Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Sweetie (Frontline MG LE 50)

Saw a Fifth Gear piece on the MG LE 50.  The "occasion" for the car was the 50th anniversary of the MGB.  You can buy an MG LE 50 for $99,000.  That's a lot of money for a tribute to a four-cylinder car with a solid rear axle.  And apparently you can get a good "driver quality" original MGB GT in the U.K. for 10% of the price.  In the States, for 20% of the price.  Potential buyers, of course, are MGB GT lovers, not those looking to tear up the roads or a track day with a Nissan GT-R or a base Porsche 911.

So what do you get for your $99K?  A 2-liter (all-aluminum) Miata d.o.h.c. engine with 200 horsepower and a 5-speed Miata gearbox.  (The original B had an iron pushrod engine with 95 horsepower.)  In a 2000 lb. car, that'll get you to 60 m.p.h. in 5 seconds.  And some other goodies.  Tiff Needell says the MG LE 50 is "a sophisticated, small, light car with great balance."  (My kinda car!)

A modern (and tuned) power plant and tranny, ditto coil-over tubular shocks front suspension, and "tribute" alloy
wheels.  And air-conditioning!  That works!

This was, and is, a great cockpit.  And I hope the new seats have eliminated the need to bring an iron butt for a day in
the car.  Looks like the traditional steering wheel now hides an air bag behind the MG emblem.

Above and below: I thought then, and still do, that the B GT was one of the best-looking cars of the '60's, second only
to the XK-E among the Brits.  Note the lack of creases and "character lines" found on current cars, about which I
complain loudly and often to Watchtower.  Oddly, Aston Martin Green, which flatters most cars (notably
Austin Healeys) doesn't flatter this one.  I wonder why?

Back in the day, the MGB was my second-favorite "affordable" sports car, after the Alfa Giulia Spider.
My main complaint was that the ride was a bit choppy (but way better than the cart-sprung MGA). The gearbox was very good.  It took the Miata, 25 years later, to improve on the linkage and feel of the B's box.  It had great driving ergonomics.  And a comfy cockpit, except for those seats that would wear your butt out after an hour or two.  I wouldn't spend this kind of money on an uber-updated MGB GT. But I can see how some people would.

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