Gene Holtzclaw's 1974 MGB with Oldsmobile 215 V8

as published in British V8 Newsletter, Volume VIII Issue 3, September 2000

Owner: Gene Holtzclaw
City: Greenville, SC
Model: 1974 MGB
Engine: Oldsmobile 215

Engine: 1961 Olds 215 from an F-85. Basic rebuild as donor car had only 57,000 miles, had been parked since 1976 due to death of owner. Daytona Cams Co. ground 280 degree cam, Edelbrock Performer carb rejetted/recalibrated to cam specs/needs (low vacuum). Wanted lopey idle.
Transmission: T-5 5-speed from 1986 Pontiac Firebird. Had a shifter custom turned to match MGB shaft to give interior appearance of no modifications. MGB shift knob screws right on.
Bellhousing: BOP 215 4-speed. Local welding shop welded small "box" on bellhousing for male to male unions to hook up lines for hydraulic throw-out bearing.
Clutch Actuator: Tilton hydraulic throw-out bearing. Friend found a Chevy big block bellhousing at a swap meet with this throwout bearing in it. Put new 0-rings in it and it works great with stock MGB clutch master cylinder.
Clutch: GM 9". Friend works at local driveline shop. Matched clutch to flywheel/pressure plate/transmission shaft needs. He claimed the pressure plate was the same as a 1937 Packard! (Sold it to me for $15.00 as old stock.)
Flywheel: Stock BOP 215. Did not even require a resurfacing.
Exhaust: Steel tube headers.
Brakes: Rebuilt stock MGB.
Suspension: Lowered 1" springs, negative A-arms with V8 bushings, new MGB/GT rear leaf springs, all new bushings. Torque arms fabricated by a machinist friend using past Newsletter articles as a guide. Vast improvement, a must for any V8 conversion. Relocated steering rack 3" forward, as well as relocated sway bar. Had steering link lengthened and turned in lathe so that the modification cannot be detected and it will pass through the steering rack bearings.
Cooling: Stock MGB radiator modified with new core longer and thicker (3 core) than original. Put two 8" push fans on first that did not satisfy the car's cooling needs. 1 then put on an additional 10" pusher fans with shrouding. I also installed thermostatic relays for both the 8" and 10" fans. The 10" comes on at 160 degrees F and the 8" fans at 195. No cooling problems now.
Rear End: Stock MGB 3.9:1.
Instruments: Tach recalibrated for V8.
Conversion By: Owner, plus step-brother Paul Hartwig. Many hours of his help on condition that I let him borrow it occasionally.
Recommendations: Use common sense! Rely on what makes sense, as that is what worked for me. Chrome bumper conversion did not require modification of firewall as most said. Nowhere near the indenting of inner fenders would have been done if I had trial fit first, without reading so much!
What would I do differently next time: More cubic inches! Would like to do small block Chevy with automatic transmission in next conversion. Buy a very nice car to start with. Mine is a very sound car (i.e. very little rust) yet it now needs all cosmetics. A real sleeper. Might shoot for rubber bumper car and do chrome-bumper conversion. Would look at as many MG V8's as possible for ideas.
Comments: Car is a beast to drive. I literally all but abuse the MG with no trouble. Drive it almost daily and shock the brats with the Mustangs and Camaros. Car gets great gas mileage even though I keep my foot in it.

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