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Bowtie Under The Bonnet! 1980 MGB

It’s a 1980 MGB, one of the last, as ’80 was its grand finale. Yes, it has those outsized black rubber bumpers which seem to be the bane of ‘74.5 and later Bs. Anything else remarkable? Well, I guess the title gives it away; sounds like ’32 Fords aren’t the only ones straddled with a powerplant switcheroo courtesy of a different manufacturer. But let’s hold off on that matter for now. The seller tells us that he’s got $40 Gs in this British two-seater but it’s available, here on craigslist for only $14,500. A debt of gratitude is due to Pat L. for this remarkable tip that calls Calagary, Alberta, Canada, home!

So, this is a nice, clean looking MGB, big bumpers or not, but that tacked on cowl induction hood scoop and the twin hood vents tell you something’s up. Back to those bumpers, they’re not faded or cracked, the black finish is rich and deep, the folding top looks new and the wheels appear to be original MG pieces finished in body color. The seller indicates that this MG underwent a restoration about 2,000 miles ago.

OK, there’s no hiding the obvious, this MG is sporting a 300 HP, Chevrolet 350 CI V8 engine, connected to a four-speed automatic transmission. The seller tells us, “Performance drivetrain, custom exhaust, and suspension. It’s a fun car, very quick and runs well. New dual aluminum exhaust…” Fun car? I bet it’s a blast! There are so many questions to ask i.e. Is the original rear axle still in place? How about the suspension? What’s been modified to support the addiitonal weight and power? How, and to what, is the engine attached? What about brakes – the original binders, or…? And on and on. Other than the hood, this is a fabulously disguised mash-up but there’s just so much to it, it would be nice to know some more about the technical specifics.

Car needs some TLC on the interior… plastic trim, dash etc.“, opines the seller but what can be seen in the image, looks great. Of note are the instruments, it’s a phalax of aftermarket gauges and it’s very impressive and purposeful looking. The gray cloth fabric seating upholstery shows no evidence of wear or degradation and the after market wood steering wheel complements the interior perfectly.

The seller tells us, “I’m retired and in my Seventies…time to pass the torch to the new enthusiast…“. I guess I get that but I’m not sure that I would ever tire of a hotrod like this, how about you?


  1. BA

    This 70 year owner is my type of guy! I complain all the time about muscle cars without A/C but this car gets a pass! I can’t imagine 300 hp in a 2000 lb car but this thing must feel like your driving a early Dodge Viper! Your hat better be on tighter then Dicks hat band or its coming off! The pure joy & fun it must be to drive this car is worth the price of admission !

    Like 16
    • KH

      If you’re old enough you know that I never saw any muscle car other than maybe an olds or Buick with AC.

      Nobody wanted it.

      Like 4
      • Neil R Norris

        This little gem would border on illegal it would be so much fun. I like it!!!

        Like 1
  2. Stan

    See its from Alberta. Must’ve been a riot carving through the Rocky Mountains ⛰️ with this liteweight rocket 🚀

    Like 6
  3. Big Bear 🇺🇸

    My wife ask when will I stop with the hotrod’s and grow up! I said never!! I am 5 years from 70. I told her when that day comes I hope I will be 6 feet under!!😂😂 This MG must be a blast to drive. I would definitely get into trouble in New York with this!! One thing on the outside that bothers me is the hood scoop. Not done right. I would bring it to the body shop to fix this. Otherwise this is a steal for under $15,000. The only issue that it may not sell …. it’s in Canada.. unless another Canadian buys it. Good luck to the seller and the buyer. 🐻🇺🇸

    Like 14
    • Tony Primo

      Well we have 40 million Canadians up here Big Bear. I won’t give up hope just yet that the seller can find a buyer.🇨🇦

      Like 5
  4. Chris

    I’m not sure how much heavier the SBC is over the original B engine, and wonder how or if the handling is effected?

    Let’s go for a 430 stroker…..

    Like 4
  5. Slomoogee

    Spent 40,000 on this and didn’t even glue the JC Whitney hood thing down all the way?

    Like 13
  6. Jim

    Wouldn’t touch it, even though I prefer the rubber bumper models. Why do people ruin cars by doing this kind of thing?

    Like 7
    • Dan B

      Don’t knock it till you drive a V8 conversion. It’s transformational

      Like 12
      • Jim

        But it’s not original. What a waste.

        Like 0
  7. Joe Meccia Member

    He definitely spent some cash stuffing that Chevy motor in. While being a rocket ship, I would prefer a stick shift in a B. I know that is much more difficult to add (and sort) when you do a project like this. Interesting combo using a rubber-bumpered B. The field of buyers looks like it would be narrowed down by the auto trans and the convertible model. The BGT hardtop is usually the choice for higher end V8 conversions as they usually have better value when selling. I know it was owners preference and I respect him for his likes in a project. Nothing bad to say here. I hope he gets his number……. ( just my two cents!!)

    Like 7
  8. Cadmanls Member

    I sort of get it, the auto would keep you from grenading the differential. Stopping this after you lift your right foot might be an issue. No pictures of the underside, suppose that manual B rack is still in place. Needs more to get it across the finish line, but it has potential.

    Like 1
  9. JMB#7

    Not surprised about $40k if you paid someone else to do the work. At the same time you had better want this combination to pay $14.5k. Really need underside photos to make sure the conversion mounting and drivetrain is up to par. I guess the intent was “sleeper” with those stock steel wheels. Nice find, but I would certainly vote for a 5-speed manual.

    Like 1
  10. Lee Wells

    I like the L88 hood scoop, but not this car. Remove that, and it’s a sleeper!

    Like 2
  11. Dr Ron

    I’ve been involved in three Buick/Rover aluminum V8 swaps in MGB’s and the outcome was always amazing.
    The stock four cylinder engine weighs 360 pounds.

    An aluminum MGB GT V8 weighs 320 pounds.

    A 350 SBC weighs 500 pounds…

    And that’s a very considerable increase in weight over the front wheels.

    Having owned and driven more than a few MG cars over last 47 years I can tell you that having an extra 180 pound lump of cast iron over the front wheels would in all likelihood be a horror show in the handling department.

    I especially wouldn’t trust it on twisties with cliffs on either side of the road.

    Braking would likely be over taxed be the increased weight in the nose…

    Rover/Buick V8 is definitely a huge improvement over the David Brown tractor engine.

    Chevy small block would be scary… IMHO.

    Like 13
    • Rocco B.

      Aluminum heads, water pump, intake manifold and radiator can make a big impact on the weight difference.

      Like 5
  12. Jon B

    Weight is certainly a big factor when you re-engine these small sports cars. I have a TR6 and it has a Ford 3.8 V6 which is double the HP from stock and 200lbs lighter than stock. Adding a few hundred pounds to these little cars affects performance considerably.
    I also don’t doubt he has 40k into this car, the amount of fabrication it takes to replace the stock power with American muscle is ungodly. I have considered selling my TR6 but the guys looking have no idea what to think.

    Like 4
    • JMB#7

      Your TR6 sounds like a wonderful combination. What transmission are you running? Any suspension upgrades?

      Like 2
    • David

      I have been a British Car mechanic since the early 80’s. The TR6 is truly a favorite of many. I just can’t understand the logic behind destroying such a classic auto. Did you keep the original parts? And you you choose a 3.8 Ford, you have no idea of craftsmanship or quality.

      Like 3
    • Claudio

      200 pounds less with twice the horsepower!who can fault this choice ?

      Like 1
  13. Woody

    Definitely different to say the least ! I had a 76 TR 6 and contemplated stuffing a warmed over 4.3 in it. I would have gone with aluminum heads an intake on my 4.3 to keep the weight in check. I sold the car in stock form before I went ahead with the conversion and I’ve always regretted not doing it.

    Like 2
  14. Bud Hall

    Not sure I can wrap my head around that bonnet decoration. The lines of the B are so nice without it. And “It’s more for to go fast in a slow car than it is to go slow in a fast car!”. I guess I just like the LBCs the way they come from the factory. I do like American iron,…in America cars .

    Like 1
    • Bud Hall

      That’s supposed to be “fun”, not “for”!!😵‍💫 (If I ever find the guy who invented auto correct, auto spell, it’s gonna be ugly!!)

      Like 1
  15. Joe Haska

    I had a friend who had an MG , an early one with a healthy Small Block Chevy in it. I drove it once. Once I got over the excitement of how fast it was I realized I could easily kill myself in it. It was unbelievably quick.

    Like 1
  16. Davey Boy

    What a sweet ride. As has been said a few times in the comments before, would like to know what the suspension, brakes and the rest of the drivetrain is like. Definitely get rid of the L88 hood scoop. If you need the room for the motor, then find a way to blend a little height into the center of the hood with just a piece of sheet metal and keep the body line as close to factory looking as possible. Also get rid of the vents and just put louvers in the hood . I think that would look much better. And definitely a 5 speed in place of the auto. And absolutely agree with Big Bear. Will not stop loving the hot rod till I’m gone from this world. I am almost 61 and just starting a 1977 Pontiac Astre station wagon V8 conversion build. It is going to be a ton of fun. Can’t wait to see the finished product. Also my brother’s landlord has a 1966 Oldsmobile Delta 88 convertible that we’re working at a trade deal on although that one will be mostly stock other than a little more horsepower in the motor and a different set of wheels but still got to go for that hot rod look a little bit just because it’s in my blood. My uncle’s bread it into me as a little kid and I will never stop.

    Like 1

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