While The MGB Roasters had been launched in 1962, it wasn’t until 1965 that the MGB GT, a 2+2 coupe was introduced. In 1967 the MGC with a straight six engine was introduced and this was replaced by the MGB GT V8, with its Rover 3500 engine in 1973.
My particular car went onto the production line on the 30th of January 1973 and was first registered just two days later on the 2nd of February. The car’s vehicle identification number shows that it was the twelfth post-development V8 produced. This was seven months before the eventual release of the model for general sale. It was supplied to Birmingham Police as a demonstrator for evaluation and was one of only two V8s painted in Police White.
During the car’s time with the Police, it was fitted out with a triangular roof sign, a two-tone siren, a radio and various other Police equipment.
The car was evaluated by Sussex, Staffordshire, Thames Valley and West Mercia Police Forces. An in-depth report in Police Review stated that ‘It is so perfect for Police work that it could have been designed specifically for the job’. However, only three MGB GT V8s were actually ordered, and all were allocated to Thames Valley Constabulary. These three MGB GT V8s were supplied in the MGB colours of the day and were used as unmarked ‘Q-cars’, the only clue to their ownership being a cord-operated POLICE STOP sign mounted in the load area, which rose up into view in the tailgate window, illuminating as it did so.
My car was decommissioned later in 1973 and, following some attention in the MG factory’s Paint & Finishing department, was sold to a private owner.
The owner before me obtained a period roof sign, Police radio and other Police equipment for the car. I bought the car in Yorkshire, in August 2009, and is now back in the south of England. This historic V8 is now affectionately, if somewhat obviously, referred to as Bill!
During my ownership I acquire various pieces of equipment to compliment the car including a pair of 1970s handcuffs with key, a black ex-police fire extinguisher and, most recently, the correct type of Ferrie Plastics roof box and blue beacon.
Towards the end of 2010 it had become clear that some work would be necessary as there was evidence of bits of rust under the surface, which were starting to show – mainly on the front wings. This would need to be sorted before the 2011 event season.
I obtained a quote and the car was booked into Ashley Motor Repairs. Work started in early January with the removal of the front wings, engine and gearbox, front valance and sills. Naturally this revealed more areas needing attention! The inner sills, together with new lower rear wing sections also had to be replaced. While the engine was out of the car I fitted a reconditioned gearbox.
In March the car was finally white again, and not just white, it was sprayed the correct BL Police White! The roof box shell and heater box parts were also painted.