Brian Yeates' 1973 MGB-GT with Chevy 350 V8

(originally published in British V8 Newsletter, Volume 9 Issue 1)

By: Brian Yeates
City: Langley, BC
Model: 1973 MG MGB-GT
Engine: Chevy 350 V8

How It Was Done

Engine: new GM 350 ci crate motor from GM Performance parts, 355 hp, 410 ft/lb torque. 600 cfm Edelbrock carburetor with electric choke. Low profile air cleaner, modified to fit.
Transmission: Borg-Warner T56 6-speed from a 1998 Firebird. Custom shifter to mate with shift knob, with shift pattern from a 2001 Dodge Truck. Shifter fits 2" behind stock location. 6th gear is 0.5:1 overdrive ratio. Top speed estimated at 170 mph!
Exhaust: Hooker custom made with 1-3/4" primary flange kit, J-bends and 12" collectors.
Steering: column exit lowered in car to clear exhaust. Rack moved forward and down. Actuating arms reversed to maintain geometry. Extra U-joint added to columns to line everything up.
Clutch Slave: 1998 Firebird cylinder. Custom machined fitting to mate stock MG clutch master cylinder.
Clutch: stock 1998 Firebird.
Flywheel: stock 1998 Firebird.
Brakes: (future upgrades) vented front disc with 4-pot calipers from Victoria British.
Rear End: stock MG. Will upgrade to Ford 9" 4.10:1 gearing, with Ford brakes.
Flywheel: stock 1998 Firebird.
Wheel/Tires: Minilite Centerlock 15" SS with BF Goodrich Euro TA's (front 205x50R15, rear 225x50R15).
Batteries: 2 each, 12 Volt, 525 CCA Interstate installed in stock 6 Volt locations under rear bench, paralled to give 1050 CCA.
Suspension: stock at present. Will upgrade to front and rear anti-sway bars and tube shocks.
Cooling: custom 16-litre capacity. 15" aluminum fan in engine. Custom shroud. Heavy duty 1800 cfm pusher electric fan. Stock heater core and modified controls.
Instruments: stock dash modified by filling in rectangular oil pressure hole and high-beam and oil pressure idiot light holes. Replaced with all VDO gauges. Relocated high beam indicator to former choke cable hole.
Color: 1998 Jaguar Titanium Pearl Metallic base plus clearcoat.
Sources: Victoria British, Moss Motors, Octaganal Motors (Vancouver), MG V-8 Newsletter, MGB Plus, "How to Give Your Car V8 Power" by Rogere Williams, local hot rodder suppliers.
Completed: February to October 2000.
Conversion By: owner, except for custom driveshaft, radiator, and final clearcoat..
Tips: take your time. Remove ALL rust. Lots of trial and error to make it right. No two are identical. Everyone I spoke to or e-mailed was most willing to talk and advise. I received strong encouragement to eliminate ALL the Lucas wiring connectors and make my own harness as I did. Don't rely on people you sublet to, to have the same passion for your toy as you do. I ended up doing (redoing) all the body work, and after a six month delay, making my own headers. With patience and investigation you can eventually complete your own conversion.
Next time?: I'd totally assemble the vehicle, then disassemble to restore the body, frame, etc., rather than work around finished body panels. Rework front of frame to allow use of factory type headers - probably Sanderson cast iron.
Cost: ~$7500-$8000 U.S., including car.
Notes: I have wanted to do an MG V-8 conversion since I first saw the article in Peterson's "Complete Book of Engine Swapping #4" in 1975. I decided on the 350 Chevy because it was relatively small, extremely reliable, produced gobs of power and comes as a complete "crate" engine with a warranty from GM. The Z24 produces 355 hp and a huge 410 ft.lbs. torque as delivered, and with the aluminum components is relatively light. I happened upon the transmission while looking for a 5-speed. A local speed shop had this T56 from a '98 Firebird complete from flywheel to front driveshaft yoke, with only 17,000 kilometers on it. The only drawback I have found with this combination is that the engine requires a "long leg" water pump due to a new design timing chain cover. This was discovered after using a mock up engine for the placement, using a short water pump. This required reworking the radiator locating mounts, etc.

I made my own electrical harness and have a potential for a total of 24 individual circuits with the distribution panel mounted on the outer passenger footwell wall. The completed car, other than the wheels and dual exhaust, looks stock to the untrained eye. The MG nut will recognize that the dash is different somehow and may notice the relocated shift knob, but everyone knows it is not stock when it starts up and leaves them in the dust!! Down the road, suspension, rear end, and braking upgrades are in order to further improve this sleeper, but for now this is enough for me.

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