Kurt Schley's 1974 MGB with 1962 Olds 215 V8
by Kurt Schley
(originally published in MG-V-8 Newsletter, Volume 9 Issue 2)
Owner: Kurt Schley
City: Madison Township, OH
Model: 1974 MGB
Engine: 1962 Oldsmobile 215 (10.25:1 compression, 185 H.P.)
|Engine:||Engine Rebuilt to stock specifications. Dual Rochester 2-bbl carburetors on Edelbrock
manifold. Individual carbs are same as originally supplied on the Buick/Olds 215 low
compression 2-bbl engines (except now equipped with .052" main jets and progressive
linkage. Choke butterflies removed.) Offenhauser P/N 5188 cast aluminum valve covers.
(P/N 5189 fit Buick/Rover.) Tilton high-torque mini-starter.
Buick V-6 "metric" oil pump base with aftermarket cheap-o spin on remote oil filter adapter from J.C. Whitney. The two stainless braided lines lead to the oil filter mounted behind the passenger side headlight. The under-fender mounting keeps the engine bay from being cluttered as well as makes oil filter changes very easy. A chromed steel cover protects the filter from stone damage.
The engine was mounted as low as possible using self-fabricated mounts bolted to rear vertical flange on crossmember. The mounts were bolted to the engine and the engine lowered into the bay until there was only 1/8" clearance between the front of the crankshaft and the steering rack. The trans tail was adjusted to give the proper U-joint angle and the crossmember was marked and drilled for the mounts.
|Transmission:||The originally used transmission was a T-50 5-speed from a Monza. The shift pattern was
unusual, as reverse was where most first gear positions are located. Unconsciously shifting
into "first" at a light and pulling a hole shot resulted in exciting times if there was
another car behind you! First gear was so low it was unusable and it was only a year later
I discovered I had a trans from behind a 4-cylinder Monza. This trans had lower gears than
the V-8 version, hence the creeper first gear.
In 1995 the MG received a Borg-Warner World Class T-5 5-speed from a 1991 Trans-Am. 0.73:1 fifth gear. Transmission can be removed from under the car in about 1/2 hour. The shifter is located about 1-1/2" to the rear and 1/2" to the right from stock position. A shifter plate large enough to cover the enlarged hole in the trans tunnel was fabricated from 3/32" stainless plate and fitted with an aftermarket rubber boot. The only modification needed to switch from the T-50 to T-5 was accommodation for the T-5's angled rear mount.
Stock 215 dual 3-4 speed bell-housing. TR-8 flywheel with Borg-Warner P/N 250259B 10" pressure plate and 10.4" P/N 274152C clutch disc with 26 splines. (The 10.4" disc does fit the 10" plate.) Clutch is activated by a Weber hydraulic throw-out bearing. The Weber replaces a slave cylinder / adjustable link / clutch release arm arrangement originally used on the conversion. The slave cylinder system was a constant source of problems and the clutch "feel" was not good.
In addition, clearance for the cylinder and linkages next to the trans was extremely tight and necessitated massaging of the tunnel next to the accelerator pedal. STRONGLY recommend use of a hydraulic throw-out bearing if using the 215 bell-housing or the Transdapt aftermarket unit. The removable bottom cover on the stock 215 bell-housing allows a clutch change without pulling the engine.
|Exhaust:||1964 - 67 Buick 300 cast-iron exhaust manifolds. These manifolds have a port size 1/8" larger
than the 215 manifolds and have a good flowpath, probably much better than standard MG V-8
conversion tube headers, and are dirt cheap. The dump angle requires more firewall work than
if conversion tube headers were used and a Byzantine three U-joint steering linkage is required.
The manifolds lead into two 2-1/4" i.d. triple wall T321 flexible stainless steel tubing sections
(specially run for this conversion), then into two Walker Turbo-mufflers mounted just forward
of the battery boxes. The flexible tubing is covered with two wraps of Kevlar heat-resistant
cloth, then an overall cover of T321 stainless steel braid. The Kevlar keeps exhaust heat
from the floorpan of the car while the braid protects the cloth. The exhaust system ends at
the back of the mufflers, have not had any problem with fumes in the car and the exhaust tone
is great. (My opinion, not the neighbors.) In retrospect, should have made a crossover pipe
before the mufflers to enhance low end torque.
|Driveshaft:||GM front section spliced to MG rear section, as detailed in Volume IV Issue. 2 of the Newsletter,
|Rear axle:||stock 3.9:1 MGB. With.73:1transmission 5th gear, car runs about 2500 rpm at 65 mph. I have not
been able to break the differential either, despite hard use. With the T-5 transmission, first
and second gear run out a little fast but third and fourth pull strong and long. Acceleration in
fifth gear at highway speeds is good. Have a narrowed Ford 8" rear end sitting in the garage, but
can find no really good reason to swap in.
|Front suspension:||Moss tube shock conversion on rebuilt front end. Monroe-Matic shock absorbers. The two top
mounting bolts on the shock towers loosen every 5,000 miles or so despite Lok-Tite and lock washers.
1" ADCO sway bar with urethane bushings. The engine is mounted so low that the tops of the stock
lever shocks had to be lowered to keep the exhaust manifold from contacting them.
|Rear suspension:||Moss tube shock kit which required rewelding because of shoddy workmanship. Monroe shocks wore
out after 5,000 miles. Replaced with Delco P/N 3062 air shocks originally for a Corvette. Fit
right on after the top Moss shock mount was reversed to provide more travel. The air shocks
are great if carrying a heavy load or for adjusting the rear suspension stiffness. The pair of
shocks and the air line kit was $37.00 complete (in 1993) from Greg Hire (219) 483-1744. No
problems at all after several thousand miles. Home built traction bars and a Panhard rod keep
the rear end under control and located. The function of the Panhard rod is to keep the rear end
from deflecting sideways in heavy turns, and it does that well. It also adds some stability to
the rear end even under straight line acceleration and normal driving.
|Brakes:||stock MGB with TR-8 pads in front. The Triumph pads are larger and have greater swept area.
I did have to reduce the thickness of the pads by about .020" to make them fit, but others have
reported that the TR-8 pads dropped right in. Noticeable difference in stopping distance for a
minimal cash outlay. Rear brakes are stock MGB.
|Wheels/Tires:||originally Datsun 260Z aluminum wheels with Goodyear 185/60 x 14 tires. Z-car wheels bolt
right on but the flat-landing lug nuts require that the wheel be mounted by using two stock
tapered MG lug nuts to center the wheel on the hub. Then two flat landing lug nuts are installed
and tightened. The MG nuts are then removed and replaced with flat landing ones. Also should bore
out the wheels bolt holes about .020". The MG wheel bolt o.d. is so close to the Datsun wheels
bolt hole i.d. that chaffing during driving can occur. This will make the wheel extremely
difficult to remove, especially when laying in a puddle trying to change a flat. Wheels were then
changed to Prime aluminum aftermarket units with 215/40 x 15 Continental tires. No tire rub and
they grip well. Wheels were polished.
|Cooling:||stock 1978 MGB radiator. There is an aluminum engine driven fan on the water pump which was
cut down in diameter, to just clear the upper radiator hose, while still remaining as large
as possible. If you cut down a fan, the blades must be cut the exact same length or unbalance
will quickly ruin the water pump bearings. An overflow tank was constructed of 2-1/2" diameter
stainless steel tubing with a radiator cap neck silver brazed on. The tank is mounted forward
of the radiator support plate and to the right side. A filler was fabricated from 1-1/2" stainless
tubing with a 1/2" pipe plug and mounted in the top radiator hose. This provides a high fill
point to avoid air locks in the cooling system. Two stock MGB electric fans provide additional
cooling in case of a summer time traffic jam. This system has proven very good at keeping the
engine cool. The electric fans turn on very rarely. Two cut-outs in the inner fender wells
contribute to the efficiency of the system. The fender well areas next to the exhaust manifolds
have to be dimpled inward in pre-'75 bodyshells in order to provide clearance for the
headers/exhaust manifolds. I cut these areas out completely and replaced the solid sheetmetal
with a double layer of expanded aluminum mesh, (actually gutter screen) painted black and riveted
in place. The wheel wells are low-pressure areas when the car is moving, so the engine bay air
(heat) is actually sucked out of the engine bay when the car is in motion. This in turn allows
more air to flow through the radiator as well as getting the hot air out from under the hood.
I would recommend this modification for all MG's V-8 or 4-cylinder.
|Other Modifications:||All engine wiring, i.e. alternator, distributor and coil high tension lead, are all encased
in a silicone/fiberglass heat resistant cover. They are routed under the intake manifold and
plug into a bulkhead electrical connector mounted in the firewall just under the heater box.
The coil is mounted behind the firewall in the opening under where the heater was once mounted.
(The heater was discarded). When the engine is being removed, a quick pull on the plug and all
the engine wires are disconnected.
All wiring was removed from the engine bay. A thirteen fuse, two breaker fuse panel was mounted in the passenger side footwell. Most of the home-built wiring harness was constructed of wire two gauges larger in size than stock. Every circuit except the alternator to battery wire and the feed wire to the ignition switch is fused. There is a remote starter switch installed in the engine compartment so that the engine can be turned over, or started, while roadside trouble shooting. The new system has worked flawlessly for four years. Prior to this I had electrical problems every 2-3 months.
Aluminum paneled interior. Liked the looks of a friend's MGB racer but found that an aluminum floor and trans tunnel acts like a broiler in the summer sun; therefore the floor and tunnel are carpeted. Appearance is controversial. Some people like the functional clean look, other think is looks terrible. Did find out that if you rest a sweaty leg against the panels, they must be wiped down, otherwise the aluminum corrodes.
Roll bar is approximately 6" higher than those sold in the catalogs and which fit under the top. Problem with those bars is that they are often lower that the top of the driver/passenger's head! That presents a problem if a rollover occurs. I have rolled a car once and it left an impression (in my memory, not in my head)! I want plenty of clearance between the top of my balding head and the top of the rollbar. One problem is that the top frame will not fit over the roll-bar. In those very rare instances when I do put a top on. I pull the frameless stock top taut over the roll bar and secure the header rail and snaps. The car looks a little deflated but it keeps the (majority of) rain off.
|Future Modifications:||Within the next couple of years I plan on prepping another bodyshell and transferring most of
the components over to it. Changes which are planned include: Using a D & D Fabrication oil pump
base and oil filter adapter. This moves the oil filter forward enough to clear the cross member
and a remote filter system is not needed. The filter can be positioned up, down or any position
in between to clear hoses, sway bar etc. Much simpler and cleaner installation than a remote.
Fabricating through-the-fenderwell RV8 type tube headers for maximum performance. The fenderwell openings will also function to exhaust hot air from the engine compartment, just as the present openings do. Welding in the mounts for the traction bars and extend the mounts forward on the underpan as on the RV8. This will add to the stiffness and stability of the bodyshell. Using a rubber bumper bodyshell and converting it to chrome-bumper. Tie the rollbar into the frame forward of the firewall and add diagonal bracing to make a rollcage and add rigidity to the car.