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MG MGB GT V8 Factory Originals Technical - Okay, weird question! Motorcycle engine?

okay, i'm a motorcycle guy too. and i've noticed that lots of motorcycle engines with turbo kits are putting out around 280 hp at the crank. while that may be a bit excessive for a motorcycle (imho), it would be just right for an mgb.

the benefit of course is extremely light weight, very high redline (maybe too high?) and it would sound like a motorcycle. is this even feasible? a 300 hp turbocharged suzuki hayabusa engine would certainly be an... interesting, swap.

Yes, interesting indeed. But weight distribution would be a problem (rear end too heavy). I also doubt if torque would be satisfactory. It has been done by a couple of kitcar manufacturers in the UK, however. You might give them a try. The producers of the Sylva Striker for example.

Frank de Groot


A few places in UK use twin bike engines mostly in the light kitcars (O-60 in 3secs) so perhaps the midget may be a more suitable vehicle.



A number of kitcar makers in England use motorbike engines as you mention in a Lotus 7 clone and variations ofter with a very low weight as well.

Interesting point is they are not legal here in Australia since they will not pass emission laws.
I do not know if this will be a consideration for the US though.

Cheers, Pete.
Peter Thomas

Only a very, very few motorcycle transmissions have a "reverse" gear. How would you back-up?

I've always wanted to build a hot-rod with a Honda Goldwing engine - some of which do
have reverse, I think. For a built-from-scratch hot-rod I think it could be spendid. I'd go for
super low ride-height and weight, and probably wouldn't even worry about making it
street legal... But an MGB chassis is inherently old fashioned, and I think an old fashioned
powertrain is called for.

Or... just maybe... use the 32-valve all-aluminum V8 from a wrecked Infiniti. Now, that would
make a nice distinctive MGB hot-rod! Relatively painless to build, good gas mileage and low
pollution emission...

I don't think an engine as wide as most quad cam V8's could be "painless to build". That paricular Nissan engine and the Oldmobile Aurora engine were the base engines for IRL at one time, so if you could get them in the results might be spectacular. The Yamaha/Ford 60 degree V8 from the Taurus SHO would fit better, IMNSHO.
George B.

both good engine suggestions. i was also thinking of doing a v6 with a turbo (like a toyota v6 with a turbo) or a lexus ls400 v8. has anyone had any experience with those?

The motorcycle engine idea isn't bad, but think what you'd have if you put a Ferrari engine in a bus. Good as that engine is and as much power as it makes, it would be a poor match. Same general situation. It's easier to adapt a bigger engine to get more horsepower, because it already has the torque and durability. Want to do something special? For abour 5 grand or so you can buy an aluminum SBC crate engine that'll drop into the MGB pretty easily. Not much heavier than the 215 in a smaller package and way more power. And upgrade the brakes.
Jim Blackwood

On the same note $3000-3500 gets you a SBF 302 Alum block, then drop the parts from your donor 5.0L into it and you got a engine combo that is VERY close if not the same as the 215. The 302 is also becoming a popular swap here in the US.
Larry Embrey

Jeff, long ago I also thought of the ls400 V8... then I measured one. It would take up ALL of the engine bay.

You need to realize that the size of the components in a motorcycle engine are very small in comparison to the 4 cylinder MGB engine. (Clutch, crank,input and output shafts, gears, etc.) There is a 1500 lb. difference between the 2 applications. The first time you used the clutch it would go up in smoke. The torque on a motorcycle engine is very low in comparison also.Torque is the working force that supports HP. Dann
Dann Wade


In the UK gearboxes with reverse are made for Bike powered cars.

The twin engined Kawasaki produces 360bhp and 198lb torque and with a weight of 660kg gives 0-100 in 6.3secs.


Jim, when you install the Ferriri 12 on the bus, can I then have the bus engine. It may power my Gold Wing motor bike

Jim, where can you buy an alu SBC crate motor? I want; please tell!!!

Try Sallee Chevrolet:

Paul wrote:

"The twin engined Kawasaki produces 360bhp and 198lb torque..."

Dann wrote:

"Torque is the working force that supports HP."

and I now write:

"A Ford 302, with a B303 cam, produces 375 HP and never drops below 300lbft torque from 2000 to 5500 rpm."

There's a lot of good information in those three statements, worth thinkng about when trying to select an engine for an MGB.
Dan Masters

thanks for all the replies guys. good information in here. sorry if i sound a bit elementary as i am only in the planning stages of this car and probably won't actually start work on it for some time (because i don't live in the same city as my house anymore). so at the moment, i'm just thinking about all the different new engines that can go in there rather than the standard bop/rover v8.

i didn't realize that the sbc and sbf would fit in so easily. i was also thinking about the buick grand national v-6. i've always been fond of turbo'ed cars. so i was thinking how much fun this car would be with a turbo but i still want to keep a good amount of low-end torque. everytime i see a new car, i think to myself: "that would be great! wait for some of them to show up in junkyards and i'm ready to go." the latest object of lust is the g35/350z from infiniti/nissan.

thanks for all the great information. i'm sure this place will be invaluable once the conversion is underway.
jeff nee

Some of the turboed 3.8's put out over 1000 H.P. when set up for drag racing, but the engine retains way too much heat under the bonnet for street use and takes up much more space than a naturally aspirated SB or even a BB; weighs less, of course. Don Zeigler has a nice installation of an injected 3800 Series II that seems to get most of its power to the street.
George B.

do you mean in even moderate trim the turbo 3.8 is still too hot? or were you referring to the 1000 hp version. i think i'd ideally like it to be around 300 hp.

All turboed engines in small confines retain too much heat, but the size is a bigger issue(pun intended).
George B.

James: It may be a bit heavy for the Gold Wing.
Ted: Try the parts counter at your local Chevy dealer, and some will offer better prices than others. (Nice links Carl.) The SBF is also a darned good option.
Heat is a big big issue. Hang around these parts long enough Jeff and you'll get an idea of just how critical it is in a B to keep the under hood temp down. For that reason alone I'd avoid a turbo. (Had one, Olds Jetfire. *BIG* hood scoop.) Even a louvered hood might not be enough to get the heat out.
Jim Blackwood


Here's another link for GM performance engines & parts:

wow. an ls6 engine will fit in an mgb? is that even driveable? the tires seem like they would liquify at almost every opportunity. the ls1 seems like an interesting choice though.

Don't overlook Evilbay. It isn't uncommon to see LS1/T65 packages with all sensors and wiring going for under $4000, and even lower with a little patience. For the money, I can't see any better deals out there. I wish I could go this route, but, since I am a poor student, I am putting one of those heat soaked turbo 4 cylinders in my MG instead.
G.P. Copes

This thread was discussed between 06/07/2002 and 16/07/2002

MG MGB GT V8 Factory Originals Technical index

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