'Factory-fresh' 50th anniversary MGB GT Jubilee brought back to life as historic blast from past
PUBLISHED: 11:05 06 November 2018 | UPDATED: 11:05 06 November 2018
MG fan Alistair Shaw has brought an MGB GT Jubilee, which celebrated the famous British sports car marque's 50th anniversary, back to life just how it would have been when it rolled down the production line. Motoring editor Andy Russell says it was a labour of love.
A rare piece of motoring and MG history is back on the road thanks to a lifelong enthusiast’s passion, persistence and perfection.
Alistair Shaw recommissioned a 1975 MGB GT Jubilee – one of 750 marking MG’s 50th anniversary. Only about 300 survice and his is like the day it left the factory.
He bought this classic MG, in racing green with gold wheels, badges and decals, 14 years ago and left it, covered, in a barn. This year he decided to get it back on the road, completing it just in time for the anniversary day of the Abingdon MG factory closing 38 years earlier after half a century of building the British sports cars after 140 hours of painstaking work.
His interest in MGs goes back to childhood. His father owned an MG Magnette and, living in Oxfordshire, had it serviced at Abingdon. Alistair started driving British Motor Corporation (BMC) cars, progressing to MGs and has owned nearly 30 cars including six Austin Healey Frogeye Sprites, eight MG Midgets and five MGB GTs.
“I have always been a keen MG man,” said the 64-year-old retired chef, of Blaxhall, near Saxmundham, who ran the King’s Head at Orford and Froize Inn, at Chillesford, and worked at the Ship Inn, Levington.
Away from the stress of the kitchen, his hobby was restoring MGs – he’s completed about 10 - to a high standard using “new old stock”.
“They looked like they had just rolled down the production line when I had finished,” he said.
His experience led to starting a business, Hen’s Teeth, sourcing rare, genuine MG spares. With the demise of the original MG brand, dealers had redundant stock so he bought a microfiche reader to access parts codes so he could track them down.
Alistair did most of the work on the anniversary MG with his labour of love including:
Freeing pistons by turning the engine by hand after pouring a mix of Duck Oil, penetrating oil and diesel into the cylinders.
Replacing the leaking radiator, cooling hoses and fitting a genuine Leyland water pump.
Freeing brake calipers, replacing seals and fitting new brake pipes – all period Unipart – and Lockheed slave cylinder and brake shoes. Past Parts, at Bury St Edmunds, rebuilt the brake servo.
Replacing fuel hoses, filter, genuine fuel pump, Leyland fan belt and Unipart oil filter.
Fitting new plug leads and original Champion N9Y spark plugs.
Rebuilding the twin carburettors with new floats, jets and needle jets.
Fitting a set of Dunlop 165 R14 SP4 – the original tyres – and classic Lucas battery.
Replacing original operating and Leyland service schedule stickers.
Rehanging the exhaust using original fittings and tracking down Leyland rubber securing ties and an original washer bag.
“It is part of the car’s history. You have 19,000 miles on the car and you can’t just stick pattern parts on it because they would stick out like a sore thumb.
“What we have here is a piece of MG and Abingdon history. This car is unique because of the way it is and what it is. That was why it was very important to me to take it back to original. It is better now than it was when new.
“People can’t believe it has only done 19,000 miles. This is the most original MGB GT Jubilee in existence, with the lowest mileage, that has not been rebuilt,” said Alistair, a member of the MG Car Club and MG Owners Club, who describes the car as “unmolested”.
He went £300 over his £1,500 budget but says it was “worth every penny”.
JNR 89N was already a star car, featured in specialist magazines and books because a Dr John Hall, the previous owner and its third, towed it to shows as a concourse car – what Alistair calls a “trailer queen”.
Alistair paid £5,200 for it in 2004 – it was £4,650 new in 1975 – and says it probably isn’t worth much more now.
“I just brought it back to life,” he explained. “I am so glad I put it away because it would have just been another Jubilee if not.”
And now he is working on his next project – rebuilding a 1968 MGC Mark II he has owned for 11 years.
MGB GT JUBILEE ALL FIGURED OUT
Built: 1975 – the Abingdon factory produced 750 specially-prepared MGB GTs for company’s 50th anniversary
Engine: 1,798cc, four-cylinder petrol with twin SU carburettors
Power: 84bhp at 5,500rpm
Torque: 105lb/ft at 2,500rpm
Transmission: Four-speed all synchromesh with overdrive in third and top
Suspension: Front double wishbone with coil springs and anti roll bar; rear live axle with leaf springs
Brakes: 10.75in front discs; 10in rear drums with servo assistance
Performance: 0-60mph 14 seconds; top speed 104 mph
MPG: 26 approx