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MGC Roadster classical and fun

These days, the 1968 MGC Roadster is worth between $30,000 to $40,000.

Today, he proudly has two to his name, although can rattle off many more that have come in and out of his life over the years.

“My first MG was a TF when I was 19 at university,” he says. “But I sold that and bought an MGA 1600, but then sold that.”

And when a family and mortgage came along, Lyons was forced to put his MG passion on hold for 30 years. But while working in Eastern Europe during the 1990s, he decided it was time to revisit that passion. He started with a 1974 MGR V8, and then added an MGB V8 and a 1968 MGC Roadster to his collection.

“I was a member of the MG owners club in England for many years and I happened to be looking in car club magazines, saw some MGCs for sale, so I thought that looks good, why not?” he says. “I'd had a number of MGs over the years and always used to look for something that was unusual. The MGC was unusual because there weren't many of them made.”

After driving it around London for some time, he had it shipped back to Australia in 1998 and continued driving it here. But after some years on the road, he decided it needed some real work. So he sold the MGB to finance the project, stripped it back to bare metal and spent the next four-and-a-half years getting it up to scratch.

Only about 4500 MGC Roadsters were built and many were sent to the US, particularly California, where they didn't rust out as easily.

Lyons's model was one of the Californian cars, but when stripping it back he discovered it had some 'dodgy' work done, including a conversion back to right-hand-drive when it was brought back to England. And that meant a lot of extra hard work and money.

“I stopped counting at $20,000,” he says.

But Lyons says restoring an MG is made much easier because parts are readily available.

“There's an industry keeping these cars on the road,” he says. “One of the reasons I bought the MGC was because I knew I could afford to restore it at a reasonable price.”

Lyons says there are probably only about 100 MGCs in Australia, Lyons says. They were never officially sold here, but some dealers did import them independently.

And while Lyons is very proud of his car, he believes in driving it, rather than merely keeping it immaculate for shows.

“I don't believe in that,” he says. “I like to use them; that's the fun. Why have something if you can't drive it? Some people bring their cars to the meetings on trailers, dust them off ... but I bought it to drive it.”

Lyons has had his MG on the road for the past 15 to 16 months and tries to drive it at least two to three times a month. His aim is to one day drive it between Melbourne and Adelaide and he hopes on achieving that very soon.

“It's a beautiful touring car, much nicer to drive than the MGR V8,” he says.

But it does have its downsides, which include slower acceleration through the four-speed gearbox and 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine. And it can be hard to manoeuvre around corners.

“The only problem is it has a big six-cylinder motor sitting up the front and it doesn't always like to go hard around the corners,” he says. “It will understeer if you go into corners too quickly, but it's a beautiful touring car.”

The MGC was only produced between 1967 and 1969. It was based on the MGB body, but had the larger and heavier engine and could be distinguished by a bulge in the front bonnet.

As well as the 4500 Roadsters built, there were also about the same number in the GT Coupe version that hit the road.

Lyons enjoys getting out on the open road in his MGC where it just “purrs” along and is “great for 120mph (193km/h),” he says.

“It's a lovely car to drive and there's a certain amount of pride when you pull up and someone admires the car, they say, 'Very nice,' you say, 'Thank you very much,' knowing you can't have done that bad of a job,” he says.

Lyons isn't the only one in the family to gain enjoyment from the MG. His grandson has also taken a big interest.

“We put his child seat in the thing and I take him for a run. He thinks it's just great,” he says.

And while his wife has driven both of his toys, she's not too keen to get behind the wheel.

“She's too concerned that if she damages it, she'll never hear the end of it,” he laughs.

And there's no way Lyons will be getting rid of his classic any time soon, even though it could attract a value of between $30,000 and $40,000.

“I wouldn't sell it, not willingly anyway,” he says. “There'd have to be a good reason. There weren't many built and a lot have rusted out.”


1968 MGC Roadster

Value now: about $30,000 to $40,000

Verdict: Not many MGCs made it to Australia and despite its handling problems, it's a classic car many MG fans love.