Although launched to the public on 18 October 1967, the first day of the Earl’s Court Motor Show, production quantities of the MGC did not start until July / August 1968. Despite road tests in magazines in November 1967, only 230 MGCs were finished before the end of 1967.
The MGC was firmly based on the MGB and was intended as a replacement for the Austin-Healey 3000 which, by the time the MGC was announced in 1967, had had its day. It was powered by an in-line, six-cylinder, pushrod, OHV engine of 2912cc capacity that was said to be capable of developing 150bhp. The bodyshell was essentially a basic MGB unit.
Both roadster and GT versions of the MGC were available, but the car was not received well by the press, despite the fact that it had a top speed approaching 120mph. They complained that its handling and acceleration were poor, and that it looked too much like the MGB. It was, however, a very good, long-legged touring car.
The MGC should have been one of the best-selling sports cars of all time, because in concept it offered a much improved performance over the MGB on which it was based, at a similarly low price. But sadly the MGC was to be very short lived, for in 1969 it was dropped from the MG range. No doubt that its poor reception by the press had affected sales and by then MG had come within the British Leyland group where Triumph products were looked upon with favour and the MGC could have made life difficult for the Triumph TR6.
Engine and Suspension Differences
By the time the MGC was introduced, Abingdon had lost control of engine design to other sectors of the vast empire which was British Leyland. The MGC’s new six-cylinder in-line engine turned out to be around 25kg too heavy, and the precious balance of the car – the foundation of every MG’s fine handling characteristics – was destroyed. The car meant to replace the Austin-Healey 3000 had lost the Abingdon touch, but its other qualities have ensured that it is still much sought after today.
MG did it’s best with the weighty problem of fitting the C-series engine into the MGB body shell. The main problem was that they were unable to place the engine as far back in the car as they would have liked to maintain the weight balance of the car, as it had to be able to accommodate the relatively bulky automatic transmission for the American market. Hence, the engine had to sit well forward in the engine space, which made the MGC nose-heavy. Although it is interesting to note that the relative weight distribution is similar to that of the Jaguar Mk2, a car whose handling is often praised for the period.
To accommodate the engine, some changes had to be made to the body shell and mechanics of the MGB. From the outside, the most obvious changes were the bulge in the bonnet and the 15 inch road wheels. The bonnet bulge was essential to clear the top of the long tall engine, and the larger radiator which it required.
It was also found necessary to remove the MGB front crossmember, upon which the suspension and engine were mounted in the MGB, to clear the bottom of the engine, in particular the oil sump. This meant revising the front suspension from the original coil spring set-up of the MGB to one which used torsion bars as the springing medium. These ran back longitudinally, to a mounting point below the floor, to transfer the suspension stresses back to the centre of the reinforced body shell.
The rear suspension was
essentially the same as the MGB, but a stronger rear
axle had to be fitted to accommodate the increase in
power and the spring rates had to be increased both
front and rear to accommodate the extra power and
weight. There was also a new stronger, all synchromesh
transmission for the same reason, and as with the B an
optional automatic transmission.
The basic MGC engine code is 29G for Europe and 29GA for the US. It was also shared by Europe’s 3-litre Austin saloon of 1967 – the Austin 29AA engine. There were some variations of that engine from the MGC engine, however and they’re rarer than MGC engines.
Despite many references elsewhere, the MGC engine was not developed from the Australian Blue Streak engine. BMC Australia created the Blue Streak motor by adding another 2 cylinders to a 1622 motor (making it 2433cc), then putting that motor into Austin Freeways, which sold well in Australia, and also into the more expensive Wolseley 24/80. According to sources read by Dennis Hensby (Canberra, Australia), a single Blue Streak engine was imported from Australia and tried out in an MGB mule, but was soon discounted.
The MGC motor was developed at Longbridge to be the replacement for the engine used in many 6 cylinder BMC cars, including the AH 100/6. Because the MGC motor shares some basic design features with the older B series engine (not very imaginative, the Longbridge lot), it is therefore also similar looking to the Blue Streak. Although the two engines are similar in style, they are substantially different in many details (Source: Dennis Hensby).
C owner Ian Statham adds “According to Graham Robson’s book, ‘MGC Abingdons Grand Tourer’, use of the BMC Australia engine was considered but abandoned due to practical and economic difficulties. Other engines were also looked at, including a refined version of the 4 cylinder 2.4 litre engine used in the original Austin-Healey, and the 4-litre Rolls-Royce Princess R engine. Eventually, BMC settled on an extensive redesign (by Morris Engines) of the old 3-litre C-Series engine, using the latest casting techniques to place the cylinders closer together, thereby saving weight and space. Unfortunately, the weight saving turned out to be only 20 lbs and the power output (145 bhp claimed) some 5 bhp less than the original (due to a combination of a 7 bearing crankshaft and lower emissions). The rest is history.”
The Demise of the MGC
When the first road test reports on the MGC appeared, MG engineers could not believe that the press had been driving the same cars which they had. The general handling of the car was panned by the press, it was said to suffer from terminal understeer and to be an unworthy successor to the Austin-Healey, which had by now been discontinued. The press did not like the fact that it was so very similar to the MGB, and felt that it should have been a little more modern in its interior appointments.
However, there are few MGC’s which would actually fail to get round a corner – the understeer is not “terminal”. Looking at the weight balance of the car (53 : 47), will show that there is obviously a preponderance of weight at the front of the car but this is less than most saloon cars of that period and of most pseudo-sports cars.
It is likely that two factors contributed to the contemporary feeling that the car was nose-heavy. Firstly, the car looked like an MGB, and it was expected that everything else would be like the smaller car. Secondly, it is likely that the press were lulled into a false sense of security by the quiet and smooth running of the car, which was at a far better level than any other sports car to that date. These two points combined and drivers found that they were travelling faster than they thought they were, with the result that the next corner would not have been “on” in any car!
The poor reception the press
gave the MGC undoubtedly shortened its production life.
Its introduction was soon followed by the formation of
the British Leyland group, and the fact that the MGC and
Triumph TR6 were competing for the same sector of the
sports car market. There was considerable feeling
against anything emanating from the old BMC part of the
group at the time, and it took only a month or so for
the board to make a decision on the future of the model.
The MGC was dropped from the range in 1969, while the
TR6 continued until 1976.
Total Production 8,999 even though the above actually totals 9,002. The above details have not been verified against BMC records, unlike the Production Numbers below which are split in a different way
Information from “MGC Abingdon’s Grand Tourer” by Graham Robson ISBN 0 9519423 which is a more authoritative source. Graham also notes that according to Chassis numbers, with the last MGC built carrying the number 9102, there should have therefore been 9002 MGCs but in fact there were just 8999 made (the first Chassis was number 100). He suggests this is a mass production quirk.
Does anyone have any up to date figures of the number of surviving cars in the UK and / or worldwide and how many of those are actually on the road? Is it as few as 1,300 surviving cars and just 300 “live” cars?
Fuel consumption and Speed
0-60 10 secs Overall fuel consumption 19.3 mpg Top Speed 118 -120mph (~193kph)
Unit Construction body, welded steel construction, all suspension mounts frame.
Wheelbase: 7ft 7in Track Front: 4ft 1.00in Rear: 4 ft 1.25in
Cam Gears rack & pinion system.
Turning circle: 34ft Grade of oil: SAE 90
Disc front, drum rear.
Disk size front: 11.06in Drum size rear: 10inMethod of operation: Hydraulic, vacuum servo assisted as standard. Dual system for USA. Girling manufacture. Cable operated parking brake.
Either steel disc bolt-on, or Rudge type wire spoked.
Rim size: 5J * 15 Tyre Size: 165 * 15 Tyre pressure: 21psi front, 24 psi rear (Note—see Tyres section)
6 cylinder in line, pushrod ohv.
Bore: 83.36mm Stroke: 78.90mm Cubic capacity: 2912cc Power output: 150bhp @ 5250rpm Oil pressure: Approx. 60psi. 20psi at idle Grade of oil: SAE 20/50 Oil Capacity: 6.8 litres without filter, 7.3 litres with filter.
20 deg @ 1000rpm (Note—this is standard spec as originally manufactured—my setting for example is 14 degrees at 1000rpm)
Distributor points gap: 0.015in Sparking plugs: N9YC Gap: 0.025in
Twin SU HS6—SU Part number AUD150
Jet size, main: 0.100 Needle recommendation: ST. (Spring loaded type: BAD)
Borg & Beck Single dry plate
Material: Ferodo Number of springs: Single Diaphragm
Four speed manual, synchromesh on all gears. Overdrive optional extra. Borg Warner 35 automatic gearbox was also available.
Ratios: Manual, Overdrive, B-W Auto
Overdrive (where fitted): 0.820 Top: 1.000, 1.000, 1.00-2.2 Third o/d (where fitted): 1.072 Third: 1.307, 1.307 Second: 2.058, 2.058, 1.45-3.1 First: 2.98, 2.98, 2.39-5.5 Reverse: 2.679, 2.679, 2.09-4.598
Grade of oil: XL 20/50 Capacity: 5.25 pints or 6 pints with overdrive, automatic gearbox capacity including oil cooler is 14.5 pints which includes 5 pints in the torque converter
Open shaft, needle roller u/j at each end.
Live axle, hypoid bevel gears.
Ratio: Manual 3.071, o/d & auto 3.307 Later cars: Man 3.307, o/d 3.70 MPH/1000rpm: Manual Top: 24, o/d: 27 Later cars: Top: 22.1, o/d: 24, Auto: 22 Grade of oil: SAE 90EP Capacity: 1.5 pints
Pressurised, thermostatic control, pump assisted.
Fuel Tank Capacity
Approx. 12 gallons. Tank located at rear of car under boot floor.