For its annual sale of important collectors’ motor cars at the Goodwood Festival of Speed (FoS), Bonhams always pulls together an impressive and diverse selection of classic vehicles and automobilia.
JUN 15th 2016
MGB or not MGB – that was the question
This year’s FoS sale is no exception, with Lot 209, for example, giving a one-off opportunity to acquire a unique coachbuilt-bodied MG B prototype, dressed in an attractive Pininfarina soft top body.
Shortly after original MG B had been launched in 1962, the marque’s engineers in Abingdon began considering the next generation replacement model, aimed at improving the mid-size MG’s chassis dynamics, with an all-new independent rear suspension lay out.
Work began on constructing a drivable prototype, code named 'EX234', using BMC’s proven 1,275cc A-Series engine and gearbox, Austin Champ rear axle, and Hydrolastic suspension units. Once completed, the rolling chassis was sent to Pininfarina in Turin to be bodied. The pleasing result was pure Pininfarina, with hints of the skilled coachbuilder's Fiat 124 Sport Spider, Peugeot 204 Cabriolet and Alfa Romeo 105-Serues Duetto models, while at the same time incorporating the sawn-off 'Kamm' tail that would later appear on the facelifted Alfa Romeo 1750 Spider.
EX234 was intended to replace both the Midget and the MGB, and despite being more compact than the latter, it offered a more spacious interior. The exterior trim on either side of the prototype MG was different: one style being for the GT version, the other for an open roadster.
Back in the UK, EX234 was enthusiastically received by all who drove it, with road holding described was as good as any sports car they had driven. Despite this enthusiast reception though, EX234 sadly didn’t make it into production, as both the MG Midget and B models were still selling well, and it was felt that there was no urgent need for a replacement, so the project was shelved. Following BMC's subsequent merger with Leyland to form British Leyland, the sports car balance of power shifted within the reconstituted group in favour of Triumph, and the development of the ill-fated TR7.
Bonhams describes this unique Pininfarina prototype as a 'must have' for the serious MG collector, and it’s a potential snip, with an estimated hammer price of between £35,000-£45,000. The car comes with a current MoT certificate, its original V5 registration document, a copy of the original factory specification sheet, plus a factory hardtop, intended for use on the GT version.