This MG Love Affair Spans Three Generations
Photography by Nat Twiss
When his grandfather passed in 2011, Will found himself with the keys to a white MGB that had been with the family for decades. With black rubber bumpers, rust, archaic electronics, and miles on the clock, it was in desperate need of modernisation. Thankfully, Will had a vision.
After towing the car back to their Cambridge base with his father Peter, Will got to work on making his grandfather’s car roadworthy, but it wasn’t enough to make it just another MGB, it had to do more, especially if it was going to replace the Classic Mini Cooper S that he was driving at the time. There was potential in the Rover V8 under the hood, but before any of that, Peter had to ensure his son was going to be able to stop and turn the car on a dime, something you certainly couldn’t do with the aged drum brakes and rear leaf springs on the original!
Research into options led the pair to Abingdon-based MG specialists, Frontline Developments. The finished car drove like a modern sports car with the new brakes and full suspension package, but there was still something missing. It certainly wasn’t the looks—the black rubber bumper was relegated to the parts bin and brand new chrome parts rounded out the classic British look.
That something was quickly discovered to be its engine. Low power and ghastly fuel economy certainly showed the V8’s age, and luckily for Will, the chaps at Frontline Developments just happened to be experts at installing factory-sourced Mazda powerplants. After some deliberating over the exact specifications, Will finally decided on the full LE50+ package, which is much more than simply swapping the weedy 1.8-litre 4-cylinder for a 2.0-litre aluminium four cylinder. The interior received an overhaul too, with new seats and power windows, Nappa leather trimmings, and an audio system to boot. As a tribute to the origin of the car, and the original owner, Will has his grandfather’s initials placed on the speedometer, as well as on a plate on the engine bay. This car might be looking to the future, but its roots are firmly planted, and never forgotten.
Will’s car is something entirely different than the MGB with flat tyres that sat in his grandfather’s garage for years, it’s a modernized classic. “The car can now be driven daily at comfort, knowing that the brakes won’t catch on fire, the engine won’t overheat or a rusty wheel nut won’t fall off,” Will said. “Everything but the restored body on the car is modern. It’s a pleasure to drive!”
As you can imagine, Will’s father Peter spent a lot of time with his son and the gentlemen at Frontline Developments, and if you let Will tell it, he was maybe a little envious of the fun his son was having with his new car! If you let Peter speak for himself, he’ll tell you of his rich history with sports cars, from his childhood love of a neighbour’s Porsche 911, to owning his own 911, and the many projects and restorations between…
Much like his race-spec 1963 Mini was inspiration for Will’s Cooper S, it seemed poetic that Peter would have an MG with the Frontline treatment. Taking from his own past, specifically a honeymoon trip around Europe with his wife in a Triumph Spitfire, he opted for a convertible with the Frontline Developments ‘Abingdon’ package, featuring a 2.5 litre powerplant that sends the car to 60 in just 3.8 seconds, as well as some exquisite handmade wire wheels. Bodywork black, interior white—a mirror image of Will’s car.
To baptise his new machine, Peter and his wife took a trip to Tuscany, via the French and Swiss Alps. A perfect journey that he and his wife has wanted for years, in a beautiful, “new”, British classic.
They say that your car can say a lot about you. Three generations of owners have certainly made their mark on their cars, and it would be hard to deny the indelible mark that the MGB has made on them, too. When the cars are together, each aspect and detail compliments the other perfectly, much like the father and son at the wheel. Beyond the bonding between Will and Peter in the creation of these two beautiful machines, there is history reflected in them, but with a bright future ahead.