Images are from the brochure collection of Hemmings Motor News, courtesy of Bruce Zahor
The MGC was a controversial car from day one, even before it made its public debut at the Earls Court Motor Show in October 1967. This sports car-turned-grand tourer was initially intended to replace the Austin-Healey 3000 Mk III, but Donald Healey refused to allow his name to be used on a corporate, re-badged MG.
The primary thing that set this car apart from its cheaper brethren was under the bulging bonnet- BMC’s “C”-series straight-six engine. This massive cast iron unit had a strong seven-bearing crank, 9.0 compression and twin 1.75-inch SU carburetors, and made 145 hp and 174-lbs.ft. of torque with 2,912-cc (177.7-cu.in.), earning it the title of most powerful MG to ever reach our shores. Indeed, the MGC would prove even more powerful than the later MGB/GT V-8, although that car made better use of its power, thanks to the lightness of the all-alloy Rover (née Buick) V-8.
That big iron lump forced a number of changes to the MGB‘s engine bay, brakes, suspension and steering systems, and it could be mated to a standard four-speed manual, four-speed with overdrive, or (gasp!) a Borg-Warner three-speed automatic. Despite having gained a couple hundred pounds over the four-cylinder MGB, the MGC could still run rings around it, with a 0-60 time in the 9 second range, and a top speed over over 125 MPH.
Visual differences between the B and C included revised instrumentation, that unique bonnet, and 15-inch wheels that filled out their wells nicely. The black and white 1968 MGC brochure excludes that year’s MGC/GT, which had its own literature. There was a lot more eye candy in the colorful 1969 MGC/GT brochure, a six-page foldout compared to the previous year’s four pager.
Detail spotters will note that the 1969 MGC can be distinguished by its one-year-only flat fender reflectors and the tall, flat headrests (both U.S. regulation-required safety items shared with the contemporary MGB), neither of which were used on the 1968 models. The funky passenger fender-mounted mirror seen on this C/GT was a detail typically found on late-1968-1970 US-market MGBs, as well.
It’s interesting to see that the 1969 C/GT in the brochure was fitted with some U.S. dealer-sourced aftermarket accessories, including the wood-rim steering wheel, wood shift knob and stylish center console with clock.
Have you ever driven an MGC? If so, do you agree with the often-heard opinion that it’s a poor man’s Aston Martin? After all, the if the MGC/GT was good enough for Prince Charles (who’d later own numerous Astons)…
Click below to enlarge.