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V8 Conversions

amazonamazon Posts: 293
I figured we could discuss V8 conversions on this board. A BB Chevy in a late model Corvette, or a Ford 289 in a Volvo P1800?


  • rea98drea98d Posts: 982
    Or one of my personal favorites, a 454 Chevy in a Jag Series 3 XJ6. Purists will cringe!
  • There seem to be, to my mind anyway, V8 conversions that make a lot of sense, some that are dubious at best, and some that are a crime.
  • dgraves1dgraves1 Posts: 414
    So what are the good ones in your mind, Shifty? Not thinking of replacing that tired Miata engine with a nice Ford 5.0 are you? :)
  • Oh dear....well I hope his insurance is paid up.

    I think a "good" V8 conversion would include something like Big Engine into Big Car as a baseline.

    So the conversions I like personally would be to put a modern FI block into older 50s and 60s cars (along with better brakes, tires, suspension,etc) while retaining the "classic" look of the 50s and 60s. In this way you get much better fuel mileage and performance and you can enjoy your old car out in the Modern World at modern speeds.

    Of course, I wouldn't do this to a '57 Chevy convertible (well, maybe I would) but to any say 4-door car or 2-door post sedan, sure why not?

    Another conversion I like is a V8 in the rather ponderous cars of the 30s and 40s. It really livens them up and makes them more practical to drive.

    Conversions I don't like are butchering a British sports car or a Jaguar sedan, since putting a V8 in either ruins the very character and balance of the car, and contrary to popular belief, does not improve "reliability". In the case of the British cars, it's not the engines that are the problem.

    I realize people put big V8s in small cars for the rush of straight-on acceleration, but I've found at least from my experience that driving this type of conversion gets old pretty fast, after the first few days of that "rush". The cars are clumsy, scary, hard to control, and often look pretty ugly with all the chopping, lifting and the hood scoops. That Spitfire you linked to is a perfect example of how the aesthetics suffer, and I'm sure the handling. It can't be very pleasant to drive.

    Some people point to a Sunbeam Tiger as an example of how a good conversion can work in a small car, but even those are not pleasant cars to drive. Aside from having to steer with the gas pedal, you have a very cramped cockpit, no leg room, and scads of engine heat wafting up at you on summer days. Not fun.

    Of course, I have seen Tigers "corrected" for some of these deficiencies, and they are better, but they ain't Cobras by a long shot. The fact that Tigers have barely broken $20K in value after all these years says something about their desirability as a driving car.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,593
    ...once it doesn't have to go through the emissions test anymore (and I have the money!) is to put a big block in my '79 New Yorker. Or I wonder if one of the modern 360 crate motors would work just as well?

    Another pipe dream I had awhile back, when I had my '82 Cutlass Supreme with its shot 231, was putting a Pontiac 400 in it. At the time I had this beat-up '69 Bonneville that had a great engine. It could move that beast of a Bonneville with no trouble, so I always wondered what it would've done in something lightweight, like my Cutlass?
  • dgraves1dgraves1 Posts: 414
    Is that the best you can do? Come on, somebody has got to have a Viper engined Lotus Seven out there.
  • Actually putting a Rover V8 in an MGB wasn't a bad idea, since the V8 was lighter than the cast iron four. On the down side, it was a Rover V8, and so a gas hog and none too reliable with British electrics and cooling. Even so, a modern hatckback will probably walk away from an MGB V8. It was only maybe an 8 second car.The factory only put them in the MGB-GT, which was the world's first production hatchback and is actually a very neat car to own. I wouldn't mind having a factory V8 MGB GT, but there's lots I'd do to it to make it a better car.
  • carnut4carnut4 Posts: 574
    Wow I had no idea there were so many MGB conversions out there-let alone a website with so many others. Great pictures.
    I wish there were some road tests of some of these. I'm sure there are huge differences in drivability, depending on the swap.
    Anyway, thanks for posting!
  • amazonamazon Posts: 293
    A big block Chevy in an MGB... Imagine the feeling when you floor it. A BB with aluminum heads, intake, and water pump would also be lighter than most Big Blocks out there.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,395
    would you have a preference for the MGB V8 over the MGC with the big Healey six?
  • It depends....on the one hand it's nice having all that low end power, which the MGC doesn't...but having a torquey six that's meant for leisurely cruising is also nice. But the MGC engine is heavy, so it's hard to fling the car around---which is half the fun on an MGB.

    In truth, a beefed-up 4 cylinder engine is what's best for the MGB. If you can bump one up to 130-140HP, put in an overdrive, that's about as sweet as an MGB is going to get.
  • argentargent Posts: 176
    This isn't quite on topic, because it's not a V-8, but it's certainly in the same spirit. This fellow has, at great cost and effort, transplanted a Jaguar V-12 into a Corvair. It's now a front-engine, rear-transaxle car, mating the stroked (now 5.7L) V-12 to a modified Pontiac Tempest torque tube and transaxle using a 4-speed transmission created by adding a second planetary gearset to a Powerglide automatic with a manual clutch in place of the torque converter. It's quite possibly the wildest powertrain swap I've ever seen.

    has lots of info and photos. Must be seen to be believed.

  • rea98drea98d Posts: 982
    Hmm...Don't those V-12's have a propensity to overheat. And with no radiator grille on the front...Hope he doesn't drive through Texas in July. If nothing else, it would make Ralph Nader happy, as all that V-12 weight over the front axel would cure the car's tendency to swap ends when you push it too far.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    If you wade through the web site far enough you'll see he's improved the way hot coolant leaves the engine. And apparently the weight distribution is 48/52.

    This is all way over my head but to me it looks like a staggering amount of engineering and workmanship. The "why" part is there too but as they say, there is no art without the resistance of the medium. This guy certainly ran into plenty of resistance.

    What is it about engineers and Corvairs?
  • Truly impressive project, even if it makes no sense whatsoever. The guy's skill and workmanship is awesome. Obviously, this is pure brain exercise at the Olympic games level.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,395
    to produce a car that is seriously overweight and underbraked? Why?

    There have been a number of Corvair V8 conversions putting the V8 in the back seat. I
    have no idea why anyone would bother with that either.
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