MGC News – May 2020

MGC conversations with Richard Mixture, May 2020


Hello again, it’s Richard here.  How are you getting on with all this virus stuff going on?  Mrs Mixture and I are well and have not contracted the virus or anything else fortunately.  I’m not sure whether I can say to same about my computer though.  I think it was the one that Curly discarded a few years back, and not it’s not the Commodore 64.  Someone suggested changing the windows to 10, evidently it’s better than the 7 windows that I have in my office now. 

When all this Covert-19 stuff was developing that nice young Register Co-ordinator, I’m sure you remember, it’s Ian, well he travelled to Melbourne to watch the AGP that didn’t happen.  He told me he really went for a BBQ, the annual Elfin BBQ.  While there he picked up a new book on Elfins that was so big it weighed over five kilograms, so he had to recalculate the total weight of his luggage for the return trip. Carry-on luggage was a possibility but there’s a limit to that as well.  One bag plus a personal item, total weight 7kg.  Yes, that might work, a 5kg personal item.  I remember carrying on two MG front lever-arm shock absorbers many years ago, coming back from the UK.  I had trouble shutting the overhead locker.  I’m glad it didn’t fall in some one’s lap.

Once his bag was packed, he had a very important meeting to go to before hopping onto the plane back to Adelaide.

He was excited to be meeting the owner, Mike, of a six-cylinder MGB.  Oh, it’s not a ‘C’ but a ‘B’, a 1974 MGB with a couple of extra cylinders.  If you cast your mind back to page 75 of ‘Don Hayter’s MGB Story’ you’ll remember he mentions that in the mid-sixties when BMC were considering what to replace the Big Healey with, Syd Enever obtained a developed, light-weight, 2.6-litre six-cylinder engine from that British colony down under.  It was tagged the ‘B6’ engine as it was developed from the ‘B-series’ four-cylinder engine, that the boys at BMC Australia used to add two more cylinders so they could compete with Holden and Ford. They called it the ‘Blue Streak’ engine and it powered the Austin Freeway and Wolseley 24/80 saloons.

Now, under Syd’s instructions, a couple of lads at Abingdon modified an MGB so they could fit the B6 engine under the bonnet.  And it worked pretty well.  On a test drive along the new Oxford southern bypass they were pulled over by the Oxford constabulary who were testing new speed-checking equipment. “What have you got under the bonnet?  That was 127mph.  Please be careful!”  Nice coppers back then.

Now, our nice young Register Co-ordinator had always wondered what a six-cylinder MGB would be like to drive and now his dream was about to become a reality. Well no, he didn’t drive the one that Abingdon developed but a later model that was constructed right here in Oz. The owner, Mike, was a nice bloke who had similar interests to Ian and after a bit of an intro and washing of hands, it was out to the shed.  Well, when Mike started the thing up “the sound was amazing” he said.  A typical low six-cylinder throb, not that MGB burble.  Mike said he’s often asked, “what’s under the bonnet, ‘coz it doesn’t sound like an MGB.

He hopped in on the left side of the ‘B’ and Mike took him down the road for a couple of kilometres then they swapped seats.  They did stop of course.  The time had come – was it really like a ‘C’ or was it like a more powerful ‘B’?  After settling in, the indicator was turned on and the mirrors checked and off he went.  “The torque in this car was amazing and the steering was quick”, it is a ‘B’ after all.  The engine response was like a ‘B’ too, plant your foot on the right-hand pedal and things happen quickly but at much lower revs.

This Blue Streak engine would have been very much like to one that was sent to England with its MOWOG triple carbie manifold, fed by three 1 ¼” SUs.  The gear box was different though, it was a five speeder from a Nissan Skyline – very nice.

The Japanese certainly know how to make a good gearbox.  It was quick and easy to progress as you selected each gear that you needed.  They were travelling through roads on the outskirts of Melbourne, so the speed limits were up to 100kph.  It was a bit like the Adelaide Hills.  Firstly, it was very quick indeed, in reaching the speed limit almost without knowing and then, if you were sitting in fourth at 1000rpm the old thing would pull away and you would still hit the speed limit before you realised.  Where did the idea of speed limits come from?  Who ever invented them must have had a very repressed childhood.

So, did it handle like a ‘B’ or a ‘C’?  Neither really.  The front end was heavy but not like a ‘C’, as it seemed to provide very positive grip and direct steering and the rear end was light but not like a ‘B’, as it was a little flighty when gently powering around a long curve.  A few suspension mods were certainly in order to make it a bit like a ‘B’ but with more grunt, and it wouldn’t take much.

So I ask that nice young Register Co-ordinator would he swap it for his MGC?  “No way” he said, “but it would be nice to have it on the other side of the garage to be able to take it for a run, just on a whim.”

Sounds like a good idea to me as I’ve seen quite a few garages with MGCs on one side and that unmentionable six-cylinder British sports car on the other.  Although the bigger V8 brother, you know what I mean, the male version of a deer, might be an option but it had problems didn’t it.  A Blue Streak MGB sounds like a good option to me, just keep it in the family.

Remember ladies and gentlemen keep ‘em tuned and stay well,