The first MGB GT V8 I built was in 1976, based on a 1966 BGT, which had minor front end damage. It was fitted with a Rover 3.5 V8 engine, supplied by Ian Harwood of Ellesmere Port; gearbox was a Jag E Type, with adapter plate, again supplied by Ian Harwood. Rear axle was from a Mk2 3.8 Jag the worst part of the car, as it was far too wide and needed 4 wheelarches to cover it. Even with the arches, there was still insufficient suspension travel, so handling on bumpy circuits was hopeless!
The axle was located by upper radius arms and slipper leaf springs, as used by the Works Escort for a short time, with Spax dampers in turrets. Front suspension was the standard wishbones, with the upper lever arm dampers (!), assisted by additional Spax dampers, steering by the standard rack. The engine was modified by Tony and Bruce of Wessex to solid cam followers (alloy inserts pressed into the cam follower housings and machined to use Ford Crossflow cam followers Ford Consul/Zephyr/Zodiac adjustable rockers replaced the standard Rover rockers). The cam was a Rally spec, supplied by Will Sparrow, who had some connections with Rover, possibly through Rob Lyall, who was involved in Rover development. I used the standard SU carbs. Wheels were 5.5 x 13 Minilites front and 6 x 13 rear.
During the first few events, apart from the dreadful handling, it was clear that overheating was going to be a problem any hold up on the start line or slow moving in heavy going caused the temperature gauge to go off the clock (anyone remember the infamous Rallycross at Mallory, where the organisers were under the impression that Rallycross consisted of mudlpugging and the event was abandoned shortly after the start?) Road cars at that time did not have the powerful ducted electric fans that we take as the norm today, and the aftermarket accessory fans were little more than modified heater fans, so without a belt driven fan running at crankshaft speed, little air could be pulled through the rad there was insufficient space to fit this sort of cooling anyway.
I cant remember any successes during that year it was very good off a dry start line, but as soon as a slippery bend arrived, everyone overtook me and a wet day just produced a lot of wheelspin traction was hopeless! I did one event at Valkenswaard, finished around 50th from 52 starters! (Charlie Irving from Burscough took the car over to Holland for me a great character and a very helpful man, who arranged my first trips over there in 1973 with my 1760 Escort).
At the end of the year, the car was stripped of all the running gear, moulds were made of the rear wings, arches and tailgate and the shell was sold to Richard Stok from Coventry, who rebuilt it with independent Jag rear suspension not sure how this was allowed, as the regs stated that cars should have the same style of original suspension, mounted on the original mounts.
End of part one in part 2, I will give details of the lightweight black car, which was a lot better! I have some old photo slides, which I will convert and display.