Blog: What a waste of a V8 engine

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists


THE thirty-six million MGB fans out there are going to hate me for saying this, but today I came to the conclusion the Rover V8 engine is totally wasted on the MGB GT V8.

Let me explain – I’m travelling along the A605. It’s wet, it’s windy, it’s home time, and there’s a lot of ill-tempered aggression out there – not a place for a nice, gentle, relaxing drive. Evidently, the driver ahead of me in the 1974 MGB GT V8 thought the same and was motoring along at a reasonable 60mph-ish pace. As the road swept uphill, it broke into a dual carriageway of sorts. One of those three lane sections we used to call ‘suicide lanes’ in the old days…

He pulls out to pass (without indicating), I follow (at a distance) and prepare to be blown away by his V8 powered sports car. After all, this was uphill, and he would be riding on the crest of a wave of torque. His tail squats, a chuff of smoke – and he’s off…

Except he isn’t. Window down a crack so I can listen to his soundtrack, he’s foot-to-the-floor and motoring for England. Down into third, I begin to wind up the 16V motor in my Rover 420GSi Tourer, as I’m always interested in comparing such things… I can hear the V8 working for a living – he’s still in fourth gear, mind, but he’s going for it now. The point is, I’m starting to reel him in, and that is not something I would have expected…

I look down a second and see that I’m getting near to the top of third, and I’m catching this car now – and I know he’s still caning it, because I can hear it for myself…

Window down a crack so I can listen to
his soundtrack, he’s foot-to-the-floor
and motoring for England…

Hooking straight into fifth, I ease back, put a little distance between us and watch him thread this undulating A-road. Whereas I’m planted and comfortable in my ten-year old workhorse, I can see the driver of the MGB is really working for a living – the car is bouncing on its suspension, wandering from side to side, and it looks like there’s constant correction going on. Oh dear.

OK, I’m being a little unkind, but the point is – surely, if he wants to keep up with the flow of modern traffic, there must be better ways than this. And I can also think of a number of more worthwhile homes for such a great engine… Namely an SD1. For a start.

‘The MGB GT V8 can be tweaked’, I hear you say… Oh yes, this is true, but for the sort of money these things fetch, surely you shouldn’t need to be spending same amount again making them go, steer and stop like a sports car. Plough your money into a Rover 220 Tomcat – and take a holiday in Barbados with what’s left over – and enjoy a car which is just as stylish, on a different planet dynamically, and can leave it for dead in a straight line, while using half the fuel…

‘Ahhh but it’s a classic’, I hear you cry. Yup, but so is a Jaguar XJ-S or a Jensen Interceptor. Except they’re Classic and fast.

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

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