Improving The Past

I talked about the David Lee resto-mod of the 246 Dino a little while ago, and either I’ve been asleep or there’s a growing movement afoot to taking old, gorgeous cars of dubious reliability and either restoring them with modernizations (David Lee) or building new models from scratch (usually at ruinous cost) from companies like Eagle GB (with their E-Types), and now, Frontline Developments with the venerable and exquisite MGB (compared to the original here).

And just like the gorgeous Eagle E-Type, the FD-built MGB is a sight for sore eyes:

…and yeah, the LE50 looks exactly like the old MGB GT — but whereas the old MGB used a 1800cc engine which produced 96hp and had a top speed of 95mph (downhill with a tailwind, half of that uphill), the LE50 has a tweaked Mazda 2-liter engine which kicks out 138hp and propels the lightweight LE50 up to 160mph(!!!!).  Oh, and the LE50 has banished Lucas / Smith Electrical to the fires of automotive hell, which means it will start every time, and that using either headlights or windshield wipers (but not both) is no longer a feature.  (Here’s the AutoMag review.)

Kim wants.  So too does New Wife — because she used to own one of the old MGBs back in the mid-1970s, when she was still a glamorous young socialite.

And at about $85,000, the LE50’s purchase will need considerable assistance from my retirement plan a winning lottery ticket… [sigh]

Oh, and one last thing:  on some forum or other, a twerp questioned whether anyone would pick the new MGB over a Porsche Cayman (at about the  same price, but with vastly better performance).  I can think of at least two  people who would, and they live at the same address.  In this house (and, come to think of it, at this blog too), class will always trump flash.


  1. At our age getting into the LE50 is doable, but getting back out will almost require some sort of a hoist. And, the idea of looking out the side window at the hubcaps of adjacent vehicles is tantamount to driving down a street flanked with skyscrapers – cold and scary. Like your spouse, I too likes me sum 70’s MGBGT. Dark green please.

    In 1977 when I was PCS’ing from Wildflecken, Germany to Fort Campbell KY I had the opportunity to purchase a brand new Triumph TR6 and have it shipped with US restrictions to the states for $4995. I still regret not going for it.

  2. Back in the dim and dark past, I owned a ’67 MGBGT in canary yellow. It served me well for many years until succumbing to rust. It was very useful with its large rear hatch I could carry lots of items that would never fit in an ‘ordinary’ car. For example, I transported a 175cc Bultaco motorcycle to and from an off road event in south Jersey. It did hang out the back a bit and the gas can, helmet and leathers were crowded in there too.
    Ahhh to be 29 again.

  3. Don’t forget that the Stromberg and various other horrible carbs used in BritCars are in the cells in hell adjoining the Lucas cell.

    I have been restoring a 1965 Sunbeam Alpine since forever, trying to keep it original. It has twin Strombergs. They never work properly for more than 2 days. They rarely repeat themselves in their method of failure, usually something new. They randomly squirt air/fuel mixtures into the the engine, the engine compartment, and given my rate of fuel consumption, into hyperspace. They suck in clods of dirt through expensive filters.

    It has a Lucas distributor. Enough said.

    A month ago I gave up and hired a guy to find and install a fuel injection system and an electronic sparker.

    But it’s such a pretty car.

    1. Fred- “Mikuni”

      The reason we find these old cars attractive is because they represent youth to us codgers. It is interesting the collector market seems to have a value bulge that follows the peak earning-retirement years , ie, THIS is the car I wish I had in my youth.

      A 10 or 20 year old Miata is 10 times the car an MGB ever was. And if you squint, it looks a little like a old Lotus.

      Now imagine what a Miata COULD be if it were not burdened (literally) by GovReg.

  4. Getting rid of the Lucas “electrics” alone is worth the cost of admission. Back in the late ’70s lived in southern Spain during my Navy years. Several of my cohorts owned Britishland cars with Lucas components. We all worked on sophisticated electronic aircraft systems for a living, but I’ve seen their car’s electrical systems reduce strong men to tears.

    Every time we had a flight going to Britishland, the crewmembers had lists and instructions of where to go and what to bring back so their cohorts could turn their static displays back into conveyances.

  5. Agreed, Stromberg carburettors were then and are now pure JUNK. The Brits attempt to comply with US emission requirements. It is interesting that the Japanese, Keihin and Mikuni, were able to design and manufacture piston type and diaphragm type constant velocity carburettors that not only worked but yielded superb performance and reliability without springs, thermal valves, etc etc AND they did not leak.

  6. Love it!
    The “GT” was the second-best looking car to come out of Blighty in the 60’s – hard to outshine an “E”.
    Wonderful to drive, and no “top” to erect in the rain.
    BTW, those original GT’s had an 1800cc engine using SU’s.

  7. We loved our MGBGT. Then she got preggers and couldn’t fit….sigh.
    One thing I learned real fast, do NOT rally with a navigator you are friendly with.
    You WILL argue.

  8. Feh, I’d prefer a resto-modded Cord. I’mna funny that way. Powerball and Mega lotteries, hear my prayer…

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