One of six original factory MGB V8 prototypes has gone up for auction following a thorough restoration by marque specialist Frontline Developments. It is expected to fetch as much as £38,000.
The car is the fourth of six V8-powered example built at the Abingdon factory following a visit from Ken Costello, who selflessly shared details of his V8 conversions with MG engineers. Of the six cars, three were in right-hand-drive configuration, and of those, just two are thought to survive, with the other residing in Australia.
Each car was reverse engineered from Costello’s version, and included modified engine mounts, reshaped inner wings and bulkheads and changes to the steering column, as well as uprated brakes. This particular example was used extensively for pre-production development, including a high-speed run through France that saw it achieve 138mph. It remained at the factory and was used for testing at MIRA, as well as being rumoured to hold the unofficial factory record for the quickest dash between Longbridge and Cowley.
The car was eventually sold on after four years of testing, bought by Norman Ward, son of MG Cars’ plant director Robert Ward. Norman held onto the car for 32 years before selling it to marque enthusiast Clive Wagerfield, who unearthed and documented the car’s fascinating early history before carrying out structural work.
Following Wagerfield’s ownership, the MG was sent to marque specialist Frontline Developments, who carried out a complete bare-metal respray. All evidence of the car’s life as a prototype remains, including the one-off radiator, which was re-cored, as well as changes to the inner wings, and modified bulkhead and chassis rail.