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MG MGF Technical - White smoke, dark side

Steam escaping from the vents (top and RH side) so probably another head gasket, but still waiting for the official statement.

Sad part: not really cheap getting a new HG fitted overhere in Belgium.

Happy part: I can hear the darkside yelling... so any suggestions about 'mods to do' if the head comes of. Was thinking about the Clubman Kit found on Mike's site, but not sure about it.

BTW, budget is limited, let's say £1000 excl. the fitting fitting of the gasket itself.


PS.: will send the details for the HOS as soon as it is officially my 2nd HGF.

Must have said before: MGF 1.8 MPi (K&N 57i, SP, TTB) as this makes a difference on the shopping list.


Take your pick from DVA's magic store at

MGF recommendations from me (VVC with 172bhp) and Tim Woolcott (MPi with 158bhp) not forgetting Kingsley with his MPi, but that has Jenvey DTH throttle bodies as well - not sure what he's making in bhp these days.
Dave Livingstone

I've sent him a mail.... unfortunatly I couldn't choose for his Emerald ECU in combination with something else as it needs to be setup by the guru itself.
Anyway, I am waiting for some other options he will recommend.


Mine runs perfectly happily on MEMS, as did Tim's. However, Tim has now also gone for the Emerald in preparation for future work! Kingsley had to go to the Emerald straight away because of the DTH TBs.
Dave Livingstone

What's been involved on Tim's car, to reach the 150+ bhp figure ?

To be sure... I've got the recalibrated FPR here (not fitted yet, as the damn car prefered the HGF ;o) or was that a reaction on fitting the catalyst (MOT reason) earlier that day ?

I'm sure Tim will be along soon to give you the absolute spec, but briefly

DVA head (large valves)
633 Cams
Matched, exhaust manifold and plenum.
ITG Maxogen
Standard Exhaust

plus the key to making all this work was the engine timing.
Dave Livingstone

Oh, I should mention, that the fuelling was way too rich - so no need for that uprated FPR. The immediate benefit of the Emerald ECU has been to be able to get the fuelling sorted, as well as add a few ft/lbs of torque in the mid range.
Dave Livingstone

ARGH! Bad news Erik :o(

But cylinder head work is the silver lining to that cloud of steam. Having watched the master (Dave Andrews) at work, I have complete confidence that his is some of the best work available. The results of his work are reproducibly AWESOME too! BUT because he is a one-man band and doesn't keep a stock of prepared heads (to my knowledge) means taking the DVA route could introduce some serious delays to getting your car back on the road. But best check with the man himself regarding timescales because I bet this changes from week to week.

Another avenue for heads are those prepared by Owen at Racespeed (Janspeed ported). He practically guarantees power outputs, and may be able to help you out sooner...

Mike's heads are another option certainly, as would be PTP, OSELLI, QED, BBR GTi, LAD, Minister and... well, the list goes on and on. I'd love to know how everyone's work compares in terms of bhp/money invested - but these kinds of comparisons are not readily available. Unfortunately, I cannot make any personal recommendations because I have simply not tried all the kits that are available.

Your best option Erik is to do as much reading, and be as knowledgable as possible about what is involved (read Dave's web site: and what is available before making your own decisions. And read the Lotus forums as well - as there are plenty of people there who've been down this route already :o)

Good luck, and let us know which direction you decide to take! :o)
Rob Bell

I've received some mails from Dave Andrews, and he suggests the K13A (S2/S1 Elise 150BHP Kit). "The kit should give around 150-155BHP" and includes a ported cylinder head with standard sized inlet and exhaust valves, the head is fitted with Piper fast road cams. The head is provided on an exchange basis and as supplied flows enough air for 175BHP so is ideal when later upgrades are planned. Gives large gains in torque and much better drivability.

If I go for the Clubman Kit upgrade I will keep the standard cams but will increase the size of the inlet valves, to end up near 150BHP.

Tim has other cams and the DVA head and ends up with 158BHP.

Anyone else any suggestions wich way to go ?


>>Tim has other cams and the DVA head and ends up with 158BHP.<<

Erik, I think that Tim is currently using the 'standard' K13A kit - which uses Piper 633 cams, but with a standard 1.8MPi inlet plenum, exhaust manifold and standard exhaust back box...

Mike's Clubman kit with standard cams uses pretty big valves, and claims up to 150bhp if you use VVC inlet plenum, and Mike's specified exhaust/manifold... so not quite like with like comparison. But a decent enough power figure (I'd like to see some representative power/torque curves though). I'd have thought that to make the most out of Mike's clubman kit, you'd probably want to add longer duration/higher lift Piper 'fast road' cams (not sure which Mike would recommend with his kit) - but these aren't especially cheap (500 quid, plus fitting, plus VAT) so the price can effectively double... :o( - and I am not sure whether you need to add a pair of vernier cams to that bill as well.

Has anyone tried Mike's Clubman kit? Your thoughts would probably help Erik a lot in making his decision.
Rob Bell

I have the RaceSpeed RS140 fitted to my 1.8i and I am very happy with the product and their service.

When last tested these gave 146bhp @ 6500rpm with 134 ft lb torque @ 4700rpm. There is some very useful torque 130 lb/ft @ 2500 rpm with a dip down to 120lb/ft between 3000-4000rpm and then back up to about 134 from 4000-5500 rpm, before it starts to tail off.)

• K&N 57i induction kit
• 52mm Alloy throttle body
• Race Speed RS140 head -
• Re-worked inlet manifold + new style gasket
• Exhaust manifold - fettled out the lower end and widened the engine end to match the widened exhaust ports.
• Mike Satur heavy-duty competition head gasket and steel dowel kit

The head was developed by Janspeed it is based around the Lotus 135 head gas flowed and ported. The inlet and exhaust valve ports have been reworked to increase the power it can develop - whilst maintaining maximum torque. Work has also been done on the inlet valve seats. The head retains standard valves (27.5mm inlet, 24mm exhaust), stems, springs, and cams. The head has been skimmed to increase compression.

They currently do the RS150 head, Manifold and induction kit for £995 plus £295 for fitting. But If you drop Owen an email('m sure he will do you a deal with out the induction kit as you already have the K&N.

Steve Ratledge


Sorry to hear your news but as you have already suggested this a chance to do a little something to the head.

Rob rightly says that I have the K13 head from DVA, 633 cams etc.... with a SS rear box earlier in the year proved to give 161bhp (with a recent RR it proves that the back box really only give about 3-4bhp). (DVA tends to underestimate perfomance figures somewhat)

As DaveL has already said I now have the Emerald fitted, and although the headline BHP remains unaltered, the fueling is spot on (very efficient) and there is an extra 5lbft of torque up to ±4750rpm, throttle response is absolutely spot on too.

The biggest thing with any of the head kits from any of the suppliers is good set up once installed. Verniers are an absolute must for optimum performance. A difference in lift on inlet and Exhaust valves can be dramatic. For example 8/5 (In/Ex) resulted in 145bhp, 65/47 resulted in 158bhp (the numbers are thou' on an inch) so we're talking about 0.5-0.75mm difference. Once you've seen it done and know the settings to dial in it's pretty straight forward, given the right tools.

I have to say, it is well worth doing, but it does depend on your attitiude towards keeping the car. If you plan to keep the car then it's a good investment, however if you plan on selling the car in a year or two then I might be inclined to invest the money elsewhere, you'll never re-coup the capital cost.

Just as a side note, don't bother with the FPR, it just proved to increase MPG with very little benefit.

If you have any questions drop me an email.


It's official now....

From the description on the phone, it looks like they (other dealership, but not official MG-Rover and dumped for other reasons) didn't fit the steal dowels 3 years ago.

Still investigating which way to go.... received a mail from Simon @ PTP Ltd. as well, still waiting for one of Race-Speed.


>> From the description on the phone, it looks like they ... didn't fit the steal dowels 3 years ago. <<

Argh! :o( I don't believe it Erik.

Still, it is good fun comparing engine options! :o)
Rob Bell


How (un)lucky can a man get. Depends how you look at it. But second time HGF that´s real bad luck.How many km did your car have?

Did the PBV get to work out the other probs?

Are the dealers supposed to install steel dowels after HGF?

Best of luck on the picking the right head.

FWIW. I´ve read that Dave Andrews´ S2 kit is the best option if further development is intended.

David Peters

Just wondering, how much psi can the gasket (or should I say the head?)take?
If you´d put bigger (reshaped) valves, thus lowering the compression ratio, would the engine be less prone to HGF?

David Peters

>Just as a side note, don't bother with the FPR, it just >proved to increase MPG with very little benefit.

I beg to differ, it showed up very usefull for me. The thing is to have it setup correctly which makes it a bit expensive, but the throttle responsivness the "major" gain in torque (and the bit in HP) aswell as the free setup for further mods is very usefull for a VVC, as you can't simply swap over to emerald.

You just have to feel the difference, once the FPR has been fitted and correctly setup to tell the story. At least in my case.

Of course an ECU swap is much more efficient, but we can't do it all.

My next RR session is sheduled for this saturday, let's see how much those mods can bring to a vvc.

Boohhooohh !!
Erik, bad news though.
Didn't see the thread yesterday, so I'm late.

Good luck with upgrade source investigations. Looking foreward to what the decision will be.

Kind Regards

PS. ... 86.000km ... counting ;)
Dieter K.

Thanks for the comments guys: very helpfull at the moment. Great !

Just noticed: Golden Wheels of GerryH has the Clubman fitted.

>> Just noticed: Golden Wheels of GerryH has the Clubman fitted. <<

And he's also selling this engine Erik! (£1500 wasn't it?) - he's about to install a Honda V-TEC!
Rob Bell

This thread was discussed between 15/03/2004 and 19/03/2004

MG MGF Technical index

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