Thursday February 28, 2019
‘Young people today eh? With their ghastly music, their taste in clothes, their air of disrespect to their elders and their habit of buying a 1967 MGB GT and subjecting it to an incredible restoration…’.
You know you are becoming middle-aged/mature/grumpy when newsreaders start to appear comparatively youthful, let alone police officers, but Oli Brett came by his classic when he was aged 16, and he is now 21 years old. ‘I’ve loved old cars for as long as I can remember - my grandad used to take me to car shows when I was very young’.
When the B GT debuted in October 1965, it would be fair to say it created its own niche in the British sports car market. Ford would not offer a three-door coupe until 1974 with the Capri Mk. II, the Vauxhall Cavalier Sportshatch did not reach the market until as recently as 1978 while the Harrington conversions of the Triumph TR4 and the Sunbeam Alpine had already ceased production.
The MG promised ‘elegance and sophistication’, all for just £998 8s 9d, plus a rear seat that was suitable for uncomplaining children. When Autocar evaluated the GT in the following year, they concluded ‘This smart newcomer from Abingdon should go far – and fast’.
By 1967 the cost of a new GT was £1, 064 19s, with MG stating it was ‘bold and blatantly beautiful’ – Oli would no doubt agree with these claims. He became a B enthusiast when his father, the fleet manager for Greene King, was ‘tasked with buying a B to help promote “Old Speckled Hen”. Brett Junior was taken for a spin in this well-known MG when the company first acquired the Roadster and ‘it was love at first sight’.
On leaving the school, he became an apprentice mechanic and he ‘saved every penny I earned for nearly a year’ until he bought the red GT. Oli devoted the next two years to the GT’s restoration – ‘with a bit of help here and there including a full respray’. One of the challenges he encountered during that period was ‘learning about welding and rebuilding the engine’.
In addition to looking utterly stunning, the Brett GT is a rare example of a B that is not fitted with overdrive. It also lacks wire wheels, and there are those, including this writer, who find the plain hubcaps more aesthetically appealing. The original owner did specify a heater, which was worth the addition £14 6s 1d, to augment the fresh air vents in the footwell - ‘completely useless in reality but they are a nice feature’.
Oli started to drive the B when he turned 18, and he observes ‘I also own a Vauxhall VXR and I find the MG so much more fun. You have to really drive it, and it responds to how you treat it on the road - a modern car doesn't compare’.
Inevitably, the red MG causes a sensation wherever it goes, with many expressing their surprise that ‘a young man is driving it. Random people in the street have even asked me if I’ll sell it!’. However, there would seem to be little chance of that – ‘it is my total passion’.