1981 MGB GT V8 SEC

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1981 MGB GT V8 SEC


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Think you know all there is to know about the MGB? Well, read on…

There are numerous reasons why the ubiquitous ‘B remains Britain’s go-to classic car including affordability, superlative parts availability and mechanical simplicity. However all those would be redundant were it not for the fact that it offers a quintessential slice of Sixties (or Seventies, or even, just, Eighties!) motoring.

This exceedingly rare beast hails from the last of those decades but not, as you’d think, from the original production cycle.

When the final MGB rolled off the Abingdon assembly line on October 22nd 1980, it brought to a close an epic 18-year, half-a-million-plus sales success story.

However, no doubt inspired by the post-production MGC University Motors Specials (and a full generation prior to the arrival of the retro RV8), at the behest of the MG Owners’ Club, a group of intrepid engineers set to work proving that there was life in the old ‘B yet.

The ‘new’ Special Edition Classic MGB models were the work of Mallalieu Cars (and its successor Abingdon Classic Cars). Using new unsold MGBs the team, consisting of many ex-MG workers, set to work on upgrading, updating (and indeed backdating) the model.

Two engine options were made available: a turbocharged B-Series unit and, in a welcome return, the V8 (in updated Rover SD1 form, complete with its five-speed gearbox). The rubber bumpers were whipped off, with the cars converted back to chrome bumper spec; an earlier grill was added and the suspension lowered to pre-1974 specifications.

Fit and finish went substantially upmarket; the interior had leather hide, Bedford cord headlining, top-quality carpet and a walnut veneer dashboard. Paint was of a similar high quality, a Protectol corrosion protection applied and sound deadening improved. Finishing touches included LE alloy wheels, stainless steel oversills and ‘SEC’ badges.

Just five examples of the SEC were built and of those only two V8s, one Roadster and this, the only GT. The main issue was the prohibitive cost; added to the donor 1800 BGT’s £5,440.98 ticket price, the cost of all those works came in at an additional £7,665.27 (for a whopping total of £13,106.25!).

Today, just two cars are known to survive. The first is the original turbocharged Roadster prototype, now in fully restored condition; the second is this completely original GT, which makes it the only un-restored SEC in the world.

The Vehicle

Our vendor has owned the SEC GT for three years, and prior to that it lived in Sweden for a period of time. “It’s survived in totally original condition,” he says. “There’s no doubt that it’s led a sheltered life, as there’s no rust anywhere on the car. It benefitted from its time in Sweden as they don’t salt the roads in winter.”

Since buying the car, our chap has kept it on the continent and displayed it on Europe’s show circuits. “I also used it regularly when I was over in Luxembourg, but stored it just over the border in Germany where it only cost £30 per month.”

He returned the car to the UK last year, and has now decided to sell. “My house is at the end of a three-mile, single-track lane and delivery vans have been known to head butt cars on it. This one is so original, I don’t want to risk that.”

Luckily, he also has a Black Tulip coloured standard MGB GT V8. “As the SEC is un-restored and so special I just can’t use it as a daily driver, but with the earlier car I can.”

The original sales invoice from The Abingdon Classic Car Company Ltd is included in the history file (please see History Highlights section, below), and shows that the first owner was Kay Shoemakers Ltd of Kendall, Cumbria. It also lists the extras ordered at purchase, which include the period glass ‘sunhatch’ roof, LE alloy wheels, map pockets, stainless steel exhaust system and bespoke Moto-Lita steering wheel (more on the latter, later).

The odometer currently reads 55,846 and there’s a plethora of information, including a British Motor Industry Heritage Trust Certificate and a huge number of invoices included with the car.

On the Outside

A recent full paint analysis has revealed the only thing that isn’t original on the SEC, and that’s that the bonnet has been re-sprayed at some point – no doubt to deal with accumulated stone chips. It’s pretty impressive for a classic car to survive that long with that being the single piece of remedial work required, and is indicative of its overall condition.

There’s the odd small blemish here and there, but no discrepancy between panel finishes. The paintwork has also just been professionally detailed and, as the pictures in our photographic gallery demonstrate, it has a lovely deep gloss finish.

The body shell is generally excellent and your eyes are instantly drawn to those lovely hand-finished coachlines. Brightwork (including those SEC stainless steel oversills) presents very strongly with no pitting or scratches, just a lovely even shine. Up top the glass sunroof is crack free and the vendor says it’s even free from leaks. All the glass is original and still etched with the car’s registration number.

The LE alloy wheels look great. There’s a touch of paint chipping to one or two of the spokes on the front o/s and rear n/s examples; the next owner may want to have them refurbished, but as it’s only discernible up close personally we’d leave them in original condition. Each is shod with fresh-looking Vredestein Sprint Classic rubber, and there’s a V8 branded mudguard at each corner.  

On the Inside

It’s an interesting interior: MGB, but higher spec MGB. “The level in the car is nothing like the quality in any other MGB, it’s more like an Aston Martin,” says the vendor.

The dashboard is leather topped, with door cards and seats also in matching black leather piped red. There’s a little wear here and there, but no damage of any kind. The walnut veneer lends the cabin a serious upmarket ambience and that’s complemented by the bespoke Moto-Lita steering wheel.

This was missing when the vendor bought the car, but his tenacity paid off (he was initially told by the Moto-Lita that it had never produced a black anodized steering wheel). “I drove up there and showed them the magazine article with a picture of it,” he explains. “One of the directors said, “I remember that, it was for the MGB GT SEC”.” A replacement was promptly constructed but with one small change, “I had it produced all in black as I think it looks better.”

The Bedford cord headlining is as new and its hue has a lightening effect in the cabin, something that’s accentuated further by the sunroof. Those who’ve driven an MGB will know that cabin storage space is at a premium, and very welcome additional map pockets abound.


So how does it drive? “Absolutely superb,” is the vendor’s opinion. “For safety’s sake I had the braking system fully rebuilt when I bought it, and I’d jump in that car today and drive it anywhere. It also benefits from the SD1’s five-speed gearbox, rather than a standard overdrive unit.”

The SEC is currently located at the Tewkesbury-based specialist that’s carried out recent works. Its proprietor backs up the vendor’s opinion, “mechanically the SEC appears to be in very good condition, as one would expect with such low mileage and plenty of service invoicing, and other than a new brake master cylinder we have not needed to carry out any other rectification work. She is MOT tested and drives very nicely indeed, the smooth, torquey V8 is lovely and the car feels very refined – perfect for touring!”

Once again our pictures below demonstrate the cleanliness and originality of the engine bay, as well as the well-protected underside of the car.

History Highlights

There’s little doubt that this SEC has been cherished from the word go. As such you’ll find that it has excellent provenance, and a comprehensive history file.

There are numerous period documents, including that all-important original invoice (a BL Heritage stamp shows that the company was an approved restorer) and pieces of correspondence with the MG Owners’ Club who prompted the SEC project in the first instance.

Another period invoice shows that the first owner, Mr Reeves, had a Protectol Vehicle Rustproofing inspection carried out by the Car Care Centre (Autozeal Ltd) four years into ownership. While others demonstrate further evidence of additional rustproofing being carried out during the car’s life. It shows.

Period maintenance invoices abound, as do more recent ones from its time in Sweden and in Luxembourg/Germany. You’ll also find a number of magazine articles on the car, that Heritage certificate and one or two semi-raunchy period launch pictures!

All of the above is collected in an A4 folder, that’ll provide the next owner with a lovely and detailed insight into the SEC’s past.

Please visit the documents section of the gallery of this listing where you will find photos of this and other paperwork to support our claim that this car has been maintained to the highest of standards.

What We Think

This is a rather exceptional postscript in the MGB story. Just as the UMS cars hold a special place in MGC history, so too does the SEC in the MGB’s – the only differences are that far fewer people are aware of the latter, far fewer were made and far fewer remain.

That triumvirate of ‘far fewers’ means one thing: rarity. Try and find another, and you have one choice: the restored Belgian turbocharged Roadster. Try and find another original one, and it’s simply impossible: this is it.

As such valuing it is all but impossible! As a starting guess, we think it’ll sell for somewhere between £28,000 and £40,000. That’s strong money, but for that you’ll be buying a glorious hand-built swansong to the model. Not only that, it’s got those glorious classic looks combined with up-rated Rover SD1 running kit and that lovely interior.

Highly original with first-class provenance and the original factory purchase details, this is a car for the serious MG enthusiast and one thing is for sure: it’s an absolute showstopper.

Viewing is always encouraged and this particular car is located at the specialist that looks after it, in Tewkesbury, Gloucs; to arrange an appointment please use the ‘Contact Seller’ button at the top of the listing. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section below, or try our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’.

If needed, please remember we have a network of trusted suppliers we work with regularly and can recommend: Classic & Sportscar Finance for purchase-financing, Footman James for classic car insurance Thames Valley Car Storage for storing your car and AnyVan for transporting it.

BORING, but IMPORTANT: Please note that whilst we at The Market always aim to offer the most descriptive and transparent auction listings available, we cannot claim they are perfect analyses of any of the vehicles for sale. We offer far greater opportunity for bidders to view, or arrange inspections for each vehicle thoroughly prior to bidding than traditional auctions, and we never stop encouraging bidders to take advantage of this. We do take a good look at the vehicles delivered to our premises for sale, but this only results in our unbiased personal observations, not those of a qualified inspector or other professional, or the result of a long test drive.

Additionally, please note that most of the videos on our site have been recorded using simple cameras which often result in 'average' sound quality; in particular, engines and exhausts notes can sound a little different to how they are in reality.

Please note that this is sold as seen and that, as is normal for used goods bought at auction, the Sale of Goods Act 1979 does not apply. See our FAQs for more info, and feel free to inspect any vehicle as much as you wish.

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  • Location: Tewkesbury
  • Seller Type: Private
  • Odometer Reading: 56846
  • Engine: 3500
  • Gearbox: MANUAL
  • Colour: Black
  • Interior: Black Leather

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