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MG MGB GT V8 Factory Originals Technical - V8 in an MGC

Has anyone put a Rover (or Buick etc) V8 into an MGC.? Did you use the RV8 exhaust headers that go through the inner wing? Did the exhaust and the torsion bar suspension get in the way and how did you solve it?
Tony Bates

If I had a C to convert, I'd definitely go directly to a small block Chevy. Even in much-abused condition it'll still out-torque a Rover! Plus parts are just going to be dirt cheap and available absolutely everywhere. The car is designed to carry an engine of that weight -- actually, the C motor is even a bit heavier than a sbc. If you put in a BOP/R V8, I think the ride and handling will be irretrievably off.

"If you put in a BOP/R V8, I think the ride and handling will be irretrievably off."

Ted, why do you say that?

Peter Thomas

Due to the decrease in front end weight, the car will run nose-up. This can be canged by adjusting torsion bar pre-load, but may require you slip a spline in the adjusting arm.

Spring rate will also be high for the car, making a stiffer (perhaps too stiff) ride.

I'd GUESS that with greater relative front roll stiffness, you MAY have a push associated with the revise roll couple distribution. No confidence this is true or knowledge that it's false- it's just a comment.

All that being said, I have a copy of pages 3 & 4 of the June 1979 issue of Safety Fast, the article titled "Introducing the MGC V8". About 23 column inches (an estimate)- only about half discussing any aspect of the swap. No real details give, but an inference that the wider front frame stubs let you move the rngine lower and more rearward than the same engine in a 'B'.

So where are you at?

If you want to put a SBC in, the car will require fewer suspesion tuning adjustments than if you slot the Buick/Rover.

If you want to put a Buick Rover in, the suspension can be adjusted to give good ride height, and, if the Torsion pars are centerless ground, a lower spring rate can be achieved. Alternately, a set of custom T-bars could be fabricated from bar or tube stock- a rear axle manufacturer would be an asset splining these parts. Remember you would be responsible for defining diameter (spring rate) and material and hardness (durablity).

Don't know if I've ansered your question to your satisfaction- if not, well, you know where we hang out
Greg Fast

Bt I do know that I need to start reading these things to chek my speling before I post them
Greg Fast

As a former MGC owner for 22 years, I have to put my two cents into this debate. A few years ago I felt the urge for more power in my C roadster, so I asked the same question you did. I got a few helpful responses, but the one that made the biggest impression on me was the fellow who urged me not to do it. The MGC is a rare and unique MG, don't turn it into something it isn't. If you want an MG with more power, get yourself a B and install a V8. V8 MGB's have a long history of acceptance world wide. That's what I did a few months ago. I sold my C to someone who will maintain it properly, and bought a B V8. I'm happy I did.


I respectfully disagree, Allan. I mean, Cs are certainly a little harder to come by but -- maybe it's due to living in the "Live Free or Die" state -- I totally, utterly, without qualification, respect Tony's rights to do whatever he wants with his car. Wasn't it Nathan Hale who said, in a meeting of one of the early Constitutional Congress, "... I don't agree with what you have to say, sir, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." Some'n like dat.

But aside from that, two other points:

1. it's my observation that unless a C is in really immaculate nick, it can be quite an unreliable and extremely costly beast. I've never driven a C in mint condition -- and I'd like to -- but the ones I have driven have been ill-suited as actual road cars and really not all that much fun;

2. if he's actually going to drive the car, say, to work or something, there's just no way you could beat a SBC for reliability. My Rover 4.2 car is definitely more reliable than the standard MGBs I've owned, but I mean a Chevy 350 is about the bombproof motor ever conceived.

If I was going to V8 a C, I would try something different and use all that extra space available. Maybe a 4.6 Cobra or an Aston Martin V8 (if I could find one), and of course it would have to be a GT, with all the proper brake,chasis, and suspension upgrades.
As I am a C owner, I would look for one that is a basket case. I'm not a purist, but I dont think I could cut up a "good C", well.......hmmm, maybe I could!!

bill jacobson

I am in line with Bill on this one. I would not take a pristine car to do the V8 with a C. Sort of the same with a pristine all matching B for that matter..

And yes with the extra space in the C I would go SBC, 4.6L ford, 351 ford. having a ford makes me partial to them, though I am not sure I would go with the complexity of the 4.6L, the 351 shows awesome promise and I see lots of people making good solid power and docile driver cars with them.

Larry Embrey

Hi All,
Thanks for all your comments, the end result is that I bought a 1974 mgb roadster at the weekend. It's tatty but incredibly rust free. So now the planning starts, Rover V8 (which size?), Ford 302 or what else???
Any suggestions
Tony Bates

Well done Tony I think you made the right decision. In general I'm not a purist but there were so few C's made that they should be preserved if possible.
T Green

Tony....if it is suggestions you want then look at teh archives of the V8 board....pleanty in there to confuse you!!!!
Cecil Kimber

Tony, speaking from the professional point of view you should give a great amount of consideration to the modern V6 conversion.The installation is lighter than any V8 conversion or stock four cylinder, accomplishes 200 plus horsepower in its stock form and has no over heating problems, no metal alterations, and plenty of room in the engine bay. The exhaust note sounds like a Ferrari from hell and it goes like a bat out of the same place. It looks very aesthetic as you view it from any angle. You can purchase an engine with as little as 19 miles on the odometer. You have a choice of transmission manufacturers.These engines can be found in General Motors medium small cars such as Pontiac, Chevrolet, Oldsmobile. They can also be found in Venture, Montana and other APV's. They have state-of-the-art technology including roller cams, roller rockers, very short push rods large valve alloy heads and if you wanted to build even more HP the components from a small block Chevrolet will fit. We manufacture components to do the conversion from the tank to the radiator. I presently have several customers in California and Midwest doing the conversions. Email me at For more info or visit our site at Killer Bee V6 Conversions We are currently in the process of adding new material so if you can't log on try it sometime later. Thanks, Dann-BRITISH CAR CONVERSIONS

I don't really believe commercial advertisements in this arena are appropriate.

I think the 302 conversion looks pretty damn slick. I have a 3.5L rover v8 right now and I'm pretty happy with it. If the 302 conversion was evolving 4 years ago at the rate it is now, I probably would have gone that route.


OK, so in summary, am I right in the following statements?
Rover V8 installation
Good from a "purist" point of view
Easy to do with lots of advice available
Litte or no fabrication/alterations required
+200 horsepower upgrades can be expensive, few off the shelf parts

Ford 302 installation
OK from a "purist" point of view
Hard to do
fabrication/alterations required, especially in the crossmember
+200 horsepower upgrades low cost with many available off the shelf parts

V6 installation
Bad from a "purist" point of view, not a V8
Easy to do
No fabrication/alterations required
+200 horsepower upgrades low cost with many available off the shelf parts??

What have I missed??
Tony Bates

I think your wrong about there not being 'few off the shelf parts', there pleanty this side of the water. As for expense that would depend on your budget...have alook at this site
there is pleanty of information and links to convince you to use the Rover V8!
Cecil Kimber

Regarding the BOP/Rover, I would have to take exception to the 'easy to do' part, the little or no fabrication or alteration part, and the lack of parts availability. Other than that, you've nailed it! Good luck,
Joe Ullman

I concur with Joe and would add that an overview is available at the V8 conversions pages of this site. I wrote this some years ago, but the conversion of a chrome bumper shell is still the same. V8 parts are now easier to get then when the original MGBGTV8 was in production!!

On the subject of the original MGC and V8 question this has been done quite a number of occasions and I actually viewed 2 over the years, both very well done. One was owned by Chris Harvey who is the authjor of 'MG The A, B and C' and is featured in it. Much comment is made of the acres of extra engine bay space compared with the MGB.

Roger Parker

Hi Roger, Joe et al,
I have read your article and others and that is what prompted me to say "easy to do". The process is well documented and there are many resources when you get stuck.
Again with the little or no fabrication, from the articles I have read , there isn't. For example, a Ford 302 requires a heavily fabricated crossmember as well as most of the work required for a Rover engine.
The "lack of parts" comments is made in comparison to what else is available in the USA, there are a lot more "go faster" parts for a Ford or GM V8 (or V6?) than a Rover.
Also, I have found that a 200hp+ Rover appears to cost $3-5,000 which is high compared with the domestic equivelents.
Don't get me wrong, my prefereance is for a 4.2 liter Rover engine, but I am having to "weigh the costs" of the al;ternatives.
If anyone has a nice, clean, good condition 200+hp Rover V8 for not a lot of money, the decision is made!!
Tony Bates

Tony wrote:

"For example, a Ford 302 requires a heavily fabricated crossmember as well as most of the work required for a Rover engine."

I guess "heavily fabricated is a relative term. All that's required is to cut a notch in the crossmember and weld in a patch to cover the hole left when the notch is cut. If you have access to a cutting torch and a welder, it is a simple job. If not, you will have to hire it out, but it should not be an expensive proposition. There are pictures of this mod on the internet, but I don't have the links handy - anyone?

Motor mounts will be a bit more difficult to install than for a BOP/Rover, but not all that hard. If I understand correctly, for your car ('74) you will have to cut off the existing mounts and weld in later V8 mounts to fit the BOP/Rover engine. For the Ford, you'll have to fabricate your own brackets to mount commercially available (from Ford) motor mounts. A little more difficult for the Ford, but not terribly hard to do.

The rear transmission mounts will have to be modified either way you go.

The firewall will require the same mods with either engine, as will the steering gear (someone correct me if I'm wrong).

Exhaust? The advantage goes to the BOP/Rover, but only by a bit. If you fabricate your own headers, it's a wash.

Electrically? no difference.

I don't know how it is in the UK, but in the US, there's no question you'll get more power for the money with a Ford, and parts are much more plentiful and available as well. You can buy parts for a Ford in any town in the US - try that with a BOP/Rover! A brand new, factory fresh 302, complete, with 375 HP can be had for around $4,000 - $4,500. Don't know what the cost would be for an equivalent BOP/Rover, but I'm sure it would be more.

The Ford engine with a T5 will weigh about 80 pounds more than the BOP/Rover with a T5, but only about 25 pounds more than the stock 4 cylinder with an OD transmission. Twentyfive extra pounds on the front end is not significant. Using an aluminum radiator will get some of that back. The heavier rear axle will more than offset the F/R weigh balance loss. You'd wind up closer to 50/50 than stock.

Some assumptions:

Car weight with BOP/Rover - 2400 pounds
Car weight with Ford - 2480
BOP/Rover HP - 200
Ford HP - 300

You could add 1120 pounds to the car and still have the same power to weight ratio with the Ford as with the BOP/Rover.

Want to get 300HP from the BOP/Rover? Spend the same money and get 450 out of the Ford. Don't need 300 HP? Spend less and get a good used Ford for around $1,200 or so.

I agree with Justin - a few years ago, the choice would have been the BOP/Rover, but I think in a few more years, the Ford will dominate. That is, unless someone comes up with an all aluminum, DOHC, high tech alternative! Which will probably happen.

No, I don't have stock in FOMOCO.
Dan Masters

I see you mentioned the 302/5.0L. I can for one recommend it, it is a blast!! Please feel free to check out my site and ask me any questions you wish, hopefully if I have been at all successfull with the site many should be answered. Read my tips/suggestions page too, it is very fitting to the 302 and the issues I saw.

Up front I will tell you get a 91-93 Ford Tbird or Merc Cougar motor, or even better get a 96+ Ford explorer motor. The explorer motors are the shortes 302's I have seen to date and they are already a rear sump pan! I am in the middle of converting the front of my motor to a Explorer front end and possible il pan if I have room..

Larry Embrey

The crossmember modification is EASY! In fact I would bet it is easier than the firewall mod you are going to have to do on that 74.

All you do if figure out how low you need to make the notch and cut it out with a hacksaw (slow and tiring), sawsall, or even better a torch. Get some flat welding steel available at Lowes, cut the shapes to box the section in and weld up. My nieghbor and I did it in under an hour total work time, and that included cutting up a spare crossmmeber for the plates rather than buying steel for Lowes..

Again, feel free to ask me whatever you want, my learning is your knowledge. Oh and I had NEVER done car stuff before aside from oil/plug changes...
Larry Embrey

OH.. Check my site for the crossmember..
Larry Embrey

That's a nice job you did on that crossmember Larry.

Hi Larry,
Your "sales pitch" for the 302 is very persuasive and your excellent web site is a great assistance.
If you had originally installed the Explorer engine, would you still have needed to cut as big a "notch" in the crossmember?? Also, although I live in California I "commute" to wotk in Bellevue WA and would love to take a few photo's of your conversion (and maybe a drive???).
Tony Bates

The quad cam V8s are generally too wide for the MG. Has anyone looked at the Taurus SHO 60 degree V8? The hardest part could be finding a transmission because of its front wheel drive persuasion.
George B.

Interesting. What about an Explorer OHC V6 (that used to be the middle-of-the-line motor out of three; I think now it's the lower of two)? Obviously, that's two less cylinders than we want, but having the OHC would be so awesome.

Justin, when is keeping some one informed called "advertisement". I don't recall posting any prices and the content is no different that what I can read in the above text. If you can think of a better way of helping someone to make a decision that makes his position better for him please let me know. Better than then that why not inform him? How did you learn about 302 conversions? I'm sure there was some influence here. I'm not here to cause friction nor am I angry. These pages are as free for me as they are anyone. I pay for this priviledge by taking my time to donate plenty of free technical advice on many matters that concerns the members. If it doesn't cause any harm and does a lot of good is that bad? If you don't agree with my advice then that is your privilege but please don't cause a ruckus like I have witnessed a few times before.I do however appreciate your comments.

As far as the V6 conversion for choice of all around performance "ASK THE MAN WHO OWNS ONE". Whoops! Was that advertising. :-) Thank you for your attention. Dann Wade BRITISH CAR CONVERSIONS


Please go w**k off. You are most tiring. Nobody here (seriously: NObody!) wants some old crapper FWD V6. It defiles both car and motor. V6 drivers just don't get the chicks, either (or so I'm told ...)


We owe ya several cases of beer. The 302's a hands-down winner. You did it with grace and elan. Who'd a thunk it? Here's to Larry, fellas!!!


Has any human being managed to shoehorn a Chevy LS1 into an MGB? It's gotta be possible! Next car? ... you guessed right ... LS1 or bust!

here, what yah talking about?!

I always go out with my girlfriend in my '85 V6 powered buick skylark. It's great. I can beat any K-car off the line, and yet only put $20-30 dollars a week into the tank, and I drive everywhere.

Anthony Morgan

Thanks for the word of encouragement! I am trying to make it work. Right now I just came in from tearing the front end off the motor to install a Ford explorer short water pump, and some other things. My suspension leaves allot to be desired so I will be installing all new bushings in the rear then new leafs and new coils for the front.

As to the V6 car, they are great performers if properly set-up, much as are V8 and even 4cyl cars. It all comes down to what you want.

I have seen pictures of a BBC 454 in a MGB, so a LS1 could be done. Biggest drawbacks would be having to remove the heater and take the heater ledge out and make a flat firewall to get it under the hood.. Then good luck getting 1/2 of the power you will have down to the pavement without tubbing the rear end of the car so all you can fit in the trunk is a picnic basket. HEH but it would be fun!! I have a SBC 400 at my In-laws that I was thinking about making a drag car with a MGB GT heh but $$ and time forbid that option.!!
Larry Embrey

Ted, what is your problem? There are people interested in what Dann has to say about V6 conversions. Did you read WANTED, SOMEONE TO DO V6 CONVERSION in this section? It was a very infomative post with lots of information about V6 conversions. There, Dann Wade, Bill Guzman and every one else behaved like gentleman and no one was throwing around the prices of their products or bragging. Too, bad that had to change here.
Also, not every one wants a 302 in their MGB. Don't you get it? It's about choice and we don't all want what you do. When I call Dann on the telephone, there is no end to the amount of time he will spend with me, giving me tons of information for free! Thanks Dann.
And Ted, as far as 'gettin the chicks' goes, how old are you 16?

Ted, I could take the risk of inflaming you with the response you deserve but due to the respect I have for members and this column I will refrain from doing so. If I did respond the way you would understand it would make me no better than the example you made of yourself. It appears to me that you could have used any other kind of descriptive language other than what you used. I received at least two very thought out and kind responses in my email from 2 easily recognizable members of these pages. I agreed with what they had to say and I am following their advice. I however will this disregard anything you had to say because it wasn't said in a manner that I deem as constructive. If I would add a comment here and respond with the attitude that you used toward me it would be of no interest to anyone reading these columns and it certainly wouldn't help my position with those who support my efforts.

As noted in one of the comments above you will notice that your maturity is in question. I have no doubt about my maturity but I have serious doubts about yours. I'm going to refrain from "advertising" in these columns not because of your comment but it was pointed out to me in a perfectly gentlemanly way that I should take into consideration the whole picture of other manufacturers and the members on these pages. Just so you would know. Fellow member, Dann Wade
Dann Wade

Larry I applaud your drive and creativity, and am proud to know you. I feel obliged to make a couple comments though about your small notch in the crossmember.

How best to put this? Perhaps as a good news/bad news sort of thing. The good news is twofold and maybe more. First with the top of the crossmember off it's fairly easy to "warp" the remaining section in order to modify the camber setting of the front end. It would also be fairly simple to attach engine mount points, and finally the crossmember could be reinforced internally without too much trouble and minimal weight penalty. Which brings up the bad news. Your resulting box section is significantly shorter and therefore weaker than the stock part. Agreed that the MGB was overbuilt, but not only does this part prevent flexing of the bodywork in front, but at the same time provides a stiff beam for mounting of springs and shocks, etc. Pretty tall order for a 20 lb part. Anything that makes that beam less stiff is going to adversely affect handling and feel. Not an insurmountable problem, but you might want to pick up another cross member when you get the chance. Looks like you could probably benefit from a couple large pieces of 1/8" wall square tubing welded inside the crossmember. Sized and configured to make the most of their ability to control bending loads trying to push the ends towards the middle, there's no reason the finished part couldn't be stronger than the original.

So that's my $0.02

Jim Blackwood

Good observations, I had the same concerns when I was doing it. But my nieghbor (ex racer/mechanic) said that based on what he saw it should be plenty. However, I have though about opening it back up and putting in some bracing. Another idea is a tubular crossmember like the mustang guys have. would tak a good bit of engineering however to design..

A machinist at work who is going to help with my 8.8" rear end conversion has highly recommended I get a suspension book and start learning, but I think designing a crossmember will be a bit beyond anything I could do for a long time. On another note I HAVE been thinking about some sort of upper bracing. Mustang guys have thier shock towers to brace off of, we do not, but I may work on making something to come up fromt eh crossmember mount points and over the engine to essentially make a box around the motor which should greatly stiffen it..
Larry Embrey

you guys are amazing!!!!. I can't imagine doing, let alone thinking of the stuff you guys do! I will be spending a couple hours just trying to figure out how to get my tranny back in with the engine installed( although it is a v6 so it should be easier). keep posting this stuff it really does offer quite a bit of food for thought
andy heston

This reduction in box section has bothered me, too. Is there any way (that anyone knows) how we may be able to get engineering drawings of parts like this?

Wayne Pearson

Andy, You can get it in OK. On some of the T5 trannys there were a large casting chunk under the tailstock. This can be cut down to allow it to go over the welded in crossbrace. A lot of people cut this brace out permanantly without adversely affecting body integrity. I cut them out for my own cars but when I do a turn key I make it removeable/replaceable using precision locating pins. I do this to insure body integrity.
Dann Wade

Another thing you might do is cut out some cardboard templates to fit inside the x-member running crossways (wheel to wheel) then bend a modified "U" shape with top flanges an inch or so wide. Weld that to the bottom then lay on the top and weld at your access holes and maybe a few other places. That should stiffen it up nicely. 10 gage should do well. I'd be willing to bet the x-members on the cars we are more familiar with over here use a thicker wall. Do that and tie it in at the ends well and I'd say there'd be no need for any top bracing.

Jim Blackwood

I don't really know anything about the ford V8, I grew up in an era where the four banger reighned supreme, so why does the pan stick down so far at the front? what's in there?

Anthony Morgan

Not following your U shape and bending and lay on top..? my original plan was for one "rib" going wheel to wheel in x-member, then 2-4 running fore aft inside making boxes out if it internally.

Larry Embrey

Larry, that could work. Your main disadvantage here is that you are working with flat steel sheet metal which doesn't have much strength (tends to buckle) under compression loads. Now if you deform it in some fairly specific ways it becomes considerably stronger. (Or you could fill it with concrete and make it very rigid, but heavy.) Note that the original took roughly the shape of a large radius half-pipe turned upside down and running side to side. This does a real good job of resisting compression loads and the ends are well shaped for distributing the stresses. One good approach would be to do the same thing internally, in effect moving the radius downwards, making the wall thicker to offset the decrease in distance to the tension member (the bottom plate) and leaving your side walls and modified top intact.

What I suggested earlier was actually a modified form of the same thing bent up out of sheet metal, but my error was that I had it upside down! Imagine you are trying to bend a pipe. Now slice it down the center. Bend it one way and the curve resists compression while the cut sides have to stretch. Bend it the other and the cut sides simply bow outwards and it is much easier to bend. Now in practical terms something like _/ /_ (continuous with a flat at the top) is much easier to fabricate than a half pipe and leaves a flange at the bottom for welding, plus you can weld around your round holes on the top. I'd say that'd do a pretty good job. Of course you'd want to extend it out as far to the ends as is reasonable. To take it further, _////_ or even _//////_ would give good stiffness with a low profile.

Jim Blackwood

Traditional Americal pushrob V8 motors use the ditributor to drive the oil pump. With the Ford the ditributor is up front and drives a shaft to run the oil pump which is also up front. That is what is in that deep part of rht pan up front.

The rover engine on the other hand has the dirstributor and thus oil pump offset at an angle so it does not need that deep pan..
Larry Embrey


Thanks Larry, makes sense to me now...
Anthony Morgan

So may variables when installing a V8 into a B.
I toy with the idea of designing a kit to install a Ford V8 (The only way to go as far V8's go)
One of the solutions is to install the engine as far possible, meaning removing the heater box completely, if cutting is required why not go the extra mile.
This would improve the handling and transfer some of the weight to the rear wheels where is needed.
The other are is the rear spring front hanger area. This area is very weak no lateral support for big loads of torque especially in a roaster. Jim's suggestion to Larry is right on. Perhaps a simpler fix would be to gusset the corners of the cut off section and a bracing on the outside. Not as good a fix as Jim had suggested but it would work.
Larry, for your first engine Swap you have done a terrific job and a fantastic job in passing information and sharing it in your great web page. I have enjoyed keeping tabs on your work. How about your radio control cars?
Thanks Larry
Bill Guzman

Bill, RC cars was about 3 years ago I think.. hard to remember that far back, must be the CRS (Can't Remember S#$T). Thanks again for the vote of confidence.

I have not noticed issues with mm back half of the car as much as the front. I know it is not crossmember flexing problems I am having, it is bad/out of spec suspsension. Original springs and leafs. Shocks too. I found a front shock today that the shaft slides in/out of , so that means my driver's side front suspension changed geometry as I drive..

My whole goal with the page is to share information so others can do this swap as well as show people what I am doing with hopes that they chime in to help like you folks all have, THANKS!!
Larry Embrey

Looks like my backslashes (/) got changed to forward slashes (/). That kinda throws off the visual aid. Let's just say the even number ones are forward slashes.

Jim Blackwood

This thread was discussed between 11/10/2002 and 21/10/2002

MG MGB GT V8 Factory Originals Technical index

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