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Over the past thirty years, there have been many examples of American cast-iron V-8s being dropped into MGs. These generally were ill-mannered and hot-running, usually being relegated to the back pasture after a few months of watching geysers erupt under the hood after five miles or always losing the tail end in a 20 mph curve. However, over the last few years, a host of MGBs, a couple of MGAs, and even a Midget, have been constructed with iron rather than aluminum mills and have worked out quite well. I put this down to just good planning and engineering on the builder's part. Keep the engine as low and far back as possible for best possible weight distribution, tweaking the front spring rate and taking advantage of the high efficiency radiators and fans now available has made well thought out iron block conversions viable.
One of the advantages of using a GM style T-5 5-speed transmission is the .72 or .63 5th gear ratios. These provide low rpm cruising speeds which are easy on both the engine and the driver. Now there is one better. Glen Towery has successfully installed a Borg-Warner T-56 (Camero/Corvette) 6 speed into one of his MG V-8's. The T-56, while being a heavy (150#) and bulky box, does provide a 0.5:1 6th gear ratio! Pull out your calculator and figure that top end velocity! Should pull the hairs right out of your forehead in a roadster. Glen is working out the gremlins and will have the car on the road soon.
Roger William's popular book, Giving Your MGB V-8 Power is one of the most comprehensive conversion references available. The only drawback for American enthusiasts is that it deals exclusively with the "traditional" conversion methods as practiced in the U.K. i.e. Rover engine/Rover trans. The book is due to be updated in the near future. Included will be about 10,000 words, and dozens of photos, covering the MG V-8 conversion techniques available to the U.S converter, including using the Buick/Olds 215 engine, T-5 transmissions, hydraulic throw-out bearings, etc. The new edition should be available about mid summer, '99.
By the time you read this, the NAMGBR '99 V-8 Register meet will be probably be just concluded. The 2000 V-8 meet will be in Cleveland, OH, probably in July or August, watch the Driver for details. If you do not have a V-8 but are interested, or a concours enthusiast with a morbid curiosity, by all means attend. The meets are as much for those lusting for a V-8 as for the those already driving one. No where else is such a concentrated source of how-to conversion information and a chance to compare the differences which make each conversion unique. At both the '97 and '98 meets there was ample opportunity, and a great willingness from the V-8 owners, to give prospective V-8'ers a chance to drive in or pilot a conversion. Most of the conversion owners are rabid V-8 advocates, always seeking to convert any MG enthusiast to V-8 power. (Usually one ride does it)
Dan Masters is a retired electrical engineer who now spends his time dropping V-8s into British sportscars. He has just finished a Triu....Triu....TRIUMPH (There I said it!) TR-6 with a Chevy 350, and an excellent job it is. Next on the planning board is an MGB, probably with the aluminum V-8. Dan has also made the time to gather a host of information on a broad spectrum of English sports car V-8 conversions including Triumphs, MG's, Morris, Jags as well as several others and incorporating them into a Website. Plan on spending a couple of hours in there. Check it out at http:/members.aol.com/danmas/
Dave Michel organized the highly successful '98 NAMGBR V-8 Register meet and even had time to video many portions of the many tech sessions and even a few minutes of the eights blasting around the Summit Point Raceway. A copy of the tape, unedited and uncensored, may be ordered from The NAMGBR V-8 Register, 1855 Northview Rd., Rocky River, OH 44116 at $12.75 + 2.25 P & H.
North American MGB Register