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MG MGB GT V8 Factory Originals Technical - Chev V8 Vs Ford, Buick/rover V8

I met several enthusiast who have V8 MG's the mayority are Rover/Buick, I did a Buick V8 in the 70's but quite a few have done the Ford V8 260, 289, and late model 302. The same work is perform for both engines, Buick, Ford, some extra work depending on the person doing the sawp. When the suggestion of a Chev V8 negative responses are heard. e.i. To big, will rip the car in pieces, to heavy, and will need to cut the firewall completly no room for heater etc.
The real truth is that the Chev V8 is almost the same dimensions as the Buick, with aluminum heads, manifold, water pump, and bellhousing only weights 430/460
The qustion is, "What is your opionion of a Chev V8 in a MG" and do you know of anyone who has install a V8 chev 265,283,327,269 (yes in the Monza)302,305,307,350,400.


Bill Guzman

One downside to the Chevy is the rear mounted distributor. I have seen photos of a 350 installed in a B and it looked pretty good, although I didn't look closely at the heater area and the distributor clearances. From my street rodding days I remember that the Chevy is slightly wider than the Ford, but shorter with the "short" water pump. Oil sump is in the rear on Chevy, front on Ford except when using Bronco pan and oil pickup. Weight is comparable with aluminum heads, slight advantage to Ford and Rover/Buick. I'm surprised that more aren't used in B's as they seem to be a pretty good match. My personal guess is that they look too common. Most want the more imported look of the Rover.
Bill Young

bill, I know a guy here in town who has a rubber bumper b with a 375 horse 350. It has a d-3 (?) dozer rad for now, he plans on using a rad from a late model caravan ( I think it is a grand voyager or caravan he is still researching this) It still has his heater and the wings are cut slightly for for the stock manifold and pipe to pass through. it has a hood scoop, Mopar 70ish of some design. It still has stock rear end, but plans to have it swapped. He is looking at a GMC jimmy type rear,possible match. It looks great though.
mike childress

The first MGB(GT) that I ever saw was a '67 MGBGT.
This was back in 1979 when I worked at a place called AUSTIN-HEALEY WEST in San Francisco.
This car had a 350 SBC witha tunnel ram manifold and one big Holley 4BBL. The engine was in the car in such a way that the valve covers were as high as the tops of the fenders. No hood could be used on this car. It had an un-narrowed rear GM axle that had the tires sticking out several inches on each side. The rear was raised and the fenders were not cut out to clear the big meats he had for tires.
I bought all the parts he took off that car for $100.00
I traded him a front brake rotor to get a ride in it...
fastest trip I ever made around the block at that sportscar shop.
Crude,yes. Fast, well, I couldn't inhale while he was accelerating!!!!
Randy Forbes

After seeing a Jag V12 engined MGBGT a few years ago, which required serious work and a spaceframe addition, I think that any V8 involves far less work. Although this was a superb conversion I also think that retaining 8 cyls is a far more practical approach and in reality easier to get big horse power. Whether the rst of the car is up to that or the intended use is another issue, but with the right degree of work a balance can be achieved.

Roger Parker

I am just finishing up putting a 305 Chev in my
80 MGB.The conversion was super easy.I didn't have
to cut the firewall or trans tunnel.I'm using
the 350 Auto with the Chev.I am still using the
stock rearend and it seems to work well but the ratio
is a little to much for highway use.No top end but
tons of bottom end go.I did have to run the hedders
thru the fender wells but it doesn't pose a problem
other than it can become costly unless you have pals
in the muffler business.The rad was extended down
about four inches and adapted to the chev and seems to cool well.If the rear end destroys itself this summer
I'll look for other options.
The car has dropped in the front appx. 2" and I have
put 2" lowering blocks in the rear.The hood was modified with a Z28 Camero type rear exit scoop and
looks great.The car is super fast and super fun.
350 may be next who knows.
Regards Ross
Ross Hannan

Thanks for your inputs. The main reason why I am asking for these details is simply becouse I am planning in retairing in the next 3/4 years at the age of 55 For my last big personal project I would like a wild ride, I have ploted on several options. I almost went back to my roots of Hot Rods 32 Ford and the muscle cars, big block camero, Chevelle SS, 390 cobra Jet Mustang etc.
But I decided on a good hadling car, and MGB-GT with a V8. Rover/Buick everyone has one, they are getting hard to find and parts are not plentiful. This car will travel cross country and who knows maybe a few drag strips/street races (Back to the old days)
I need info on anyone who has install a Chev. V8 or Ford V8 were the hood closes just like the Buick V8
any info on installation details would be appriciated.


Bill Guzman >> bill, try the web site w/ the v8 conversions, a few b's had v8 other than r/o/p/b and looked stock, you can e-mail the one with the 302, even though the car is gone, mike C
mike childress

Thanks for those great inputs I got on e-mail and the BBS.
My choice is the Ford V8 302ci Parts are plentiful. with the alloy heads is cheaper than the Buick/Rober 3.9/4.2 etc. etc. Lots more hp, fits better meaning more engine set back= better handling and compensates for the extra 40lbs +. Shorter than the Chevy and Buick,
and lots more torque than the Rober/Buick V8
The FI system may fit under the hood, this unit is taller than the carb model but not much. If it fits it could be a choice. the unit is only good for 4500/5000 rpm The after market is much better but much taller so dual quads or a 750 Holley could also be a choice. Some body reinforcing will have to be done at the rear, other wise the B is plenty strong. Alot better than the first AC Bristol bodys with the 260/289 that became Cobras. Ofcourse the car won't be as balance as the chassis would be with a V6 this is the real set up for daily driver, my 68 is getting there.

Thanks again. If anyone has any advice or tips on istallation on a 67 GT pass them on.

r/Bill G.
Bill Guzman

I am almost finished my mgb it has a chevy 350 with a four speed I will post pictures in about two weeks next thing I will be doing is putting paint on it..

Dave, how much mods did you do to the engine bay to fit the Chevy.
Does the hooh closes without the need for a hood scoop
How about the exhaust, how much engine set back etc.

Thanks Bill
Bill Guzman

Bill,The trans tunnel had to be modified,The frame was fine The actual engine bay area was barly touched,The engine is set back to the firewall with hei distributor,I could put the heater in it but for now I will have a plate over it,I do not see any way of putting a small block chevy in without a hoodscoop I made a cobra type hood scoop as the car now looks a lot like a cobra,I used rams horn exhaust manifolds the flanges on the manifolds had to be cut off because they would not fit inside the frame rails then I welded pipes into the manifolds to get past the frame.hope that helps....

Has anyone here in the US considered the Cadillac Northstar V8 engine. I beleive the block and heads are aluminum, but I do not know how it weighs compared to the Buick or domestic small block iron. I believe the displacement is 4.6 liters and it puts out in the neighborhood of 300hp. It has been in production for 7 or 8 years, so wrecks and junk yard finds shouldn't be too hard. I understand the aftermarket Accel FI and ignition module will work with it if the stock wiring/computer/sensor inputs can't be adapted. If someone has already gone this route, what tranny was used. Most importantly, how much does this thing weigh - it would be a shame to destroy the balance and feel of the car, and I am not trying to build a dedicated pro stock drag racer.

A recent issue of Kit Car magazine saw one of these beautys tucked into the back of a Fiero. One hell of a sleeper, but still well mannered and not too heavy - according to reviews.

Any info would be appreciated.


Brian Corrigan
72 B'no longer rusty, but engineless' GT
Brian Corrigan

Try this site:

This is Dave Williams site. and it looks that the Northstar is a little heavier than a 302.
Michael Wish

If you are looking at some other motors, in a street rod mag a couple of years ago, a guy used a lexus alum v8, looks very nice but no weights or measurements. mike
mike childress

I thought about using a lexus V8 but went against it because it was WAY to long AND wide, not worth the trouble.

Have consider lots of different engines the ones you have mention plus the all alum V8 Mercedes Benz a tall engine. North Star are hard to get anywere in the US We are waiting for one to install on a Fiero. there is a Co. that makes the kit. VERY EXPENSIVE. The Japanese alum engines are wide and tall and their electrical system is cumbersome. One engine to consider is the Maxima or 300 ZX V6(same engine) is not as tall but is wide My friend Jim is installing one on a Triumph.
American engines are cheaper and power can be taylor to the chassis. Parts for the Cad and others are not plentiful or nothing at all, plus the initial cost is very high Rebuilt is also high Vs an American engine.

285 + hp 290 + lbs of torque Ford 302 alum heads etc... weight 488 lbs T5 trans 77 lbs Cost $1900 + 200 Misc parts Rebuilt with a new engine Kit. Or a new HO Block from Ford $879 plus $1200 for heads + Manifold etc.. $2800 + Misc parts $ per hp American is cheaper.
I am not trying to change anyones mind about other engines, I am just sharing what I have found for my project and just sharing with everyone.
Bill Guzman

I am in the same frame of mind as Bill. I am looking at only 2 power plants, the 302 vs 215.

The 302 takes a weight and "heritage" penalty. BUT that is heavily offset here in the US by: the extreme ease and afordability of getting parts (any anf every auto parts store will have stuff on the shelf or within 1 days wait), and the almost limitless power attainable. Another often missed fact is that the issue of bellhousing/tranny is a non-issue since the 302 in mustangs were mostly built with T-5's from the factory. Added to that, is that if you get a 302 from a late 5.0 mustang, I believe they already have the alum head on them.

The 215 has a weight advantage of something like 110lbs? (Based on reports of 302 being 70lbs over stock and 215 being 40lbs under stock) But they are harder to find and get parts for here in the US. Then there is the difficulty of (affordably)getting the correct tranny and bellhousing.

I think that hits the major points, though I am sure there are more issues..
Larry Embrey

Mr. Guzman here is a phone # to Speedway Motors they advertise a Northstar supposedly factory new for $2500 14024744411 Ext3336 what the deal is I don't know but maybe it's for real. Seems too good
John G

Dear Bill
Some of the comments re V8 engines and suitable replacements caused my jaw to drop. You guys in the states like your horsepower ! My BGTV8 is stock standard apart from Rover SDi heads, larger valves. A popular conversion here is to use an Australian British Leyland P76 block. This is based on he same block, drops straight in, and is 4.4 instead of 3.5 litre capacity. The next stage is to fit a Sprintex Supercharger, gives about 300 - 330 bhp. Of course you need a gearbox and backend to handle it... The superchargers were so good that the company offered them as an option on Range Rovers over here. The beauty is that they can be driven "softly" for better milage. Cheers Mark
Mark Wheatley

While Yes, I admitt we love our horsepower.
For many people like me it comes down to a simple issue of availability economics of base powerplant and then long term availability of parts.

I like the 215, in fact I have a line on a almost complete one for $200. BUT just for the bits and pieces (valve covers, intake, carb) it will need to be running will require more $$ than it would cost to pull a complete running 302 with bellhousing and tranny from a wrecking yard. Then add in the replacement parts issue and the 302 looks better still. We here in US, in any town you can walk into a parts store and 99% of the time walk out with about any part we could ever need.

For me that is the biggest reason to go std American iron. The biggest downside is the weight penalty, but the power increase will offset that without a problem.
Larry Embrey

Bill and others.
I have a 1975 MGB with a TunedPort Injected 305 with a 4 speed, extracted from a wrecked 1986 IROC Camaro. The only suspension mod was solid bushings. The body was completely rebuilt using 14 guage satin coat steel and HSLA rail sections for the trans Xmbr. The radsupport was moved ahead as far as possible and the stock MG rad used. It is cooled by an electric fan from a 1998 Windstar. The stock manifolds(IROC) were used( to comply with our emissions tests - I had to keep all that good stuff) but turned upside down and the exit ports relocated to allow exhaust redirection. It runs dual catalytics but one muffler. The oilpan nut is safely 1/2 inch above the bottom of the xmbr. Re-wiring the car to run a computer controlled engine was a piece of work, but I understand that you can now buy a wiring kit for the TPI conversion ( Into the car of your dreams.) As to the exterior, I had to put a slight bump in the front area of the hood ( similar to an Austin Healey ) but beyond that, it looks stock. Well up until you notice the 2 1/2" tailpipe! This is not a conversion for the faint of heart.
BTW: I also drive a stock 1970 MGB.

I have owned a 1958 MGA for about 25 years. For the last 10 it has been setting in my garage and hasn't been started in about 4 years or so. By now it needs some TLC. My question is whether anybody has tried to replace the standard engine with a V-6 or V-8. I am considering such a conversion and wonder if the car is just too light on the suspension end to handle such an engine/transmission if indeed a new transmission would also be needed. I dont know anything abo0ut such a project but am damn sure willing to learn.
Anybody got any ideas?
Billy Cornette
Billy Cornette

You would be much better off financially (money out of pocket and resale value) to just rebuild your original MGA engine. If you elect to change engines, it would also be a good idea to use MGB brakes and a stronger differential. The transmission used should be one that comes with the engine for easiest installation. You may find that the 60 degree V6's are too wide at the frame rails to fit. The 90 degree V6's (3.8, 3800 and 4.3 liter) fit better between the rails, but cause problems with steering clearance. A 2 liter turbo four might be a better solution.
George B.

We all have different needs, taste, and budget.
Mark from Australia, yes the Rover engines are good and powerful, but like Larry stated, it's nice to be able to get spares when needed, also mods to the 302 engine are easier. Please note, when you tried to make the 302 lighter it automaticly incrreases the torque and hp output. Due to alloy heads, manifold etc... If we want more, there is always the Vortec or Paxton blower which fits instead of air conditioner compressor. The added weight of the 302 can be compesentated by engine set back, this will mean to eliminate the heater unit, thus this unit can be replace by one with air,defrost, and heat from Vintage Air. This unit would fit under the dash on the passenger side. The T5 trans or Tremec can be used with choice of gear ratios.

I heard of someone in Australia install a V8 Holden in a B. I am not familiar with this engine, but I understand that it's powerful.

Last nite while working on the Jigs for the V6 mounts with David, we decided to meusure the 302 with FI and see if it would fit under the hood of the B, well it does, if the engine is set back. David install the same engine in his Apline, the hood closes with no bumps etc... The point is that anything is possible and any engine over 120 hp and more torque to replace the 1798 cc 95/110 hp is better. Not to say that the B engine is not good, we just want more. It's a man thing I guess.
Women like close, shoes, and furniture, us man like cars with hp and a house with one bedroom and 10 car garage, wait! Just put the bed in the ten car garage and add a walk in closset.

Bill Guzman

With the ford motor set back, where would the shifter come out? And does anybody know the weight diff between the steel and aluminium bonnets?
Marc Deaver

As a MGA & TD owner I was always in the other(low power) threads. I started to read this thread for the first time tonight. I am very interested to read many of the comments and suggestions in design of the rear end for an MGA with V8 power. I have attached a URL for my project not so much to sell it but to get comments on my solution. I purchased a 95 Ford HP 5.0 engine, T5 tranny and narrowed the Ford rear end, shortened the driveshaft and put it in the MGA MKII. The four bar suspension was copied from hot rod/race car designs and all fabricated by hand. The firewall frame moved back 6" and all parts of the frame strengthened. 1/8 steel plate added to all frame members, cross braced and blocked. Springs, shocks and four bar is all adjustable. I alas I have to admit I have power steering (sorry MG lovers). However the car will not show any differences from the outside. No cutting of fenders, scoops, flairs ect. But all the welting is removed and the fenders are welded for stability and rigidity. I would appreciate any comments or suggestions.

Marc, sorry for the delay in answering your question, I was I goner for a few days.
The shifter will come out up against the tunnel openning, if my meusurements are right. There is no need to cut anything. The T5 trans has a bolt on shifter, therefore just an extension foward could be fabricated to make the shifter come out in the original position.

I don't know the weight diffrence between hoods.

How soon are you planning to do the swap?


Bill Guzman

Ran, how much travel do you on the rear suspension?
It looks limited to 2/3" on either direction.
Only guessing. The panhard rod is high(ok) and unequal lengh torque armas will allow movement straight up and down (OK) Remember that when a parralel line moves in either direction it gets shorter, in this case the panhard rod. The rod will pull the axle in or out changing the geometry of the axle. one way to cure this common problem is to make it longer as possible.
It is hard to determine from the pictures. Great job, it looks very profesional. I really like the crossmember in the rear Very Nice! and strong.

At front on picture botton left (frame and coil over)
I see a loop of some sort, is this a load bearing member? if it is, may I suggest to triangulate for strengh.
That is going to be a very nice car.
Keep in touch would like to see the progress of your great project.

R/ Bill
Bill Guzman

Thanks for your comments. Your guesses and right on the mark. The full travel is about 6 1/2 inches but can be controlled by changing the spring weight or adjusting the shock itself. The panhard bar starts on the left side of the frame and clears the right by 1/2 of an inch. We figure less than 1/4" movement at the most. The rear member is .025 thick 2"x4" steel stock and fits perfectly within the MG frame. You can get a nice weld on all sides and it looks like it belongs there. I was able to choose stock sizes that matched the existing frame and should add enough strength. The rear coil shocks are mounted on stand offs from this piece. You noticed the weakest part of the design. In front I can't get a good triangle support to the front shock towers. I plan to box the frame there and have thought of adding a 1 x 2 member under the existing frame kind of honeycombed with spacers. I am not sure how much flex I will get here. I am still trying to keep this as "MG" as possible and don't want a NASCAR frame under the hood. Besides that would be too easy, make too much sense and actually allow me to finish the project. Thanks for you help.


Hey folks!,
I was at our monthly club meeting last Tues, talking to a MGBV8 (215) owner. He is looking toward putting a 302 in his GT. We were talking about the weight issue, and he made mention on someone (east coast US?) making a custom front suspension for th B. Supposed to improve handling and (are you listening??) SAVE 50lbs!!! I think the guy is doing it to help is V8 conversion (since it was mentioned when I asked about notching the crossmember to fit the 302), but I will find out more.

Just thought I would share..
Larry Embrey

Ran, one way to make it stronger at front (if you think that it needs it) You have a vertical support to the structure that you built. One way to make it stronger. to better take side loading fron engine torque, and suspension oscillations, is to add a bar .095 wall thick and the same dia. fron the vertical member to the front of the frame. Or better from the firewall to the frame. It looks like it would clear just fine. It's hard to see it clear from the pic.

Really would like to see your peoject when completed.

Please stay in touch.
Bill Guzman

This thread was discussed between 21/04/2000 and 06/06/2000

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