Leons MGB V8
This site is about my 1975 MGB that I started with a 62 Buick 215 V8, then changed to a 1963 Oldsmobile 215 after a rear main seal leak in the Buick. It’s now running with a Holley Sniper EFI 650cfm. I love it. This setup may just stay for a while 🙂
The Trip – September 2022
So as Mike and Susan Goodwin where leaving our house one night after dinner Susan says “Mike’s always wanted to drive the MG across the country.” And Barbara then says “Leon’s always wanted to do that also.” Then someone says “You need to do it before you get old.” That’s when I said “I’m already old so we should do it damn soon.”
We took the thruway to the Queenston – Lewiston bridge into Canada. We stopped at the 1018 Coffee Bar in London, Ontario. Barbara and I split a grilled Ham Sandwich. And I broke a tooth off on the toast. It was the end tooth on my temporary implant. Only problem was it left a sharp point that cut into my cheek. Wasn’t much I could do about at the time so onward we went.
We went to our motel in Saginaw, MI. and had dinner at the Bavarian Inn Restaurant in Frankenmuth, MI. Really good food, friendly service.
At breakfast in the motel we saw a lady with a jacket that had what looked like a race track outline and it said NBRA Racing – Barbara started a conversation with her thinking she was into racing like we are. But NBRA stand for National Barrel Racing Association – she races horses around barrels at rodeos. She’s been doing barrel racing since she was 10 – she was our age. Her granddaughter does it now also – very interesting conversation.
From Saginaw we headed up toward Marquette MI. The roads were like washboards. In talking with some of the locals they agreed unless you’re on a highway they are really bad.
We were in this area because Mike and Susan hike and are hiking all the high points of each state. They hadn’t done MI yet so they were going out in the morning to do the high point and we would meet them in DuLuth. We stayed the night at the Cedar Inn and as we’re leaving the driveway the driver side exhaust pipe fell off, I pulled over to the side of the road. I had one of the nylon hold down straps in the trunk so I get that and drop it down the side of the engine, around the exhaust pipe and then back up the side of the engine. I knew the heat from the exhaust would melt the nylon so I looked around and found one of the steaks they use to put markers up during construction. I was wood about 3′ long, 1 1/5″ wide and 3/8″ thick. I broke it into 8″ pieces and took four of them and made a cradle between the pipe and the strap – it worked.
There was a Midas shop across the street. I went over there and the counter guy says they could help me out but had nothing open til the 21st of the month. That obviously wouldn’t work. Asked him to recommend a place and across the highway from them was Pepp Motors – no relation to Pep Boys they pointed out. It was just what I needed – a regular garage with guys that think on their feet. They put it on the lift and could see the problem. I asked if they could spot weld the pipe to the header and they said “OK” and did it. Up on the lift I took a look and it looked pretty good. Go it down and we went about our day. But – it didn’t take much of a bump for the car to scrape – sounding quite terrible.
I looked under the car and we had about 2″ of clarence between the one exhaust pipe and ground. That wouldn’t work – the roads where real bad around here and we scraped way too many times. We went back to the shop and I asked if they could take another look and see what we could do about it. They said it would have to wait until morning because two of the guys had left for the day. I didn’t have many choices so morning it was.
I went down the next morning and they put it on the lift. They could see that it was angled wrong. Their guy, Jamie, removed yesterdays weld, put a jack stand under it, raised it up and rewelded it. Looked much better – was up where the other side was. Thinking about it I was worried it was too much pressure on the headers so I asked if he had any strapping we could use to put in as a backup. The garage was also a U-Haul rental place so he went next door and came back with some heavy metal strapping. We put it around the pipe and then through the cross member for the tail of the transmission. Did both sides:
While doing the most recent work with the help of Mike G from our car club I installed a Raspberry PI with touch screen, video, audio and Android Auto. I can pull up the maps, music and other apps from my phone on the touch screen – beautiful. I used Open Auto Pro from BluewaveStudios.io.
Well what was going to be just a few weeks turned into a few months. But, with the help of Al and Mike from the car club I’m back on the road again and running well. Found a crack in the headers. I tried to weld them but they’re relitively on the thin side. I weled them but they warped out of shape enough so when I put them back on there were leaks around the ports. In hindsight I should have made a piece of metal plate that would hold them in place while I welded them but like I said – hindsight.
I called around and nobody had hugger headers for the buick that they could deliver right away – back ordered 6-9 weeks. I called Mark at D&D and he said the same thing – BUT – called me back a few minutes later and said he talked with his supplier and they agreed to get me a set within 2 weeks. Perfect – cause we’re leaving for a trip in 4 weeks. A week and a half later the new headers showed up! Thanks again to Mark at D&D Fabrications – https://aluminumv8.com. I put new wrap on the headers – temp in the engine compartment is way down.
While the engine was out I decided to clean up the wiring, move some things around. I added an overflow tank – it worked out real good – I found a spot for it – on the front of the engine mounted with the alternator bracket – see the pic below. New motor mounts, new transmission mount, new radiator hoses, new heater hoses and a new set of gauges.
Found a new fan that is the largest that would fit on my radiator. And it’s now controlled by the EZ Sniper control unit. I’ve set the fan to come on at 195 and go off at 188. Driving it in the over 80’s temp the past two weeks has shown that it controls the heat now with out a problem. With the new gauges came a temp gauge. The Sniper has one built in – I connected the Sniper to the temp sensor near the radiator cap so I put the dash gauge in the host going to the bottom of the radiator. It’s interesting to see the temp coming out of the engine and the temp coming out of the radiator. If the outside temp is under 75 and I’m going down the highway the engine temp is around 175-178, the temp coming out of the radiator is around 160. Obviously the radiator is working well and I’m running a 30/70 mix of anti-freeze to water along with VR Water Wetter. Hit some construction the other day – it was 86 outside but the car temp stayed between the 197 – 185 range and cycles there over and over.
Just pulled the engine today. Now that I have most everything settled on how I want it – Sniper, Hyperspark, etc. I’m going to clean out the engine bay, probably paint it to match the body, rewire things so it’s all neater looking. And the last week the starter quit. I’ve one of the small starters I got from Dan ad D&D Fabricatios about 20 years ago so I guess it doesn’t owe me anything. Ordered a new one from Mark at D&D and it arrived today – lifetime guarantee on this one – I wonder if he knows how old I am and figured it was a good bet?
Leon's MGB V8
The car is a 1975 MGB with a 1963 Oldsmobile 215cu (3.5L) V8. Currently fitted with a Holley Sniper EFI throttle body injection. It’s is almost white – Chrysler 300 Vanilla. It has a Monza Vega positraction rear end with a T5 GM transmission, dual exhaust. It’s been dismantled and rebuilt twice.
And I constantly tinker with it.
In May of 2018 I ran across some videos on YouTube about the Holley Sniper EFI. I was very impressed. They said you basically hook up 12V, 12V switched, a distributor feed for rpm, install their temp gauge and their fuel pump and return line. I have been playing with various tbi systems for over 10 years – a couple Holley Pro-Jection styles and a couple Mega-Squirts. I really liked them but they just didn’t seem like they completely hit the mark. So went online looking for one.
I was kind of put in a self proclaimed hard spot – we had decided to go to NAMGBR 2018 in Gettysburg and that was only a couple weeks away from my Sniper decision. I went online to buy a sniper and found one on EBay being sold by F/A Products and it had a $100 discount. I noticed they were located in Ontario, NY just about 30 minutes from me. I sent them an email and they said that I could pick it up at their place. Great – get in the same day I ordered it – that meant if everything went OK I could have it in for the Gettysburg trip.
The people at F/A/ Products were very nice and knowledgeable. While I was there we went looking in their catalog for which adapter I would need – I drove the car out there for the pickup and we looked at my manifold to make sure. I ended up needing a Mr Gasket model #1933 Carburetor Adapter Kit 2BBL to 4BBL. They didn’t have one in stock.
When I got home I went online and the only one available in this area showed up as available at the downtown Rochester Advanced Auto on Monroe Avenue. If you know Rochester you’d understand why this isn’t really your “Speed Shop” kind of place. I went to get it and the guy comes out brushing the dust off it and says “This must have been there since when we first stocked the store!”. Even he thought it odd that they stocked it. I called it my lucky day.
So now I’ve completed the fuel system – added a Hyperspark distributer and associated ignition components. Click here to check it out!
I’ve had Holley Throttle body fuel injection as well as a Megasquirt system. Also had a Ford dual 2 barrel setup and a 550 Carter setup on it. The Megasquirt performed the best and that’s the setup I’m headed back to this summer (that was in 2010).
The Holley pro-jection is an analog system. It worked much better than any of the carburetor setups. I put an Innovate O2 sensor in and could see a much smoother mixture flow.
We were going to a car show in Hamburg, NY with another MG Car Club member and filled up just before we left. He was driving his rather stock MG Midget. When we got there, about 80 miles, we filled up again. I got 26.5 MPG. The MG Midget and got 24. That put an end to all the gas sucking jokes.
While looking through our local Swap Sheet I saw an ad for a 1975 MGB Project car – Basket case, for $3200.00. It sounded interesting so I called and went over to take a look. The person selling it, Mike, said he didn’t have ‘all the car’ there. I since have learned the importance of the statement – ‘all the car’ and the true meaning of ‘Basket’ case. It wasn’t quite a basket case like he said – some of it was in boxes, and crates, and loose, and the parts were spread over at least 4 different locations, and in 2 counties. The ONLY things on the body of the car were the 4 door hinges, EVERYTHING else was dismantled. (I’ll have to ask him why he left the hinges on.) But – one very important piece – Mike knew where everything was and it was organized very well. When we were looking for a part, I knew it was there somewhere, he hadn’t lost a thing, we just had to figure out which container it was in.
Mike had purchased the car in 1980 and last had the car on the road somewhere in the early 80’s. He told me he started to do some engine work, saw some articles by Phil Baker and I believe he saw Glenn Towery with a V8 MGB and decided to do the V8 conversion. He started collecting the information.
Mike completely dismantled the car, and more importantly, did extensive research on the project (remember it’s early-mid 80’s and there is no internet, no e-mail, so it was far more labor intensive than it would be today), and he did an excellent job, he collected about 4 inches of documentation, in addition to all the right sources and most of the parts. One of the things Mike did that played a big part in getting this car going again was to keep very good records on were, when, how and the costs of the what he put into the car – at the time I purchased it, had $8500 invested, including $3000 for the base car. By the time I purchased the project, Mike was up to child #3 (I think he was single when he started the project), and found himself in a position may of us have been – time and money had gotten a little scarce. He decided to sell it rather than have it rust away.
It hit me a bit nostalgic, when I was about his age I had a Sunbeam Alpine that I loved. Took it pretty much all apart, painted it myself and learned a lot about old English Lucas electrical parts (like replace it with something else). Once I had that and learned more about the Sunbeam line, I realize what I really wanted was a Sunbeam Tiger. The one with the Ford V8 in it. The Alpine was great until I had 2 children to put in it. It didn’t take long for it to get real, real small. It had to go. I traded it for a Ford Econoline.
Actually wasn’t a bad deal. I put over 100K on the van, I played in rock bands and it was loaded up with a Hammond B3, a Leslie, the PA System, the Guitar amps and more, by the time I traded it for 4 kitchen chairs both rear springs had many cracks in them, but not the main spring, so it kinda still stayed on the axle. The person I traded the van to kept it for over a year and put at least one trip to Florida on it. So, it really wasn’t a bad deal for either of us.
April, 2022 – got it in the garage. Now that I’m settled on the fuel system and most other things on the car I’m pulling the engine to clean out the oil that blew all over, maybe re-paint the engine compartment and do some maintenance.
I want to get a touch smaller fan belt so I can bring the alternator in a bit, do some re-wiring to neaten things up, replace the electric fan with a larger one. The one in there now is over 15 years old so maybe a pre-problem item.
Need to fix the cruise control, not sure what’s up with that except it quit working.
And we’ll see what else happens.