Flathead V8 Power: 1948 MG TC

1948 MG TC

The MG T-series has seen a variety of uses as a race and rally car. When it was introduced in 1936 it offered respectable performance, hence its appeal to racers. As time went on, the T-series saw four major evolutions, with each getting a little better than the last. This TC was a distinct improvement over previous generations and was offered by MG in several performance levels, but apparently a previous owner felt the standard MG offerings weren’t powerful enough. Its original four cylinder motor was pulled out and a flathead V8 installed in its place. The current owner found it parked in a barn and started restoring it, but is unable to finish it now. It is partially disassembled and will need to be put back together, but if it turns out to have rally history like the seller claims, it might be a great buy. Take a look at what’s already been done and what needs to be finished here on eBay.

1948 MG TC V8 parts

We have seen a number of interesting engine swaps, but this is the first time we’ve seen an MG TC with a flathead V8. It sounds like a great swap to us, as the flathead was durable, easy to work on, and offered solid performance. This one is the 136 cui variant and only puts out 60 horsepower. This isn’t a massive jump in power from the original MG motor, but it offers considerably more torque. Similar performance could likely be achieved by supercharging the original motor, but it wouldn’t offer the sound or durability of this V8 and you wouldn’t have the joy of telling people that your roadster has a V8 in it. Sadly, the motor currently isn’t in the car and is in pieces. The seller discovered it had cracks in the water jacket and took it apart for repair. The cracks have been welded, but the motor will need to be rebuilt and reinstalled.

1948 MG TC interior

While the engine bay might have been modified, the interior was left original. It still has all of its original gauges and switches. The seats are still covered in their original leather and look to be in good shape. The wood dash looks to be original as well, but is in rough shape and will need to be replaced or refinished. The seller sand blasted the body and then primed it, which means there is overspray in the cockpit. We wish they had left the body and original paint alone, as it would have been interesting to it in its original patina, plus there wouldn’t be any overspray to cleanup.

1948 MG TC V8

This project probably isn’t for the T-series purists, but could prove to be a fun little roadster for anyone looking for something different. We hope there is some documentation to back up the claims of rally history, especially any that proves it had the V8 installed during its career. Getting it back on the road could prove to be a massive task, but the sound of the V8 alone would be worth the work! Would you put the V8 back together as it was or would you do a few upgrades to it?

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Comments

  1. Mark E

    Other than the seller’s claim, there doesn’t seem to be anything else backing up the ‘rally history’. I agree, it’s a pity the body was not left alone but with the light gray primer you can easily see the parts that are missing. As for what it’s worth, well, if the V8 was installed and the car was drivable I’d say maybe $12, possibly $15k if you could prove the rally history and there was no serious rust. But as it stands? Pfft, I’d say around $7500-$10k maybe? You can buy ratty unrestored original TCs and TDs all day for $6-10k. I guess the question is; does the alleged history and the dissembled Ford flatty make it worth more than that? This one will be interesting to watch and see where it ends up.

  2. Dolphin Member

    There used to be quite a few race reports and stories about T-series MGs getting Ford V8 60 transplants in hot rod and sports car magazines back in the ’50s. That plus the vintage look of things tell me that this car could be a genuine conversion from that era.

    There is an SCCA tag in one of the photos, so that would be a good place to start looking for some history. Maybe the owner has some history on it, or someone with a set of Hot Rod magazines from the ’50s could find an MG with a V8 60 in the exact configuration of this car. Things to look for would be the finned high compression heads and the dual carb intake manifold. Another thing to look for would be photos of a car with the wheels and large cross-section tires that are on this car. TCs had spindly 19″ wheels if I remember correctly, and very small cross section tires. My guess is that this car got the smaller diameter wheels and larger tires so it would have a larger contact patch with the road when it was rallying.

    Because of the limited interest in TCs this would probably best be kept as a hot rodded MG with the V8. Given the great interest in vintage rods and rod history this car is sure to be a center of attention at any show its brought to. Agree with Josh—too bad the body wasn’t kept as-found. That would have made it more appealing.

  3. paul

    The question is would I want to drive this car with it’s narrow tires, narrow track, short wheel base, set on a frame engineered for a 4 cyl?

  4. z1 rider

    The exhaust manifold, front engine cover and alloy oil pan make this most likely an early 50’s French Ford V-8 from a Vedette or possibly even a Comete. There is a slight chance it’s a Simca as they bought Ford’s operations in the summer of 54. Simca would later revise that engine, which included a change to a single water pump design. This is not one of those. The five holes in the front cover are; two water inlets from the lower radiator, two for mounting the two water pumps, and the last one in the middle accepts an angle drive casting for a conventional distributor in a position almost identical to an 8BA.

    Practice your French since it looks like you might need to source a distributor and some water pumps.

  5. MikeH

    Shades of the MGC. They planted a six cyl engine in the MGB and destroyed the handling of the car. I have only seen 2 MGCs in my life. Putting a V8 in this car is a travesty.

  6. jim s

    unless the past history can be proven, i would sell the V8 and hot rod parts. use the money to try to get this back on the road with a MG motor. is that a 3 main bearing V8? great find.

  7. Dolphin Member

    Normally I would agree that putting an American V8 in an MG is probably not the best idea, even though MG did that itself and sold more than 2,500 of them. And I have been known to say bad words while trying to restore someone’s awful ‘modifications’ back to stock on an old car, as I am doing this very week, but…….there are a few things to consider.

    I have never weighed a Ford V8 60 and an MG TC engine, but the Brits built their cast iron 4s pretty sturdy, and I would bet that a Ford V8 60 weighs no more than the MG 4 cylinder, and probably less in the configuration that’s in this car, with aluminum heads and manifold, which would take off a lot of weight compared to the cast iron originals. I doubt this V8 60 creates any problem in the handling of this car, especially since it has significantly wider tires than the car originally came with.

    As modified here, these cars have a history that goes back to the 1940s. [See: http://www.mg-cars.net/mgtd-mgtf1500-bbs/flathead-v8-60-200901241454473818.htm%5D [Also lots of other info available by Googling “flathead V8 in MG”]. One of the reasons was for more power. Another was because the TC engine was very prone to overheating, especially in the US South. Properly set up, the Ford V8 didn’t.

    Then there’s the fact that Carroll Shelby raced a TC early in his career, and then went and dropped a big Ford V8 in another Brit sportscar, an AC. Did he get the idea from remembering his drive in that TC and comparing how much better the TCs with a Ford V8 in them went? I’m guessing that a lesson like that wouldn’t be lost on ol’ Shel.

    So I think these MG TCs/TDs/TFs are a part of hot rod history on this continent, and if this car actually has a history with the Ford V8 60 that goes back to early hot rodding days then I would definitely keep it in that configuration as a tribute to American hot rodding and maybe as an example of something that might have led to cars like the AC Cobra. Besides, it can always be changed back to its original configuration if someone was determined enough, but I’ll bet the V8 version would get way more looks and interest at any car show or vintage race than a perfectly restored original TC.

  8. Ken

    It would be interesting to know the history on this car. Some of the details are quite similar to what my Dad described about a V-8 60 powered TC he had in the 50’s and sold before kids came along.

  9. tim hanna

    There’s a blown V860 TC featured on a blog somewhere and shots of Phil Hill driving one.

  10. Bryan Cohn

    The windshield is interesting in that its not a Brooklands screen but a much later style, hand made windscreen that is laid back and attached via small aluminum tabs. This alone makes me think it was raced not rallied as in SCCA rallying you have a driver and navigator, using public roads. Cars would have had the stock windshield or a pair of Brookland screen for the purist.

    I’d look at the floor behind the seats for holes from a bolt in roll bar. The SCCA medallion in the photo looks like it could be a racing event tag just as easily as a rally event tag. Bummer that the photo isn’t very good so we can read the medallion.

  11. Rich

    I was at the original owner’s “yard auction” 6-7? years ago in my mid-Michigan area-
    I bid on the car but lost (went for $5-6k if I recall)
    This car was raced at state/ county fair events, as evidence of the trophies that were sold off separately and not kept with the car, unfortunately…
    I saw little kids running around the auction site carrying these plaques and trophies that “daddy” bought for them for $1.00 a piece…shame.

  12. TJ Jacobs

    This car is the REAL THING! My buddy called me at 8am the Saturday morning of the original estate sale, I went to my boss at the time to tell him I was leaving (!!), drove that 1-1/2 hrs to get there, faster than I had driven on public streets in many many years, and then passed the exit, thus missing the end of the auction by about 5 minutes. Sucked. The guy from the estate was there, and said that HE built it back in the mid-late 50’s, based on the Hot Rod magazine article at that time, raced it (I thought he said SCCA, this seller stated “road rally” etc etc??) until the late 60’s, then simply shoved it in his barn, until the estate auction! He had a stack of trophies that sold seperately to a guy that said he would re-purpose them (my buddy talked to that guy)……..heart sank when I heard that. Z1 rider nailed it…….it was a Ford V8 60, with one cast exhaust manifold, one custom tubular manifold, all of the other parts mentioned in the eBay listing, and the factory MG “Special Tuning” shorter (16 inch??) & wider wire wheels (original MGTC wires were 19 inch). I chatted with the buyer (current eBay seller) who said that he would likely remove the V8, and put a proper motor back in it…….I told him he was crazy, with the history right in front of his face! I’m glad he didn’t seperate things, and at a $21K sale (he paid around $5500 when he bought it), I’m sure he’s glad too!! Car was Primrose yellow, and was still “presentable”, so sandblasting & primering was a mistake in my book, BUT it sounds like it proved the condition of the body! Travesty….no! Killer piece of Hot Rod history…..YES!!

  13. Rob Johnson

    Thanks to my Brother-n-Law I have this information. I am the one that stepped up and bought the car on EBay. Seemed like a lot of money but I had a feeling the car was genuine and as a long time hot rodder and owner of other rare barn find cars from the late 40s and early 50s I took the chance. My Dad raced a car similar in the mid 50s in California at fairgrounds and street circuits. It has an original Harmon Collins dual point dual coil distributor and all of the Offy Hypo speed stuff of the day. The SCCA tag is genuine and has a registration number in the early 200s. Also states the engine cc at 2375. My plan is to restore this car and vintage race it. Any information I can get on the car is greatly appreciated and thanks for the conversation posted here to date. I would love to talk to anyone that knows any of the history and original owners name. Best Regards, Rob Johnson

    • Charles Lambiotte

      I am in the process of restoring my dad’s 48TC with a tin side v8-60. He has hauled this car around in pieces for the better part of 50 years…too old to finish it now. I am getting the heads back on a full rebuild this weekend, mating it to a T5 Chevy trans and then fitting it into the frame….still a year away from completion as it has to be a frame up rebuild. Good thing, he has 95% of the original parts for the body…complete. I cannot believe as much he moved this car, that it is still complete. Anyway, I know your last post is a couple of years old…how did your resortation go? The wheels on your car look like the 16″ 72 spoke 6″ wide MG racing tires made originally for the car. the 19″ 60 spoke by 4″ are what we still have. Would love to see your finished product if you finished it. This does seem to be a budget buster…cannot tell you how challenging it is to find V8_60 parts. I have a Harmon Collin distributor but have not had any luck finding parts for it. If you have a line, let me know. thanks.

  14. J. Fidler

    My father had a MG TC with a Ford flathead V8 back in the very early 50’s. I have pictures of it I would post if I knew how. I was told it had 3 speed transmission with overdrive and 16” wheels. At the time it was yellow in color.

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