You Can Pick V8 or EV Power for the MGB, with a Manual Gearbox

Jackson Wheeler
7 Min Read

  • Frontline Cars unveils two restoration programs for the MGB, offering a choice of a 4.8-liter V8 or a battery-electric drivetrain powered by a 40-kWh battery.
  • Both cars feature five-speed gearboxes, as Frontline has sought to recreate the functionality of the manual transmission in the electric variant.
  • Both options feature a wider body made by British Motor Heritage from pressed steel, along with suspension and brake upgrades.

The MGB is not a new car by any stretch, but in the year 2023 AD you have more drivetrain choices for a new MGB than there were when the car was actually new.

And one company will let you pick a V8 or a battery-electric drivetrain for what is essentially a classic MGB on the outside.

The MGB of yesteryear certainly offered V8 engines, but not this particular one—a 4.8-liter Rover V8 good for 375 hp instead of the original 3.5-liter unit—with almost triple the horsepower that the original model served up.

2023 mgb by frontline cars

The V8-powered model features upgraded brakes and suspension, in addition to a retrimmed interior that is nicer than anything that originally left the factory.

Frontline Cars

Frontline Cars, founded in 1991, pairs this powerplant with a five-speed manual transmission, and drops that into a wider body made by British Motor Heritage from pressed steel, sitting on a strengthened chassis.

The braking system has been beefed up as well, as you’d expect, with six-piston alloy calipers up front and four-piston alloys out back. The chassis also features a limited-slip differential and a suspension tuned by specialist Nitron.

Dubbed the LE60, in honor of the model’s 60th anniversary, it’s the most powerful MGB created by Frontline.

Both of these EVs will have a three-pedal setup, with the added benefit of being unable to stall.

“The LE60 is not just a car for us, but a heartfelt celebration of Frontline’s history and our intertwining connection with not only MG but more specifically the MGB,” said Tim Fenna, Founder and Chief Engineer of Frontline Cars.

As much fun as a new 4.8-liter V8 in a widened MGB might sound on paper, Frontline also offers buyers the option of an MGB from the future. Two MGBs, to be precise, including the MG Bee roadster and the MG Bee GT, both with a 40-kWh battery and a Hyper9 100v motor paired with a manual transmission.

That’s right—both of these EVs will have a three-pedal setup—but are also able to start in any gear, with the added benefit of being unable to stall. The motor can spin up to 9000 rpm, Frontline notes, and the battery requires just five hours to replenish via a 7-kW charger.

We’ve seen battery-electric drivetrains paired with manual transmissions before, and we’ve seen electric MGBs before as well, so these aren’t quite industry-firsts. But it’s something we’re going to see more in the coming years as resto-mod specialists work to bring about a future depicted in the 1997 film Gattaca.

The performance, however, isn’t exactly in Ludicrous territory.

The EV setup is, ahem, geared toward a more period-correct experience with 114 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque on tap, good for an equally period-correct 8.8 seconds for 0-to-62 mph sprints. You won’t be charging very fast either, as there’s no DC fast-charging capability with this battery.

But at least the timid acceleration won’t drain the smallish battery all that much, and you’ll be busy rowing through the gears.

“We resisted conventional EV conversion despite the demand until we were able to deliver a vehicle that delivered the Frontline drive and ethos, a vehicle that feels engaging and a pleasure to drive without compromise, yet meeting modern environmental changes,” Fenna added.

2023 mgb bee

The electric version features a 40-kWh battery underhood, as there’s no space beneath the floor or in the trunk for such a pack.

Frontline Cars

The downside of a 40-kWh battery, of course, is a fairly limited range that should land just below 150 miles. This should be enough for a couple hours of driving time, unless you plan on dropping by a charging station, so obviously this isn’t the best option for a long road trip.

Another downside is the price, which isn’t mentioned by Frontline, but is certainly above the $100,000 mark. It is a newly hand-built MGB with EV power, after all.

The choice for enthusiasts is perhaps clear here, if one actually needs a new and massive V8 in a money-no-object MGB, and the EV option is perhaps the harder sell unless you live in the center of some European city that only allows ULEV cars, or will mandate them soon. Buyers who live in central London or thereabouts will pretty much have to go electric.

With battery tech evolving so quickly, it might make sense to wait another five years or so to shop for a new MGB with a longer-range battery—which is a sentence we didn’t think we’d ever find ourselves typing.

Will demand for classics converted to EVs continue to grow, or will enthusiasts place greater emphasis on authentic restorations? Let us know what you think.

Headshot of Jay Ramey

Jay Ramey grew up around very strange European cars, and instead of seeking out something reliable and comfortable for his own personal use he has been drawn to the more adventurous side of the dependability spectrum. Despite being followed around by French cars for the past decade, he has somehow been able to avoid Citroën ownership, judging them too commonplace, and is currently looking at cars from the former Czechoslovakia. Jay has been with Autoweek since 2013. 

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Jackson Wheeler is a skilled editor at, specializing in automotive content. With a background in Journalism and Automotive Engineering, he combines his passion for cars with his writing expertise to deliver captivating articles. Jackson's deep knowledge of automotive technology and his racing experience make him a valuable asset to the team, providing readers with informative and engaging content.
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