Dan Root's Custom-Bodied 1977 MGB with GM 60-degree V6 engine
as published in British V8 Magazine, Volume XVI Issue 1, May 2008
Owner: Dan Root
City: Leawood KS
Model: 1977 MGB
Engine: GM 3.4L V6
Conversion completed by: owner
|Engine:||Chevy 2.8L V6 (originally from a Chevy S10) bored and stroked to 3.4L and
fuel-injected by A.R.I. (Anderson Racing Inc.) in Grandview, MO.
"Phase 3" performace cam.
|Induction:||a high-performance fuel injection manifold from a Camaro was selected
to keep the height of the engine low.
|Exhaust:||steel headers, modified for frame clearance and HPC coated.
Custom made stainless steel exhaust pipes by Brad Ripley of Ripley Automotive.
|Cooling:||new MG radiator. Puller fan.
|Transmission:||Borg-Warner T5 5-speed. Chevrolet clutch slave cylinder. Custom driveshaft.
|Rear Axle:||stock MGB.
|Suspension:||(front) original MGB except with custom lower control arms (see below),
(rear) original MGB with new springs and racing shocks.
|Other Chassis:||wheel base lengthened by 19 inches. Track widened by 6 inches.
|Paint:||DuPont 2K primer. DuPont black urethane base. The cream color is custom
mixed to match the Indian motorcycle color chart. DuPont 72200 urethane
|Wheels/Tires:||(front) 205-15, (rear) 225-15. Wide white-walls and 1957 Lincoln hubcaps.
|Electrical:||stock MG gauges. MG wiring adapted by Brad Ripley of Ripley Automotive.
How It Was Done:
The car was built to recreate the style of a 1930's French automobile. When people
ask what it is, I say a "Racine". Racine means "root" in French!
Before I started assembling this car, I had already collected a number of vintage Ford body parts: the front half of a 1934 frame, fenders, and running boards, 1936 rear fenders, a 1938 hood, 1939 side panels. I was looking for a way to get all of these parts to fly in formation!
My answer was to purchase a 1977 MGB and use it as the basis for the other parts.
I selected a donor car in excellent condition so I wouldn't have to do work twice.
The first fabrication job was to cut the rear deck panel behind the seats, and move it forward five inches.
I also tilted it up at the front about one inch, before welding it into position. Then I placed the hood behind
the rear deck panel for a mock-up, to see if it would work as a boot lid.
I cut out the rear sheet metal to fit the leading edge of the rear fender, and then
attached the '34 Ford running board to the rear fender and under the quarter panel.
I cut and widened the MGB crossmember six inches. The wider front suspension will fill the fenders,
provide more cornering ability, and maintain proper Ackerman to suit the extended wheel base.
The MGB is unit-body car, but with formed sub-frame sections coming forward through the engine bay
I cut these off short and welded the '34 Ford frame over them. With the '34 Ford frame installed,
the axis of the front wheels was moved 19 inches forward.
I then built the new mounts for the cross members. Amazingly, they fit the '34 Ford frame.
I attached the crossmember to the frame with six three-quarter inch diameter SAE grade-8 bolts.
With the '34 Ford frame in place, the fenders and running boards bolted right up.
I set the '38 hood and '39 side panels in place on top of the fenders for mock up.
The '39 Ford side panels fit the '34 fenders amazingly well, although the bottom half
of the grille had to be redesigned to fit the '34 Ford fenders properly.
As this view shows, the Ford hood and MGB windshield seem made for each other!
To get a natural-looking beltline, I had to remove part of the door hinge towers.
I made new panels to cover the hinge towers. Small steel covers were
fabricated to cover the actual hinge mechanisms, shown here.
The '38 Ford hood was attached to the original MG hood hinges... but obviously there was a large
gap between the hood and MG cowl/firewall. I fabricated a cowl extension to fill this area.
Moving back to the rear of the car, the MGB bonnet was modified to mate with the MGB trunk-lid hinges.
The hinges were also modified and reinforced. Note also that the original MGB rear axle was actually
left in its location. Three inch offset wheels make up the six inch width difference needed.
I cut-up the original MGB front fenders for their rain gutters, which I needed
to match the contour of the MGB hood (now being used as a trunk lid.)
A stepped-down section has been added to the trunk floor.
Believe it or not, the original MG trunk lid was inverted and used as a splash apron!
Tunnel sections were boxed-out for the exhaust pipes. As the photo hints, the original
MGB trunk latch is still in service! The bottom edge of the MG trunk lid matched-up nicely
to the compound curve of the original MG hood. Am I lucky or what?
I had used a car tilter earlier in the process, but then I switched to this six wheeled dolly, with levelers.
Notice the poster in the window behind - a '36 Delahaye roadster! - that's what kept me inspired.
The last of the bodywork to be filled in...
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Notice that this rear panel has been raised up in a more traditional fashion.
All that was left to build were bumper mounts and fill in the sheet metal between the hood and fenders.
As already stated, the cockpit had been closed-up about five inches behind the seats.
I now focused again on this area, and fabricated a removable steel (partial) tonneau cover.
The cover is secured in place by two wing nuts.
New brackets have been welded-in just behind the door jams for the convertible roof top bows.
Next the headlights: while trying to capture the Figoni Falaschi designed Delahaye concept,
I needed bullet shaped headlights and taillights. I used '37 Chevy headlight buckets which
normally mount sideways. I reduced the overall diameter two inches by carefully pie-cutting,
and rewelding. I used '34 Ford shorty headlight mounts welded to the headlight buckets.
Taillights are stock '38 Olds. The '36 Ford rear fenders were extended 10 inches as shown.
Then it was "off to see the Wizard"!
The Wizard being Bruce Curry's body shop in Clinton, Missouri.
Bruce painstakingly corrected my lumpy body work and covered it with a couple coats of primer.
At this point, I put the car on the road for six months before final tear down and paint.
(Note: it took about four years from concept to get to this point.)
The engine is GM 2.8L V6, bored-and-stroked to 3.4L, with fuel injection.
A new MG radiator cools the car just fine.
The front suspension is sometimes visible because of the rise of the '34 fender, so I modified the
exceptionally ugly MGB lower control arms by tapering them towards the wheel then boxing them
and recessing the bolt holes for the lower spring mount. I also beefed up the attachment point
at the spindle. The front suspension is MG with modified racing springs, rack and pinion steering
extended 3 inches on each side.
This is how the car looked with fresh new paint. Incidentally, that's a 1961 Jaguar front bumper
(slightly modified) and 1960's Rover sedan rear bumper (unconfirmed).
I kept the MG dashboard, but with wood-grain trim added, and I used a '48 Plymouth steering wheel.
A Borg-Warner T5 5-speed transmission was used. Its shortened shifter comes through the original
hole in the transmission tunnel. The engine and transmission easily dropped in using original MG
motor mounts and transmission mounts with only slight alterations.
The original MG top still works with the use of the old style collapsible top bows.
Fuel filler cap is accessed from inside the trunk. In the foreground is a lidded storage compartment.
Since completion in 2003, the car has been accepted and shown at the L.A. Roadster Show (4 years
ago) and it won First in Class at the Grand National Roadster Show 3 years ago.
The car has appeared in two books: "Radical Hot Rods" by Larry O'Toole (Graffiti Publications, Victoria,
Australia) and "Wheels of Dreams" by Tom Strongman (Kansas City Star Books, Kansas City, MO.)
The Racine Roadster was designed and built to be a practical car, and I drive it as often as I can!
Unlike most roadsters, the Racine Roadster has generous ground clearance. I love being low and cool,
but dragging on the ground gets old quickly. I have eight hubcaps in four different colors (two each),
so each side of the car has a different look and I can change the look from time to time. No one seems
to have noticed though. In this parade photo, the crowd seems to be looking at the hot rod behind...
which is also mine!
I have in the past done 6 other conversions starting with a Fiber-Fab Jamaican, two '31 Fords
(a Coupe and a Roadster), a '59 Jaguar, a '33 Ford Roadster and a '34 Ford Roadster. Two of
these are nostalgic drag cars, but back when I built them it wasn't nostalgia... These are the
cars I drive when I want to go really fast!
In this photo, the roadster is a '31 Ford chopped-and-channeled over '32 rails with a 351 Ford
Cleveland engine, FMX transmission with shift kit and a three-point roll hoop. The coupe is a
'31 Ford chopped-and-channeled over '32 rails, 327 Chevy engine with three deuces, 4-speed
(TH700R) transmission and four-point roll hoop.
Racine Roadster builder Dan Root - showing off his "Scoot and Do"
Additional Photos, from British V8 2008 in Port Washington WI