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MG MGB GT V8 Factory Originals Technical - But what's it like?

As the pestering bloke asks at the end of the Monty Python Nudge, nudge sketch asks, "What's it like?"

An obvious question which has in recent weeks been much on my mind. I was pottering along in my pretty standard elderly MGB, slipping through the traffic and thinking how pleasant an MGB is to drive. The power is nothing startling, of course, but could be described as adequate to keep up with the rest of the Berlin traffic. How does a V8 drive?

I have had a look in the archives, but this important point does seem to be missing. Could any of you MGBGT V8 drivers or B V8 converters tell me what it's like? (Has anyone done a conversion and regretted it? Probably not!)

Looking forward to hearing your opinions,

Mike Standring


I too had the same question in mind when started my conversion on a 67 tourer that I had aquired as basket case-up rebuild. A friend was working on a similiar conversion and I got the bug. I recently had the opportunity to travel to the NAMGBR V8 Register meet, and to my great pleasure I was able to drive several of the cars at the meet. In a word "torque" is the best way to describe the difference between the 4-banger and the V8. Even the most simple of the conversions was a pleasure to drive, and some were just amazing in their performance. The BOP/Rover V8 transforms the nimble little cars into machines that are a pleasure to drive. Gone are the fears of not being able to pass in a tight spot or merging into the fast lane. Also gone is the humilation of being passed on the hills by an 80's vintage Honda Civic.
The conversion is not an easy process, but the smiles on the faces of the convertor's at the meet told me all I needed to know. V8 power-full speed ahead!
Chris Jones

I've got both - the factory V8 as my daily driver and the roadster for high days and holidays. The V8 power is great, well able to keep up with modern traffic, and surprising the odd sad git who refuses to be overtaken by 'one of them old cars' (I don't overtake them, just keep up and see just how fast they are willing to go). I've had to spend a lot more time and effort on the V8, but then I was driving 140 miles per day for six months. Both cars have been very reliable (so far!)

However if I reeealy had to choose to keep just one it would have to be the roadster. Everything on the V8 is just that little bit heavier for one reason or another whereas the roadster almost seems to drive itself, and nothing can compare with the sheer driving pleasure of a car full of character with the top down.

Paul Hunt

I like Paul have a "factory" 3.9 GT and a V8 Roadster which I built myself - both in the UK.
I drove the roadster all through the Summer as we were working on the GT and it is an absolute delight.
My Roadster has somewhere over 200 hp at the wheels according to Sigma Engineering and I have had her up around an indicated 135 - 137 at which point I had to shut down as my wife was screaming! How fast that really was I dont know!! What I do know is you can go past people as if they are standing still.
The engine is fully balanced and the car will do 100 in third - according to rev counter and speedo!
Once you have driven one, you will never want to drive anything else!
robert pulleyblank

I have never driven a B so cannot compare - before my factory V8 I had use midgets on and off for 20 years. Afew years ago I was in France for a few days after Le Mans with a group and we swapped cars around - I drove a V8 for 2 hours and since that moment just had to have one. Took a couple of years before one came my way but worth the wait. To open it up on deserted French country roads is joy pure and simple and I suspect the standard B doesn't get near it.
David Smith

Speaking of "to open it up on deserted French country roads" reminds me of an original road test I read somewhere. Apparently the tester got so carried away on the long straights like in the Cherbourg peninsular he suddenly realised he had the tach in the red whilst in OD top. They do rev so easily and quietly that it is very easy to go into the red when dropping down a cog to pass on a single-carriageway (two-lane black-top?).

Paul Hunt


4 years ago i bought an MGB with the intention to convert it to V8. The car i bought was not too bad an the way i went was to do a driving restoration/conversion which means doing big work in the winter and drive it in the summer. I first drove it with the 4 cilinder and overhauled the front and rear suspension and converted brakes, shocks and springs and rear axle. Then overhauled the 3500 V8 engine and gearbox and the 2nd winter i fitted it to the car. I can tell you that the first km with the V8 was my most pleasant motoring experience. With the engines torque and smoothness is a delight to drive and it has this very nice V8 sound. The MGB V8 must be one of the most underrated classis cars. Also from a maintenance side.
The parts are relatively cheap and easy to get. A few month ago, i was able to pick-up a spare engine and gearbox for 500 Dutch Guilder.
When comparing a 4 cylinder restauration against a V8 conversion/restauration from a cost point of view, it depends on what your starting point is. If you start with a car i had, then the cost increase for the conversion isn't that big (i was able to sell my engine with radiator for 650 Dutch guilder).
all in all it is highly recomandable and good luck with your considerations.
Peter van de Velde

I have had a (works) GT V8 since new. It has gradually been improved from 137 bhp to 230 bhp - still on SUs.

I like them so much I am looking to buy a roadster V8 - see my ealier posting for what I think is the ideal V8.

You really can't go wrong, and will have a smile on your face everytime you drive it.

The best Rover V8 - a mildly worked over 4.6 litre from Jon Eales. He sells new engines, 80mm gearboxes etc.. at a very fair price Tel +44 1455 202 909.


Nigel Steward

Bring up the link below to see a reprint of an article I wrote for British Car Magazine - I talk about the driving experience in my factory V-8, and that was back before the restoration had begun. I can hardly wait until I see what the restored car will be like to drive!

Paul Kile
Paul Kile


We are all incorrigible enthusiasts here - the V8 drives very well for a 1960s design - rock solid at 100 on a hot summer autobahn - when only the reps or the occasional 'driver' will go by. The engine will keep you up with the best of them if you want but, in the wet, you have the same handling constraints as your present car - take heed or be prepared to fly !

Sorry not to make Berlin this Summer - there was only time for Thuringerwald and parts of Sachsen - the autobahns were busy but fast, main A roads a delight to drive, cobbled streets and roadworks in the East a real pain.

Quit now before you get in deeper !



Nigel, I disagree on the "best engine"being the 4.6 as do many other V8 owners and specialists. In my opinion the 4.0 litre - later 3.9, is the best, as it is a much more free revving engine. I do have David Eales heads on my GT though!
robert pulleyblank

Hi Mike,

I had a 4 pot as my 1st MGB and am now on my 2nd V8. (you can see where my wallet has voted!) Driving my 68 BGT with handling kit was great I loved the car but really thought it needed a bit more zip. When I bought the the V8 I got a car with more torque. The character of the two cars are very different, the gearing ratios, R/B spec suspension and torque curve see to that. With the B I found I had most fun throwing it at a corner and trying to gently drift it through on full power. The trick was to get the entry speed just right. The V8 has the power to step the back out in higher gears/speeds than a 4cyl so you have to be much more circumspect with power in the corners and precise entry speeds dont matter so much. You find yourself arriving at corners faster than is possible in a B so you use the brakes more and have to relearn some corners for higher entry speeds. The V8 is very quiet compared to a 4cyl which gives a lower perception of speed for the same actual mph, which means that at a speed where you think you're being a hero in a 4pot you think you're being sissy in a V8. I don't know why but the V8 noise just makes me grin, it seems to be to translate as "C'mon lets have some fun" it's a genuinely odd phenomena, I mean it's just a noise isn't it? The V8 is much more relaxed driving, both you and the car don't have to work so hard (if you're staying at legal speeds)

Paul, at 28mph/1000rpm wouldnt redline in overdrive be 150mph? I've always thought the advertised top speed of 125mph was wrong. Does anybody know a "real" top speed for a factory V8?


This thread was discussed between 18/10/2000 and 20/10/2000

MG MGB GT V8 Factory Originals Technical index

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