“Quick safety!” has been MG’s motto since 1929. It’s an ideal that Peter Swain of Britain’s RBW took to heart with his all-electric MGB.

Swain has given four years, spent millions of pounds and submitted no fewer than 1,874 different documents to the authorities to ensure that his MGB is as safe as an OEM electric vehicle.

“There is a reason why all the big companies spend so much money on vehicle development. The only time you know it’s not safe is when you need it to be safe,” says Swain.

With a background in electronic security, Swain is a stickler for the right thing to do and knew he would need the right partner to develop his idea of ​​building an emission-free version of the British sports car he first drove when he was 17.

They joined Continental Engineering Services in Litchfield and Ian Mills, who developed the powertrain for the first Smart EV, built a prototype electric Morgan, and worked on the engine management system for the Dodge Viper.

Swain’s design called for a battery pack that could be mounted in the engine bay and transmission tunnel, as well as a patented subframe for instant electric motor torque. With these two pieces, Mills and Continental could make the electric MGB a reality.

The RBW MGB starts life with a brand new livery from British Motor Heritage. Reinforcement is added, the bodywork is de-seamed and painted by craftsmen in the RBW workshop before returning to Continental for electrification. Most notably, this includes the installation of 43kWh Hyperdrive batteries (also used in the Nissan Leaf) and a single 140kW motor that would be familiar to Renault Zoe owners. Mercedes utility vehicle drives can only recognize the digital instrument panel, which has been reconfigured to suit the MG. Brakes and suspension are suitably raised and then the car returns to RBW trim. To keep things simple, the paint and upholstery colors, steering wheel and wheels are the only options.

Overall, it weighs about the same as the original MGB V-8, but comes with a lot more comfort—air conditioning, electric power steering, and an audio system with Apple CarPlay connectivity and smartphone charging.

Swain’s brief for Mills was for the car to drive like a Mazda MX-5 Miata. “I believe the most fun modern driving experience is the MX-5. You are connected to the car,” he says.

Therefore, heart-stopping acceleration is not the goal. “It’s as quick as a BMW M4 from 0-30mph, but then we dial it back so 0-60mph is eight seconds.”

RBW MGB EV racing car
Andy Morgan

More speed is available in the RBW prototype racer, which boasts fiberglass panels for weight savings, a stripped interior and a bit more power. Swain had hoped to launch a single-brand series, but is now focused on building a road-car business, so the red-and-black concept is being used by Continental as a test mule for an ABS system that could be retrofitted to classic cars, whether electrified or powered by their original engines.

Meanwhile, the RBW road car demonstrator is in regular use and had nearly 7,000 miles on it when I got the key.

Panning RBW MGB EV
Andy Morgan

Swain is at pains to point out that the fit and finish of this vehicle isn’t a patch on the customer cars, but apart from the pre-production switchgear it looks pretty good and the design is simple and gives the car a modern look. center console without forgetting the MG heritage.

The driver’s position is noticeably period correct. Despite the base of the seat being very low to the floor and my legs stretched straight to the pedals, the large steering wheel is quite close to my chest and I feel quite high, as if I were sitting, rather than in a car. It gives good visibility but doesn’t feel as sporty as I had hoped, but then I remember the 1972 Midget I had when I was 19 was pretty much the same.

Taking off is just a case of turning the large rotary control at the top of the transmission tunnel to D and pressing the Go pedal. In silence, the MG will first run forward and then settle to a uniform linear acceleration. I’m soon at the national speed limit of 60mph, cruising very quietly through country lanes. Even though it’s equipped with electric power steering, it’s weighted to match, so it still feels like an old car, but it’s a little easier and more precise. If the owner wishes, additional assistance can be called. The brakes provide regeneration, but only when the pedal is depressed, and would be a significant improvement over the original B.

Riding bumpy country roads in the Midlands really has the kind of level that MX-5 owners enjoy (and which some sacrifice with a lower, stiffer setting to increase cornering speed), making it a very pleasant way to spend a late summer’s day. at a measured pace. The fact that it’s by far the best-built MG I’ve ever driven, sans creaks and rattles, only adds to the enjoyment.

RBW MGB EV static
Andy Morgan

They walk quietly past a canalside pub, drinkers putting down their pints and giving a thumbs up, realizing that neither the noise nor the emissions are disrupting their afternoon. It’s easy to imagine using up all 160 miles of driving range, gliding along highways and lanes, soaking up the sounds and smells of the countryside and not scaring the wildlife.

At a time when all new and rebuilt EVs seem to be making ridiculous performance (thanks to Elon), the RBW MG is a breath of fresh air.

RBW will add the MGB GT to its catalog and make its OEM electrification system available to other brands, expanding its business. But always with “fast safety” as the basic principle.

At £90,000 ($104,000) it’s relatively competitive, and RBW has an order book well into next year with buyers at home in the UK, across Europe and Japan. Only nine customer cars have been delivered to date, but production is ramping up to 100 for 2023. Then American customers should also finally have the opportunity to get behind the wheel. Given that the US market was the MGB’s original biggest market, it’s no surprise that RBW has already created a waiting list and plans to open an assembly plant in the United States in 2023.

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