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MG MGA - K series engine

Has anyone any experiance of fitting a K series engine into an A, I would be interested in learning the pro's ans con's, Vin
Vin Rafter

Reliability is the main problem but it has been done many times in sprites and others.

Have you been reading Safety Fast Vin? What will you call it, an MGK Twin Cam?
Lindsay Sampford

You certainly should not use an early MGF K Series engine, unless you need some practice in changing head gaskets.
Later engines had some modifications done e.g. a new design of head gasket and steel dowels locating the cylinder head instead of plastic dowels.
These seemed to improve things but there is still a high risk of head gasket failure (HGF).
I do not like engines that have an alloy block and steel studs passing through from the head nuts to the main bearing cap nuts.
This method was also used on Alfa Romeo engines with the same result, blown head gaskets.
I believe it is a problem with different expansion rates of the steel and alloy.
An interesting website, but out of date.

M F Anderson


If you go down this route check all the DVLA new regulations first for registering the engine change. It's all tightened up quite considerably. My DVLA thread in this year's archives shows the documentation required.

As a minimum you must keep all receipts, make sure the engine is 'legal' (engine number, not stolen etc) and have the vehicle inspected by a recognised motoring organisation (AA or RAC for example) or a capable garage.

I am going through the process at the moment with the 1800 upgrade. I should know if I have been successful within the next 3 weeks. If so, I will report back on how it can be done.

Steve Gyles

The "concessional" historic (ie very reasonably-priced) registration system here in South Australia does not permit modifications to "historic" vehicles. Those who want to modify their vehicles must register them in the normal way (which usually requires prior close inspection and sometimes even road testing). Thus the "hot rod" element does not encroach upon our trusty "pure breds". Personally I cannot see the benefits in many of the modifications, MG's in particular, if properly maintained, seem quite capable of "holding their own" against many modern counterparts (not to mention speed limits)! Those who want a "modern" sports car should go and buy one!
Barry Bahnisch

Ive seen the Honda ZTEC S2000 in the Hoyle Engineering car Vin but even though you would get 250bhp engine, it looks like a real challenge to do.

Has anyone ever fitted a Rover V8 into an MGA? It would seem to be the most obvious way to go as all the running gear is already out there in the B V8.

Otherwise, you will just have to fit a supercharger like Dominic, Im sure he will fill you in on the details.


Colyn Firth

There was a very nice Rover V8 powered MGA at the NAMGAR GT in Portland, Oregon, some years back. As I recall, he had to do some minor modification to the frame to make a little more width for the V8. The MGB had to have its engine room widened a bit, too, but it was all sheet metal.

I had wondered about the K engine before I put the 1800 in my "A". Pretty scarce here in the States, though.

k v morton

Here's a Rover V8 in an MGA engine room. Sorry I don't have a picture of the K series engine in an MGA, Vin. Knowing nothing about the swap, I really liked the idea. Isn't there also a V6 version of that K series concept?


k v morton

The consideration is not about how fast I can make my car go(although a little more would be nice)Iím led to believe that these engines (1.4-1.6- 1.8)can be very reliable and return 40 mpg plus, Vin
Vin Rafter

As an F owner, as well as a modified A owner (still under construction but V8 not K series), here's some thoughts...

Although there are many theories relating to K series HGF, the one that makes sense to me, is the thermal shock theory. With the thermostat on the inlet side the cylinder head gets a cold coolant blast whenever the stat opens, causing high stress on the head gasket due to constantly changing expansion rates.

This goes some way to explaining the higher HGF rates amongst the rear engined MGF's, than its front engined cousins, in which the coolant is further cooled by transmission through under car pipes.

Front engined and with the new multi layer gasket and strengthened LR oilrail, you should be OK.

...IMHO of course.

Chris Bond

K series - not really a good choice.

If one must swap engines into an MGA, there is lots of chopping to get a 90 deg. V8 in there, less chopping and welding for a 60 deg. V6 (GM) and less again for a twin cam 4 cylinder - the Honda S2000 makes a marvelous sawp and Miatas have also been done.

Attached is a 3.4 GM V6 residing in an MGA chassis.

Bill Spohn

Fit a 1.8 Turbo diesel Vin, you would get in the region of 140 bhp (or more) with torque to match coupled with up to 50 mpg.
An in line 4 cylinder too so it shouldnt take up any more space than the B series does.

There is probably a Rover 1.8 diesel engine that would fit if you prefer to keep the MG / Rover link.
(I have recently driven various Peugeot and Citroen diesels and they give really great performance and economy. My Citroen C4 can easily give 70mpg if I keep the speed below 55mph but I tend to be a bit heavy on the accellerator pedal and 55mpg is more the norm.)

You would have to sacrifice some of the extra BHP on a powerful PA system though of at least 400 watts plus with surround sound speakers.

Then, to cover the diesel rattle, if you were doing some spirited driving you could play a Ferrari V12 soundtrack.

Or if you were doing some lazy touring, maybe a Chevy V8 burble would suit!

I will listen out for you Vin

Colyn Firth

I agree with Mick A, the fundemental problem with the K series is the design of the stretch bolts bolting the whole lot together

Various things have been tried but sadly nothing really works and IMO the problem eventually helped lead to the demise of MGR, must have been thousands of pounds in warranty claims.

To help it is worth noting that anything that prevents quick temperature changes will hopefully reduce the incidence of HGF. Removing the thermostat to avoid shock cooling might be a help but my MGF has never been thrashed from start yup and I generally drive very easy for 10 to 20 minutes when first started. Touch wood the Headgasket is still in one piece so perhaps it is possible to have a good engine.

I am seriously concidering the fitting of a turbo diesel engine to my midget so not a bad choice perhaps.
Robert (Bob) Midget Turbo

Posting from my ipod in the wilds of Cambodia -isn't technology wonderful...

If you want bolt-in performance, either a supercharger or a Ford Pinto engine appears to be the way to go.

Th Pinto engine is a class of ford engines that has exactly the same mounts as an MGA engine apparently. I am sure Barney will have a page somewhere. I have certainly read an article on it somewhere
dominic clancy

I don't recall seeing one in an MGA, but here's a 2L OHC Pinto engine in an MGB.

To pinch a comment from the MG Experience forum from last September:
"Has anyone ever seen an MGA with a Ford Kent Cosworth motor? These were, IIRC, vintage overhead cam racing motors that were in-line fours with a "crossflow" head. The Ford engine that was based on the Kent engine was the T88 or also called the "Pinto" engine. Made in displacements of 1.6, 2.0, 2.3 and 2.5 liter with single overhead cam, and later in a DOHC in 2.2L. All were rear wheel drive pre-1975. Find an old Ford Pinto (or a Cortina or Capri in the UK) that has the DOHC engine and manual box, that might be a great drop-in ... 118HP at 120 lb-ft of torque. Also in the RS1800 Escort from the late 70's, and there is an Escort RS2000 with a 2L version".
Barney Gaylord

FWIW, I have a little experience here. I owned a new 2L Pinto in 1972 (for about 8 months). In the early 90's we had a family affair running a couple of them in NASCAR Lightening Rod class at Santa Fe Speedway (clay track) in Burr Ridge, Illinois (Chicago). My nephew ran a 2.0 Pinto for a few years. My brother ran a 2.0 Capri for two years, then handed it off for my daughter to run for one season. I drove (raced) it for one night to sort out the suspension so it would turn left.

These things go like a bat at 7000 rpm if you just remove the belt driven fan. A little step up for the cam helps but is not necessary for a street car. We installed a new timing belt once as part of the prep for racing, changed oil once a year in the spring, ran the crap out of them every weekend May through September, never opened the engine at all. Pretty much bullet proof if you don't tweak them too far beyond stock spec's.

The 2.0 is lighter and friskier than the 2.3, rather like the relationship between MGB 3-main and 5-main engines. Very much fun. I suppose if you feel inclined to drop a non-MG engine into an MGA, the English Ford engine could do. But if you want 200 HP in a 4 banger do not stop here with single OHC.
Barney Gaylord

I didn't mean the engine out of a ford pinto - that would be very hard to find in the uk. The pinto engine is a family like the BMC B-series and some use the same mounts as a 3 bearing B engine. I think any ford specialist would put you on the right track but a two litter Capri springs to mind
dominic clancy

Dom I think the ford pinto also used the pinto engine as suggested by Barney
Bob Turbo Midget England

I had a '73 Ford Pinto from new for 6 years. It had the 2.0L German engine (pinto engine for you UK guys?). In the first few years, I had the distributor cam wear out, the OHC camshaft wear out and the carb's composite float sink. In 5 years the doors rusted out. Still, it was infinitely better than the Vega it replaced. It was my first new car and I still love it. If it hadn't have been for that cement truck.......Wish I had it now. Maybe with a warmer engine.
Chuck Schaefer

Would the Pinto OHC belt cover interfere with the bonnet on the A? It would be interesting to see some crank centerline-to-bonnet distance comparisons between the A and the B.
JM Morris

Kind of wandered away from the K series engine Vin but its probably my fault, sorry.

I had never really considered the pinto engine for the MGA but I have worked on a few and I recall they were a pretty solid unit, easy to rebuild and to work on and can be tuned to give awesome power output.
( The block is used for the Sierra Cosworth ) I remember that they were bit prone to eating camshafts and you have to fit top quality replacements and be really careful to use the correct cam lubrication when fitting one.
They also had a really big sparkplug which needed no washer to seal to the head. Unfortunately they sometimes seized in place and had to be drilled out.

The single overhead cam does make for a taller engine though and this may create bonnet clearance issues in an MGA.

But it would fit straight on to your Sierra 5 speed box Vin!

Colyn Firth

This thread was discussed between 09/02/2011 and 13/02/2011

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