the editor's car
the editor's car

In The Driver's Seat   (Volume XV Issue 3, December 2007)

by: Curtis Jacobson

Welcome Readers!

If this is your first introduction to The British V8 Newsletter, you're in for a treat! You've found the one and only magazine that's all about serious performance modifications for classic British sports cars. We also feature the British sports cars that originally came with V8 engines. Our mission is to provide a very diverse range of quality content: entertaining, educational, technical, and inspirational articles and photographs. Something for nearly every car enthusiast!

Our niche of the British car hobby isn't the largest, but it's the most vibrant and the fastest growing. The popularity of radical performance modifications is both out-pacing and complementing traditional restoration work. The term "restomod" captures the point: many of today's enthusiasts want to combine classic styling with modern performance, and they demand modern reliability. We're seeing bigger-budget projects and we're seeing lots more of them. If you're skeptical of these trends, consider this website itself. We reliably serve over 2000 visitors every day! That's up about 300 percent from last year. On October 22, we quietly launched a new online message board. By the time you read this, it'll have passed the 1000-messages-posted milestone.

So What's New In This Issue?

Special Historical Section on the "Factory" MGB GT V8

Last summer I was looking over back-issues and something really struck me: somehow we'd managed to go fifteen years without ever including an article on the "factory" MGB GT V8 model. How did that happen? What can we do to correct it? Sometimes things fall into place like magic. The very next day, I was talking on the telephone with my friend Kelvin Dodd of Moss Motors, and someone walked into his office. "Oh, here's someone you need to meet."

Talk about an informal introduction, eh? Kelvin handed the phone to Ken Smith. At the time, I didn't realize who I was talking to, but I've since learned that Ken Smith is a veteran MG journalist, a passionate MG enthusiast, a dedicated historian, and a very generous man. If you've read any MG-specific magazine, you've probably seen his work. He's contributed to "Safety Fast", "MG Enthusiast", and "Abingdon Classics". He was the founding editor of "MGB Driver", he's the Editor of "Classic MG", and he's the Executive Editor of Moss's "British Motoring". He also authored the outstanding book: "Aspects of Abingdon".

Ken has been enamored with MGB GT V8's for years. Over that time, he's collected a treasure trove of articles, photos, remembrances, and correspondence about these special cars - all for a book project that never quite came together. In this issue of The Newsletter we're publishing "Part One" of Ken's collection! We'll have another big installment in our Spring issue, and perhaps one next Autumn. I haven't gotten anywhere near the bottom of the box yet!

This special section also includes three "Photo Reference" articles on factory cars. I'm very grateful to their respective owners for sharing detailed photos and information. (Readers, we're on the look-out for more - send us leads!)

Special Section on the Rover V8 (and cars Rover put it in)

As I researched the MGB GT V8, I became interested in knowing more about the Rover connection. This section is the result so far. I'm particularly indebted to Bill Wardlow of The Motorway Ltd. (a full service shop in Fort Collins CO), who gave me a detailed personal tour of a Rover P6 ("3500S"). I know you'll appreciate his insights too. David Gable contributed the original Rover press materials for this section.

To fully understand the genesis of the MGB GT V8 - in England and at BLMC - one also needs to know about the role of Ken Costello. It's not in this issue, but don't worry! We're planning a section specifically on Ken and his "Costello V8" cars for our Spring edition. (Readers: please send me anything you can share on these subjects!)

How-It-Was-Done Articles

It just wouldn't be a "British V8 Newsletter" without our extremely popular How-It-Was-Done articles! The new crop of twenty-one articles certainly demonstrates the remarkable diversity of our community.

While all of these cars are wonderful, from my perspective one of them stands out as a must-read: Dr. George Snively's 1965 MGB was professionally converted to V8 power in 1966. That makes it the earliest-completed MG engine swap we've documented in this format so far. Of course we all know that MG V8 engine swaps date right back to at least the early fifties, and one MG-TC in particular actively raced with a Buick 215 V8 engine throughout the 1962 season. We're continuing a loooong tradition here.

Paul Cunningham's Buick 215 powered MG-TC Special was sponsored by a Pontiac dealer, so they called it the Terrible Tempest   John Targett

Bill Guzman   Larry Shimp


To John Targett for Winning MGVR's "Denver Cornett Jr. Trophy"

Folks who attended British V8 2007 will recognize John as the man who brought both an Aston Martin and a Jensen - as well as a trailer full of MGB racecar parts to sell. (He couldn't bring his MGB GT V8 because it's back home in England.) As the proprietor of Targett Motorsports, John is also an enthusiastic sponsor of The British V8 Newsletter... but outside of our circle he's better known as a keen driver. This year John raced his red MGB to strong finishes in eight race weekends - including a dominant performance at Watkins Glen in the rain. The Cornett Trophy was awarded at SVRA's "Zippo US Vintage Grand Prix" this September to John for being the top-placing MG driver.

To Bill Guzman, whose 1967 MGB-GT is featured in Classic Motorsports' 2007 calender

Run down to the news stand and buy the January issue of Classic Motorsports. The free bonus wall calendar is a keeper... because Bill's V6-powered GT is drop-dead gorgeous! (It's on the February page. The calendar also includes a nifty race-prepped Sunbeam Tiger.) Bill is the proprietor of Classic Conversions Engineering, another of the vendor sponsors that keep "British V8" growing and thriving. Incidentally Bill has now sold over 300 MGB-V6 conversion kits!

To Larry Shimp, whose 1968 MGB-GT is featured in the late-winter issue of British Motoring magazine

Good job Larry! Moss Motors' "British Motoring" magazine has recognized a point I made earlier in this article by prominently featuring Larry's immaculate, incredibly-refined Ford-powered MGB GT in a feature article entitled "MGB V8 Restomod". The article shows that the essential character of our cars can be developed and improved - not abandoned or destroyed - by installation of a better engine. Larry is a frequent contributor to The British V8 Newsletter, and he's active in our meets too.

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British V8 2008      (July 13-16, 2008 in Port Washington WI)

Our annual British V8 meet is the best place to enjoy a large number of performance-modified and V8-powered British sports cars in their element, and you're invited! Please feel welcome no matter what kind of car you're currently driving. Please note that the name "V8" wasn't selected to exclude anyone. V6 and other engine types are totally welcome too. Also, please consider that many people have attended our meets to collect ideas, information, contacts, and inspiration before starting their own projects. We strongly recommend that.

This year's meet is being coordinated by Paul & Mary Schils and they're planning a diverse range of exciting activities. The full schedule will be published here on the British V8 website later in January. Keep an eye on the "Pub" section of the message board for the latest-breaking event news. As I get more concrete information, I'll also update the "Meeting Overview" page which is always easily accessed by clicking on the big "Meetings" button at the top of every single page of this website.

If you haven't booked a room, you'd be wise to act quickly. We have a good discount on a block of rooms, but it's filling up quickly. Here's the contact information for the host hotel. (Remember to mention "British V8 Meet" when placing your reservation to get the group-discount price of $87.)

        Country Inn and Suites
        350 E Seven Hills Rd
        Port Washington, WI 53074
        (262) 284-2100

Nearby Elkhart Lake is the home of the Road America race track. We'll visit the track during our meet, and also some of us will be staying over in Wisconson a few extra days to enjoy the Kohler International Challenge (with Brian Redman). It's a full weekend of SVRA sanctioned vintage racing, plus associated activities such as a concours d'elegance. Our group discount for the race events is 20% off, and Road America will allow us to buy tickets at this discount when we visit the track.

This Newsletter is a Volunteer Effort

The British V8 Newsletter and website represent the work of many people. I want to take a moment to recognize and thank all the folks who've contributed articles, photos, and information. Returning readers will probably recognize some familiar names including Martyn Harvey, Greg Myer, and Jim Blackwood. I also want to thank brand-new writers Simon Austin, Rob Ficalora, Steve Ward, Bill Wardlow, and David Willcox plus all the folks who've contributed "How It Was Done" write-ups and photographs, and Peter Mittler for photographs from his recent trip to England.

I continue to be encouraged by the generosity of readers. Since the last issue, we've been blessed with financial support from the following individuals: Tony Bates, Jeb Blanchard, Richard Bunch, Brian Clough, Graham Creswick, Lamar Crowell, Steve DeGroat, Michael Devenis, Gerrit Diepering, David Dillon, Barrie Egerton, Don Faber, Rob Ficalora, David Germain, Calvin Grannis, Bruce Harland, Martyn Harvey, Erik Henrichsen, Ken Hiebert, Rod Holderbaum, Jerry Jackman, Bill Jacobson, Jerry Johnson, Chris Jones, Larry Kelly, Bob Kilpatrick, Dale Knapke, Wayne Kube, Robert Lockwood, Mike Maloney, David Maples, Dan Masters, Jacques Mathieu, Bruce Mills, Robert & Susan Milner, Colin Ostergard, Donald Paye, Bernie Posey, Jack Renaud, Nigel Ricardo, Paul & Mary Schils, Terry Schulte, Les Shockey, Jim Stuart, Mark Trosper, Paul Waters, Nicolas Wiederhold, and Bill Young. You guys are wonderful! Your contributions will be put to good use expanding the depth and breadth of our coverage.

Please Support Our Sponsors!

Here's a great performance tip: pick up your telephone and work through the list of companies in our Vendor Directory!
It really pays to get to know these guys. I've been discovering that most of them offer more different performance parts and services than are advertised on their websites. I can honestly say that every one of our sponsors is friendly, knowledgeable, and will be happy to help you with anything they can. Keep in mind that our sponsors/advertisers are mostly small businesses with very limited advertising budgets. Please thank them for sponsoring "The British V8 Newsletter", and let them know that their $40/year ads are reaching the right people.

We welcome sponsors that are new with this issue:
BMC British Automobile LLCMGB V6 conversions and the parts so you can do them yourself.
Custom Rod WorksConversions and suspensions / fabrications and design / mild to wild!
Motorcar GarageBritish Automobiles are our passion... Let us share the passion with you!
The Wedge ShopSpecializing in TR7 and TR8 performance modifications, and Rover V8 engines.
Wire Wheel Classic Sports CarsA dealer in quality classic British sports and race cars.
And familiar companies that have renewed and increased their sponsorship:
Advance Auto-WireAdvance Auto-Wire: Electrical reliability in a British car? Believe it!
Advanced Distributors, LLCDistributor rebuilding and re-curving for all vehicles.
All British Car RepairMGA and MGB V8 conversions. Quality restorations and repairs.
Brit-Tek Ltd.The MGB specialists where people are more important than parts!
Brooklands Car ComponentsCustom built sportscars with a British heritage.
Classic Conversions EngineeringMGB V6 specialists, including kits, plus MGB chassis upgrades.
Fast Cars Inc.British sports car chassis and handling. Conversions, modifications and brakes.
Mantell MotorsportFord V8 engine conversions for MGB, plus powder coating.
The Motorway Ltd., Fort Collins CORestoration, customization, race preparation and performance.
Pieces of Eight!Struts to hold open the bonnet and the boot lid or GT hatch of your MGB.
Roadtronics Automotive Technologies    (aka: "RATCO") Triumph frames & performance chassis upgrades.
Reborn Company LLCRover engine specialists. MGB V8 conversions and big brake kits.
The Sports Car ShopSales service and restoration of fine British automobiles.
Targett MotorSportPerformance & racing: engine, tranny, wheels, brakes, handling & more.
Are you in the British sports car performance trade?  You should be listed here too!  (Here's info about advertising.)

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