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MG MGB GT V8 Factory Originals Technical - BV8 vs. E-Type?

I have a budget of about $20-25K and I was wondering whether to build/have built a really nice B (or BGT) V8 conversion, or whether to just get a nice early Jag E-Type. I like both types of cars very much, although I realize they are quite different. To my eye in both cases the coupes are more attractive; interested to hear what you guys think.

Would be really interested in hearing any opinions if by chance any of you happens to own one of each.
Bob Thomassen

Wow bob,
That is a tough one. What would you like to do with the vehicle. will it be a rarely driven car? Dailt driver?

With 20K you could have an extremely nice Bv8 that would make a nice daily driver. probably have decent $$ left over to take the significant other out to really nice dinners too...

With an E type (I a guessing that is XKE) I would not want to drive it daily, they are just a bit to rare to risk in everyday CA traffic.
Larry Embrey

The E-type is more of a thoroughbred than the MGB and will cost you more to keep running. There is a lot of complex engineering to break under that pretty skin. If your pocket is deep enough, the Jag would be a joy. For simplicity, go for the B - it's nice, but it's no Jag.

Mike Howlett

For me this is an easy question. I am 1.90 mtrs and I once sat in a Jag E type: the E type is very small in comparison to my B V8. So I just do not fit into an E type. Even roof down the Jag feels more cramped. This is just not the car for me.
Handling and driving of both cars are excellent. But running costs of the Jag are way higher. Also, parts availability of the B is far better than for the Jag. I don't know what you want, but the power from a well tuned V8 exceeds the possibilities of the Jag by far. And a V8 gives this burble...
I chose for the B some years ago now and have never regretted it. The more you drive it, the better it gets. For me it is the ultimate classic.

Frank de Groot

... of course you could go for a V8-converted E-Type, as I'm trying to do, and get the best of both worlds! I'm in the process of shoehorning a SBC w/TPI into a '67 XKE FHC. I'm a bit over 6-2 so the driver's seat may need to be bolted directly to the floor -- other than that there's plenty of room. 'Bout the same as a BGT.

(Update: the motor's at the shop being rebuilt now ... I'm using a TPI setup from an '85 'Vette but the block itself is from the 70s -- stouter webbing -- they lightened up the casting a bit for the '80s cars but all the rodders said to get an old one and you'll never regret it. The same Vettes' suspension is also being modded ... promise to keep the track and ride height bone stock ... so far so good ...)

One consideration is that, as you might expect when comparing a DOHC I6 to a pushrod V8, the E-Type's upper rpm registers are a force to be reckoned with. The BV8 will have fantastic around-town grunt, but an XKE would probably leave it for dead on a race track. As you may know, the E's suspension is considerably more sophisticated -- IRS, posi, all that good stuff -- right out of the box. Of course you can do all sorts of things to the B, but to my knowledge no one has conceived a suspension of equal merit.

Folks don't always realize that a properly sorted 3.8 or 4.2 E-Type is a very, very, VERY fast car! (Not that you're bound to encounter these kind of speeds too often, but above 100mph I think most people would *way* rather be driving the XKE because a B can get reeeeally skittish at those velocities!)
Bill Withum

My brother has an early E type roadster which he has fully restored and while I love the car, there is no comparison to my MGB V8.

E types are an ergonomic disaster if you are as tall as Frank and I.

The gearbox on the 3 synchro cars (Moss gearbox) is diabolical.

The true factory build quality is inferior to my 1963 MGB (now V8).

The MGB corners much better than the Jaguar which is not truly a sports car, (Konis all round) but a GT (Grand Touring). The boot doubles as a glove box.

I always wanted an E type and still love the shape, but the MGB V8 has so much more going for it, except


Before you decide you must drive both cars.

Fortunately my brother won't read this !!

Ian G Buckley

Mmm. Over 100 mph is no problem at all. I suggest you sort out your suspension and/or fit the Works-front spoiler. On holiday in France, Germany or Spain we regularly drive over 100 mph. No problem at all, except windnoise. I think you can never drive these speeds legally in the US, except on race track?
It is true you can do all things to the B. I know some people are going to use IRS on their cars. You might enquire about their experiences. E type has irs original.
Fast? Okay, the E type is a 4V per cyl car, so it has lots of bhp at the upper end of the rev range, due to the larger valve area over a 2V a cyl setup. If you feel this is the engine characteristic that you want, there are big valve heads (43 mm and larger inlet) for the V8 or other heads. You can make this engine fit your needs.
But E type and GT V8 are original. B V8 conversion is not original, and going beyond 3.5 on a GT V8 or irs is also not original.

Frank de Groot

My Factory V8 isn't the slightest bit skittish at over 100mph. I regulary have it at 100mph on the Motorways here (45,000mls in 2yrs) and it's a dream, they really sit down beautifully. Mine is more stable at 90mph+ than at 70! I can't explain it, but they handle very differently to a normal 4 cyl car.

I have a BGT, CGT and BGT V8 so have had a chance to compare the variants. I feel no need to go to a ST front spoiler either on the V8 (74 CB). Been at over 120mph+ in mine blowing away pissy Miata's/Alfa's/BMW's etc and it really is a joy. <VBG>

Yes they do move side-side a bit in crosswinds (soft hands) and they are bloody noisy wind wise but very quiet engine wise - explains why the wind noise is so intrusive compared to the 4's where you can't hear anything due to the engine AND the wind noise. lol :)

The Factory V8 excels at this sort of fast touring, it's twisty bits where a stock B or a midget will show up a Factory (unmodified) V8, but don't get me wrong they handle very well, just a little slower and more body roll to contend with.

If I was you, I would buy an E-Type, unless you can find one of the actual REAL Factory V8's. Just me tho. :)
Neil Cotty

A "nice early E-type" for $20-$25K? A 4 valve per clyinder E-type??? Rare birds indeed.....


There's a huge difference in cornering and overall road feel as between the early E-Types and the later ones. While you're right that the late ones are GT cars in that they have a 9" longer wheelbase and are much heavier, the early ones are basically slightly detuned race cars, and they are all go, go, go! While it would probably beat an E in a straight line from 0-100, I would certainly not want to put my BGTV8 up against a '62-67 E-type FHC in the twisties ... they are positively road rockets!

I mean, an inexpensive car which, right out of the box, went 150mph and did the quarter in 14.9, was something way beyond the imagination of most folks in '62! It was pretty over the top for a showroom car to come with limited slip, inboard brakes to reduce unsprung weight, IRS & trailing-arm IFS, 4-valve heads with DOHCs, 6K redline, electric rad fan ... yadda yadda.

Most folks with the valuable Series I cars in good shape don't push them too hard, but I have long wondered how one would hold up against a modern sports car like a BMW M Coupe. I would suspect it wouldn't do all that badly if you put some reasonable tires on it (the original slender bias-plys made, I understand, for an interesting driving experience!)

If I seem to hint that I want an E-Type, boy do I ever. Some day!

Hmmm, my MG gets awfully floaty at really high speeds. Maybe, as someone suggested, one of those S/T air dams would help. Though I'm not thrilled with the appearance. I may or may not put one on ... high speed driving is fun once in a while, but my GT has so much wind noise that anything over 80 is positively unbearable for extended periods. Is it those chrome gutters on the side of the car? ... why such an extreme amount of wind noise?
Bill Withum

My V8B was very floaty at speeds over 90-100 so I installed a front air dam. It made an incredible difference in the front end.On a side note,I'm with Serge on the 4 valves per cylinder thing,late Jags went to that but never in an E Type.

Odd thread. Apples to oranges I suspect. Still, I think with $20K one could build the V8-B they wanted. Mine doesn't float the least bit at speed, but then it has the LE spoiler (modified) and sits 2" closer to the ground than stock, 1" from springs and 1" from tires. I've yet to fully test the rear wing. I'm pretty sure it'll beat that 1/4 mile time, and I built it to hit 150 at redline so it would get there quick. It's roadholding abilities compare very favorably with modern cars, so much so that it would be fair to say that probably less than 1% of the drivers who thought they were good could use its full potential. I'm not even sure I can anymore. When you reach that point it's time to stop.
Jim Blackwood

With all due respect, I've noticed a distinct tendency of BV8 drivers (of which I'm one) to exaggerate the capabilities of our cars. While I your car is a wonderful achievement, when you write ...

> It's roadholding abilities compare very favorably
> with modern cars, so much so that it would be fair
> to say that probably less than 1% of the drivers who > thought they were good could use its full potential. > I'm not even sure I can anymore.

... I chalk it up to so much BS. Many modern cars -- let alone sports cars -- will hold the road so much better than a B with a leaf-sprung live axle, it's not even funny.

A BV8 is certainly not the most rigid chassis out there, either. Your car may handle better than most of ours, but unless you have access to fairy dust or something, any Boxster, Vette, or just about any Austro/German sedan is going to simply rip ya a new one in the twisties. I mean let's be real.

I say this not at all snidely; I thoroughly respect your work.

And, back to our main thread, I have to believe that an MGBV8 wouldn't even see an early E-type once you got into some serious bends in the road.

If you go for the E-type make sure it fits your garage.
There's only just room for a small workbench in mine when the B is at home.

As regards floaty(ness). Motor Sport took their test car to Monte Carlo from London in 1973 and said that they were getting funny looks from Porsche and Merc drivers as they passed them cruising at 130mph!!!

Rather them than me that's for sure!

Tough choices.

For just tooling around on a pretty day (top down, of course) an E-type Jag is hard to top. A very beautiful automobile. For a sleeper sports car on steroids, give me Barney! :)

As to which will out handle the other, it's back to the question of who's really willing to push their car to anywhere near its limit. And modern-day cars are, in general, pretty good handlers. Heck, after 3 years, it still amazes me how I can attack the curves in my 2000 Chevy Z71 4X4 truck!

My stock height rubber-bumbered MGB felt very light in the front at speeds approaching 100 mph. I lowered it with the Moss 1" lower springs (dropped it more like 1.5") and the 1.25 lowering blocks in the back. It now has a slight forward rake. Also added the repro LE front spoiler without any additional reinforcement. The car is now very stable at 113 mph (the fastest its been so far).

While we are on the subject of E-types, does anyone know what the convertable tops are like to deal with on these cars? Are they fairly easy or, a pain the you-know-what, like the MGB?

BS? I doubt that. Terrence, the point I was making is that for road use very few drivers can push these cars to their limits. By these I refer to modern cars built to be driven fast as well as older cars upgraded to be driven fast. I'm not saying the new cars aren't fast and I don't think I implied that either. In fact I'm really amazed at how fast these new cars are. And if you think a CB MGB lowered 2" with uprated suspension and 10" wide tires is slow I'd like to give you a ride. However once you reach the point that the limiting factor is no longer the car's ability to hold the road, but the driver's ability to react to road conditions, any more development of the car is for a zero gain. Racetrack usage raises the bar somewhat but the same rules apply. There comes a time on the track or on the road when you are simply going to hit any hazard that exists beyond your sight line, or go off. On the street this is completely irresponsible and cannot be condoned by anyone under any conditions. On the track I would argue that this is also true, but of course it is a judgement call. Mine is a street car, so my contention that it is as fast as it can get is valid, other than straight line accelleration or perhaps very large radius curves with unlimited sight lines. YMMV

Jim Blackwood

Ted,I also looked into converting my 2plus2 E Type to a Chevy (divorce took care of that project,not that I'm bitter).Of course I heard all the popular wisdom that said a Chevy won't fit,use a Ford.I knew of a guy named Al Garz,from NY,maybe you've heard of him.He did many of them years ago,he recently passed away.However a friend of mine is going to inherit what is supposed to be his jig for modifying the frame rails to fit the Chevy.I assume it bolts on the frame at different points to maintain the original structure while you do the mods.Let me know if you are interested.

About floatiness. I have the ST front spoiler on my chrome bumper 3.5 V8 GT. When I tried some things it had just received new rear spears, so the rear was still slightly higher than the front. 7/8" anti roll bar (don't know if it works). On a B road I got around 122 mph without feeling floaty. On open motorway I haven't pushed it further than 135 mph for a short stretch; the windnoise is deafening as is the engine noise, but it still works. Got to concentrate a quite a bit more than in a euro-box, but what the heck.
I have to admit that modern Golf TDI is very very fast, way more comfortable and so are other euro-boxes. A Speedster or any quick BMW will blow my B away, I think. Still, I like it very much and I know it is fair competition for the more moderate euro-boxes.
I worked close to the Dutch importer of Porsche, so Porsches were very common. At the lights people rather looked at the B than at a brandnew 911 gt3. It made me smile. That's what the B is all about to me, it makes me smile.

Frank de Groot

I used to have a '64 3.8 E-TypeFHC but found the V8 GT a more useable daily driver and didn't feel as cramped.Mind you the E-type has the looks!

Bob wants advice on what to buy not squabbles about handling and performance!

I see it this way. Both of these will put a smile on your face and rubber on the road. Both can be tweaked to perform well beyond the capabilities of us normal drivers.
The Jag is a motoring icon to be cared for and given a good blast once in a while when you're in the mood.
The B is going to make good noises and go a lot better than the guy in the sportscar next to you at the lights is expecting and won't cost too much to repair if you dent it.


PS my '63 3.8xke does not have 4 valves per cylinder, and is simpler to work on than a BV8.
My BV8 is still half built but it's certainly going to put a smile on my face when its done.

Have fun burn rubber!!!

This thread was discussed between 04/12/2002 and 23/12/2002

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