Factory Editions are the precise personal visions of founder, Tim Fenna, built in limited numbers. While there was a degree of personalisation available, the fundamental specifications of Factory Editions are fixed to fulfil and optimise very particular design briefs.
Two Factory Editions have been offered in the past: the LE50 GT and the Abingdon Roadster. Pre-owned examples can be available through our Frontline Cherished programme.
The LE50 was the first Frontline Factory Edition. Always a GT coupe. Available with two engine options: Mazda MX5 2-litre with 214bhp or the ‘Plus Pack’ version with 238bhp.
Conceived to be the then-ultimate evolution of the classic MGB GT, the LE50 was a re-engineered and super-refined version of the original. Like all Frontline cars, each LE50 is built up from the origins and identity of an MG built between 1962 and 1980, but everything about the car was then either re-engineered or enhanced to standards vastly superior to the original.
The design brief was to create a totally reliable, civilised daily driver car with true supercar performance: something practical, commodious, refined and relaxing - just as a true GT should be - which could also be used on track and ‘in anger’ on demand.
Fundamental to the car’s upgrade was the use of the celebrated Mazda MX5 engine in two states of tune: 214bhp giving a more relaxed driving experience with more mid-range torque, and 238bhp - with different inlet cam - which facilitated an entertaining, revvy engine and more driver-orientated personality.
The LE50 was refined over many years prior to launch. The aim was perfection without compromise: to make the one car that any enthusiast would ever want: a combination of real-world practicality, driver exhilaration and superb build quality.
It's got all the great characteristics of an old car combined with the best of a new car: it is the best of both worlds.
The Abingdon was - with very rare exception - the Roadster version of the LE50, but had more power and different, more driver-orientated performance characteristics.
The Abingdon was developed as a real driver’s car. With its larger 2.5-litre Mazda engine there was significantly more performance available than with the LE50, while brakes and suspension (six-link at the rear) were upgraded to complement. It was not a track car so much as a focused driver’s car, combining all the refinements, reliability and usability of the LE50 (albeit without the LE50’s boot space and coupe creature comforts) with a more edgy, keen character.
Fundamental to the Abingdon was its great torsional rigidity. Being an open car with massively enhanced performance, the floor pan was strengthened with a triangular bracing system that eliminated any body flex whatsoever. This made for a tremendously communicative and enjoyable driving experience.
With performance levels well into the supercar league, the charismatic and lightweight Abingdon combines the best of modern dynamics, reliability and practicality with breath-taking driver feedback and involvement.
This was the best car we drove through the whole of the series.