We’ve all heard the stories. So you’ll know that the MGC is nose-heavy, it understeers and its six-cylinder engine is underpowered.
It would be pointless to try and deny that. The first cars, on Dunlop SP41s, were particularly bad, and those who were hoping for an MGB with added excitement were disappointed by the wheezy engine.
What the MGC gave instead was an MGB with added refinement, one more suited to today’s classic market than to 1960s boy racers. Modern 185/70 radial tyres reduce understeer and minor changes will improve the handling some more.
The six-cylinder engine, similar to the Healey 3000’s but actually better, is shared only with the Austin 3 Litre, and responds well to simple tweaks. But as a tourer with an easy turn of speed and relaxed overdrive cruising, an MGC is a good car in standard form.
Highly modified GTS replicas make superb long-distance rally cars and are highly sought-after.
And of course the MGC benefits from the legendary MGB spares availability. The B and C look near-identical too, save for the C’s bonnet bulges, bigger wheels and larger-diameter exhaust tail pipe, but just 9102 of the MGC were built, fairly equally split between Roadsters and GTs, UK and overseas markets.
Nigel Guild (above) set up MG specialist Former Glory in London in 1986 and has seen every twist and turn of the market since.
‘With the MGC, the rarity factor is pushing the prices up, and now we’re losing a lot to the Europeans and prices are rising, following those of MGAs and Big Healeys.
‘Good older restorations of the Roadster start at £12,000, and GTs are only about £1500 behind them. There are a lot of scruffy MGC GTs at around £7000 though.
’Most potential buyers are put off by the original press reports but on modern tyres with correct pressures they’re great cars – very smooth and relaxing. I actually prefer MGCs over the V8s.’
IN A NUTSHELL
Don’t assume that because it looks like an MGB, an MGC will have a similarly remarkable parts supply – it almost does, but not quite. To convert a new Heritage bodyshell to MGC torsion-bar suspension is a massive undertaking. So check for rust, especially in the sills, which are notoriously hard to replace (there’s a hidden inner section). For a clue, check there’s a visible vertical seam dividing sill and rear wing, just below the trailing edge of each door.
Look also for rust around rear spring mountings, in inner wings, in the twin battery boxes, the seams at the tops of the front and rear wings, and the boot floor. Bonnets aren’t currently available, so check that panel too – most were aluminium as standard.
All trim can be bought except for original-spec rubber floor mats, and it’s all reasonably priced.
Secondhand engines are rare and new parts not as easy to come by as for an MGB. But it’s a tough unit – just check for oil leaks from either end of the engine (crank seals) and listen for rumbling from worn main bearings. There should be no more than 0.003in of end float on the crank, but it’s hard to check. Oil pressure should be over 40psi above 2500rpm.
Transmissions are robust, whether manual or the rare automatic. Expect unobtrusive whines from a manual but don’t accept jumping out of gear. An auto should change smoothly and have clean fluid. If there are no knocks from the suspension then that’s probably OK, while brakes are simple and only a little more expensive than the MGB’s to overhaul.
An MGB is an easy classic to own but an MGC is the easier car to drive – it’s quieter, more relaxed and more powerful. For ordinary touring keep it standard save for a decent set of tyres and enjoy the spares availability from the likes of Moss.
If you want a roadburner, though, there’s a lot that can be done, as a look on MG Motorsport’s website will demonstrate. Tubular exhaust manifolds and performance exhausts with performance air filters make quite a difference, or you can go to a hot cam and triple Webers for the full rip-snorting 200bhp-plus effect. Think big-arched MGC GTS on the Targa Florio…
There’s also a five-speed gearbox conversion from MG Motorsport, along with uprated torsion bars and higher-ratio steering racks. But the crucial addition is an uprated radiator.
MG Motorsport will build a modified MGC to your own specification but there are many less radical Cs out there worth snapping up before prices rise.
1962 Autumn: four-cylinder open-top MGB launched.
1965 October: Pininfarina-styled coup� MGB GT introduced.
1967 October: MGC launched at the Earl’s Court Motor Show.
1968 March: MGC GTS achieves 10th place at 12 Hours of Sebring.
1968 August: MGC GTS finishes sixth in the 84-hour Marathon de la Route, N�rburgring.
1969 Autumn: sportier gear ratios, bonnet changed from aluminium to steel.
1969 September: last MGC, a Primrose GT, leaves the factory.
1969 November: Prince Charles given an MGC for 21st birthday.
1969-1970: 200 unsold MGCs bought by University Motors and upgraded, many with Downton tuned engines.
Engine: 2912cc in-line six, OHV, twin SU carburettors
Power: 145bhp @ 5250rpm
Torque: 170lb ft @ 3400rpm
Transmission: 4-speed, optional overdrive, rear-wheel drive
Suspension: Front: torsion bars, wishbones, anti-roll bar, lever-arm dampers. Rear: leaf springs, lever arms
Brakes: Discs front, drums rear
Weight: 1116kg (GT 1188kg)
Top speed: 120mph
MG Owners Club
+44 (0)1954 231125
MG Car Club
+44 (0)1235 555552
+44 (0)20 8991 1963
+44 (0)1442 832019
Tim Hodgkinson - MGC Register