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1978 MG MGB Tourer (ZoooomB)
Last updated Oct 9, 2008
Modifications: Read about my many mods to this car by clicking the "Mods" tab to the right.
History of This Car: I am the second owner of this great little British car, buying it from the original owners in 2004. It was the couple's third car and had been garaged its entire life.
Paint: The car is free of rust and the paint was very nice... unfortunately, I just didn't like the 1970's "hot orange" color, so I repainted it to Spitfire Red - a very "hot" red.
Interior & Trunk: Since buying it, I've completely re-upholstered it in black with red piping, re-carpeted in black cut plush with red binding, and put a trunk carpeting kit in it. It now has a cromed "MG logo" on the carpeted spare tire cover.
Additionally, I've paneled the dashboard in rosewood and am in process of changing the door cappings to rosewood, as well.
Wheels & Exterior: I've swapped out the, to me, ugly RoStyle wheels to Minators, a type of spokes that were a high-cost option back in the late 70s and even put "MG logo" valve stem covers, lug nuts, license plate frames, and license plate screws. Note: None of the photos show the Minators.
Engine Rebuild: The car was roadworthy when I got it and I drove it cross-country after buying it. However, I wanted a higher performance engine that would last for the rest of my life, so I rebuilt it starting in late 2006 and finishing in 2007.
Original Engine: As originally manufactured, this car has the same 1800 cc long-stroke engine that was used throughout the 1962-1980 lifespan of the MGB, with very few changes... except, starting in 1968, the continuous addition of smog equipment.
Original Performance: Early MGB's had around 100 hp but by 1978 they were down to about 75 hp, due to smog add-ons. For all practical purposes, the top speed was about 90 to 95 mph.
Although that wasn't terribly fast - when your rear end is sitting only about 6 - 7" off the pavement, it sure seemed fast anywhere... expecially driving on curving, mountainous roads.
THIS Car's Performance: With all the modifications to the engine and the swap-out to an overdrive tranny, this is a vastly different car than originally manufactured. It now has about twice the horsepower - with an excellent pound-to-horsepower ratio (equivalent to about 275 to 350 hp on a typical Muscle Car).
The original redline on an MGB was 6000 rpm's. With all racing internals, this car should turn 8000 - but I'll never try it, as my goal is NOT to race... just have good, health, "peppy" fun while driving nearby mountainous roads.
While a gigantic SUV might pull ahead of it at a stoplight, get on a steep, winding mountainous road with lots of hairpin curves and the MGB is in its element - a tight, flat suspension and a ball to drive!
Top Speed: The combination of the engine mods and the 3rd and 4th gear of the overdrive transmission should increase the top speed to well over 125 mph - but, again, at my age, I have no interest in driving that fast... that's something I did back in my 20's.
This started as a plain-vanilla British sports car - nothing extra (except what I've done). Just a "Little British Car" that was a ball to drive.
MGB's have rack & pinion steering and hydraulic arm shocks. Big, leather-covered steering wheels, while not standard, ended up on lots of them.
Even a radio was an option on these. In the 70's, a few were sold with dealer-installed air conditioned.
This Engine Has Been HEAVILY Modified: The only thing original is the block (which was bored slightly).
Internals: All the engine internals (bolts, studs, rods, lifters, etc.) are 190,000 racing-rated and it has heavy duty, racing oil and water pumps.
Fuel System: I changed to an MSX cross-flow, tri-alloy head, which moves the carbs away from the heat of the exhaust over to the opposite side of the engine. I added dual Weber DCOE 45 racing carburetors along with a dual cold air intake system with rams underneath the car.
Shafts: It has been upgraded to a street/racing MSX camshaft that is optimized to the head. The crankshaft was polished and hardened.
Lubrication: The standard rocker arm assembly was replaced with a roller rocker system and I added a rocker oiling device.
Engine Heat Management: As heat plays a major role in performance, I also did everything I could to effect rapid heat dissipation, including tri-alloy valve cover, designing and fabricating an exhaust cooling system with undercar air input rams, adding an exhaust manifold cooling box, and multiple thermostat-controlled exhaust manifold cooling fans. I relocated the oil filter, added an oil thermostat, and upgraded from a 9-row oil cooler to a 19-row one.
Exhaust System: Again, rapid exhaust flow adds power, so I converted to a Monza flow-through exhaust system with oversize,staightened header and oversize, straightened undercar pipes.
Exhaust Heat Dissipation: Again, consistent with the goal of rapid heat dissipation from the engine and engine compartment, I wrapped the headers, insulated the firewall, installed a 1250 cfm thermostatically-actuated fan over the exhaust manifold, and added a 2.5" heat exhaust pipe to draw excess heat from the exhaust cooling box into the wheel well using a thermostatically-actuated 2.25" high cfm "muffin" fan inside it.
Lots of Incremental Effects Make a BIG Difference: Each upgrade has an incremental effect on performance - my guesstimate is that I've probably doubled the original horsepower of the engine... while adding significant life to it.
Transmission Conversion: While I had the engine out, I also swapped out the original all-synchro 4-speed transmission for an MGB overdrive (for 3rd and 4th gears) 4-speed tranny to decrease wear on the engine and to increase cruising speeds.
Wiring: MGB's had the fuse box inside the engine compartment where road grit combined with ambient oil (remember, these were British cars) to sometimes cause a loss of contact between the fuses and their holders... with sudden cessation of power. I relocated the fuse box to the passenger cockpit, above my left knee and added a 6-circuit auxiliary box for planned expansion (running lights, larger stereo, etc.).
Interior: I reupholstered (heavy duty black with red piping seat covers and cut plush black with red binding carpet), installed a rosewood dash & console kit, changed from plastic to chromed steel window cranks, and made many other little improvements.
Trunk: I carpeted it in its entirety with cut plush black with red binding carpet, then found several black and red bags for my tools, detailing kit, and music storage. I found a chrome MG logo and put it on the cut plush spare tire cover, as well.
Upcoming Projects: Next, I'm changing out all the suspension bearings, installing 3" lowered springs (to get it to the same height as earlier MGB's), converting to Monroe shocks, adding racing rear bearings, converting the door cappings to rosewood to match the dashboard, installing under-dash and door lamps, and many other projects.
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