1974 MGB GT V8 – 1 of 6 pre-production examples

  • 1974 MGB GT V8 for sale
  • Factory demonstrator and press car
  • The second of six pre-production cars to be built
  • Offered for sale from the Dave Saunders collection

Recently featured on the cover of The Sports Car magazine, this MGB GT V8 is one of six pre-production rubber-bumper cars that were built at Abingdon. Originally painted Harvest Gold, it was invoiced to the British Leyland publicity department and used for official photoshoots; it also did service as a press demonstrator. 

Commissioned on 9 August 1974 and completed the following month, it is actually ‘pre-production car number 8’. Rather than being numbered from 1 to 6, the pre-production cars were numbered 7, 8, 15, 16, 28 and 35 – making this the second one to be built.

After being used by the factory for marketing purposes, the MGB GT V8 was sold to a ‘titled lady’ with the registration number FFF 700. After she unfortunately crashed it, the car was rebodied and sprayed black – the same colour in which it is presented today.

In October 1982, it was sold to John Clark of Evesham, and the following year it was bought by Dave Saunders. A marque enthusiast who owned a number of well-known MGs and was a director of the MG Car Club, Saunders kept the V8 – now registered DNP 229N – ever since. 

When testing it for The Sports Car, Colin Grant noted that it was ‘really well sorted and felt like a new car’ and that ‘retains many of the original items that many people changed over the years’. Out on the road, he said that ‘the power delivery is just awesome and the torque from the V8 engine [is] amazing’. 

Now being offered for sale for the first time in 40 years by The Classic Motor Hub, this well-sorted and historically significant MGB GT V8 comes with an extensive file that includes period brochures and literature.

Model history

Although the six-cylinder MGC had been discontinued in 1969, the idea of a high-performance MGB lived on. The creation of British Leyland meant that MG and Rover were now part of the same group – and that, in turn, gave MG access to the Rover V8 engine…

The official car was actually beaten to the market by Ken Costello, who produced a short run of conversions – one of which was demonstrated to British Leyland in 1971. When Maxwell Boyd tested a Costello V8 that year for the Sunday Times, he wrote that it had ‘all the tigerish acceleration, power and speed you would ever need, with kitten-like docility and mechanical silence’. 

MG’s own factory MGB GT V8 was launched in August 1973, and the all-aluminium Rover engine – which weighed less than the MGB’s four-cylinder unit – produced 137bhp and 193 lb/ft of torque. It drove through a four-speed all-synchromesh gearbox with Laycock overdrive, and official figures stated a top speed of 124mph plus a 0-60mph time of eight seconds.

The new model was well equipped, with alloy wheels, twin electric cooling fans, tinted windows, servo-assisted brakes and head restraints all being standard. At £2294, it also cost less than rivals such as the Datsun 240Z, TVR 3000M and Triumph Stag. 

In late 1974, rubber bumpers replaced the original chrome-bumper style, but production came to an end in mid-1976. Difficulties in meeting emissions requirements meant that the MGB GT V8 was never offered in America, so almost all of the 2591 cars that left the factory were right-hand-drive models for the home market.

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