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1964 MG B BMC Works Sebring 12hr

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  • MG B Sebring Historic 1
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  • Third in class and 17th overall at the 1964 Sebring 12 Hours
  • Race-prepared by Joe Huffaker for Kjell Qvale at BMC Works
  • Exceptional provenance with known history from new
  • Eligible for the world’s finest historic meetings
YEAR1964
MAKEMGB
PRICE£125,000

VEHICLE DESCRIPTION

The 1964 Sebring 12 Hours was the second round of that year’s World Sportscar Championship and attracted a stellar entry of GT cars and sports-prototypes. While overall victory went to the Ferrari 275 P of Mike Parkes and Umberto Maglioli, this MGB crossed the line third in class after a faultless performance in the famous race. 

It was one of three MGBs – one red, one white and one blue – that had been entered for the endurance classic by Kjell Qvale, a West Coast BMC distributor based in San Francisco. His competition department was run by Joe Huffaker, who prepared the three cars with upgraded parts that had been sent over by the MG Competition Department in Abingdon.

The red car was based on a very early MGB – body number 000114. Originally shipped to the US in July 1962, it had incurred salt-water damage in transit and couldn’t be sold, so Qvale decided that it would make the ideal basis for a race car.  

MG sent lightweight aluminium body panels – wings, doors, bonnet and boot lid – as well as four Special Tuning engines. These were stripped by Huffaker when they arrived in San Francisco and rebuilt with new camshafts and pistons, while the cylinder heads were ported and bigger valves installed. 

Other competition-spec parts included a glassfibre hardtop, close-ratio gearbox, and dual fuel tanks with a quick-release filler, while the red car was the only one of the three to get magnesium wheels rather than steel wires which are still with the car today. 

Driven at Sebring by Ed Leslie and Jack Dalton, it raced as number 47 and was fastest of the three Qvale-entered MGBs during practice. It had stiff opposition from Porsche in its class, but ran like clockwork around the punishing airfield circuit. Leslie/Dalton finished a superb 17th overall and third in class. 

Following the race, ‘number 47’ was sold to BMC dealer Ernie Rodrigues, whose son Gary wanted to start racing. He did so extensively over the next few years, even though the aluminium body panels had to be removed in order to for it to run in SCCA events. Fortunately, these were put into storage at Hollywood Sports Cars – a decision that would pay dividends decades later. 

During Rodrigues’ ownership, the MGB appeared on The Tonight Show with James Garner while he was promoting his film Grand Prix, and it was eventually sold in 1968 to Buzz Moore of Lafayette, California. Moore continued to race the car with the SCCA, and it competed until the end of the 1970s in the hands of subsequent owners Randy Sharp and John McEwen. Most of its later appearances were at Laguna Seca and Sears Point, before McEwen sold it in 1979 to former racer and MG specialist Butch Gilbert.

During the 1990s, Gilbert embarked on a full rebuild of the MGB and contacted Hollywood Sports Cars to see if they had any photographs of the car, since they used to look after it. They said they could do better than that, and retrieved from storage the factory-supplied aluminium body panels that they’d kept since the mid-1960s. 

Only the front-left wing was missing, but Gilbert painstakingly restored the MGB to its 1964 Sebring specification. Even though the original engine had been removed, he sourced and rebuilt a correct, early, three-bearing MGB engine. He fitted it with a 1962 cylinder head and all of the period competition modifications were replicated. 

The freshly restored car appeared at the 2003 Monterey Historics meeting, and the following year it returned to Sebring, where it was reunited with Qvale and Ed Leslie – both of whom signed the car’s dashboard.

After being sold to a UK-based enthusiast and crossing the Atlantic, the MGB was treated to an engine and gearbox rebuild, and the car has subsequently competed at the Goodwood Revival and the Le Mans Classic.

Now being offered for sale, this well-known MGB boasts race history at the very highest level and is eligible for some of the world’s finest historic events. It has a valid HTP and a huge file that includes period photographs from Sebring, the official published records from that race, its old SCCA logbook, and magazine articles that tell the full story of this historic and significant car. 

MODEL HISTORY  

Not only has the MGB become one of the most popular and enduring classic cars ever built, it was an unsung hero of the 1960s motorsport scene, with an impressive competition record. 

Introduced in 1962, more than 500,000 MGBs left the factory over the course of its 18-year production run – in both roadster and GT coupé form. A more practical and modern car than the MGA it replaced, it featured monocoque construction and carried over the B-Series engine that had been used in its predecessor. It was enlarged from 1622cc to 1798cc and, in standard roadgoing form, produced 95bhp on twin SU carburettors.

The model’s superb motorsport career included class victory in both the Le Mans 24 Hours and the Monte Carlo Rally. A works-entered car driven by Julian Vernaeve and Andrew Hedges won the 1966 Marathon de la Route, while further class wins were scored at the Targa Florio and the Spa 1000Km. 

Various updates were applied during the model’s long production run, which lasted until 1980, and the MGB continues to inspire a faithful following to this day.


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