Matthew Jones27 June 2011

Frontline drags MGB into 21st Century

Is this £50k MG the poor(ish) man’s Eagle Speedster?

To be honest, the presenters weren't that impressed with the new MG6 during the show on Sunday. Or its recycled-racing-horse badge adhesive. 

However, this latest old-car-new-tech offering from Frontline Developments seems like a valiant use of the brand. And a rather more affordable alternative to the Eagle Speedster.

Each car uses a new British Motor Heritage MGB shell, into which Frontline shoves a 2012 2-litre VVC MX-5 engine. It's got billeted con-rods and crankshaft, forged fully-skirted and Teflon-coated pistons and it's been hopped up with a 45mm direct injection throttle body and closed-loop Lamda set up.

That equates to 215bhp and 170lb ft at 4000rpm. That means 240bhp per ton (it only weighs 900kg). 240bhp. IN AN MGB.

But don't worry, the sixties shell's been uprated to cope with the 130bhp power boost (the B was just 85bhp when it launched in '62). Each one gets strengthened sills, floors and rear quarters to cope with its re-jigged suspension systems.

The front end's loosely based on geometry dreamt up by Ken Costello in the sixties - he was the first person to fit a V8 into a B - only made in alloy. Out back, Frontline's keeping the rear live axle but throwing away the antiquated lever arm dampers and cart springs - they're replaced by a set of modern telescopic dampers and coilovers.

The differential also gets swapped with bespoke cogs, which are toughened to withstand the increased bhp. All of which is shackled via a five-link system, just like a Mercedes.

Brilliantly, none of the cars are being offered with power steering, which should make it the good kind of handful.

Inside, everything's familiarly MGB. There's a black crackled dashboard, later-style toggle switchgear, bespoke Smiths instruments - they manufactured the original MGB's dials and gauges - and leather chairs. There are a few luxo additions, including an alcantara dash top and a-pillar trim.

Frontline's offering equally familiar hues. You can go for a sage green or anthracite - both of which are Aston Martin colours - or Old English White, which was an option on the original '62 cars.

Want one? An LE 50 will set you back a tenth of the price of an Eagle Speedster. That's £50k (plus tax). You'll have to wait till 2012 to get one though, which coincides conveniently with the B's 50th birthday.

There is only one small problem. Frontline hasn't actually got round to building one yet, but it will look exactly like the car pictured - period-perfect Dunlop racing wheels and all. Only with bumpers. And without a towing eye. Or stripes. Or the spot lamp. 

What d'you think, TopGear.commers? A fitting tribute to the B?

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