The reborn MG company is currently enjoying great success with its electric cars, but not even the official keeper of the octagon badge has one of these in its range. Yes it’s an MGB. Yes it’s battery powered. And yes, MG purists may well be outraged…
Actually they shouldn’t be because no actual MGB was harmed in the making of this car. The machine you see here is not a conversion that depletes the stock of Britain’s sports car icon from the 1960s. It looks pukka because covering up all the new electric running gear is a bodyshell from British Motor Heritage. The body, like every other bit of the car, is in fact brand new.
There’s good news too in that it sticks with rear-wheel-drive and it promises sprightly performance. It will do 80mph and get from 0-62mph in 9 seconds – so quicker than a ‘60s era B. Oh, and it doesn’t have rubber bumpers…
It’s all the idea of a Midlands company called RBW, a classic car restoration business that with technical help from some big names – Zytek and Continental – has formed RBW Electric Classic Cars. Its mission is to make electric cars inspired by British classics in runs of about 30 cars.
As well as the B roadster seen here, RBW will do you an electric MGB GT hardtop, an E-type or Austin-Healey, and they say there’s an electric Mini coming next year.
“Each car can be built to the clients’ personal specification and requirements,” RBW managing director Peter Swain tells us. “The opportunities are endless and therefore safeguard the future of classic motoring.”
The modular electric drivetrain, with batteries up front and a single 93PS (70kW) motor behind, is said to have been three years in development and is the result of a collaboration with Continental AG, which provides technology for Formula E.
A stack of lithium-ion batteries under the bonnet is sufficient to provide a range of 160 miles, claims RBW, while an optional extra battery can up that to 200 miles. Charging takes eight hours.
Surprisingly with such a lot of mass up front, the car’s weight distribution is said to be “perfectly balanced” for what Peter Swain calls a true sportscar feel in the driving. As well as new independent wishbone suspension with coilover spring/damper units, the RBW electric B gets a bespoke brake system with energy regeneration. All the components are new.
The open cockpit is just as new and just as traditional looking with two low-set seats and leather trim. But look closer and the familiar is neatly combined with today’s technologies. Here is a MGB with a multi-function dashboard, Wi-Fi enabled navigation, USB sockets and a colour touchscreen. There’s a big rotary drive selector where you would otherwise see a gear lever.
Given these days you can get electric versions of everything from a classic Rolls-Royce Phantom, Aston Martin DB6 and Jaguar E-type right down to a battery Morris J van, it was surely only a matter of time before the much-loved B made its comeback in electric form.
The MGB hit the spot at its debut in 1962 as a stylish sportscar at an affordable price. But as you may by now have guessed, it’s not as affordable as it once was. Prices start at £90,000 plus taxes.