Friday, February 3, 2012

The MGB That Might Have Been

The slow motion death of MG in the late seventies is well documented in books and online. Most MG enthusiasts know the story of how BL poured what resources that were available for sports cars into projects for Triumph. With the Leyland faction in charge of the shotgun-married consortium, they were able to finance such Triumph models as the Stag, TR7, TR8 and various engineering dead ends while MG made do on a relative pittance.

The "Aston" MGB at its unveiling
When the word come down from on high in 1979 that the MG marque would be retired and the Abingdon assembly plant would be closed, the management of Aston Martin saw an opportunity to both save the marque and create a sports car that would slot below the current Aston offerings. When Aston chairman Alan Curtis found enough big name investors to demonstrate both expertise and solvency feelers were put out to BL. They expressed interest in hearing what the Aston group had to present.

A Russet Brown MGB roadster was dispatched to Aston Martin where famed designer William Towns created a facelifted version of the venerable sports car that was to replace the MGB in 1981, according to the plan. This stopgap measure would allow Aston enough time to develop a true successor to bring to market in 3 to 4 years time.  As predictable (for the 1980s) it had a "wedgy" look.

The most obvious changes to the standard MGB was the addition of the taller MGB GT windscreen and vent windows. This solved the problem of the standard windscreen being so short that it interfered with a taller driver's vision. The front bumper of the production MGB was cut down and a small grille returned to the scene. In the rear, extra taillights were added and the fuel filler was located behind a door. It was given a lovely metallic gold over black paint job and white Wolfrace wheels were added. 

The "Aston" MGB today (Courtesy Nutley Sports & Prestige Centre)
The car was finished in a matter of days and the presentation to BL went forth. Aston's offer was for the ownership of the MG name, the Abingdon plant and the rights to the MGB. BL countered that they were only interested in licensing the use of the MG name. As negotiations dragged on, Aston developed one of its many cash flow problems, the exchange rate for the Pound Sterling made it difficult to sell British products overseas and a number of the financial backers pulled out. BL closed Abingdon, put the MG name on ice and focused their energies on their own failure. 

The prototype, however, lived on and it is now for sale in the UK. 

The car is in the inventory of a dealer in Nutley, East Sussex and they would like to get nearly £30,000.00 (approx. US$45,000) for it. 

The details of the car can be found here

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