Only ‘special edition classic’ 1981 MGB GT V8 heads to auction

1981 MGB GT V8 SEC front angle

The Market will offer a rare 1981 MGB GT V8 SEC this month, one of the only five ‘Special Edition Classic’ MGBs made.

The Market is one of the leading online classic car auctioneer, and the care will be on sale in an online sale running from 21st to 28th May.

Built from the final, unsold MGBs to leave the MG Abingdon factory before it shut down in 1980, the ‘SEC’ series of one-off sports cars were constructed with a partnership between British Leyland, MG Owner’s Club and The Abingdon Classic Car Company.

The team that engineered each car consisted almost completely of former MG workers, who stripped back standard MBGs to setup a luxury interior, upgraded performance and the reintroduction of classic design elements, transforming the humble MGB into a luxury car for the specialist market.

With just two of the five SEC cars noted to have survived, The Market will auction the only GT V8 SEC made, registered ‘SRT 856W’ and completed in black, with a guide price of £28,000 ($34,250) to £40,000 ($48,920).

“The level of finish and quality of this car is nothing like any other MGB. It’s more like an Aston Martin,” said Tristan Judge, director of The Market. “The SEC cars hold a special place in MGB history but few people know about them. With such small numbers made even less remain, which means one thing; rarity. This is a case of try to find another! It’s just impossible, this is it.”

The original sales invoice from The Abingdon Classic Car Company reveals that the first owner was Kay Shoemakers Ltd of Kendall, Cumbria. The car then spent some time in Sweden. The current owner, who has owned the car for three years, used it often in Europe before repatriating it to the UK in 2019.

The car’s high specification combines attractive classic looks with upgraded performance. Under the bonnet it has a V8 engine (in updated Rover SD1 form) complete with its five-speed gearbox. The interior includes black leather hide, Bedford cord headlining, Wilton wool carpets, leather and walnut veneer dashboard, and door cards and seats in matching black leather having red piping.

Classic features include a chrome bumper in place of rubber, an earlier grill and lowered suspension to pre-1974 specifications.

Extras ordered at the time of purchase consist of the period glass ‘sun hatch’ roof, limited edition alloy wheels, map pockets, stainless steel exhaust system and bespoke Moto-Lita steering wheel. The car also gets advantage from Protectol corrosion protection and improved sound proofing.

The original invoice for the car totaled just more than £13,100 ($15,900), significantly more than the standard model price at the time of approximately £5,500 ($6,730).

“There’s little doubt that this SEC has been cherished from the word go. It is highly original with first-class provenance including the original factory purchase details. This is a car for the serious MG enthusiast and it’s an absolute showstopper,” added Tristan.

A comprehensive history file accompanies the vehicle including numerous period documents consisting of the original sales invoice (a BL Heritage stamp reveals that the company was an approved restorer) and a British Motor Industry Heritage Trust Certificate. The history file also includes correspondence with the MG Owners’ Club, who urged the SEC project in the first instance, a selection of invoices, and magazine articles.

In April, The Market saw its second consecutive record month of sales, with a sales rate (90 per cent) which establishes it as the current leading classic car auction house in the UK. Consumers from The Market pay only what they bid with no extra auction fees.

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