Beauty Mark – The MGB Coune Berlinette


Period photograph of the MGB Coune Berlinette

From the debut of the MGB in 1962, Abingdon had worked to develop an attractive – and marketable – coupe from the roadster that could be sold alongside the open car and entice new customers into the fold for whom the standard car was impractical. Most of the primitive design studies suffered greatly in comparison to the competition, especially those from Italy and Germany where the coupe was the dominant production variant unlike in England.

Jacques Counes had similar thoughts at creating a fashionable coupe using the humble MGB as the base. As the Belgian distributor for Abarth, Bertone and Iso Rivolta as well as an active repair business in Brussels, Coune was well situated to act on his idea – another Belgian firm, Imperia, had done the same with the TR2 Francorchamps – with an experienced Italian work force that was paid better wages than they could have hoped to earn in their native Turin.

Soon he had produced a bespoke MGB with an attractive fastback design that in many ways was superior to the later Pininfarina design that was used for the MGB GT. With a Kamm style tail and faired in headlights, the MGB Coune Berlinette offered Italianate styling and mass-production reliability.

Unfortunately, the MGB Coune Berlinette was both heavy and expensive (it cost half again as much as a standard MGB) but it was very attractive and had caught the eye of BMC management. A meeting took place in 1964 between Coune and Alec Issigonis to discuss the prospects of series production of the car at Abingdon (with royalties paid to the Belgian) and shortly thereafter a vehicle was pulled off the production line and sent to Brussels for conversion. When the car had returned, it was driven by BMC Chairman George Harriman, Syd Enever, Issigonis and even Leonard Lord from Austin to evaluate the car for production in England.

This MGB Targa-Coupe was the second attempt by Coune to use the MGB as the basis for a new car

This MGB Targa-Coupe was the second attempt by Coune to use the MGB as the basis for a new car

The project was abandoned in favor of the MGB GT prototype designed by Pininfarina in Italy that retained more of the essential character of the MGB (and was no doubt cheaper to produce). Notwithstanding the actions of MG, Coune continued to produce his car for the European market with 56 units manufactured in total.

In 1966, Coune debuted at the Turin Motor Show another MGB based creation with a Targa-style top but it was poorly received and was never manufactured in quantity. Along with the Coune Volvo Amazon Cabrio, the MGB Coune Berlinette established the enviable reputation that these bespoke Belgian jewels enjoy today.




'Beauty Mark – The MGB Coune Berlinette' have 7 comments

  1. January 22, 2016 @ 8:28 am D. Kruze

    I like this car and would pay double the price of a MGB to get one.


    • March 15, 2016 @ 4:07 pm Chuck Roche

      Ditto. A beautiful automobile and comparable to any others and superior to most.


  2. March 17, 2016 @ 8:48 pm Luis Angel Soto

    Is a beautiful car. Head lamps are similar to jaguar E-type


  3. June 6, 2016 @ 7:23 am Daniel G. Arms Autobahn Restoration

    I have had several B-GTs and have one I am restoring myself, being a body fender tec. and artist, I appreciate a beautiful car. I am now going to find another GT and build it to look as much like the Coune car as possible.


    • June 11, 2018 @ 10:44 pm Miguel

      Have you followed through on building a berlinette.


  4. December 6, 2016 @ 9:56 pm Michael Rogers

    To me, I think they made the right choice with the MG-B they settled on, the alternatives are too fussy like the difference between the early and late E Jags.


  5. March 11, 2018 @ 3:53 pm Corin Harrison

    I went to The Black Swan ( Ockham, Surrey ) monthly classic car meet today and a Counes Berlinetta was parked up amongst an eclectic mix of cars. I drive a BGT so was immediately drawn to it as I’d never seen one before. It had great kerb appeal as it was a near flawless example and because it is so rare compared to the ubiquitous Pinanfarina BGT. But which is the more attractive? After some thought I’d give it to the design Abingdon went with based on the view that if it had been the Counes that was mass produced, I would have been more greatly drawn to a rare example of a Pinanfarina BGT. It was a beautiful car and I’m so pleased the owner is driving it and not being too precious about it, despite there being just 12 examples left.


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