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MG MGB GT V8 Factory Originals Technical - Advice on buying a GT V8 in the UK


I am looking to buy a GTV8 in the UK, and would appreciate any advice regarding this issue....

I am not looking to do an immediate resoration, am wary of buying a restored one, and feel that a converted v8 is probably a bad idea.

Any advice would be most welcome.


Guy Harper

So, to summarise you are looking for a Factory GTV8 in good original condition. There are usually a few of these available through the various MG magazine classifieds. I have noticed there seems to be a trend of long-time owners (ie 15 years plus) who have looked after their cars and possibly used them relatively lightly, getting to an age or a stage in life where they feel the need to move on. Depending on chrome vs rubber bumper, colour, extras, and of course overall condition I think you are looking at 5 to 6k for a R/b and 6k to 7.5k for a chrome bumper. Not sure what other advice would benefit you...
David Smith

Problems with factory MGB V8s you should know about

The original factory V8s had small oil pumps. Look for 40lbs of pressure running and 20lbs when idling hot. This can be rectified by upgrading the oil pump.

Low oil pressure gets to the tappets on cylinders 7 and 8 and then they wear out the camshaft. Check for noisy tappets on start up. Again easy to fix but two days work and 200 in parts (new camshaft and followers)

The timing chains wear out at about 75 - 100k this leads to variable ignition timing, low power and poor fuel consumption. Easy to fix but is about a days labour and approx. 50 in parts (new timing gear and chain)

They overheat Should be OK if the original equipment is in good order. They use 15lbs system pressure and this can blow old hoses. Ask if it uses water it shouldnt. If it does expect to go chasing leaks

They break their gearboxes in 2nd or 3rd listen for odd noises or whining, likewise the back axle.

They crack their original manifolds because the aluminium heads heat expand at a different rate to the cast iron manifolds, so people fit tubular steel ones. This is not a problem but check its been done properly. Both my V8s had had exhaust manifold threads stripped by POs fitting tubular manifolds

They tear their engine mountings and then the engine leans on the steering column put your foot down hard in 2nd and youll be able to feel this through the steering wheel cheap to fix but one of the least fun jobs on a V8

There seem to be two types of V8s on the market (I traded up from a well used one to a low miler in January)

Low mileage cars A few about however I am still debugging mine of disuse problems 3 months on. Expect to pay 7k plus

High mileage cars This is what I bought four years ago and had most of the problems described above. -Anything you can negotiate. I sold my old one for 3k

You pays your money & takes your choice. By the time I sold my old one I had spent a further 3k on it on parts alone

Everything else is as per a standard MG

Enjoy IMO theyre one of the most underrated sports cars on the UK market

Philip Shingler

Just to temper Philip's rather downbeat list of 'problems' - most of these issues are simply the result of poor or non-existent maintenance, and abusive driving. Also I feel there are cars in between the extremes he paints. My car was a 4-owner car with 75k on the clock when purchased 4 years ago. The PO had done 15k in 15 years BUT had maintained and driven it properly, so it did not have any of the 'low-use' problems either.. It is not a 'smart' car, and looks well-used but gives endless satisfaction. BTW it cost me 5k and I have spent next to nothing on it since.
David Smith

Thanks for advice chaps... perhaps you'd care to give your opinions on one I am considering at the moment.,,

1974 factory original. 220k miles, all original bar stainless steel exhaust (but original manifolds), uprated suspension.

From new, the car spent 3 years running up 120k, was then crated up and put into storage for ~10 yrs. Then sold and used occasionally, now on it's third owner and used every day for 6 years.

The engine sounds and feels extremely tight despite mileage, but is a disgrace to look at - filthy!! Clutch is the sort that is either on or off, rather than having any gradual release. Body work seems very good, although the sills have been rather (cosmetically) amatuerishly patched up. According to the owner, the sills were done previous to his ownership, so I guess that despite not looking perfect, the rust was cured. According to the garage who supply him parts, he has maintained the car as and when required, regardless of cost.

The car was inspected by the AA. I don't have access to the report, but according to the owner it was very favourable, and the few items noted as needing repair have been subsequently attended to.

He is asking 7k, which I think is not too bad.

Any thoughts?

I think you ought to buy mine!

If you are not familiar with buying an MGB you can't do better than get hold of a opy of Lyndsay Porter's 'Guide to Purchase and DIY Restoration of the MGB' (reissued as 'mgb restoration Manual') - it does exactly what it says on the cover. It contains a checklist of things to look out for and an indication of cost of repair/replacement. It concentrates on the 4-cyl, of course, but has a section on the V8.

Concur with most of what Philip says (personal experience) but on oil pressure the system was always a high-flow system, not a high-pressure one. Roger Parker will tell you that on Police V8s when hot it was a case of "What oil pressure?" The factory moved the gauge takeoff for users peace of mind, but on Rover saloons without a gauge 10psi was not uncommon. I had seen reference to an adapter plate for the pump and spoke to Clive Wheatley who did not recommend it. What he *does* recommend is a dose of Forte engine flush before every oil change.

Paul Hunt

Based on your description I would offer 3500 and maybe go to 4250 only IF the AA report is produced AND is very favourable. But really I would be looking for a different car.
I would have set myself a budget maximum, joined the MGCC, made myself known to some of the guys and gals in the V8 register, gone to a couple of meetings, looked at the general condition of other V8s, and put the word around discreetly that I was looking for one. For 6k I would expect a fairly nice daily driver with history, a full MOT and no faults. I would also expect to spend up to 3 months finding the right car. And I would avoid anything from a trader or a garage, but that's just me. I'm a cynic, and a cynic is just an optimist with experience !
Don't forget that all factory V8s have to pay road fund licence, and although the recent budget only put this up to high levels for NEW large engines, there is a perception that it may not be long before it is retrospective. 400+ pounds a year road tax makes it seem an expensive second car. Also if the clutch needs doing, and the engine has 220k then so does that, and before you know where you are you will have spent over 2k.
David Smith

Make VERY sure that the bodywork is solid before making your purchase. Porter's book that Paul H. refers to is a good reference for what to look for, but it is also a good idea to get someone familiar with MGs to come with you to look at the car. You describe an "amateurish" repair on the sills - I would not assume that the repairs were done correctly or completely. My V-8 is a perfect example.

My car had a "restoration" in 1989-1990 before being sold at auction in Texas to the fellow I bought the car from. The car was sprayed a non-standard blue and had a naff non-standard blue leather interior. Everyone who saw the car thought it looked smart, but the paint job hid a multitude of sins. I had known there was some rust when I bought the car, but the true extent of the rot did not become evident until my bodyman tore into the shell.

The outer sills, castle rails, and lower halves of the rear fenders had been literally sculpted out of plastic filler - the castle rails even had simulated drain holes to make them look "right". Then the whole underside was covered in black bituminous undercoating.

I have to say that the undercoating did save the floors - we only had to do a small strip repair at the outer edges. But the extent of the repair panels included the outer sills, inner sill stiffeners, lower rear quarter panels, outer wheelarches, front wheelarch stiffener box sections, jack points, jack point stiffeners, front splash plates and mountings, and repairs to the rear valence. In addition, the front fenders looked like Swiss cheese when we bead blasted them prior to painting - we obtained a good set of used fenders instead. The front valence was also history, so we will be using an aftermarket item. This does not include the repairs to the bodyshell to return it to full UK-specs (like the original type steering column and brake system).

The end result is a bodyshell that looks (and is) factory fresh, not a disguise job like before. This does not come cheap - I traded a good daily driver condition MGA 1600 MkII roadster to my bodyman for all the labor, but still had to pay for the materials. David Smith has seen the results - he is over here in California on temporary assignment and came to visit over a weekend. It's great when V-8 guys can get together over here - we are few and far between!

So find someone who knows the V-8 and can spot subtle signs of bodging. You will be better off in the long run without having to undo someone elses mistakes.

Paul Kile
Paul Kile

Let me just add that rust is never cured, just delayed. Many fall into the trap of listening to the history of an MGB and picking up that the sills have been professionally repaired but when and more importantly what antu rust treatment has been applied both immediately after the worjk and subsequently?

Even if the sills, wings etc have been professionally replaced to a very high standard they will last no more than a couple of years unless comprehensive anti rust treatment is applied. In the case of cars that are subject to constant use this treatment has to be reapplied every year to maintain a good degree of rust control.

From your description of this car I feel that the only rust prevention is from any oil leak from the engine and gearbox. The far from perfect view you have of the sills now indicates to me that in a short space of time you will be into a comprehensive restoration. This seems to be a car that is overpriced and overdue some TLC. Steer clear!!

The best advice is to get together with V8 experts such as the V8 register of the MGCC. You say you are wary of a rebuilt car, but the type of car your seeking will be one that must have at some time in it;s life have been restored. You have to take each car individually and if you have someone familiar with this model to go with you it can save much heartache and wasted money.

The other thing about such groups is that good cars often come up for sale and are so good that other members of that group buy the cars before they are advertised. If your inside such a group then you get to know about these. Note that prices are more than reasonable as your getting the best possible value!

Roger Parker

hmmm.... much to think about here.... I've been to the library and borrowed The Mighty MG's, and a couple of books on MGB purchase and restoration ...more to digest.

I have sourced another V8 for sale.... totally rebuilt ~5yrs ago (15k), GT -> V8 conversion, original 1975 chrome bumper, resprayed Jaguar BRG. Has done ~1500 miles on new engine, garaged ever since... used very occasionally. The chap is asking 10k .... the photo would make you weep!! I haven't seen the car for real, but I have doubts about a converted V8, so I'm in no rush to see it.....

Not sure about reselling a conversion.... otherwise I have no problem with it, assuming the job has been done properly. Is this a reasonable way of thinking? Or would a professionally installed V8 conversion be equally desirable?

(FYI - my experience thus far comes from my friends MGB GT 1.8, which was extensively restored last year..... so I have a good idea about bodywork and interior, although my general car mechanical knowledge is not particularly strong. Her garage (Crown Classics - Twickenham) are happy to inspect a car for me if I can get it to their premises.... Any one know of Crown Classics? Additionally, does anyone have experience of Paul Depper MG's ??)



In my opinion your philosophy in buying a BGTV8 really depends on whether you want complete originality or a BGT with a V8 engine. I have a 76 factory V8 which I have spent umpteen thousand on over 16 years of ownership and I intend to be buried in it! I also have a V8 roadster which I built and which also cost an arm and a leg to do properly. Both of my V8's are constantly being modified/improved to give me the best of both worlds - an MG with V8 power and modern dynamics - or at least as modern as possible.
If I were you I would find a really well converted rubber bumper V8GT, hopefully built on a heritage shell with a 5 speed gearbox and 3.07 axle - and let someone else incur the cost of getting it that way.
Im sure you could find a nice one for 10 grand.
This business about "a professional conversion" is nonsense. Any reasonably intelligent guy (or girl) with mechanical aptitude could do the job, farming out various specialist work to where it belongs and using all the best available bits.
I believe Roger Taylor in Bournemouth has a nice original Harvest gold V8 c/b for sale for what its worth. If you buy from someone reputable, like him you can trust that they will stand behind their sale.
If you have lots of money, have someone build you one to your own spec like my friend Alan Lawson in Verwood (shameless advert!)
Good Luck
bob p

I would never, NEVER trust an inspection of a car I intended to purchase to an MG garage or trader. All they are doing is capturing another customer - -especially if they are convenient to you - so the more that is wrong with it the more future business they can see. Sad but all-too-often true.
David Smith

"Any reasonably intelligent guy (or girl) with mechanical aptitude could do the job". That's true. But we all constantly hear about the appalling stunts that POs pull on 'standard' cars. If any 20+ year old car is treated with circumspection at prospective purchase then a conversion has to be more so. IMHO.

Paul Hunt

This thread has the very best advice available - bodywork first - then originality for the mechanics if you are going to have to have your maintenance done by someone else, otherwise if you want a bit more from your car, consider the well converted car where someone else has borne the brunt of the costs as bob p suggests but, I suggest you insist on seeing the documentation - you really do need to know exactly what is fitted and where it comes from. It is also perfectly reasonable to expect to see a workshop manual covering maintenance of all the non standard parts.

Not convinced ? The majority of the factory cars have been stripped and reassembled to a greater or lesser extent and with all the risk. Some of the non factory cars have been assembled with at least as much care as in the factory - many of those cars have features which make them a better car to drive and to own - even if they won't win the concourse prizes.

Good luck

PS I am in SW1 if you want a hand

Bodywork seems to be the key, eh?.... Have been reading a couple of books, both shouting the same advice.

Tonight I have seen a 1973 Bronze Yellow factory original, with 40k on the clock, and better bodywork than i've ever seen on any un-restored MG.

The only faults I could see (or hear) was a tapping from the front right (facing the car from grille) which subsided as the engine warmed, slightly tatty vinyl exterior on the sunroof, tailgate seal seen (much) better days, some slightly rusty bits around most wheel arches, but only appeared to be slight.

I haven't driven it yet, or extensively inspected the paperwork, but will be seeing it again on wednesday. Hopefully my local garage will put it up their ramps and properly inspect it too... (although point taken about not trusting their opinion - further inspection will certainly be done)

Interior is immaculate, engine clean, everything bone dry inside, some (very) slight bubbling under the paint on the seams along rear wings and corners of windscreen. Oil pressure when warmed settled at just over 20.

Should a 1973 V8 have badges on both driver and passenger side?? I seem to recall reading that BL were too miserly to put V8 on both sides....?

The car is completely (pinch of salt, please..) original - apparently has original suspension, exhaust, manifolds, carbs, air filters, etc... My aim with this car is to restore the detuned engine to how it might have been.

(Was reading tonight about the choice of engine made by MG - according to Graham Robson in The Mighty MG's, the choice of detuned engine was to avoid excessively outperforming the Triumph Stag?)

All of this for under 6k!! ...and only 3 minutes (walk) from my house!!! Is it my lucky week?

As ever, your comments and suggestions are most appreciated.



Correct - the factory only fitted the V8 badge to the nearside (to be viewed by pedestrians when you are in a traffic jam ?).
I'm a great believer in studying the particular buyer/seller relationship. If there was much wrong with it, the seller wouldn't want a buyer close to home - too easy to go back and complain all the time ! (unless he's about to move of course... )
The omens are good.....
David Smith

20lbs/sqinch at idle sounds ok to me. When you get her up to about 2500-3000 you ought to see 42 lbs/sqinch. Listen to any drive line play and check the gear change and o/d operation. V8 gearboxes are expensive as is the cw&p. It is easy to get the Webasto recovered. My specialist in Bridport redid mine in the original dark green vinyl. Good luck.
bob p


Good luck with your hunt for a good V8.

i've had mine 6 years - ironed out all the bugs - it is very reliable 1974 chrome bumper with 93k on clock.
I run it all year round - do about 3k per year. Did Lands End to John O Groats last year in three days - car was faultless.

Weak points can be gearboxes, usual bodywork problems of B as outlined above. Look for one that has had regular use - they run better.

Regards Kevin Herbert
Kevin Herbert

Guy, I would like to add some sound advice if I may.
Buying a used car is better to have an expert look at it and give you his experience advise. I don't know how far you live from Trever Taylor Conversions.
I met Trever a few weeks ago here in the US He stay with us and I can safely say that he is an expert when it comes to V8 cars and conversions, I would strongly suggest for you to contact him and get his advice or drive the car to him for a good inspection. It's the best thing you could do for yourself and protect your investment, a very cheap insurance indeed.

Bill Guzman

I've now inspected the paperwork for the Bronze Yellow V8. Things are not looking so good... :o(

Paperwork only covers 1983-1990, 1997-present....

The car changed owner in 1986 and 1990... 86-90 owner has full records, and 3 years of the owner before that.... documentation is good, detailing much maintenance, and some minor restoration. It seems that these 2 owners maintained the car very well.

90-00 owner has managed to lose paperwork from his first 7 years of ownership.... his documentation begings in 1997, with a 2000 restoration, although no details of the work are provided, only the receipt stating the cost. 97-00... some (possibly all) paperwork, detailing parts, etc.. His last receipt, dated 7/2/00 details various minor cosmetic parts, including 1 chrome ring (headlamp surround?), 1 front overrider, and others which there is only a part no. reference. To me this appears to be the action of someone trying to tidy the car up for sale......

Subsequently, the trader selling the car claims to have only replaced the water pump.

All original manuals are present.

The most disturbing feature of the paperwork is that (bar the previous MOT cert) not a single item details the recorded mileage..... which currently reads 41k.

I am getting the machine inspected by an mg specialist tomorrow, so I guess they should easily be able to determine whether this car has been round the clock.... my guess is that it hasn't, given the state of it in general... particularly the interior, but I guess the missing paperwork 90-97 could hide a multitude of restoration.....?

I am now extremely suspicious..... but the car still appears to be sound, despite lack of paperwork. I am still to test drive it, but I will tomorrow...... time will tell.


I'm going to stick my two pennies worth into the debate.
When buying any second-hand car, always expect the worst, i.e. it's been clocked and it's been bodged to sell, it's stollen! Then every bit of histroy and reciept for manitence is a bonus and can be viewed as evidance that can be used to improve your preception of the car.
Always budget on fixing things you find out after you buy the car. Any MGB V8 you buy is fundementally an old car and you'll never find one that won't need some work at some point.
Drive as many cars as you can.
Backing up the point earlier, bodywork first, then mechanicals.
Finally, make sure you can get insurance. I nearly got caught with having to shell out 1000 a year for my MGB GT 1800. And as much as I'd like a V8 I know that I'd be unlikely to get insurance. I'd hate for you to find the car of your dreams and then not be able to drive it!
Andrew Remely

I just received the latest 'Safety Fast' - post to the US is slow ! but I note there are at least four BGTV8s for sale. They may have all gone in the last 2 weeks of course, but I wondered if you had followed any of them up ? The logic being that the majority of MGCC members are enthusiasts, and most enthusiasts maintain their cars reasonably well and keep documentation (especially V8 people)..
David Smith

Guy, London, TW1 said....

Should a 1973 V8 have badges on both driver and passenger side?? I seem to recall reading that BL were too miserly to put V8
on both sides....?


...My 1973 factory V-8 has only one badge on the off-side (i.e. left hand side of my RHD car).
It also has a similar badge on the grille in front and on the hatch in the rear. Although I must say,
for such a small badge thy draw a lot of attention!

Alan Pfau

This thread was discussed between 04/04/2000 and 23/04/2000

MG MGB GT V8 Factory Originals Technical index

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