This MGC GT wears the rather unusual, but authentic “Black Tulip” livery, although we just call it “purple”. It’s a factory color. The MGC certainly among the rarest and most unique of the post-war MG’s. We like ’em quite a lot, and although they were a horrible sales flop on which the British Motor Corporation almost certainly took a pretty good bath, there are a number of redeeming features if you have the patience to tease them out.
Envisioned as a replacement for the Austin Healey 3000 by BMC, they lacked both the straight line performance and the charisma of the Big Healeys. Well there’s probably not much to be done in the charisma department, but the lack of get up and go is certainly an irony because both engines have identical bore & stroke, even though the MGC carries seven main bearings as compared to the Healey’s four. As a result, not much interchanges between these two engines apart from the thrust washers.
By virtue of the seven main bearing design where every connecting rod throw has a main bearing on each side, this engine has a massively rigid lower end, even though the MGC is actually about 3/4 of an inch shorter in overall length. As an example of bottom line outcomes, we put one of these engines together a few years back which dyno’d at 172 bhp and 205 ft. lbs. of torque at 5,000 rpm. In practice, it’ll run away from a series 2 E-type.
The other big “tune-able” is the torsion bar front suspension. Simply replacing the standard suspension bushings with urethane and adding wider tires has an equally startling effect on the handling. At speeds over 100 mph it’s comfortingly sure footed in a way that a Big Healey, Triumph or an MGB never was.
We’re putting this car together from a bare shell. It’s a stunningly rust free California car, although there is evidence of some blunt trauma injuries that could have been repaired better. In this picture Warner is installing the buttons which hold the side molding on. This operation was somewhat complicated by the careless prior removal of the old buttons by a “technician” who couldn’t be bothered to use the right size drill. Warner had to open out the new buttons, not easy, and then anchor the hold down rivets with stainless steel washer on the back.
What isn’t quite as obvious is the small dab of WAXOYL rust proofing on both sides of the panel to protect against possibility of rust creeping out from any paint cracks which can occur from the compression of the rivet as it expands to fill the hole. This is an example of working to Sports Car Services standards. Good Enough might be good enough elsewhere, but it isn’t always good enough here.
A brief digression, if you will about bolts & nuts and rivets. A nut and bolt work in a state of tension, the stretching of the threads of the fastener, which is why sometimes we use a torque wrench, in order to precisely measure that stretch. A rivet, on the other hand, works in compression, and because of this property, a rivet can actually be used to fasten two objects together where the holes don’t exactly line up.
We’re hoping to be able to get this car out onthe road and put it thru its paces when the weather breaks again. If you’re thinking about what you’d like to do with your car, now would be a very good time to get in touch with us.