YES, WE GET it – the MGB is 50. Now can we please move on…? Woah! Easy tiger. Remember, this is ‘Dep-O’, so this isn’t going to be just any common or garden ’B.
‘Dep-O’ regulars will doubtless spot the origins of this rather special MGB GT. The clue lies with its creator, Frontline Developments and a 1968 GT which belongs to Frontline’s Ed Braclik…
Designed to mark the 50th anniversary of MG’s Dorian Gray, the LE50 is a 50 model run of Frontline’s interpretation of what a 2012 MGB should be. Costing from £50,000 – placing it just south of the turf occupied by an Alfaholics GTA-R – the LE50 is a beautifully re-engineered MG.
Although drawing a few cues from Ed’s bonkers 280bhp GT – that car has a sequential gearbox and a supercharged Rover K-series – the LE50 is a lot more calm. It is though, still quite a performer thanks to its tuned 215bhp Mazda MX-5 motor (the Ford Duratec is a sibling) and six-speed H-pattern gearbox, it just isn’t quite so mad. Think of it as Freddy Krueger before he’s guzzled a Red Bull four-pack.
The MGB – much to the chagrin of snobs and Philistines – has always responded superbly to well-informed tuning and modification. Look beyond the large-diameter Dunlop centre-lock alloys, Aston Martin paint, subtle chin spoiler and brake ducts, and you will see how Frontline has been able to transform the Mazda engine’s potent motivation into dynamic titillation.
The MkII lookalike Motor Heritage shell is fully seam-welded (and rust-treated) and has the engine mounted as far back as possible for optimum weight distribution. The suspension bears little in common with the Abingdon-fitted original components. Highlights include: front aluminium wishbones, uprated springs, two anti-roll bars (a la post ’76 models) all around telescopic dampers and a multi-link rear axle (housing an LSD) are fitted, along with disc brakes and optional EPAS for people who don’t eat enough spinach to cope with manual steering.
Inside, the LE50’s bespoke retro feel continues with an Alcantara trimmed Sixties spec dash structure, hosting all manner of modern features – from digital Smiths dials to heated seats and windscreen to a retro-look stereo and even optional air-con. The most eye-catching though, is the smart fully-trimmed load area (replacing the tiny Oompa-Loompa +2 rear seats) – which harks back to an earlier iteration of Ed’s aforementioned GT.
‘Classics Monthly’ has enjoyed an inside line on the project, gaining exclusive, behind-the-scenes access and covering the project over three consecutive issues, culminating with a first drive in the current issue (January 2012, Issue 185). But the crucial question has to be, what’s it like to drive then? ‘Classics Monthly’ magazine’s Adam Sloman says:
“It was composed and well planted, and I felt I could trust it. I own a B-series BGT which builds up a head of steam, but the LE50 delivers almost instant power. It’s breath-taking.”
On being one of the first people outside of the Frontline development team to get behind the wheel, Adam added, “It was very exciting and a rare privilege. It was also a bit nerve wracking – driving a £50k car that’s the only one in the world…
For lots more on the LE50 (including loads more exclusive material), and the chance to buy the current and previous two issues, visit www.classicsmonthly.com.
UPDATE 3/3/12: Today marks an important milestone in the evolution of Dep-O, a relaunch of our videography division – Dep-O-vision. In the past video content just hasn’t lived up to our creed that ‘quality is everything’. So we went away, had a think, taught old dogs new tricks and this is the result.
Much has been made about Frontline’s re-engineered MG, but Dep-O is the first to film the awesome LE50. So at last, you can get a closer understanding of this impressive retro GT.