MG Sports Cars

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

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gstock
Gareth Stock
Hamilton, Ontario
(26 posts)

Registered:
10/12/2015 05:22PM

Main British Car:
1979 MGB Ford 5.0L

1979 MGB 5.0L Ford Conversion
Posted by: gstock
Date: January 05, 2022 11:17PM

Hi Everyone,

I've been lurking through this forum for nearly a decade now as I've slowly planned to complete my conversion of a 1979 MGB (Photo 1) to a V8. I pulled the Ford 5.0L out of my Grandma's 1987 Lincoln Mark VII (Photo 2) after driving it for ten years. I had it rebuilt (Photo 3) at Wildgoose Performance in Stoney Creek. The owner, Jim let me come up to the shop a couple of times to do some of the work myself, which I really appreciated.

I've also appreciated all of the information I've gained from reading this forum over the years. This groups collective intelligence on the subject has helped me gather parts over the years (Photo 4). A special thanks to Martyn Harvey for his guidance and encouragement.


Thats all the photos I can attach for the post, so I'll start another one for the latest.

Photo 1-MGB.png
Photo 2-Mark VII.png
Photo 3-5L V8.jpg
Photo 4-Parts.jpg


gstock
Gareth Stock
Hamilton, Ontario
(26 posts)

Registered:
10/12/2015 05:22PM

Main British Car:
1979 MGB Ford 5.0L

Re: 1979 MGB 5.0L Ford Conversion
Posted by: gstock
Date: January 05, 2022 11:22PM

A bit of history on the car. I bought it in 2016, pulled the engine in 2018 thinking I would start the conversion right away...big mistake. Some house renos, a wedding, and a puppy really changed that timeline. I also decided that I would find the whole process more enjoyable if I renovated my garage first. So we went from a dark dingy garage to a nice bright clean-ish garage (Photo 5). I have some big regrets about pulling the engine and transmission prior to the pandemic. Would have been nice spending some time actually driving the car during lock-downs. I sold the engine and transmission to a gentlemen who helped pull both and plans to use them for racing engines.

I'm a few steps further today, having stripped the engine bay down completely, have pulled the original crossmember and complete front suspension. I'm waiting on a complete bushing kit now to rebuild the front and rear suspension. In the meanwhile I have installed a pre-modified chrome-bumper cross member without any of the suspension attached and ground off the old MGB mounts (Photos 6).

My plan is to use an old 302 block as a mock-up engine to determine engine mount placement (Photo 7). I plan to use the recommended position from the "How to Give Your MGB V8 Power" of 18" from the firewall. That appears to line up just ahead of the rear crossmember bolt based on some laser leveling and a tape measure. After first trying to fit the engine alone in the car I've realized that the bellhousing and transmission are likely needed to determine the exact fit (Photo 8).

Later this week I'll attach the transmission and try this again. I plan to fabricate my own engine mounts similar to the original MGB mounts to match my Anchor flexible rubber mounts.

So my first (of many) questions to the group;

1. Do you forsee any other modifications necessary when using a chrome bumper crossmember on a rubber bumper car?

Thanks everyone!

-Gary


Photo 5-Garage Reno.png
Photo 6-Mounts Removed.jpg
Photo 7-Old Block.jpg
Photo 8-First Fit.jpg


ex-tyke
Graham Creswick
Chatham, Ontario, Canada
(1156 posts)

Registered:
10/25/2007 11:17AM

Main British Car:
1976 MGB Ford 302

authors avatar
Re: 1979 MGB 5.0L Ford Conversion
Posted by: ex-tyke
Date: January 07, 2022 08:46AM

Quote:
Do you forsee any other modifications necessary when using a chrome bumper crossmember on a rubber bumper car?
You'll lose 1" of additional clearance to drop the engine (damper to steering rack)....which could translate into underhood clearance to the air cleaner.
I started with a '76 MGB, retained the RB xmbr and used drop spindles and steering arms to lower to CB height. You'll find that extra inch of engine clearance welcome!


gstock
Gareth Stock
Hamilton, Ontario
(26 posts)

Registered:
10/12/2015 05:22PM

Main British Car:
1979 MGB Ford 5.0L

Re: 1979 MGB 5.0L Ford Conversion
Posted by: gstock
Date: January 11, 2022 09:57AM

Thanks Graham. I'm pretty sure I've read you highlighting that clearance issue with the chrome bumper cars somewhere else in the forums. Appreciate you repeating it here for me.

Turns out I'll be figuring out exactly how much clearance I have under the hood as my test block is much older than my '87 302 and doesn't actually mate up to the T5 I bought years ago. Disappointing, but I was able to salvage the distributor shaft and used it to spin the oil pump last night before removing the oil filter on my new engine (Photo 9). So it wasn't a total waste of $60. I've installed my TransDapt remote filter (Photo 10 & 11) on the engine side so that it will clear the frame rails as I test fitment later this weekend.

Before test fitting the engine and transmission, I plan to drill out the plug welds to remove the radiator shrouds and then trim the panel back to make as much room at the front of the engine as possible. Will be using some photos from the V8 book and other's "How it was Done" articles to gauge how much to remove from the panel.

Question 2 to the group:
I've got some sort of heat shield that runs from the firewall back along the transmission tunnel (Photo 12). Have others with late model cars removed this heat shield? I understand its a very tight fit between the transmission and the tunnel to begin with but wonder if that ~1/8" will be a deal breaker?
Photo 9-Spinning Oil Pump.jpg
Photo 10-TransDapt Box.jpg
Photo 11-Remote Filter Installed.jpg
Photo 12-Trans Heat Shield.jpg


IaTR6
Dennis Costello
Central Iowa
(189 posts)

Registered:
12/29/2007 02:53PM

Main British Car:
'73 TR 6 '97 Explorer 5.0

Re: 1979 MGB 5.0L Ford Conversion
Posted by: IaTR6
Date: January 11, 2022 11:39AM

I've mentioned it in other discussions, but will repeat it. Consider converting to an
Explorer front dress. You'll save on overall engine length. I'm going from
memory here, but I think the Explorer distance from the block face to the outer
edge of the harmonic damper/pulley is 5 3/8". Of course, you have to use the Explorer water pump
and a serpentine belt.
Dennis


gstock
Gareth Stock
Hamilton, Ontario
(26 posts)

Registered:
10/12/2015 05:22PM

Main British Car:
1979 MGB Ford 5.0L

Re: 1979 MGB 5.0L Ford Conversion
Posted by: gstock
Date: January 12, 2022 09:36AM

Thanks Dennis.

I thought I was using the narrowest combination possible. I don't think I had any say in the timing chain cover that was installed, but the water pump I'm using is the Ford short nosed version and I'm using CVF racing V-Belt pulleys (Photo 13) Photo 13-CVF Pulleys.jpg.

I took a rough look at it last night (without a straight edge) but it looks like I'm around 7" from the edge of the block to the mounting face of the water pump pulley. If I subtract the water pump pulley mounting face offset of about 3/4", then I would be about 6 1/4" from the block to the outer face of the crank pulley.
Photo 14-Front Dress Dimensions.jpg

I think this puts me in line with what the explorer front dress would have offered. Probably would have saved a few bucks too!

Any thoughts on removal of that heat shield? I'm planning to mate the transmission and engine tonight and test fit.


IaTR6
Dennis Costello
Central Iowa
(189 posts)

Registered:
12/29/2007 02:53PM

Main British Car:
'73 TR 6 '97 Explorer 5.0

Re: 1979 MGB 5.0L Ford Conversion
Posted by: IaTR6
Date: January 12, 2022 11:17AM

Gareth, You will have to see how the engine fits. I fell into the "blinders on" rabbit hole where I was equating your
installation with mine. Since I have a TR6, the issue I was having is the front suspension cross brace that runs
from one side of the chassis to the other and is right a the level of the front crankshaft pulley. Others, like Rob Ficalora
are aware of the issues with the MGB, and have successfully installed the Ford. Anyway, what caught me on your question
was the relocating of the radiator support, and I was trying to offer information that might prevent moving the radiator.
As to heat shielding, I have none in the firewall/bellhousing area on the engine side. All the heat insulation I have
is under the carpet, and is a 1/2" non-woven material that is faced with foil. Contrary to every installation I have seen,
I placed the foil side down to reflect the heat away from the interior. This is not possible with many of the products I
see, as the black sticky side must go down. I am satisfied with the heat rejection of my installation.
Dennis



ex-tyke
Graham Creswick
Chatham, Ontario, Canada
(1156 posts)

Registered:
10/25/2007 11:17AM

Main British Car:
1976 MGB Ford 302

authors avatar
Re: 1979 MGB 5.0L Ford Conversion
Posted by: ex-tyke
Date: January 13, 2022 08:29AM

I suspect that no one has, or has retained, that heat shield - I don't have one...and it's in an area that would foul the T5 bellhousing.
And while I concede that external cab heat and sound insulation does a better job than internally applied, internal is easier to deal with and keep out of the elements. In my case, FWIW, I have liberal amounts of 'Dynamat' applied to the interior tub and firewall.


gstock
Gareth Stock
Hamilton, Ontario
(26 posts)

Registered:
10/12/2015 05:22PM

Main British Car:
1979 MGB Ford 5.0L

Re: 1979 MGB 5.0L Ford Conversion
Posted by: gstock
Date: January 13, 2022 06:57PM

Thanks Graham and Dennis.

I discovered a larger issue than the heat shield while trying to fit the engine last night. It was a good start getting the engine and transmission into the car.
Photo 16-Engine In.jpg

Based on photos of others cars on here, the rear of the engine and the transmission location appeared to be about right.
Photo 17-Trans Location.jpg
Photo 21-Firewall Clearance.jpg


At first glance I was even excited that the engine appeared to fit perfectly.
Photo 19-Oil Pan on Xmbr.jpg

However....when trying to fit the steering rack I discovered a problem...



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/14/2022 11:29AM by gstock.


gstock
Gareth Stock
Hamilton, Ontario
(26 posts)

Registered:
10/12/2015 05:22PM

Main British Car:
1979 MGB Ford 5.0L

Re: 1979 MGB 5.0L Ford Conversion
Posted by: gstock
Date: January 13, 2022 07:30PM

You can see that the oil pan is too far forward and doesn't allow for the installation of the steering rack.
Photo 20-Rack Clearance Issue.jpg

I scratched my head for a bit but realized that the steering rack mounts on the CB crossmember that I am using have been relocated inwards towards the crossmember. This brings the steering rack maybe ~1" closer to the oil pan. Heres a comparison between my original RB crossmember and the pre-modified CB crossmember that I'm using.
Photo 21-Xmbr Comparisons.png

I don't have a full history on the pre-modified CB crossmember, but I understand that it belonged to Steve Carrick in his "Barney" car. Looking at that "How It Was Done Article", I can see that Steve made some firewall modifications and moved his 302 further back into the car. I can only assume that the steering rack mounts were also moved back to improve the angle for the steering column connection.

I see 3 options for moving forward:

1. Modify Firewall
I shouldn't have to do this with a rubber bumper car, but I could modify the firewall and move the engine backwards until the pan clears the steering rack. Because I have the short nosed water pump and V-belt pulleys, I don't think this is necessary for the rad clearance.

2. Modify Steering Rack Mounts on CB Crossmember
I could cut the steering rack mounts off the CB crossmember and fabricate some new ones to place the rack between the harmonic balancer and oil pan. I don't have any reference for where the original mounts go on the CB crossmember, but I think if I put the rack in that location then I shouldn't be introducing any major bump steer as described in other articles here.

3. Abandon the CB Crossmember and Modify Original RB Crossmember
This would put me back at square 1, but at least with a fairly traveled path in terms of engine placement. I know this will also give me that 1" of space back to clear the air cleaner with the hood. But I did like the idea of lowering the car this way.

Looking for advice.

Thanks,

Gary


ex-tyke
Graham Creswick
Chatham, Ontario, Canada
(1156 posts)

Registered:
10/25/2007 11:17AM

Main British Car:
1976 MGB Ford 302

authors avatar
Re: 1979 MGB 5.0L Ford Conversion
Posted by: ex-tyke
Date: January 14, 2022 12:39PM

Quote:
1. Modify Firewall
I shouldn't have to do this with a rubber bumper car, but I could modify the firewall and move the engine backwards until the pan clears the steering rack. Because I have the short nosed water pump and V-belt pulleys, I don't think this is necessary for the rad clearance.
I've driven Steve's car - when he modified the firewall to move the engine back, he also had to move the accelerator pedal toward the brake pedal, creating a less than ideal situation for wide shoes!
Quote:
2. Modify Steering Rack Mounts on CB Crossmember
Doable without too much difficulty to locate rack between pan and harmonic balancer/damper - I assume that you still need to add clearance for the front sump.
Quote:
3. Abandon the CB Crossmember and Modify Original RB Crossmember
My preferred route, as it allows dropping the engine down another inch - modification for sump clearance still required. Since clearances are so tight up front (sump to back of steering rack & damper pulley to steering rack), if you add caster reduction (usually 2 degrees) wedges under the front xmbr, additional clearance can be gained since the rack is essentially tipped further down.
If you are worried about rad clearance, I'd consider moving the rad forward - in my case, I located mine about 1"+ ahead of the '77 -'80 RB cars, giving me 1" clearance between the engine driven viscous fan and the rad core.
Decisions, decisions!


gstock
Gareth Stock
Hamilton, Ontario
(26 posts)

Registered:
10/12/2015 05:22PM

Main British Car:
1979 MGB Ford 5.0L

Re: 1979 MGB 5.0L Ford Conversion
Posted by: gstock
Date: January 14, 2022 02:13PM

I'm going to make some changes this weekend before deciding which direction I want to go. However, your comments about moving pedals has me ruling out the firewall modification option.

I'll remove the heat shield from the tunnel, remove the clutch fork cover from the transmission, and rejig my lifting chains to the cylinder heads before reinstalling. That way I can see how much of a hood scoop I would need if I kept the CB crossmember. The benefit of that crossmember is that it already has the oil pan cut out from Steve's conversion. I also like the idea of lowering the car without having to do drop spindles and steering arms and have seen that others on this forum think that the crossmember swap isn't a bad way of lowering the RB cars.

If it looks like I have more than an inch of stickout through the hood, then I will keep the CB crossmember and do a hoodscoop. If it looks like I'm only shy an inch, then I'll swap out the CB crossmember with my own modified RB crossmember.

Thanks for your input. I really appreciate having some people to bounce these ideas off!


ex-tyke
Graham Creswick
Chatham, Ontario, Canada
(1156 posts)

Registered:
10/25/2007 11:17AM

Main British Car:
1976 MGB Ford 302

authors avatar
Re: 1979 MGB 5.0L Ford Conversion
Posted by: ex-tyke
Date: January 17, 2022 12:00PM

Quote:
If it looks like I have more than an inch of stickout through the hood, then I will keep the CB crossmember and do a hoodscoop
A couple of years back, I fabricated a cowl induction system for mine - the 'scoop' was obtained from Dave Craddock at Preform Resources and glued to an aluminum hood...gained about 1-1/4" of headroom.
If you discover that you need additional clearance, I might be tempted to part with it!
Cowl induction hood 3.png

RV8 hood 3.png

RV8 hood 5.png


gstock
Gareth Stock
Hamilton, Ontario
(26 posts)

Registered:
10/12/2015 05:22PM

Main British Car:
1979 MGB Ford 5.0L

Re: 1979 MGB 5.0L Ford Conversion
Posted by: gstock
Date: January 17, 2022 09:12PM

Thats a very tempting offer. I've been going through example photos of different hood scoops and I do like the RV8 bulge. What hood are you running now then? This is obviously a new project based on Preform's website. It looks great!

I've also been wondering about whether those standalone EFI systems are shorter than a standard 4 barrel carb. I'm looking forward to fitting the engine this week with the changes I've made and figuring out exactly how much space I have. Will post my progress later this week.

Thanks again,

Gary


ex-tyke
Graham Creswick
Chatham, Ontario, Canada
(1156 posts)

Registered:
10/25/2007 11:17AM

Main British Car:
1976 MGB Ford 302

authors avatar
Re: 1979 MGB 5.0L Ford Conversion
Posted by: ex-tyke
Date: January 18, 2022 11:39AM

Quote:
What hood are you running now then?
My original louvered hood.

MGB hood louvers.jpg
Quote:
I've also been wondering about whether those standalone EFI systems are shorter than a standard 4 barrel carb
If you’re referencing the typical aftermarket TBI systems (Holley, FiTech, Edelbrock,…) then the throttle body is dimensionally similar to the size of a typical carb. I run a Fitech and the carb flange height is exactly the same as my old Holley 4150.



gstock
Gareth Stock
Hamilton, Ontario
(26 posts)

Registered:
10/12/2015 05:22PM

Main British Car:
1979 MGB Ford 5.0L

Re: 1979 MGB 5.0L Ford Conversion
Posted by: gstock
Date: January 22, 2022 11:32AM

Ok. So engine back in the car after having done the following:

1. Removed transmission tunnel heat shield
2. Removed radiator shroud finds (which now I'm not sure was necessary and I made a mess trying to drill out the plug welds. Will be a nice spot to practice sheet metal welding
Photo 22-Rad Shroud Removal.jpg
3. Trim back rad shelf panel, using Martyn Harvey's build journal as a reference. (Thanks again!)
Photo 23-Rad Shelf Trim.png
4. Grind off original alternator lug mount on passenger side (after confirming CVF pulley bracket does not require)
Photo 24-Alt Lug Removal.jpg

We fit the engine/trans back into the car to check fitment again. It seemed like it went back a tiny bit further, but I'm still fouling on the valve cover before the cylinder head. These valve covers weren't my first choice. They were thrown on by the engine builder. I'm wondering if they're abnormally bulky on that side of the engine? Unfortunately I don't have anything else to compare to.
Photo 25-Valve Cover vs Cylinder Head.png


gstock
Gareth Stock
Hamilton, Ontario
(26 posts)

Registered:
10/12/2015 05:22PM

Main British Car:
1979 MGB Ford 5.0L

Re: 1979 MGB 5.0L Ford Conversion
Posted by: gstock
Date: January 22, 2022 11:48AM

The tunnel clearance looks tight, but I know from others posts that the bellhousing area of the tunnel needs to be adjusted with a BFH. So plan to make those modifications and try to massage the drivers side firewall backwards where the valve cover fouls. I think this will put my engine back to where most have theirs.
Photo 26-Passenger side tunnel clearance.jpg
Photo 28-Driver Side Tunnel from Rear.jpg

After making these notes, we turned to the hood clearance issue. The engine looks low...until you add a carb and air cleaner.
We had to come up with a way to see how far the engine would stick out of the hood. While a level across the top would be close, we figured every 1/8" would count and wanted some way to account for the bulge in the hood. To do so, we took the following steps.

1. Mark the position of the front, centre, and rear of the air cleaner on the fenders of the car with tape.
Photo 29-Marking Engine Position.jpg
2. Install the hood, and mark the same positions using the fender tape as reference.
3. Aim a laser level at the car and measure from the front, centre and rear air cleaner reference marks on the hood, up to the laser. The laser provided a stable "Datum" for measurements.
Photo 30-Laser Level Reference.jpg
4. Measure distance from intake manifold and air cleaner to laser.


gstock
Gareth Stock
Hamilton, Ontario
(26 posts)

Registered:
10/12/2015 05:22PM

Main British Car:
1979 MGB Ford 5.0L

Re: 1979 MGB 5.0L Ford Conversion
Posted by: gstock
Date: January 22, 2022 12:14PM

4. Measure distance from intake manifold and air cleaner to laser.
Photo 31-Intake to Datum.jpg
Photo 32-Cleaner to Datum.jpg

Throwing these numbers into a quick Excel sheet, shows the air cleaner clearance issue I'm facing.
Photo 32-Maths.jpg

This kind of makes sense from Graham's feedback so far. My engine should be ~1" higher than other RB conversions because I'm using a crossmember that is 1" closer to the frame rails of the car, which bring the oil pan 1" closer to the hood. But, using a shorter air cleaner and an RV8 hood should allow me to continue using my CB crossmember. Its a road less traveled, but gets me what I want: lower car and a V8.

The other challenge I'm facing is that the passenger side engine mount (Comet style) won't fit between the frame rail and the block of the car. This makes me think that the engine is a bit too far forward still. I'd love some feedback from other based on this photo of the oil pan vs edge of crossmember.
Photo 33-Oil Pan vs CrossMember.jpg


So plan moving forward this weekend

1. Check rad and fan clearance with newly trimmed position
2. Remove engine and transmission
3. BFH adjustments to transmission tunnel near bellhousing on both sides
4. BFH adjustments to firewall where valve cover touches
5. BFH adjustments to frame rail where remote oil filter touches
6. Remove crossmember and grind off steering rack mounts
7. Reinstall crossmember with new poly bushings
8. Reinstall engine and transmission and check fit again

One step at a time...

Thanks,

Gary


Spitfire 350
Phil McConnell
Perrysburg, OH (Toledo area)
(247 posts)

Registered:
01/11/2010 09:19PM

Main British Car:
74 Spitfire 350Chevy

authors avatar
Re: 1979 MGB 5.0L Ford Conversion
Posted by: Spitfire 350
Date: January 22, 2022 03:00PM

Not sure if something like this would be helpful...
[www.amazon.com]


MGBV8
Carl Floyd
Kingsport, TN
(4284 posts)

Registered:
10/23/2007 11:32PM

Main British Car:
1979 MGB Buick 215

authors avatar
Re: 1979 MGB 5.0L Ford Conversion
Posted by: MGBV8
Date: January 27, 2022 09:25AM

"My engine should be ~1" higher than other RB conversions because I'm using a crossmember that is 1" closer to the frame rails of the car, which bring the oil pan 1" closer to the hood."

Why? Are your engine mounts attached to the crossmember?
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