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

The 1974 Alfa Romeo GTV 2000

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)