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MG MGB GT V8 Factory Originals Technical - Buick/Olds/Pontiac 215

Been thinking about converting a late BGT to V8 power. The Rover/MG engine is a bit scarce here, but I sometimes see '62-'65 Buick, Oldsmobile and Pontiac 215 V8s for sale. This is the engine the Rover was based on. I'm wondering if the original is too far from the final MG configuration to be used, or whether it could be adapted. Comments?

Example:
http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=34202&item=4553917434&rd=1&ssPageName=WDVW

Thanks. -G.
Glenn G

Glenn,

Check out www.aluminumv8.com ( D&D Fabrictions, Inc)
This should give answers to your questions.
I have a 1963 buick in my 1974 GT.

Tom,
T.P. Rosser 1

Go for it Glenn. My 79 roadster runs a '62 Olds 215. It is a great little light weight motor and late model B's were literally made for it.

Allan
Allan

Thanks, guys. Looks like I'm on the right track. -G.
Glenn G

Are you sure about wanting to use a 44 year old piece of aluminum? (No offense to anyone who has one) I'm not sure where you're looking but I bought my 3.5L range rover motor for $375 and my 4.2L for about the same price. Both needed full rebuild, but that's to be expected with any motor. Dan Lagrou at http://www.aluminumv8.com has like 40 of the range rover 4.0L short blocks. He also has the oil pan, heads, flywheel, timing cover, etc that you need. Why use 40 year old engines when you can use 4 year old engines?

Justin
Justin

I know of at least two people who feel there is an advantage to using this particular engine, Michael Domanowski and myself. And with good reason, for we both run high cylinder pressures, his with nitrous and mine with a blower, and the Olds is the only one in the series which evenly circles the bore with head bolts, giving superior clamping of the head to the block. Mike is running a stroker motor as well, somewhere around 266 C/I I believe. There is no inherent disadvantage to a BOP that I am aware of, it is more a matter of matching the engine to the use. This Olds engine being a 4bbl would have the high compression heads, but the piston choice is limited and good valve springs are impossible to find, meaning it makes a good boosted engine running a conservative redline. The Buick/Pontiac 215 has better breathing heads and makes a better N/A screamer. And there are lots of tricks that can be used to improve them both. The Rover offers more displacement in stock trim. But any of them, even the mildest one around will dramatically change your opinion forever of what the MGB should be.

Jim
Jim Blackwood

No offense Jim, but it seems you never drive your car it's always down for something. Maybe if you would use a motor such as a Ford V8 or V6 that puts out the same power as a 215, at least go for the late stuff like a 3. something rover motor. Keep it simple and drive it.
George

No offense taken George. What you missed is that I was one of the very early pioneers in this craze, pushing into virtually unexplored territory and finding ways to get the job done when there was no information available about what would work and what would not, and no off the shelf parts either. So everything was hand made, of necessity, and I've continued that trend for over 20 years now and never let up. You can see the results of that in the car and I think it speaks for itself. Now it isn't the fault of the motor that the car hasn't run more than it has. In the first conversion it was my primary vehicle and despite the hot cam and high level of output of the high compression Buick 215 and frequent trips north of 7 grand it saw many many road miles over a period of several years before a broken piston and spun bearing retired that engine, and I think that's all you can ask of the original cast pistons. The Olds engines have held up well under boost, and I have had little to complain about with them except for one thing and this applies to all of the aluminum engines: There are two weaknesses in connection with the head bolts. First, it would be wise to never reuse head bolt washers. If they crack, as I've seen, the head bolts will loosen and cause the head gasket to leak. You may get by with reusing them once if they do not get accidentally flipped over and not crack but why take the chance when suitable replacements are readily available? Secondly, it is an extremely good idea to helicoil the block, as the ability of the original aluminum threads to hold past the high torque setting is marginal at best and sometimes they even begin to let go at the low end.

Now as to why the car has been down a lot in the last few years, well there's that one piece forward tilt front end, that sure didn't happen overnight. In fact the car has had not just two front ends on it but a grand total of five! Original, 1st forward tilt with quad rectangular headlights, one piece fiberglass forward tilt, back to stock but widened 6", and finally the one piece steel forward tilt one that is on it now. It has gone through a number of changes in the powerplant configuration as well, starting with a high output Buick 215, then a turbocharged Olds 215, and finally the Blown, Injected, and Intercooled distributorless Olds 215 you see in it now but that's not all. It is in transition to the second complete EFI port injection and ignition system. If that doesn't sound like a big deal give some thought about what has to be changed to go from N/A to Turbo and then to Blown when all the pieces have to be hand made. Along the way other custom work happened, all of which took it's own sweet share of available time. To name a few, flaring of the rear bodywork to clear the 265/50-14" tires that it runs on all four corners, extensive modification of the dashboard, and the wood and leather interior which btw won't be completed until I get the time to do the seats, and other more conventional or unobvious extra touches like the extremely beefy front brakes and brake balance bar setup, cruise control, three speed high flow heater fan, sound system, and so forth. The car is far from finished however. A highly customized IRS is in the works and at some point I'd very much like to buy one of Ted's front suspensions. But for now all I really want to do is finish the Megasquirt-n-EDIS install and drive the wheels off it again for about the third time. But I'm still waiting on parts. Again. And just to get it running I'm resorting to cannibalizing the truck until the parts come in, and that's really all I can do.

But I'll say it again, it isn't the fault of the engine, and pound for pound, buck for buck the BOP is the equal of the Rover or Ford powerplant. It all depends on what you want.

Jim
Jim Blackwood

Jim: Your post mentions Helicoils for block repair, etc. I've used them many times but now like to use Time Sert and Big Sert thread repair solid bushings. They've got advantages over helicoils. Have a look at this link.

http://www.enginetech.com/pr_threadrepair.php

I've used them on my Rover 3.5 engine, a Buick bell housing for a T-5 and reclaimed a totally ruined 427 Chev block.

Phil
Phil O

They sound good Phil, how do they compare costwise?

Jim
Jim Blackwood

Jim, some people do not realize how long it takes to design a part that no one has in the parts book.
and when they see it, it looks so simple that is hard to understand why it took so long.
But that is the fun part for some of us.

Good job Jim.

Bill Guzman

mgb roadsterer Road:
I'm not sure of the pricing but I would expect that they are more than helicoils. I got what I needed from a high school shop teacher friend (used his installation tools) at no cost. The Enginetech website lists distributors and they are supplies to large engine rebuilding shops. I'm sure that you can get them through engine rebuilders. I acquire the odd specialty tool for his shop and I get to use it when needed. I also help out with heating costs and do some low-tech machine and fabricating work for him on occasion.
His "hobby shop" at home is 50 x 70 and includes a paint booth, full metal shop with shear, brake, power bead roler, english wheel and air hammer, TIG, MIG, stick and gas welders, THREE media blasting booths (don't have to change media), crank grinder, full Sunnen set up for engine work, 2 lathes, set up for powder and ceramic coating and on and on.........even a machine to make dry ice. This man is a genius, builds a lot of his own tools and sells one he developed, a connecting rod parting tool, through Goodson Tools - see link:
http://www.goodson.com/store/template/product_detail.php?
IID=5088&SID=23e3e78c65c65cd6b8491920abbfdd35
An interesting place to hang out on the weekends and evenings. A bit of everything goes on there; from new metal panels for a '48 Stinson aircraft (he made the press and dies to form the new panels), overhauling an older Gold Wing and turning it into a caf
Phil O

Is there anything to the rumors of why BOP stoped using that engine? It seems to me that there were some alloy problems and the cylinders tended to shift, both in the castings and after a bunch of heat cycles. That's why they were only in production about 3+ years. I think there were changes made to the block by Rover to help prevent such problems. Personally, for financial reasons I would chose the Rover. The BOP block can always be corrected, but why spend the extra money?

Jeff Schlemmer

I've not had to "correct" any blocks. The most core shift I ever saw was in a block that was unusable anyway and it would not have prevented a .030" overbore. Just about any engine with that severe a problem would be long gone and not available even as a core after this many years. Corrosion of the aluminum is a much more common problem, from lack of anti-freeze, but is easily spotted. About the only thing heat cycles would do if severe enough is cause warpage of the heads. What you are actually referring to is an old belief that these blocks could not be rebored and get good ring sealing because of the softer aluminum, but as long as the boring and honing operation is done with deck plates installed this is not a problem. The actual reason GM quit using this engine was purely economic. There was little demand in '63 for a fuel efficient car when gas was going for $.20 or less a gallon and all the emphasis was on more power. Remember that this was when the 289 Mustang made such a successful entrance and it ran rings around the Buick Special. There was no car that GM could put this engine into and get an equivalent power to weight ratio. So the Special went to a 300. The F-85 went to a larger engine also, up to 330 and then 350, and Pontiac did about the same. The 215 suddenly had no home and when an offer was made it was taken. I've not seen one single thing to convince me that the sand casting tecniques used by Rover was superior in any way to the die casting methods of GM or that scrap reduction was anything less than a result of careful workmanship rather than of the methods used.

But by all means if you are dead set on a Rover then get one. It leaves more Olds blocks for me.

Jim
Jim Blackwood


I agree with most of what Jim wrote, especially that simple ECONOMICS were the reason it was discontinued, but I strongly disagree that "all the emphasis was on more power." Americans who wanted power were buying bigger engines, and bigger engines were readily available.

The 215 was used in several models, but the highest volume model was the Buick Special. Although that model came in two-door and convertible versions, most Specials were plain-Jane four door sedans. The one I bought was white, had a two-barrel, and didn't have a single option. Not even an AM radio.

When the 215 was discontinued, it was replaced by a 90 degree iron V6 that looked remarkably like the 215 and even shared parts (e.g. front cover). The V6 obviously cost MUCH less to produce, and allowed Buick to compete with the Plymouth/Dodge slant six and the Ford inline six.

I'm no expert on Mustangs, but didn't Ford's inline-six out-sell their V8 for the first year or two?

Everything I've heard from old-timers was that the BOP 215 had an excellent reputation. The best P.R. it ever got was from Jack Brabham's use of it to whip Ferrari for two seasons - 1967 and 1968. For the performance crowd it was simply too small. That arguement rings just as true for a Rover 3500 - possibly even more-so because S.U.-carbed Rovers were really lame.

I've only seen a handful of Rover sedans here in the U.S... and until the late 90's Rangerovers weren't too common either.

Curtis

Sorry for bad-mouthing the 215, but several years ago, I knew where there was a whole pile of them in my area. I imagine they were all sent to scrap. After talking with a couple older mechanics around here as to the feasability of using them, they offered me the response I submitted earlier. They told me there were problems with the cylinder centerlines shifting in the casting process and that BOP had problems with the alloys they were using. Many of the engines when new lasted only a few thousand miles. I imagine those are long since gone and only the strong survived? I guess I'd still consider using one if it fell into my hands, but I'd definately question if it had been used in the last 30 years, or if it was an early blow-out.
Jeff Schlemmer

This thread was discussed between 03/06/2005 and 21/06/2005

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