It`s predecessor, the ill-conceived MGC, had been a cut-and-fit project intended to use up the mountain of `C` series engines and gearboxes left over from the sadly-missed Austin-Healey 3000. The big problem with the MGC was weight distribution. The big six-cylinder seriously overloaded the front end to the extent that the car would not handle. Fitting the 3.5 litre Rover V8 solved this problem simply because the V8 motor was only a little longer than the four cylinder `B` series engine. The MGB GT’s V8 was lighter than the `B` series four cylinder by about 40 lbs, even after British Leyland had increased the engine weight by 170 kg.
Buick had dumped the engine because of crankshaft problems and fluid leakage caused by flexing of the cylinder block. British Leyland bought the plans and tooling, decided the block needed stronger webs and modified the engine block accordingly. This stopped the flexing of the block under stress. The result was a strong, light, reliable unit that became a legend. The engine was also de-tuned to further improve reliability, fuel consumption and emissions.
Unfortunately British Leyland had a typical `rush of blood to the head` and decided they would not apply for certification to allow export to the US and decided against building left-hand-drive versions! The driving position excluded the MGB GT-V8 from most foreign markets. The loss of the US market guaranteed the car would not be economically successful. It was priced high and was withdrawn after only three years of production which yielded only 2591 units. One of the reasons given for the cessation of production was BL`s desire to concentrate on the Triumph Stag development. A clear case of backing the wrong horse!
Chassis and body;
The MGB GT-V8 was not available in roadster form, neither was it available in left-hand drive. However, there are some roadsters in existence, these are after-market conversions. Later cars had the rubber bumpers fitted, ostensibly for the US market which it was excluded from! The chassis and body were stock-MGB with some modifications under the bonnet to accommodate the wider V8 motor. The original bulge-less bonnet was fitted. The coil-and-wishbone front suspension was equipped with telescopic dampers, rack & pinion steering and disc brakes. Rear suspension was by live-axle, leaf springs and telescopic dampers. Drum brakes were again fitted. Alloy wheels were standard fitment. The fuel tank held 12 UK gallons.
(Here is a not very good video of an MGB GT V8. If you know of a better one leave a link to it in the comments below.)
The Rover V8 was cast in aluminium alloy with alloy heads. Displacing 3528cc, it had a single camshaft driving 16 valves. Twin SU carburettors supplied the fuel. The compression ratio was 8.25:1. The MGB GT V8 was fitted with a 4-speed manual transmission with overdrive on top gear. If you find one with a 3-speed auto, it would be an after market conversion.
The Rover V8 as fitted to the MG was in a benign and gentle state of tune. After-market modifications took the output above 200 bhp… the ex-works (standard) figures are 137 bhp with 193 ft/lbs of torque propelling the MGB GT V8 to 60 mph from a stand still in 7.7 seconds. 137 horses may not seem much from a V8 engine but don’t forget the GT-V8 only weighed 1.1 tonnes.
The MGB GT-V8 was a wonderful machine to drive. With it`s vastly improved weight-distribution it was transformed. The power, handling and braking were a delight, out-performing many more expensive cars of the time. Once the car had had some after-market tweaks it was very quick. One only has to look at the Morgan +8 figures to assess what the motor was capable of. Unfortunately MGB GT-V8`s are not easy to find in any condition but would always be a good investment. To drive it is to love it.
MGB GT V8 1973-1976
|Body Type||2 seater fixed-head coupe with a bench as a rear seat|
|Drive Type||Rear wheel drive|
|Cargo Volume||272 L||9.6 cu. Ft.|
|Engine||3.5 Rover V8 Single Cam 16V|
|Displacement||3528 cc||215.3 cui|
|Power||102 Kw||137 bhp||5500 RPM|
|Torque||262 Nm||193 ft. lb||2900 RPM|
|Top Speed||201 km/h||125 mph|
|Acceleration||0-100 km/h - 0-60 mph||7.7 s|
|Fuel consumption||l/100 km||Imperial mpg|
|Gearbox||4 speed manual+overdrive|
|Weight||1101 kg||2427 lb|
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I was born in Hereford UK in 1948 and brought up in Gloucester UK. I played Rugby football internationally as a schoolboy. At the age of 17, a new and wet driving license in my paw, I entered motor racing. I was supported and financed by my parents and so my journey began.
In 1965 I bought a 1293cc Mini-Cooper `S` and campaigned it for a season. Having quickly made some good friends in the racing fraternity, several interesting opportunities came my way. I joined a sports-car team and raced in the Le Mans 24 hours in 1968 and 1969 in a Lola T70. Mechanical failure defeated both efforts. During that period I owned and raced a `D type` Jaguar and an AC Cobra. In those days cars like that were available and not too expensive, now they reside in museums and private collections. I had a chain of interesting cars through my youth including Jaguars, Minis, Mustangs and Lotus-Cortinas.
As a young driver I had my share of accidents too. Often the car would only be worth scrap-metal value by the time I got it home! I worked for an Aston-Martin/Jaguar dealership for a while, which enhanced my experience and gave me the opportunity to sample some very exotic machines, Ferrari, Facel-Vega, Iso and Maserati to recall a few of them.
At the end of 1969 I moved to South Africa to work on my uncle`s farm but the S.A. government had other ideas and drafted me into the army. After five years had passed I was thanked and released from the service. While I was there I bought a beige Cadillac Eldorado, previously the property of Marilyn Monroe. While I was away on a patrol my girlfriend had it re-sprayed pink! I was unimpressed by both the joke and the bill for the work!
When I returned to UK in 1974 I left it behind. On my return I found that the once-mighty British motor industry was in decline and was headed for oblivion. Motor racing was now very expensive so I turned to commercial transport. Driving large trucks gave me freedom and a chance to see some of the world. I don`t remember ever making a career choice but for the next thirty years a truck was my home. For about ten years in that period I owned two trucks of my own.
I also owned a famous MGB-GT, known as `Lucky`. If you`d like to read `The Story of Lucky` there is an article in Inopian`s archive. I finally retired, due to ill-health, in 2008. Since I had varied knowledge and many experiences on our subject I decided to share the stories of the cars I enjoyed (and hated) with the new generation.
Enjoy Inopian… it is constructed and written for you.