Martyn and Graeme Harvey, at British V8 2003

Canadian Corner (Volume X, Issue 3 - September 2002)

by: Martyn Harvey

Great cars! Great fun! Great people! I think that says it all, but whether you're a current V8 owner or in the early stages of building a car, the 2002 British V8 Convention was an event not to be missed.

The really great thing about owning a British V8 is driving it! The real fun starts as soon as you turn the key and head out onto the country roads. For some people, the further they have to drive to the show - the better it is. In fact, it's not uncommon for some people to drive over a thousand miles to attend a V8 show.

This year, the show was an easy drive from southwestern Ontario. It took less than six hours for us to arrive at the Hilton and register for several days of V 8-mingling, V8-discussing and V8-driving fun. About twenty cars showed up for the convention, most of which were excellent examples of converted MGBs. Amongst the MGBs were two rather different and interesting vehicles. One was a Chevy-powered MGA that was recently brought out of a long period of storage and the other was the supercharged 215-powered MGB of Jim Blackwood. I think Jim could have paid for his hotel bill by charging a fee to those people who willingly braved a ride around the parking lot!

For me, the highlight of the show was the day spent at Grattan Raceway. About a dozen cars enjoyed a beautiful country drive to the track led by Steve Carrick's SVO-engined MGB. If you can't be driving this wonderful machine yourself, then the next best thing is driving behind it listening to the sweet sounding exhaust. ("Thank you, Steve, for letting me drive Barney - next time I will definitely open up all four barrels!")

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Although I was looking forward to driving the track, I must admit to being a little nervous. My only experience of driving on a racetrack was at the 2001 British V8 Summer Party at Sebring, and that was only six quick parade laps. On the first track session I tried to imprint the course in my mind and figure out the best driving line. I also tried to not look stupid. By the third session I had grown little horns on my head, was driving 120 mph down the back straight, and was even trying to keep up with Bill Yobi through the corners! As you can see, I am still alive and that says a lot for the stability of the car. Now I understand the significance of the "Safety Fast" motto of the MG Car Company. This was an opportunity to drive my car to the limit and I wasn't disappointed. The MGBV8 is really a great thing. An amateur like me can successfully convert an MGB to V8 power and then enjoy driving the country roads, the highways and even the racetrack. The other great thing is the camaraderie amongst the owners who just love to sit around the cars discussing and sharing their knowledge. Nobody criticizes - everybody is helpful. My own car developed a problem on the last evening of the show and even though it was 10pm and dark, several people gathered around and helped me solve it (thanks Max, Carl, Jim, Mike and Peter-to mention a few).

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On Friday morning we headed to the local arena parking lot for the autocross event. First Andy walked us around the course so we would know which way to go. It seemed fairly easy until I got behind the wheel, then it became a "sea" of orange cones. At least I didn't slide into a lampstand, run over any cones or kill any spectators. I did, however, get lost on several runs. There was a lot of smoking tires and growling exhausts as the MGBs showed off their handling prowess. There were a lot of smiles on the drivers' faces too.

A really big "Thank You" goes to a number of people who helped organize this truly fun summer party. I am not sure who all the people behind the scenes were but I will mention a few who certainly deserve to be recognized: Steve Carrick for registration and lots of really important other stuff that made the event happen, Andy Knaut for the Autocross event and probably other things too, Kurt Schley for the nostalgia at the Awards Dinner, Clive Wheatley for donating the lovely V8 valve covers as a door prize, the Lathrop's for hosting us with refreshments on Saturday morning, and all the other people I don't know about. Also, thanks go to the presenters of the tech sessions who really provided some valuable technical information. I personally enjoyed the tech sessions as much as any other part of the show. Jim Stuart masterfully explained how to install an air conditioning system into an MGBV8. It made me hot just listening to the amount of work involved in this endeavor but Jim's cars are definitely the coolest V8s around. Dan Masters presented his upgraded and modern replacement wiring system for British sports cars of any marque, and Dan Lagrou explained the differences between the various Buick and Rover aluminum engines. Ted Lathrop discussed shortening Ford rear axles and showed us his "big brake" conversion kit for the MGB. Hope to see you in Tennessee in May 2003.

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