Speed to burn in U.K.-built MGB
Megalomania: Runs 12.5 seconds on strip
Scottsdale, Ariz. — The last thing I expected to see at the Bonham’s auction here was a 400-plus horsepower, V8 powered 1963 MGB drag racer.
It actually took a while and a couple of double takes to sink in that it really was an MGB and it was built in England.
Drag racing arrived in the United Kingdom in 1966; Europe’s first permanent drag racing facility was built on the disused RAF (Royal Air Force) base, designated USAAF Station No. 109, in Podington, Bedfordshire.
The track was named Santa Pod Raceway. The name comes from the Santa Ana strip in the United States and the local village of Podington — hence Santa Pod
Forty seven years later, the track is still there and remains the fastest all-asphalt drag strip in the world.
This particular MGB, known as Megalomania, was the creation of Keith Sales, a former jet-engine mechanic turned Jaguar specialist. Having cut his teeth in standing quarter-mile racing, Sales decided to build his own special.
He enlisted the help of two U.S. servicemen — John Watcher and Jack Ferris — from the nearby U.S. air force base in Bentwater. Watcher also helped to finance some of the project, and took the 396-Cid engine out of his personal car, a 1965 Chevrolet Impala SS.
A local fibreglass repair company fabricated and crafted a one-piece rear section and roof to the MGB midsection and made a one-piece hood that had a striking resemblance to the front of a Jaguar E-Type.
The front suspension remained MG though using heavier rated BMC truck springs and shocks; and the power was transmitted to the asphalt through a Muncie four-speed transmission and Oldsmobile axle.
By the time the car was fully developed and sorted out it was making 12.5-second runs down the strip.
Sadly, its racing days were short lived and all over by 1968. I suspect it found its way to the U.S.A. in an Air Force freighter with Watcher.
Owen Gibson, the current owner, told me that he had discovered the car in a scrap yard near Tuscon, Ariz. After a little research he realized he had stumbled upon Megalomania and decided to buy it and return it to its former glory.
The estimated sale price was somewhere between $35,000 and $45,000, however it did not meet Gibson’s reserve and did not sell.
During the time I spent with Megalomania’s owner, he seemed very passionate about the car so I doubt that he was disappointed that it did not sell. For more pictures visit t2vrestoration.com/T2V_Gallery.php