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This 'Widow Making' MGC Makes For The Perfect British Cruiser

By Calum Brown May 23, 2019
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By Calum Brown May 23, 2019
Standard MGB not quite enough? The MGC has all the boxes ticked. Here's one for sale in the Motorious classifieds

If a stock MGB doesn’t scratch the itch and satisfy your heavy right foot, there are a number of other classic British sports cars begging for your attention. Yet, one that often remains overlooked is the B's psychotic brethren; British Leyland's infamous 'widow making' MGC.

Back in 1967, for satisfying your inner Stirling Moss on a budget, Abingdon began producing the rebel of the MG family. With the C unleashed onto the buying public for those wanting more brutish power than the four-cylinder MGB could muster, trees and hedgerows were no longer safe. 

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Originally nothing more than an attempt to extend the appeal and lifespan of the MGB shape, injecting a dollop of extra horsepower by inserting a straight-six C-series engine under the bonnet, the C made perfect sense on paper. After the demise of the Austin-Healey 3000, there was a gap in the market ready to be filled with the B’s more powerful, more desirable relative.

1969 MGC
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Even though the MGB was still selling by the bucket load, the steroid-driven MGC filled the vacuum rather nicely to start with, bringing profit for MG to further develop vehicle range and quality.

The resulting surge in power was impressive. Nought-60mph could now be achieved in 10 seconds, and acceleration continued all the way to 120mph – making the MGC one of the fastest GT cars sensible money could buy. Yet, there was a hidden clause with the MGC: understeer.

1969 MGC
View in gallery

The urban legend suggests that incorrect tyre pressures from new (and particularly with press launch cars) were to blame. The model quickly garnished a reputation for murdering more inexperienced drivers, fast becoming the 'widow maker' on wheels. Although efforts were made to sort the C's ungodly handling, the car's image was soon tarnished. 

With that cast-iron C-series powerplant up front, and torsion bar front suspension in place of the B's coil spring set-up, the C was always going to understeer heavily. It also devoured fuel at an alarming rate – even by 1960s standards. Unable to capture the imagination of potential buyers, the MGC died away after less than 24 months in production.

1969 MGC
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Even now, the MGC isn't held in the same high regard as its contemporaries and, while it might not have been the replacement for the Austin-Healey everyone hoped for, it makes for a magnificent cruiser.

Owners now understand that it's more GT than an out-and-out sports car, and the smoothness and torque of the six-cylinder engine is perfectly suited to that role.

1969 MGC
View in gallery

The MGC makes a great classic car purchase. It produces a supreme exhaust note and roars when pushed, churning out enough power to make driving a more relaxed affair – especially when compared to its smaller-engined relation.

Trouble is, finding a good example can be tricky. Once worth $50 and a packet of chips, almost all the MGCs built were driven into the ground or scrapped. Luckily, the perfect example has cropped up for sale through Motorious courtesy of Classic Auto Mall. Get a closer look at the vehicle here


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