Every year, thousands of Queenslanders from Brisbane and the Gold Coast cross the border into New South Wales and its array of delightful towns. Lennox Head is a tranquil, beachside haven. Byron Bay is hip, eclectic and full of character. Nimbin is renowned for its cheese and, uhh, oregano. This northern pocket of NSW really is a wonderful world and one with a beautiful, temperate climate. So, it comes as no surprise that there are classic cars to be found here.
On a road trip with family through northern NSW, we stopped at the Tweed River Art Gallery. The gallery was hosting an exhibit of paintings created by Philip Wolfhagen, a Tasmanian landscape painter and one of my favourite artists. And in the “parking lot” – effectively a dirt shoulder but hey, the gallery itself was nice – I spotted these two green classics (at least I recall the MGB being green in person despite its black appearance in photographs)
In my mind, I’ve always associated the original VW Beetle with titchy dimensions. However, I forget just how many cars the Beetle dwarves: the original Mini and Fiat 500, for example, as well as this MGB GT. This GT is equipped with the aluminum-block 3.5 V8, originally sourced from General Motors who developed it for their “Senior Compacts” of 1961. Sadly for North American enthusiasts of British cars, the GT V8 was never offered in left-hand-drive. One wonders how successful it might have been in that market: with a dry weight of just 317 pounds, this neat engine was actually lighter than the four-cylinder. It was much more powerful, too, with 136 hp and 185 ft-lbs of torque moving around just 2425 pounds of British coupe.
By the time of the GT V8’s launch in 1973, the MGB’s platform was getting quite old. Still, in terms of longevity it had nothing on the Bug. And years later, these two examples are still running strong and enjoying a climate conducive to their survival. Whether by accident or design, these two were the only old cars in a parking lot otherwise full of 21st century hatchbacks and crossovers. It’s almost like they were two friends shaking hands, saying “How do you do?”
Photographed in Murwillumbah, NSW on 31 August, 2014.
Curbside Classic: 1946 Volkswagen 1100
Cheese and, er, oregano, huh? Should go well on pizza.
Pretty looking country.
I started to type that I would have a difficult time choosing between these two. Then, midway through the sentence, I stopped myself. I would have no difficulty at all. A rustless V8 MG with chrome bumpers trumps a Beetle every day. Sometimes a guy just has to go for the high-maintenance thrills. 🙂
Love the design of the GT, and with a V8? No-brainer indeed. What a pretty car and one cannot argue with a lighter, more powerful mill. (Though it may render untrue the “driving a slow car fast” feeling these seem to engender.)
The green of the Beetle is one of the quintessential mid-late 70’s colors, though.
I test drove a brand new TR8 back in the day. While I had great expectations, it seemed sadly lacking in power. Too strangled by emissions? At the time, i owned a 68 MGB. I had previously owned a 62 Olds F85 running the 3.5L, high compression, quadrajet carb engine and a Borg Warner T10 4 speed. I expected the oddly shaped TR8 to be a little rocket. I had to call “no joy”.
That MGB engine was of course designed by Buick and the passed over to Rover in 1966, for the P5 3.5 litre, the P6B 3500, SD1 (t’s true home in my book) and the Range Rover. Derivatives were still being used well into the 1990s. MG grabbed some r the MGB after the aftermarket converters had shown the way
The MGB V8 was an effective car; lighter and quicker than the 1.8 and light years ahead of the MGC, which had a 3 litre straight six fromt he Austin Westminster giving little more than poor fuel consumption and a master class in understeer, undone only by the fuel crisis.
I’m with JPC – the MG wins for me over the Beetle, even in that 70s green.
An MGB V8! Those are the correct wheels too. Me want!
That MGB-GT V8 is quite a find. It’s too bad that MG didn’t build a V8 MGB right back in 1968-1969 or so, instead of the MGC; it would have been a very potent update and kept it relevant for a long time. The two were made for each other.
A book on MG (alas no longer in my possession) had a pic of the GT’s engine compartment, which required clever manifolding to fit the V8 under the hood. They mentioned however that you could get a Capri V6 for less money, no wonder given MG’s bucolic but archaic factory at Abingdon-on-Thames. Another source said they test-drove, using local roads, every MG built.
That’s a lot less than what it took to shoehorn that big and heavy Austin 3 liter six into the MGC. A new front suspension, and major changes to the firewall, new hood, structural changes elsewhere, etc. It was quite a major undertaking. The V8 was a shoe-in in comparison.
In the US, the Capri wasn’t really a direct competitor to what a V8 MGB would have been. Americans had a thing about roadsters, and V8s, and an MGB V8 could have been very appealing.
It must’ve been divisional politics, for why else would they’d deny Americans a V8 sports car (with a Buick-derived engine, no less)? Yet Another Lost British Opportunity.
A friend had a Sunbeam Tiger (in Racing Green) and that was a hoot: V8 rumble & torque with British agility. Cooling was a weak point though, and of course corporate pride had to kill that one too.
LHD packaging with the V8 engine was the problem I think, it only just fitted RHD with some chassis rail notching and clever manifolding.
According to Ateupwithmotor the C engine was unique to the MGC it wasnt the same engine that still in production and being fitted to the Austin 3L unbelieveable I know but he was very insistent about it when it was discussed before, The V8 model was a great cat the C not so much.
Nimbin ah yes been there a few times and it wasnt for the oregano, its famed for another herb locally cultivated, love the V8 MGB those were quite rapid in their day, The VW is in good order their survival rates are quite high even in OZ despite everything against them heat and dust being natural enemies.