MG Sports Cars

engine swaps and other performance upgrades, plus "factory" and Costello V8s

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Flyingtank
Kevin Burns

(5 posts)

Registered:
05/17/2014 07:47AM

Main British Car:


Rookie with grand plans
Posted by: Flyingtank
Date: May 17, 2014 10:21AM

Hey everybody,

Love the site, great inspiration all around. I just moved to England from the states and in doing so have rekindled my love of MG.

Specifically, seeing Darren Jones's and Rob Ficalora's V8 mods have opened my eyes that this is what I want to do with my MG, and by "my MG" I mean the RHD I want to buy here in England and take back to the states in a few years.

So a few questions I had for you gentlemen. With the Ford 302 it seems everyone is fabricating many of their own parts, specifically air intakes to fit under the hood. My eyes got very big when I saw the Mustang GT 302, is there any hope of fitting this engine under the hood with the Cobra Jet intake manifold? I'd like to just have a gradual rise in the hood to fit the intake but I'm afraid the clearance required would surpass that "gradual" mark.

Also, has anyone done any MG body panels in carbon fiber? I'm very interested in remaking everything in carbon fiber but I'm concerned about crossing a safety line that might make the car not street-legal.

Thanks again.


HealeyRick
Rick Neville

(468 posts)

Registered:
12/19/2007 05:01PM

Main British Car:
1963 Austin-Healey 3000 Ford 5.0L

authors avatar
Re: Rookie with grand plans
Posted by: HealeyRick
Date: May 17, 2014 02:19PM

While making your plans, you should give some thought to where you're going to title, register and insure your car (the less fun stuff of planning a motor swap). If you're going to do the modifications in the UK on a car you buy there, you'll have one set of regulations with which to comply. And it might be easier to build a Rover-motored car in the UK rather than sourcing the Ford motor, transmission and associated parts. Then you'll have to be sure you can legally import the car into the US for smog and safety regs. There's a 25 year waiver for cars (don't know if its 25 yrs or more than 25 yrs) but once you get it into the U.S. you're going to have to comply with the laws of the state where you are going to register it. Some are virtually non-existent, others can be stringent enough to make it almost impossible to register a modified car. Giving some thought to this stuff now can really make life easier down the road.


Flyingtank
Kevin Burns

(5 posts)

Registered:
05/17/2014 07:47AM

Main British Car:


Re: Rookie with grand plans
Posted by: Flyingtank
Date: May 17, 2014 02:55PM

Thanks Rick,

My plan at the moment is to get the vehicle here in England and drive it, unfortunately my work schedule/free time won't currently accommodate the engine swap so that will likely be when I return to the states. I believe the 25 year waiver for import is voided if you try to import a car with an engine change like that so right now I'm planning to leave it relatively "stock". I may start some body panels depending on how polished I can get my carbon work over the next few years, although I'm hesitant to go too far down that road before I know how the engine mod and suspension will drive wheel base and clearances.

Things should get a little clearer in a few months once I find the right car to start with.


Moderator
Curtis Jacobson
Portland Oregon
(4411 posts)

Registered:
10/12/2007 02:16AM

Main British Car:
71 MGBGT, Buick 215

authors avatar
Re: Rookie with grand plans
Posted by: Moderator
Date: May 17, 2014 03:37PM

Welcome to BritishV8!

I like your plan. I expect you'll find your free time gobbled up while in England. Also, I think you'll find it's less expensive to do a Ford V8 conversion in USA.

Carbon and epoxy are expensive, so if you're going to use them you'll want to use them right. By that, I mean high quality molds plus vacuum bagging, etc. Dave Craddock of Preform Resources (in Detroit) made a carbon fiber bonnet for me on a very special-order basis. It wasn't simply a matter of putting carbon fabric where he would normally put glass mat though. He left out all the usual reinforcements and hardware. Instead, the bonnet is stiffened with a thin layer of honeycomb core material. It's mounted by two pins and two tabs (not two latches and two hinges.) It doesn't have the internal steel reinforcement he usually provides for prop rod attachment. And thus It only weighs about five pounds. If I ever strike gold, I'll have Dave make me a whole "Speedster" body kit in carbon. Totally do-able, but certainly not inexpensive! The shipping cost to UK is something you might want to ask Dave about. Contact info and photos appear here: [www.preformresources.com]


rficalora
Rob Ficalora
Willis, TX
(2636 posts)

Registered:
10/24/2007 02:46PM

Main British Car:
'76 MGB w/CB front, Sebring rear, early metal dash Ford 302

authors avatar
Re: Rookie with grand plans
Posted by: rficalora
Date: May 17, 2014 04:31PM

I like the idea, but think a bit about how much you really want a RHD car once you get back to the States. I have a buddy with a TC and while he enjoys it, I've also heard him comment less than positively about driving RHD around here. Difficulty seeing, passing, etc.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/17/2014 04:36PM by rficalora.


MGBV8
Carl Floyd
Kingsport, TN
(3787 posts)

Registered:
10/23/2007 11:32PM

Main British Car:
1979 MGB, Buick 215

authors avatar
Re: Rookie with grand plans
Posted by: MGBV8
Date: May 17, 2014 05:00PM

I was thinking along the same lines as Rob. T-Series are cute, fun, & too slow to even worry about passing with RHD. A V8 powered MGB & passing on two lane roads just go together. ;) It's not very safe to do here with RHD. It's a wonder they allow a car that doesn't match the local roads.

Can you legally drive a LHD MGB in England?


Flyingtank
Kevin Burns

(5 posts)

Registered:
05/17/2014 07:47AM

Main British Car:


Re: Rookie with grand plans
Posted by: Flyingtank
Date: May 17, 2014 07:17PM

The carbon will be expensive so if I go that route it will only be if I can do all the manufacturing myself so that I'm only paying the still pricey but much more reasonable material costs. Right now I'm looking at easycomposites, a UK company based in Stoke-on-Trent. They have some interesting tutorials on YouTube as well as offering a three day training course.

For me the RHD just really seals the deal that this is a British car. We actually have the family Dodge Grand Caravan over here so I'm now intimately familiar with the challenges of "cross cockpit" driving.

LHD vehicles are legal here in the UK, quite a few of them from the states as well as the rest of Europe.



HealeyRick
Rick Neville

(468 posts)

Registered:
12/19/2007 05:01PM

Main British Car:
1963 Austin-Healey 3000 Ford 5.0L

authors avatar
Re: Rookie with grand plans
Posted by: HealeyRick
Date: May 17, 2014 09:24PM

Apologies to anyone who's read this RHD story before, but here's my experience in the U.S.:

"I have a good friend we'll call Bob, because that's not his real name. Bob's an ordinary guy who has one extraordinary talent. He's actually been able to make money by diligently tracking down rare sports cars, particularly Austin Healeys, and selling them at a profit. As a result, he's had some pretty interesting cars in his garage over the years. One of the most spectacular was a Ford GT40 that he imported from England. We're not talking about the foo foo Ford GT here, but a real honest-to-God GT40 race car that was built as a continuation car by Safir Engineering and featured a 351 Cleveland topped by a bunch of Webers about 10 inches behind your head. White, with blue over-the-roof stripes, y'know, like this:

http://i57.tinypic.com/sxlykk.jpg

Bob decides he's going to drive it to the Lime Rock vintage races. Now this might not be a problem, but did you forget I said "racecar"? Car would run only on race gas and registering the car for the street was impossible because it violated every reg the EPA, DOT and the DMV could think of and some that they didn't even have a chance to come up with yet. Not to be deterred, Bob slapped a dealer's plate on it, but since the car was fiberglass without anyplace to put a magnet on it and no license plate holder, the only place to put the plate was in the rear window. You can imagine how small the window is on a 40" tall car, so basically from the rear it looked like no plate at all on the car.

We took the "shortcut" to Lime Rock, a winding back road through some of the prettiest scenery in the Berkshires. If some movie producer wanted to cast the part of "Sports Car Road" this one would get the lead. Unfortunately, on race weekends it is the gathering place for every local yokel for miles around who are trying to enrich the coffers of their picturesque southwestern Massachusetts and northwestern Connecticut villages at the expense of those rich sporty car fellas.

As Bob was showing me what a GT40 could do on this particular stretch of God's-own sports car playground, which happened to be about four times the legal limit and half the speed that Dan Gurney could have driven it, a helpful soul (who happened to own a Ferrari 288 GTO replica) gave us the universal sign that a speed trap awaited over the top of the next hill. With heroic braking and downshifting, Bob managed to get us under the speed limit before we crested the rise and we motored sedately past the radar officer.

I knew this wasn't going to go well. Just imagine you're some small town cop seeing a white race car with blue over-the-roof stripes pass by. By the soul of Buford T. Justice, I intuit we're going to be having a conversation on the side of the road in the very near future. So I stare into the fender mirror and ... wait for it ... there they are ... we're lit up.

The nice officer approaches the driver's window, I slide open the tiny window (no real race car would have roll down windows) and direct him over to the passenger's side to talk to Bob. Wait a minute, Rick. You said Bob was driving, but now you're sitting on the driver's side? What gives? You forgot I said this was a British race car with the steering wheel on the right-hand side where God and the Queen intended it. As soon as the officer gets to Bob's side he notices the four six-packs of beer I have lined up next to me on top of the fuel tank in the side sill. Are any of those open, he asks me. Since it was 9:00 am, luckily none were. (Note to self, when your buddies ask you to bring beer to the track on Sunday because all the liquor stores are closed, bring a car that has a trunk).

Then Bob and the officer had a nice little chat. Bob was asked for his license and registration. Registration? Are you kidding me? Then there was a lengthy discussion of who we were and why the f... we were driving a car designed for over 200 mph at LeMans on the street. I didn't get all of Bob's explanation, but what I heard of it, it was total B.S. And then, the officer asks for my driver's license. WTF? What did I do? As far as I know, there is no statute in MA or CT entitled "Felony Riding in a Racecar on a Public Way" I was perfectly fine with Bob being led off in cuffs. Hell, it was his car and he was having the joy of driving it where it had no business being. But now this was serious. No way am I going to some one-cell, one-cot hooseqow without a fight. "Excuse me officer," says I, "you're more than welcome to see my license, but can you tell me why?" "BECAUSE YOU'RE DRIVING THE CAR!" he said in a tone that made it perfectly clear that I must have been the stupidest bastid in the stupidest car that ever put one tire into his jurisdiction.

"Actually, I'm not," I calmly said while I pointed out to this bastion of the law, highly trained in powers of observation, the steering wheel in front of old Bob, whom he had just been conversing with for about twenty minutes. Whoosh! It was as if the Michelin Man had just stepped on a pack of carpet tacks. I don't know if it was embarrassment, exasperation or just a cat being tired of playing with a mouse, but the officer handed Bob back his license, saying, "Maybe you shouldn't be driving this car on the street" and let us go without even a warning. Maybe we shouldn't have, but it was one hell of a good time and one great story.


kerbau53
Geoff Morton
Naples, FL
(108 posts)

Registered:
08/09/2010 10:27PM

Main British Car:
78 MGB Ford 5L

Re: Rookie with grand plans
Posted by: kerbau53
Date: May 18, 2014 01:05AM

Rick,

I like that story.


88v8
Ivor Duarte
Gloucestershire UK
(702 posts)

Registered:
02/11/2010 04:29AM

Main British Car:
1974 Land Rover Lightweight V8

Re: Rookie with grand plans
Posted by: 88v8
Date: May 18, 2014 05:01AM

Hello from England

Yes, it's inspiring to see some of the work people on here have done, but....
How much spare time do you think you'll have over here?
Really??

You done anything like this before? It amazes me how many people start a project such as you have in mind, but never finish it. Look on eBay under 'Unfinished project' or some such.
Actually, it doesn't amaze me, because jobs like this can soak up time as if time were everlasting**. And money of course.

And as has been said, steering wheel on wrong side, not much fun.

So, by all means build yourself a fibreglass car, panels here if/when you decide you haven't got the time to make them
[www.preformresources.com]

or in carbon here if weight-saving is really that important to you (cheaper to lay off the peanut butter lol),
[www.freewebs.com]

but start with a factory V8 car. There are plenty over here, and compared to the time needed to build one they're not expensive.
This is a good site to look
[www.carandclassic.co.uk]

Here's one already done
[www.carandclassic.co.uk]

Then, when you take it back to the US, you will have no trouble sourcing the parts and making the switch to LHD.

And in the meantime you'll have a car you can actually drive to the many many classic car events.

Book your tickets now for the Goodwood Revival meeting, and don't by any means miss the VSCC hillclimb at Prescott 2nd/3rd August. The two best vintage car events in the world.

As regards modifications, over here we have few regulations. So long as you comply with the national regulations that apply to all cars of a given age, and you can get insurance, you can do anything. Anything. And for engines 1986 (I August 86) and earlier, there's no smog test, only 'visible smoke'.

Just my thoughts. Oh, and if you're from a 'dry state', it's not the same here. Look out for rust in any car you buy. I had a '68 CGT from 1978/81. If I hadn't totalled it in a 50mph head-on, it would have been scrapped anyway from rust.

Good luck.

Ivor

** there are exceptions: not everyone takes forever agonising over details
[forum.britishv8.org]
Does your wife do welding?



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/18/2014 05:07AM by 88v8.


Flyingtank
Kevin Burns

(5 posts)

Registered:
05/17/2014 07:47AM

Main British Car:


Re: Rookie with grand plans
Posted by: Flyingtank
Date: May 18, 2014 07:40PM

Ivor,

I'll have virtually no spare time over here. That's why my intent is to simply get a decent B that runs and do the modifications later down the line, probably back in the states. This project isn't about spending a lot of money on a car, it's about building that car. I wouldn't see the satisfaction in paying 13500 ~ $24k for someone else's car.

Unfinished projects suck, but what's much worse would be not attempting them.

I've done nothing like this. At least on this scale, but that's kind of the point.

I'm not worried about making the modifications here, I am worried about not being able to get the car back to the states if I did. I know several people that are struggling with on Land Rover mods, they've needed to reinstall the stock engine to import the car and ship the engine they had put in it separately.

We'll see how expensive the carbon gets but looking at the current carbon prices you could make body panels for a reasonable price if you aren't paying the premium for the labor.

We'll see, maybe I'll never start, then I won't have to be one of eBays dreaded "unfinished projects". Then again, maybe I will.


Flyingtank
Kevin Burns

(5 posts)

Registered:
05/17/2014 07:47AM

Main British Car:


Re: Rookie with grand plans
Posted by: Flyingtank
Date: February 13, 2016 01:39PM

Finally picked up my driver. A nice little '78 MGB GT to make my commute a little more interesting before I take her back to the states next year. Unfortunately (or fortunately based on my limited free time) the export/import laws won't let me do much modification-wise until after I transport her.


MGBV8
Carl Floyd
Kingsport, TN
(3787 posts)

Registered:
10/23/2007 11:32PM

Main British Car:
1979 MGB, Buick 215

authors avatar
Re: Rookie with grand plans
Posted by: MGBV8
Date: February 14, 2016 05:54PM

Enjoy it, Kevin!


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