1973 MGB V8-302

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I bought this car during the summer of 2000. It came to me with plenty of spare parts, an extra engine or two, and a clean title. The car came unassembled. It was a rolling chassis in search of being put back together. I parked it in a corner of my garage, put a tarp over it, and quite literally forgot about it until July 17th, 2005. I was rearranging my garage in order to fit more stuff in it and pulled the tarp off of it to move it. Looking over it, I decided that she was still in pretty decent shape, and since I needed a project for the summer, I decided to get her back on the road. I already have a few ‘normal’ cars, so I decided to make it a bigger challenge than a simple reconstruction. Many people have already jumped me about using a Ford Engine. To be truthful, it was a question of money. I had the main components and I didn’t want to have to go spending any more money on major parts. I had a rolling MGB chassis, a Ford 302 V8 engine sitting in a corner on a stand, a Ford C4 transmission under the counter, a few tools, and plenty of space to work in. There’s a lot of information out there as to how to go about this project, but for the newbie (like me): Major word of advice:

USE A RUBBER BUMPER MGB!!!!!

That little fact was not clearly explained in all the initial webpages, pictures, and other journals I found online. All those beautiful MGBs with their beautiful chrome bumpers with V6s & V8s in them. Read the fine print…. the majority of the owners converted rubber bumper MGBs to chrome bumpers. I found this out after looking more closely at the finer details. To use an older MGB is nuts for a newbie. Steering shaft problems, clearance problems, and overall pain in making things fit properly in the engine compartment are some of the things that you will be getting yourself into. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it, just be ready to cuss and swear at every corner of the project. I consider myself lucky: I worked at Richland Auto Parts in Athens, Ohio. Some of the finest mechanics frequent the store and have been an invaluable source of information and encouragement for me. I was there from August of 2003 till October 2005 and these guys are great once you get to know them. Some have even done conversion projects of their own. Ingredients:
  • 1973 MGB Roadster
  • 1972 Ford 302 V8 Engine
  • 1968 Ford C4 Transmission
  • 1991 Mercury Marquis Short Starter
  • Holley 4412 Carburetor
  • Custom Motor Mounts
  • Custom Driveshaft
  • Custom Exhaust
Special thanks go to the following guys:
  • Joe Ramey, Richland Auto Parts – Athens, Ohio – Parts Supplier & Boss
  • Randy Haning, Legends Garage – Athens, Ohio – Knowledge
  • Shorty & Paul Powell – Shade, Ohio – Parts
  • David Bowers, Sr – Athens, Ohio – Knowledge & Carburetor
  • Tim Schmittauer – Athens, Ohio – Welding of Engine Brackets
  • Bob West, Aallpro Drivetrain – Lancaster, Ohio – Custom Driveshaft
  • Carl Casey’s Radiator Service – Lancaster, Ohio – Radiator Modifications

I think I’m going to try to use the front of the engine heads as engine mounts. There’ s three awfully tempting bolt holes in each of them there, and they’re almost inline with the front mounting bolts of the cross member of the car. I’ve also decided to keep all the original gauges in the car, which means that I’ll be finding fun ways to adapt the sending units to the 302. Even the shifter for the automatic transmission will be made to look like a regular shifter. I’ve decided to use duals for the exhaust, so I’ve centered the gas tank. When I have the exhaust done, I’ll also ask the guys if they can bend up a new filler tube for the gas tank. I’m sure they can do it and it’ll look better than anything I can come up with. Not including car & transmission, These are the parts I’ve had to get so far: Lots of Reciprocating Saw Blades – Motor Mounts & Brackets – Oil Filter Relocating Kit – Spicer 22899, 5443x, & Flanges – Universal Speedometer Cable – Throttle Linkage Cables & Misc – Hood Cowl – Fuel Pump Cover Plate – Oil Sending Unit Replacement Line – Screws & Fittings For Centering Gas Tank – New Water Pump – Delco Alternator & Pigtail Connector – Shifter – More To Come

I didn’t pick the color, the car came this way. Matches the engine.

This is supposed to fit in an MGB?

Parts are getting put on….
Took the initial steps and started cutting away metal. Main Tool: A reciprocating saw and a good set of metal cutting blades. I removed the engine mounts, cut away a bunch of metal in the front to allow moving the radiator forward. I actually cut it to within a half inch of the upright following along the frame rails. Following the rails in the back of the engine compartment, I removed a section from the passenger footwell and the driver’s footwell. I also cut out the heater box mount. The front cross member was cut into, although I will admit a little bit too far. I measured twice and cut once. I should have measured thrice. I actually cut about an inch too deep. However, I will be using the cut-out portion to rebuild the top of the cross member after I trim it so that it will clear properly.

Crossmember cut, front end modified to fit displaced radiator…

Original engine mounts cut out… New mounts in process of being installed… Brake lines will be replaced later… The replacements mounts that are being put in place are actually for a 1970-72 Ford Maverick with an L6 engine. I had to trim ‘wings’ off of the mounts and trim them just a wee bit in order to fit them into the frame rails. Using 1 bolt from the cross member on each side and installing a bolt for the other side, this setup should work quite nicely in conjunction with fabricated brackets that will be installed on the front of the engine. These brackets will be bolted to the front of each head and should allow me to be able to feed the exhaust headers between the frame and the block.

After some major sheet metal cutting… Hey!!! It fits!!!

A pretty good picture of the Holley 4412S1 sitting on the intake. This is a 500cfm 2 barrel carburettor. So much for gas mileage, but hey! it was a freebie from a buddy of mine. Don’t mind the boards, they’re just helping me figure out fabrication of the engine mounts…
Even got plenty of clearance underneath…This picture shows the over-cutting of the crossmember pretty good. Another friend of mine has said he will help me reinforce it by welding plates in front and behind it.
Once clearance was achieved in the engine compartment, I set about designing the engine brackets. Using 3/16″ thick poster board, I created a mock up of the various parts to the brackets. I took them to Tim. He then cut them out of steel plates and angle iron. I took the pieces home, mounted them up and tack welded them in place. I then took them back to Tim, who had one of his workers weld and seam them together properly. Here is how they look fitted to the motor. New AC/DELCO alternator installed. A low profile 14″ drop air cleaner installed. This particular air cleaner has a 1.5 inch drop to it. It currently has a 3″ filter, but I think a 2.5 inch or 2.25 inch filter will add to a little bit for comfort clearance under the hood. Right now, I’m going to leave it as is to avoid the expense of a filter that is not absolutely necessary. A new coil was also purchased. The distributor was lifted and rotated in order to give more clearance for the upper radiator hose
Here’s a good picture of what the engine brackets ended up looking like. They’re very solid, and after they were smoothed out a little bit, they were almost pleasing to the eye. A new water pump for a 1980 Ford Crown Victoria along with a replacement pulley with the proper spacing was installed in order to change the direction of the water pump inlet. I’m not thrilled about the water pump pulley, but for $5, I’m not gonna complain. It was the only pulley I could find that made up the difference in spacing from the old pump to the new one. I needed it to be on the same side as the outlet of the radiator. Another item that bought was a radiator filler tube. It will be installed just above the water pump in the upper radiator hose. This was necessary due to the height of the engine compared to the height of the radiator once it is installed.
Still nothing underneath. I still need to figure out the exhaust. Lots of great ideas from lots of great people, but I still really want to route the headers between the motor & the frame rails. I have approximately 1.9 inches minimum of clearance along the driver’s side due to the steering shaft. This is a normal problem for older chrome-bumper MGBs. I hope to be able to fabricate or modify a header that will clear the shaft.
Got bored and started installing the hood cowl. Not the route I really wanted to go, but money is an issue. I can’t afford a $350 fiberglass hood right now, although I will save my pennies up for one eventually.

Hood cowl smoothed into the hood. Still a few adjustments to be made.

August 29th: Custom driveshaft & radiator modifications are done!!!

Great driveshaft from Aallpro in Lancaster, Ohio

Great radiator modification work done by Casey’s Radiator Service in Lancaster, Ohio

Radiator hose fitting. Gates #21576 & #21956. Needed some minor cutting & trimming to fit.

What? No clutch master cylinder?

Sept 16th: Exhaust manifolds are in place!


Safety Fast……….Real Fast!!!


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