Martyn Harvey's Canadian Corner

Canadian Corner   (Volume XVI Issue 2, October 2008)

2008 British Car Day at Bronte Provincial Park in Oakville Ontario

by: Martyn Harvey

The final day of another Ontario Summer was celebrated this year with the Toronto Triumph Club's magnificent 25th Anniversary British Car Day. Over one thousand British cars were on display, and the entire alphabet was represented. It was a veritable A-to-Z of British cars... everything from ACs to Zodiacs.

This year I was specifically impressed with the V8-converted sports cars. There were so many V8's (and performance-modified cars) I found it impossible to see and photograph them all! The following report is an overview, with some favorite snapshots.

Carol and I arrived at 9.30 a.m. after an hour's misty drive. We were directed toward a large school of rubber bumper MGBs, and fortunately found a couple of other MGB V8s to park beside.

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Kevin Pesant's MGB
Kevin Pesant's MGB V8

Les Matthews' interior
Les Matthews' custom upholstery utilizes an especially durable kind of vinyl,
which is designed to stand up to hard use in the coldest Canadian winters.
Les's car must be an "MGD". Look closely. It says so on the radio knobs!

Hal Nassar's MGB V8 (engine compartment)
Hal Nassar's MGB V8 (engine compartment)

Directly behind us was the white BV8 roadster of Kevin Pesant. Next to Kevin's car was the black MGB LE V8 of Les Matthews. Then, suddenly, I realized the lovely, clean British Racing Green MGB beside us was a V8-conversion too! It was a great pleasure to meet and talk to its owner, Hal Nassar, but I dumbfounded to hear that he'd never even heard of BritishV8. (How it that even possible?) Hal only recently built his MGB V8 - complete with a 1972 Chevy Camaro V8 that looks right at home in the MG bay.

Barrie Robinson
Barrie Robinson discusses his stunning MGB GT V8.

Ron Faithful's MG B8
Ron Faithful's Chevy 327 powered MGB convertible, with color-matched hardtop.

Steve Rushton's MGB V8
Steve Rushton's Chevy 350 powered 1979 MGB-LE.

On the row behind us I found three more BV8s. Barrie Robinson's MGB GT V8 was nestled in amongst the chrome bumper Bs. Several cars down from Barrie was Ron Faithfull's bright red Chevy 327 powered MGB V8 roadster sporting a recently fitted Sebring rear valance. In front of Ron was a real "muscle car" MG, the BV8 of Steve Rushton. At first glance Steve's car looks like a fairly regular MGB LE but under the skin it's pure American Chevy V8 muscle. It's for sale for $12,500 - if that's your "cup of tea".

Several rows behind the MGs were the Triumphs. A green TR6 was generating a lot of interest. The centre of attention was Ken Heibert's Chevy (LT1) powered TR6.

Triumph Stags
A Long Row of Triumph Stags

Original Triumph V8 engine
The Original Triumph 3.0L V8 Engine

This Triumph Stag has been rebuilt with a Rover V8 engine
A Rover 3.5L V8 converted Triumph Stag

One of the highlights of this year's Bronte British Car Day was the very strong showing of Triumph Stags. The Stag model was produced from 1970 through 1977, and came standard with an iron block / aluminum head / overhead-cam engine. The Triumph V8 quickly earned a miserable reputation for durability, and sales of the model never met expectations. This was especially true in North America, where potential customers asked the obvious question: "Why didn't they just install the bigger, better, and well-proven Rover aluminum V8?" Of the 25,877 Triumph Stags built, only 2,871 Stags were exported to U.S.A. In addition to the many Stags at Bronte with the original Triumph V8, there was one especially nice Rover-converted Stag. The Rover engine looks perfectly "at home" in the Stag engine bay!

Triumph TR8 interior
Triumph TR8 interior. (Triumph TR8's came with the Rover V8 engine.)

One could say that the Rover engine looks "at home" in almost any British sports car. Perhaps one of the best illustrations of this statement is the Triumph TR8 (produced from 1978 through 1981, total production was about 2750 cars.) There were several fine examples at the Bronte show, and at least a couple were for sale.

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TVR Griffith
The TVR Griffith model was produced from 1991 through 2002. These cars feature
Rover V8 engines of various displacement, from 3950cc to 4988cc..

TVR Griffith Interior
TVR Griffith Interior

Walter Chippendale's TVR 450SE
Walter Chippendale's TVR 450SE

Beyond the Triumphs were the TVRs, and amongst the TVRs were the Griffiths. Like many people I want a Griffith! There were two Griffiths for sale at last year's show, but unfortunately my cheque book just wouldn't stretch far enough for me to take one home! My suffering was reduced this year, because this year there were no Griffiths on offer (or any other TVR V8s for that matter.)

However, a very unique TVR 450SE did catch my eye, and I stopped to talk to its owner: Walter Chippendale. The TVR 450SE model came factory original with a specially-tuned 4.4L Rover aluminum V8 engine. I really enjoyed chatting with Walter, who shared a really cool little story. He is the original owner, and after eighteen years of owning the car he phoned the TVR factory in England to ask a question about the engine. The receptionist connected him right through to the "Engine Department" where the technician asked him for the vehicle's serial number. Upon receipt of the number, the technician said "I know that car well - I built it!"

Sunbeam Tiger
Sunbeam Tiger

Morgan Plus 8
Morgan Plus 8

At this point the day was rapidly drawing to a close. So many V8s, so little time! I managed to catch glimpses of some Aston Martin, Lotus, Rolls Royce, and Bentley machinery. As time was running out, I headed over to some of my other favourite British V8 classics. There was a nice collection of Sunbeam Tigers and an equally nice collection of Morgan Plus 8s. As I perused those collections, I found myself thinking how much I'd relish the opportunity to test drive any one of these great cars.

Jensen Interceptor Convertible
Jensen Interceptor Convertible

Just downwind from the Morgans were several Chrysler V8 powered Jensen Interceptors. These cars certainly had a presence all of their own. I especially liked the black convertible, but this white convertible's photograph came out better.

Rover 3500s V8 Grille Badge
Rover 3500 Grille Badge

Rover SD1
Rover SD1

Finally, as an appropriate end to the day, I snapped a few photos of the cars that started my obsession with the Rover V8 engine - the ever-distinctive and arguably beautiful Rover 3500, and the (vaguely "Ferrari Daytonaesque") Rover SD1.

Chevy 350 powered 1962 Morris Minor
Chevy 350 powered 1962 Morris Minor

As Carol and I headed back to our car, I spotted a rather unusual British V8 - a 1962 Morris Minor with a shoe-horned Chevy 350. A small block Morris Minor!?! Proof that one can convert just about any car to V8 power. "Where there's a will, there's a way!"

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Martyn and Carol Harvey, and one of their British V8's

Before leaving Bronte, Carol and I stopped for one last photo. It's a great joy to have an enthusiastic partner to share the BritishV8 hobby with!

By the time you read this article, the Canadian maple leaves will be turning colors. Another Ontario autumn will have arrived. But it won't be too early to start planning to enjoy next year's British Car Day at Bronte Provincial Park.

Disclaimer: This page was researched and written by Martyn Harvey. Views expressed are those of the author, and are provided without warrantee or guarantee. Apply at your own risk.

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