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MG MGB GT V8 Factory Originals Technical - SBC swap info

I've searched the archives and www in hopes of getting some details of putting a SBC in a MGB. I've aware of some of the disadvantages, but I already have the Chevy stuff and would like to put it to good use. Does anyone have any insightful links or info regarding this swap? Thanks.

Glenn, a gentleman named Les Anderson was selling a manual called MGB Plus that was about doing exactly what you wnat to do. As I recall, he cut the firewall back to eliminate the heater shelf. This allowed the SBC to fit in and make enough space in front of the engine to install a Corvette radiator at an angle with electric fans to keep it cool. The engine setback also helped the weight bias to keep the MGB handling well.

I'm sorry I don't have any address info for Mr. Anderson.
John Perkins

Glenn, I'm planning to install a SBC in my '73 also. I was really hoping to enjoy the mgb for a while, but after re-aquiring it, the motor was locked up. I'm planning to pull the motor out tomorrow and start cleaning the engine bay. I would like to keep in touch with someone who is doing the same thing. If you'd like to e-mail me, maybe we can help each other our via e-mail. Jason Kerr.

Thanks John. I ran a search and found a MG V8 Newsletter website (green background) and saw where Les Anderson put a 350/TH700R4 in a 70 MGBGT, and someone else put a 327/Saginaw 3-speed in a 78 B. There may have been another one. Many Fords and Rovers.

Jason, I think I'm going to try to find a 60 degree V6 instead. From what little I can find there seems to be a whole lot of cutting necessary, but it's hard to tell since there aren't many documented examples. I'd hate to ruin the handling characteristics of the car. I don't know if the unpopularity of the SBC is due to the work involved or lack of references. My problem is that mine's a '66, which from what I understand is one of the worst for a conversion because the trans tunnel is too narrow. Not sure about the engine bay, but I've read that some of the later MG's have more room in the bay. I've just put mine on the road and don't want to disable it anytime soon. I'm just researching the possibilities now. If I do this I'll use a T-5 from a V8 F-body, regardless of the engine. What trans were you planning on using? Please keep me posted on your progress.

Glenn, that's quite a change in direction from a SBC to a 60-V6. Might I suggest that you give long and serious thought to what you want to have when you are done? Your choice of engine willl make all the difference in the world as to the character of the car. With the V6 you will be faster than the majority of production vehicles. Faster still with the Rover, and with the SBF few cars would be capable of keeping you in sight. SBC is pretty comparable to SBF, maybe a tad faster, maybe not. And not everyone should drive one of these road burners either, as it's possible to get into trouble very very quick. Next, in terms of difficulty, the Rover swap is probably the easiest, then the V6, then the SBF with the SBC bringing up the rear. Brian may object to that statement, but the rover swap is well established. The early body shell doesn't need a tremendous amount of extra work but does require careful positioning of the engine. Even so, everyone seems to do it a little different. I'll not make a recommendation, but mine's a '71 and if I was starting out fresh I'd go Ford. I would avoid the SBC for quite a number of reasons, all of them having to do with compromises to the existing car. Any one might be tolerable but when they are all added up the (possible) extra power just isn't worth the inconvenience, expense, loss of comfort, loss of handling, and complicated service issues created by this swap. Any of the other three would be much better choices, even if they cost more to do. And they don't.

Jim Blackwood

Well said Jim! I have been reading theses pages for a couple of years now and it appears each has its challenges. I am now 90 percent done with a 60 degree v6 conversion and it is had its challenges but the only reason I am not complete is me, not the car (too much deployment, damn terrorist keeping us military folks busy!). It appears that a SBC has the least support for things like mounts and headers that will fit and are the most difficult to overcome on your own. I love a 350 but until someone a lot smarter than me figures that install out and publishes it for us I will have to wait. Looks like the 73 I have might get a SBF after I am done with the 78 v6.
andy heston

I couldnt agree more !!!
I just put my SBF conversion on the road in July --its great fun.
I have seen 2 SBC conversions and both were akward and seemed to me would be ill handling. I have seen alot of V6 conversions and some very nice --but to my way of thinking if youre going to all the work and expense why go 1/2 hog . And nothing beats the healthy sound of a V8.
I know the Rover is easier, but the Ford is just well worth the exta effort!
Gil Price

Thanks guys.

I think that the 302 will be the practical way to go for the reasons stated. I just have this aversion to blue engines. j/k
Seriously, that would be a lot of trouble for a V6. I liked the SBC idea because I have everything enginewise, but it seems as if that's the most compromising route.

Gil, did you have to lower your steering rack? How about closing the hood - any problems/issues there?


What year is your B ?
If you have a Rubber bumper than the SBF fits straight in, the only mods required are the front cross member and fender well (for headers exit RV8 style).

If you are considering SBF swap, people to contact that have done the conversion would be:

Dale Spooner RB 77
Steve Carrick CB 74
Larry Embrey RB 78
Gil Price
Pete Mantell CB 69
Steve Taylor CB GT

Plus - Plenty of good articles in the

British V8 Newsletter

For $15 a year gives you valuble info on any swap.
I believe previous newsletters are still available also.

Contact for more details.

Good Luck


Pete Mantell


Like yourself I tend to have an aversion to "Blue", but the Ford 302 really works better for this app.

Les Robinson was mentioned above. He built a killer '70 MGB/GT using a 350 Chevy. It still haunts me. It is featured in the MG V8 Newsletter Issue IV Vol. 1 and can still be backordered.

Pete, my B is a '66. I'm pretty sure it was wrecked and also pretty sure someone used a lot of the front suspension from an earlier car - the 12 tpi front hubs and kingpins with two grease fittings tipped me off. There's a lot of evidence that the car wasn't babied, but the driveline seems to be ok. The engine, OD trans, and banjo rear all seem to work fine, but I've only recently started test driving it.

The ride height is close at all 4 corners. When replacing the bushings I noticed that the front left coil spring is black with an orange stripe, which I think indicates it's Moss replacement for a later car (not sure - can't find the reference link). The left leaf spring had "MGB" and something illegible written on it, as if it was on a shelf at a junk yard. I'm not complaining - just a few things I've noticed.

Carl, I found that Les used a TH350 instead of a manual and someone else used a Saginaw 3-speed. It also seems like even if you do manage to get a sbc in there something has to be done to the hood, which I'd rather avoid.

I may be misinformed, but I was under the impresion that the 5.0L Mustangs used the Tremec TR-3550 instead of the T-5. Looks like I have a lot of Ford homework to do.

Thanks for the help.

Glenn--My car is a 79 MGB --I did not move the steering rack--it all fit under the hood and that was a real prerequisite as I wanted no visible outward signs of what was in the car . The only giveaway is a 2-1/2 in exhaust pipe and the V8 rumble.
I have always been a GM man having had a 64 and 66 Pontiac GTO when new
but was involved in racing back in the 60s and crewed with a team running a Lotus 19 with a 289 Ford in it. Certainly nothing wrong with that engine and the 302 has a long legacy of performance and reliability so it wasnt a difficult decision.
My engine is based on an 86 5L with roller cam -Edelbrock Alum heads 303 cam and a 1406 Edelbrcock carb--I was running a Petronix ign --but it screwed up and am now running points.Prob will change the ignition setup this winter. The Trans is a T5 WC also 86 and am using Dan Lagrue's D & D S10 rear end with 3.08 ratio posi. I am very happy with the whole setup and being an old fart --its all I need !
Gil Price

Thanks Gil, I appreciate the input. For the past few days I've spent many hours researching the archives and www, considering swap options - weighing the pros and cons of three; the GM 60 degree V6, the SBC, and the 302 Ford. I'd like to do this with a minimum of pain and expense. At first I was considering the GM V6 because of it being the closest to a drop-in conversion.

My #1 preference, the SBC, is out because of the trouble involved and probable cause for related suspension and rear end changes, which I want to avoid.

The second choice would be the 302. I honestly feel that this would also be over my head because the fabrication involved and I know nothing about Fords. It looks like a lot of people spent months, even years, making this work. I'm sure that they're great running cars when they're finished, but I'd hate to start only to ruin the car and never drive it again. Also on the down side, those engines aren't cheap. The two most attractive things about this swap for me are the power and hood clearance.

The third option, the V6, has a lot going for it - there's a kit, it fits, no steering or suspension mods are required, it's lighter than the factory 1.8/OD trans, the banjo rear will probably be ok. Cons as I see them are it's a V6 and a lack of performance parts. I wish someone made an intake for a carb that would work with the Gen II heads, but no one does. GM V6's aren't known as performance motors, so they can be had much cheaper than a Mustang engine. I have a feeling there's also the hood clearance problem with the carburated V6.

It's a lot to think about, but I will be keeping an eye out for wrecked Mustangs.



You will almost certainly want to change that rear end. While the salisbury axle holds up surprisingly well, the banjo axle is not as strong. Though running an Olds in my car, my power output is comparible to what you could have with an out-of-the-box 5L (because of the blower) and it definitely puts the car into the "How silly fast do you want to be?" category. I would like to encourage you to take a good look at the stock ford EFI system as well. Both Larry Embrey and I have been having pretty good luck with that system and it has a great deal to recommend it, especially if you include the distributorless ignition. The whole system can be grafted from a single donor car, but Larry has done some impressive mix-n-match work to get it all under the hood. The driveability and control of that system combined with the low cost make it a real winner.

Jim Blackwood

i found this site a while back

it might help you decide, it has a email link to the owner who might be able to help


4th option would be Buick, Olds, Pontiac, Rover 215 V8, many kits available from vendors like D & D etc.

Tried and tested v8 power (Plus it is GM) so your Blue Oval option does not need to be used, even though I'm biased !!

If you come up to Grand Rapids in 2004 you'll see all of the options available.


Pete Mantell

JEESH guys, what did you do!! Got me all running at the fingers here and I suddenly wrote a novel!!! As always enjoy and feel free to ask any questions. My "little secret" is out now, so I am more than willing to share what I have found.

Thanks for the vote of confidence Jim!! I have not had a chance to update you, but I have gone less mix and match now and found better luck, read more below..

The 320 WILL fit under the nood without modifying the steering rack. In fact you can uset he steering rack as your way of locating the engine into the "right" position. Now I know right for each of us may be different, but it worked great for me. I basically centered the engine in the bay side to side and then moved it fore/aft and up down so I had maybe .25" between the balancer and the rack and the oil pan and the rack at the closest points. So the rack set the fore-aft and up-down location of the motor. It actually snuggles a bit between the damper and the oil pan when viewed from the side. I used a Edelbrock 2121 intake, Both Holley 650dp and Edelbrock 625cfm carbs (holley had choke milled off) combined with a 1" drop base air cleaner, 2.25" K&N base filter and Xtream top filter. This all fit under the hood with enough room I could dimple the hood down to make it touch, and never had a rubbing issue.

DISTRIBUTORS ARE AN ISSUE!! I used a mallory Unilite and loved it, reliable, no points to mess with etc. BUT with the location of the engine the ford distrib will come up RIGHT on the hood k member. I notched mine out to let he distrib fit. a 87-93 EFI distributor would NOT fit under the hood as I had the motor set, but the 94/95 units are shorter by .5" because those cars had the new body style with a slooping hoodline. Just keep that in mind for distributor choices.

AS TO EFI - I have actually decided to stay with a distributor system since I found a out of the box solution to it. 94/95 Mustang GT complete EFI system will bolt in under the hood given the positioning I mentioned above. This is a 5.0 EFI system so it literally is bolt in, wire up and turn the key. It is Mass air system, so adapts well to motor mods without need for expensive tuning. GT ONLY INTAKES, the Cobra Intakes will NOT fit, though you can use the cobra electronics if you wish as the 94/95 parts are all bolt in swappable. The NICEST thing is that the Fords have a HEAVY aftermarket support in the form of numerous tuners that let you change ANYTHING in the ECU and even do live datalogging to help solve problems should you go radical on the motor. These are not the plug into OBC port and tune one or two things like many GM/Dodge units (there are that form too), but these plug into the ECU itself and alow full programming. Jim and I are using twEECer. The hard part is routing a air intake system with the MAF, and filter into the small engine bay.

I HOPE this year when I redo my cross member I will take more time, photographing everything and if I get the tie I will write up a real detailed article for the newsletter. My site has lots of info, but it is sort of scattered thru the journal pages and I hope to write a more compacted article with things to whatchf or etc..

REAR ENDS - You WILL want to replace the stock unit if you do any spirited running or plan to take it to the track at any time. Mine held up to about 14 runs on the track before I broke the spider gears. (I did have them set tight which may have been the issue) The gearing alone is a good reason to change it. From the research I have done given our smaller tires size, the appropriate rear end ration is almost exactly one gearset below a normal mustang when viewed from a RPM/MPH standpoint. Most mustang guys I know like to run in the 3.55-3.73 range for the T5 trans. But they are also are running 3000lbs+ cars, so need the extra torque transfer of the high gears, which menas we may be able to get away with 2 gearsets lower so 3.08/3.27 for a T5 car. This has been backed up by a number of other V8 B owners. HOWEVER you must also consider your motors power curves, as even 5.0's will vary EXTREMELY widely in how they deliver power..

Larry Embrey

Hey Josh that car is mine,The sbc swap is not for the faint of heart its not easy to do bye any means if you do not have fabrication skills,I dont recommend it for all,But it is a fun car!! theres not much around here that can beat this car,And it does corner!! Really I do think the sbf is the easy way to go if your a ford guy.The ford fits under the hood,On my chevy setup that is the lowest that the motor will go,But I wanted the scoop I was not going to try to hide a sbc in that car..I can help with the sbc swap in any way possable... Good luck in any swap you guys decide to do.....


First off I'd like to thank everyone for the hospitality and willingness to help. I've been coming to this board for two or three weeks and find it to be an excellent resource for information and ideas. I admire all of you for the effort you've put into and the results you've gotten from your cars.

Yesterday I spent a lot of time thinking of how the Chevy 4.3 Vortec would work in a MG. There are some performance parts available and it weighs in right at the same as the aluminum headed Ford 5.0. I have one in my pick-up an they're longlived and durable. The width issues would still be there, but the lack of the front two cylinders should help ease the installation. Maybe someone has already done it - I don't know.

I've decided on the 60* V6 with a F-body T-5 for my swap. I know if I tried anything more involved I'd never drive it again. I think it'd work fine with the 3.909 rear, and have read that it's a bit lighter than what's in there now. I don't think the hood will clear on a carbed version, but I can live with that. I ran some figures through a RPM calculator and got this for the V8 T-5's gears with the stock rear and 185/70R14's:

MPH 2.95 1.94 1.34 1.0 .63
10 1602 1053 727 543 342
20 3204 2107 1455 1086 684
30 4807 3161 2183 1629 1026
40 6409 4214 2911 2172 1368
50 8011 5268 3639 2715 1710
60 9614 6322 4367 3258 2053
70 11216 7376 5094 3802 2395

I stopped there to get an idea of where the RPM would fall to help choose a cam. Now I need to figure some CR scenarios with what's available, since that'll also play into the cam selection. I went to the junk yard today and picked up two V6 HEI's from a couple of old S-10's.

Thanks again for all the help.



If you haven't already, check out for additional info on 60 degree v6 issues in an MGB.

Scott Costanzo

Hey Larry! If you are still out there... I seem to have a hard time getting to your web site, hence I have been distilling your wisdom as it arrives on these pages.

As far as I can tell, what I need to find is a 94/95 mustang gt for the engine and tranny. I then go to the scrapyard and get the front end off the engine of a 94/95 explorer for the extra clearance in the front.

The oil pan issue is still a bit cloudy: I gather that all pans will have the sump in front and the crossmember will be cut. No big deal. How far below the frame does the pan sit? Is there a "Best" pan to use?

Headers cooling and wiring seem obvious and budget mandated. Thanks for clearing a path on this swap.


My site should be working fine?

You have the motor right basically.

I have a feeling it may be easier to get a explorer motor though as you need all the brackets, timing cover and water pump etc from it. Most places I have found will not let you strip down a motor of those items.

The 94/95 mustang items you can piece together on your own much easier. I see intake often on ebay. The harness and distrib might be tougher to find. There is a wrecking yard in GA, but they seem to think thier parts are gold if you know what I mean and I would not recommend them. You CAN use the 94/95 Cobra electronics if you find those around. You pretty much HAVE to use the 94/95 due to the shorter distributor.

I have not measured how far below the frame the pan sits. You will need what is called a rear sump pan. THe Ford have a pump up front so there is no getting away from notching. I believe all late model mustangs us this pan as do the explorers!! I seem to recall I notched about 2" from my k member.
Larry Embrey

Thanks Larry. The reason I though Mustang drivetrain was that it would be easier to find a Motor-clutch- Bellhousing setup. I am new to fords, and I know with Chechs that you do not casually mix and match flywheels and engines; some are interanlly balanced and some are externally balanced. I will try the link again.


I think the SBF would be the way to go. I think the SBC may not be the way to go.
Ford Fan

Pete, if your going SBF as long as you stay 1986 or later you are fine, sometime 81-86 they went from 28oz balance (like the 351) to 50oz, which is the way it was until end of production. The explorers are all 50oz as are all the 86+mustangs, tbirds, etc.. if you get a 5.0 EFI motor it will be 50oz.

You are right about motor, trans connections. All SBF have same bellhousing pattern so any 5.0 you get can bolt up a T5 mustang trans, or AOD, C4, C6 depending on your needs.
Larry Embrey


FYI - 94 & 95 5.0 Mustangs have a slightly longer input shaft and therefore a longer/deeper bellhousing.
You cannot use 87-93 T5 on a 94-95 bellhousing etc.

Good Luck !

Pete Mantell
Pete Mantell

Thanks Scott. I had the link, and spent some time there today only to find that some 60* V6 water pumps turn CW while others turn CCW. Looks like there'll be some homework involved figuring out the shortest pump/pulley setup.

Painless wiring can provide all of your needs for wiring a Ford, also Ford Motor Sports have all the harness and computer to the swap correctly.
Bill Guzman

Pete - Interesting point, my Mustang guys have not mentioned that before, but I would believe it with the other things they changed onthe cars for the new body.

Bill - good point, that is the simple way to do it no doublt.

The painless kit #prf-60510 and is around $450 for the wiring harness only.

Ford Racing also makes a kits All available from Ford racing.
Summit numbers:
FMS-M12071E302 - Engine Harness for 5.0/5.8L
FMS-M12071c302 - Main harness
FMS-M12071f302 - MA ECU/MAF for Manual Trans
FMS-M12071g302 - MA ECU/MAF for Auto trans

All total you would be looking $750+ if you bought the sensor kit as well. You can do MUCH better from a wrecking yard, but will have to research the wiring and splic that all yourself. The kit comes with a wiring diagram and 26 page booklet. All depends on how you want to do it.
Larry Embrey

This thread was discussed between 28/08/2003 and 02/09/2003

MG MGB GT V8 Factory Originals Technical index

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