BGT

1974 BGT

An optional item for the BGT’s was a sunroof. This would have been installed at the dealer level.

The MG Evolution

A good many people believe that the MG BGT Roadster shown here had it’s origins all the way back to a Belgian coachbuilder who produced the Berlinette MGB 1800 in 1964. It’s thought that this automobile was used as the prototype for the factory GT’s built afterward but it appears that the factory had a similar model on their drawing boards.  Only a bit over fifty of the Berlinette models were built therefore they didn’t affect the factory’s ongoing project.

1974 BGT right hand steering wheel

1974 BGT right hand steering wheel

The MG BGT model was discontinued in 1976 apparently because of a conflict with the Triumph Stag also produced by British Leyland. Reportedly, it was felt that the MG BGT was overshadowing the Triumph model.

Whether this was a good decision is arguable as were some other decisions made by the company. A case could be made that the Triumph Stage was not appealing to the same market. When the BGT was taken off the market the car was still very popular with the sports car public.

 

1974 BGT

1974 BGT

1974 MG BGT Specifications

The 1974 MG BGT was produced with an aluminum cylinder block and heads Rover 3.5 Liter V-8 engine. As mentioned above, this new engine in the MG was a significant move for British Layland and had it’s origins in previous non-company conversions.

This MG has a wheelbase of 91.125 inches, an overall length of 154.75 inches, a width of 59.94 inches, a height of 49.96 inches and a weight of about 2,400 lbs.

Front brakes are disc with fixed caliper. Rear brakes are hydraulic drums. Standard equipment on this 1974 MG BGT included a remote power brake servo and oversize rotors.

Front suspension are independent coil springs. Rear suspension is a tube type axle with three quarter floating drive shafts.

The links below are to a few more of our articles that you may want to compare this MG BGT to…

 1973 Porsche 911T

1959 MGA Convertible

 1974 Porsche 914

The 1980 MGB Roadster

IMG_25751974 MG BGT Collector Cars

This car was manufactured by British Leyland Motor Corporation Ltd prior to it’s many reincarnations. The company was formed in 1968 with the merger of British Motor Holdings and Leyland Motor Corporation. The company in 1986 became the Rover Group and then later the MG Rover Group. Today the MG is part of the China’s SAIC.

The 1974 V-8 MG shown here is significant because it was MG’s first consumer V-8 and it was built by the original British Leyland. Today it is a rare automobile and popular with collectors.

You’ll find some of these cars in the $20,000 plus range but don’t be surprised to see a $50,000 plus asking prices for these model in original  mint showroom condition. As always, the asking price will have a lot to do with the car’s condition and originality. Heavy modification will bring the price down.

(Article and photos copyright 2013 AutoMuseumOnline)

 

1959 MG / MGA Convertible

 

The 1959 MG / MGA Convertible shown in this article is a car that began being produced in 1956. This model was brought out specifically to replace the T cars. The T models were in production all the way from 1936 to 1955. The last was the MG TF model which was then replaced by the 1956 MGA. A year after the convertible was introduced, a hard top model, the MGA Coupe came out. The MGA’s were produced until 1962 at which time it was replaced by the MGB.

1959 MGA

1959 MGA

When the MGA came out, MG was a part of the British Motor Corporation. The company was a merger between Morris Motors and the Austin Motor Company. During the 1950′s the company was the largest British automaker.

A True Sports Car

A collector looking to restore this type of MG will find it affordable and parts needed are not hard to find. New tops are also easy to find. They are readily available making a restoring project that much more enjoyable.

The sleek low MG

The sleek low MG

The MG Convertibles have some features which may appear a bit strange in 2013 but for the period of the late 1950′s they were considered quite sporty. In fact, when MG introduced the car in late 1955 it was considered a fine low and sleek sports car. The MGA was a two seater with a prominent speedometer and tachometer on the dash. If someone wanted to add a radio, which back during this time was probably an AM, you’d simply mount the radio and a speaker on the little dashboard.

1959 MGA Cabriolet

1959 MGA Cabriolet

Another great aspect of this car was that you didn’t need to be wealthy to drive one. Over 100,000 of the MGA’s were produced during the years in production.  The 1959 production figure was around 17,600 cars. The average new car price back in the late 1950′s for the MGA was in the range of $2,500 to $3,000.. Compared to the Austin Healy of it’s time, the MGA 1500 Convertible is as popular as the Austin-Healey 100 but at a much lower price.

Today you may be looking for power windows. Not to be found in the MGA’s. Rather they have sliding thermoplastic windows referred to as side curtains. These small sport cars were also built with no way really to lock the doors and trunk. To open a door you’ll pull a cord. This may sound a bit primitive but the car is representative a relatively low cost sports car of the late 1950′s. While this may all sound simple, the big advantage was that it was equally simple to maintain and repair.

Below are links to additional AutoMuseumOnline photo articles you’ll also find interesting.

1957 Mercedes Benz SL190

1971 Triumph Spitfire

1959 Mercedes-Benz 220S Sedan

1952 MG TD Roadster

1959 MGA Convertible

1959 MGA Convertible

 

1959 MG / MGA Convertible Specifications

The 1959 MGA came out with a Morris inline four cylinder, 68 horsepower, 1.5 liter, 1,489cc overhead valve engine and a four speed manual transmission. This combination gave the MGA a lot of pep.

The car’s weight came in at about 2,000 lbs and could achieve a top speed at just under 100 MPH. Acceleration from 0 to 60 MPH was about 15.0 seconds. The fuel tank holds 12 gallons.

The MGA had independent coil springs and a wishbone front suspension system. The car had drum brakes. It’s interesting to note that competitor Triumph came out in 1959 with disc braking.

The MGA wheelbase was 94.0 inches and had a steel welded chassis. Total vehicle length was 156.0 inches, width 58.0 inches, height 50.0 inches and ground clearance 6.0 inches.

1959 MGA buyers had the option of having either standard steel disc wheels or center lock wire wheels.

Classic MG

Classic MG

Collector Car Prices

As mentioned above, the MG was never considered a high priced luxury sports car. That’s why they can make very affordable and fun restoration projects. If you have the opportunity the locate one you’ll have little trouble locating parts.

As always, collector car prices will vary a lot. Depending on the condition and the level of restoration, the MG MGA models can sell in a range from about $10,000 into the $50,000 range. That’s obviously a wide range. Some of the higher prices came from 2011 and 2012 for the 1957 MGA’s. Auction prices reached nearly $57,000 for both those years for the 1957 models.

A good book on the subject of the MG is Classic British Sports Cars by author Jon Pressnell.

(Article and photos copyright 2013 AutoMuseumOnline)