Background of the MGC
The MGC was firmly based on the MGB, and was intended as a replacement for the Austin-Healey 3000 which, by the time the MGC was announced in 1967, had had its day. It was powered by an in-line, six-cylinder, pushrod, OHV engine of 2912cc capacity that was capable of developing 150bhp. The bodyshell was essentially a basic MGB unit.
Both roadster and GT versions of the MGC were available, but the car was not received well by the press, despite the fact that it had a top speed approaching 120mph. They complained that its handling and acceleration were poor, and that it looked too much like the MGB. It was, however, a very good, long-legged touring car.
The MGC should have been one of the best-selling sports cars of all time, because in concept it offered a much improved performance over the MGB on which it was based, at a similarly low price. But sadly the MGC was to be very short lived, for in 1969 it was dropped from the MG range. No doubt that its poor reception by the press had affected sales, and by then MG had come within the British Leyland group, where Triumph products were looked upon with favour - and the MGC could have made life difficult for the Triumph TR6.
Engine & Suspension Differences
By the time the MGC was introduced, Abingdon had lost control of engine design to other sectors of the vast empire which was British Leyland. The MGC's new six-cylinder in-line engine turned out to be around 25kg too heavy, and the precious balance of the car - the foundation of every MG's fine handling characteristics - was destroyed. The car meant to replace the Austin-Healey 3000 had lost the Abingdon touch, but its other qualities have ensured that it is still much sought after today.
MG did it's best with the weighty problem of fitting the C-series engine into the MGB bodyshell. The main problem was that they were unable to place the engine as far back in the car as they would have liked to maintain the weight balance of the car, as it had to be able to accommodate the relatively bulky automatic transmission for the American market. Hence, the engine had to sit well forward in the engine space, which made the MGC very nose-heavy.
To accommodate the engine, some changes had to be made to the bodyshell and mechanics of the MGB. From the outside, the most obvious changes were the bulge in the bonnet and the 15 inch road wheels. The bonnet bulge was essential to clear the top of the long tall engine, and the larger radiator which it required. It was also found necessary that the front crossmember, upon which the suspension and engine were mounted in the MGB, had to be removed to clear the bottom of the engine, in particular the oil sump. This meant revising the front suspension from the original coil spring set-up of the MGB to one which used torsion bars as the springing medium. These ran back longitudinally, to a mounting point below the floor, to transfer the suspension stresses back to the centre of the reinforced bodyshell.
The rear suspension was essentially the same as the MGB, but a much stronger rear axle had to be fitted to accommodate the increase in power, and also the spring rates had to be increased both front and rear to accommodate the extra power and weight. There was also a new stronger, all synchromesh transmission for the same reason, and as with the B an optional automatic transmission.
The Demise of the MGC
When the first road test reports on the MGC appeared, MG engineers could not believe that the press had been driving the same cars which they had! The general handling of the car was panned by the press, it was said to suffer from terminal understeer, and to be an unworthy successor to the Austin-Healey, which had by now been discontinued. The press did not like the fact that it was so very similar to the MGB, and felt that it should have been a little more modern in its interior appointments.
However, there are few MGC's which would actually fail to get round a corner - the understeer is not "terminal". Looking at the weight balance of the car (53 : 47), will show that there is obviously a preponderance of weight at the front of the car, but this is less than most saloon cars of that period, and of most pseudo-sports cars.
It is likely that two factors contributed to the contemporary feeling that the car was nose-heavy. Firstly, the car looked like an MGB, and it was expected that everything else would be like the smaller car. Secondly, it is likely that the press were lulled into a false sense of security by the quiet and smooth running of the car, which was at a far better level than any other sports car to that date. These two points combined, and drivers found that they were travelling faster than they thought they were, with the result that the next corner would not have been "on"in any car!
The poor reception the press gave the MGC undoubtedly shortened its production life. Its introduction was soon followed by the formation of the British Leyland group, and the fact that the MGC and Triumph TR6 were competing for the same sector of the sports car market. There was considerable feeling against anything emanating from the old BMC part of the group at the time, and it took only a month or so for the board to make a decision on the future of the model. The MGC was dropped from the range in 1969, while the TR6 continued until 1976.
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