Triumph Sports Cars

engine swaps and other performance upgrades, plus "factory" V8s (Stag and TR8)

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Mogans


(11 posts)

Registered:
01/31/2011 02:43PM

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Thinking about V8 conversion for '78 Spitfire
Posted by: Mogans
Date: January 31, 2011 03:04PM

Hello All,
I've been lurking for a while and decided to introduce myself. I've got a '78 Spitfire that's been in storage for more than 10 years. It's been stored in a heated airplane hangar and is in pretty good shape, at least it was last time I saw it. I have a good mechanic that works on my other car and he's done some research for me about putting a V8 in the Spit. Looks like the whole project will run around $15k, including fabrication of the frame, suspension / brake upgrades, and the Buick / Rover engine that I think others have used. I understand that will provide about 200 hp and lots of torque. I was wondering if anyone who has done this in the past could advise the performance level after such an upgrade. Is it scary-fast or just a nice improvement? Would you do it again? I should mention in advance that I am not strong mechanically. I know a lot of you guys do your own work, wish I could to, but I never picked up the skills.
Thanks
Mogans


Spitfire 350
Phil McConnell
Swanton, OH (Toledo area)
(139 posts)

Registered:
01/11/2010 09:19PM

Main British Car:
74 Spitfire 350Chevy

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Re: Thinking about V8 conversion for '78 Spitfire
Posted by: Spitfire 350
Date: February 03, 2011 09:43AM

Welcome,

Have you looked at all of the Spitfires in the photo galleries? There are a lot of different ways of doing this conversion.

If I were to do it again, I would start with a complete, drivable, "84-'96 vette. They can be bought cheap and will provide you with everything needed to build a world class handling car with excess power.

Just a suggestion,
Phil McConnell


Mogans


(11 posts)

Registered:
01/31/2011 02:43PM

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Re: Thinking about V8 conversion for '78 Spitfire
Posted by: Mogans
Date: February 03, 2011 01:50PM

Thanks for the response Phil, appreciate the suggestion. You're right, I have spent some time on the site and people have done this conversion in different ways. I was hoping to keep mine as close to stock as possible in appearance, but with a lot more power. I like your car by the way, looks great!


theonlyiceman53
Bill Russell
Florda
(74 posts)

Registered:
11/18/2008 06:01AM

Main British Car:
77MGB 350 Chevy with LT1 heads

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Re: Thinking about V8 conversion for '78 Spitfire
Posted by: theonlyiceman53
Date: February 04, 2011 11:50PM

Hi Mogans,
If you trust someone to do the job right than 15 grand really isn't bad for a full conversion if you fully trust them and they do it right. I'm about half way through a V6 conversion. The Spitfire isn't really a great car for conversions, mostly because of the pinched in frame which limits placement of the transmission/engine. As suggested by Phil the Vette frame would be an alternative but it is amazing how much larger the Vette is than the Spit. The Vette frame is an engineering marvel ( for 1984 ) and I use the components as often as possible. When you start cutting into the Vette frame there are a bunch of internal gussets that give the frame it's strength. Be carefull when modifying!

If you keep the stock frame inspect it very, very carefully as they can rust from the inside out.

Cheers,
Bill


Mogans


(11 posts)

Registered:
01/31/2011 02:43PM

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Re: Thinking about V8 conversion for '78 Spitfire
Posted by: Mogans
Date: February 05, 2011 10:46AM

Hi Bill
Thanks for the response, good to have your perspective on the price. I'm confident this shop can do the job, they do a lot of fabrication on sports cars and race cars. I guess my question is more about the performance level I should expect with the Buick 215 in the spitfire, and the feel of the car. I want it to be fast but not so much so that it's uncomfortable to drive on the street under normal conditions. any thoughts would be welcome.
Thanks
Moans


Graham B
Graham Bingham
Draycott, Derbyshire, UK
(56 posts)

Registered:
09/19/2008 08:26AM

Main British Car:
1974 Triumph Spitfire Rover 3.5litre V8

Re: Thinking about V8 conversion for '78 Spitfire
Posted by: Graham B
Date: February 05, 2011 05:04PM

Hi Mogans,

A few words of encouragement from "over the pond",
Do it!

I have a Rover 3.5 V8 in my 1974 Mk IV Spitfire and it has made it into a real fun car to drive, what I like most of all is the torque available. I have a LT77 5 speed box in mine and its a joy to drive. It will pull like a train in 4th gear from below 30mph.
first gear is not a lot of use, but you can pull away quite easily in second anyway. If you are cruising through villages at 30mph (speed limit for built up areas in UK) in 4th, at the end of the speed restriction you simply put your foot down and she takes off like a scalded cat and what a sound!!.

I can't comment on the 15K quote for the job as I did most of the work myself with a little help from a friend and managed to recoup most of the cost by buying a donor TR8 for the engine and box and selling off lots of parts I didn't need including my original 2 litre straight six Triumph engine.

I am still running the stock chassis (frame) and stock rear diff/suspension, although I'm about to upgrade to disc brakes on the rear (mainly to improve the parking brake).

I have a lot of respect for the guys on this site and their conversions but sometimes I think they go overboard with chassis mods and strengthening etc. But then I don't take my car drag racing or spin the tyres away from the lights. It is suprising what the stock chassis and running gear will take so long as you feed the power in gently.

Would I do it again - - you bet I would.

Go do it!

Graham
55 Everything in place!.JPG


theonlyiceman53
Bill Russell
Florda
(74 posts)

Registered:
11/18/2008 06:01AM

Main British Car:
77MGB 350 Chevy with LT1 heads

authors avatar
Re: Thinking about V8 conversion for '78 Spitfire
Posted by: theonlyiceman53
Date: February 05, 2011 07:01PM

Hi Mogans,
There's going to be some additional weight due to the slightly heavier engine/transmission and 3 times the horsepower! If your shop knows what they are doing it will hopefully end up in the right places and the handling will be as good or better than original. With a rougly 10:1 power to weight ratio you will be pleased with the power but it should be entirely manageable. Keep in mind that once you start on the small car/ big engine road you will never be satisfied! ( maybe that's my own personal sickness! )

Bill



Mogans


(11 posts)

Registered:
01/31/2011 02:43PM

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Re: Thinking about V8 conversion for '78 Spitfire
Posted by: Mogans
Date: February 06, 2011 12:19AM

Thanks guys, that's exactly the feedback I was after. I'll keep you posted on what I do, but it sounds great. I'm actually on your side of the pond for a few more years, Graham, I'm an expat in Holland. But the car is in the States, so the plan would be to let the shop take their time doing the work and when I get back the car would be ready. Love the scalded cat comment, I think I've got to do this! I'm trying to get someone to take some pictures of the Spit in it's current form, I'll post those when I get them and keep you up to speed on my progress. Very nice community you guys have here, thanks for the welcome.
Mogans


robermar
Mark Robertson

(1 posts)

Registered:
03/18/2011 02:26PM

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Re: Thinking about V8 conversion for '78 Spitfire
Posted by: robermar
Date: March 18, 2011 02:59PM

Hi from a newbie.
I also have a '78 Spitfire and am thinking about going with a Chevy small block and auto trans, if I can fit it all in. Would like to use the original frame with some suspension upgrades. This plan is brand new (just hit me yesterday when I saw a 1969 Datsun 2000 with a Ford V8 upgrade). Any suggestions, comments, or encouragement is appreciated!


theonlyiceman53
Bill Russell
Florda
(74 posts)

Registered:
11/18/2008 06:01AM

Main British Car:
77MGB 350 Chevy with LT1 heads

authors avatar
Re: Thinking about V8 conversion for '78 Spitfire
Posted by: theonlyiceman53
Date: March 20, 2011 08:39PM

Hi Mark,
I love a SBC in everything and it can be done but.............. The Spitfire is very short and the original frame is very narrow. There just isn't much room to sit once everything is in place. I went with the 4.3 V6 just to keep the engine behind the front axle line and have a place to sit! It could be done with a SBC with the engine in front of the existing firewall but with the engine/tranny being so much heavier than the original combination, the handling would be pretty much gone. If you want to build a new chassis and are not shy about cutting the tub than by all means go to it because you will have something that will weigh less than a ton and be able to hook up. If money wasn't an object, than a late model LS series aluminum block and and old turbo 350 would be awesome just for the weight situation. I built the Spit with an auto because it's distracting to have to shift with a manual and a big engine/lite car. Things happen awful quick at full throttle! This is the first Triumph I've had. To be honest I've always wanted one just because of the flip front end! Hell, I've been married for less reasons than that!

In the end, you are building it for yourself so take my comments with a grain of salt!

[www.cardomain.com]

Bill


rampant racing
gary fraser
sarnia ont,canada
(74 posts)

Registered:
03/28/2009 02:45AM

Main British Car:
69 spitfiremk111 ford 347 stroker

Re: Thinking about V8 conversion for '78 Spitfire
Posted by: rampant racing
Date: April 24, 2011 12:59PM

the small block ford is small in size and light in weight when combined with alloy heads .it can be stroked to even larger cubes and if you go with the 351 based sbf instead of the 302 based sbf you can have 408 or larger cubic inches if you wish.combine that with a good tremec trans or overdrive ford auto and a rear gear in the 3.0:1 - 3.55:1 would be killer.even a 2.80:1 gear would be fine with the short tire that is needed for clearence and the deep first gear in overdive style transmissions.i would do a bonestock 302 before i would ever bother with a rover v8.alot of work for not much gain in performance.in my opinion that is.sure it's alot more than stock but that's still not saying much.lol.if your going to go to all the work why not end up with a car that can be fixed anywhere without waiting for parts and that actually makes some decent power and gobs of torque without modifying the hell out of it.as for a rearend stick an 8or 8.8 inch ford or a 7.5 ford from a later mustang.they come with disc brakes and a 3.31 gear and are dirt cheap and strong enough to handle anything in a spitfire cause the tires will bust loose before you break anything.it will need narrowed though and that will allow you the opportunity to install stronger aftermarket axels aswell.keeping it an irs that is strong enough is a pain in the ass.i'm doing that right now and wish i had gone with a straight axel.


fordtroadster
Scott Neil

(1 posts)

Registered:
05/02/2011 03:19PM

Main British Car:


Re: Thinking about V8 conversion for '78 Spitfire
Posted by: fordtroadster
Date: May 02, 2011 09:00PM

Thanks for all the posts. I to have started my first spit heart transplant. I have a 351w with a T50 going into my 79. The posters on this site have not only given me inspiration but the drive to get the car done. thanks to everyone.
180038_1291478985179_1776410407_569074_1466726_n.jpg
Even my kids have been helping.
168368_1291478545168_1776410407_569072_5306454_n.jpg


spit builder
Jeff Cude

(2 posts)

Registered:
10/16/2008 12:56AM

Main British Car:


Re: Thinking about V8 conversion for '78 Spitfire
Posted by: spit builder
Date: July 19, 2011 11:01PM

Hello to all, Mogans check out the pics of my 73 Spit with 302 conversion in progress. If you are doing a V8 seriously consider a Ford 302 they are much narrower than a chevy and you can do the frame yourself if you can Fab some frame rails and crossmembers. Mine was not easy but if you look closely at my pics you can copy it if you like it. It allowed me to mount the motor way back. and very low as well. PM me for more info and my pics.


Mogans


(11 posts)

Registered:
01/31/2011 02:43PM

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Re: Thinking about V8 conversion for '78 Spitfire
Posted by: Mogans
Date: December 21, 2011 03:51PM

Jeff,
Where can i see your pictures?
Mogans


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