This is an exercise in.... What if?


Imagine, if you will, that it's the summer of 1965. Elvis's Crying in the Chapel and the Beach Boys Help me, Rhonda are just a couple of the top hits playing on the radio. Lyndon Johnson is President and most people have never heard of a small country called Vietnam. Heavy bangs and voluminous hair were what many girls were sporting and the word Hippy hadn't been invented yet. It was a wonderful time to be young. Muscle cars and Pony cars were just getting started, and the British invasion was well under way.

Sports cars were everywhere. Triumphs, Austin Healeys, Jaguar's and MG's were found buzzing around the streets and Japanese cars were only just starting to be imported in numbers. Ford had entered the fray with their V8 powered Sunbeam Tiger, and Carol Shelby was sticking a 289 V8 into the British AC and calling it the Cobra. GM no longer had a monopoly when it comes to American sports cars, but they did have quite a head start.

Chrysler was competing well with their Muscle and Pony cars, but Ford and GM seemed to have the American sports car market all to themselves. Not wanting to be left out Chrysler executives decided to enter the market, in a big way. Chrysler decided that coming up with a direct competitor for the Corvette would be way too expensive, so they went looking for an existing sports car that could be inexpensively modified to fit a small block V8. Negotiations started early in the year with the somewhat beleaguered British Motor Corporation Limited and in mid 1965 a deal was struck for Chrysler to manufacture a V8 version of BMC's MGB sports car. This decision was made to directly compete with Ford's popular 260 V8 powered Tiger, their version of Sunbeam's little Alpine.

Chrysler assigned this new model to the Dodge platform and in an effort to one up Ford, and at the same time keep costs down, Dodge decided to install their bread and butter 318 small block V8. This engine would provide an additional 80 horsepower over the Tiger's 260 and Dodge figured it would now have a distinct advantage in the market place. Although the 318 is about 60 lbs heavier than the 260, when mated to the aluminum A-904 transmission it was only a few pounds heavier than the MG's original running gear.

Dodge's engineers decided to keep external changes to a minimum but under the surface Dodge's 318 would be mated to a Borg Warner T-10 4 speed. In an effort to appeal to the female buyer, Dodge planned to also offer the A-904 automatic transmission as an option. Although the MG differential might be able to handle the horsepower, a narrowed version of Chrysler's 7.25 inch rear end was chosen to provide additional strength.

One of the wiz kids on the Dodge marketing team earlier in the year came up with the Super Bee concept for use in marketing their mid sized Muscle cars, but the executives hadn't as yet been convinced this was the way to go. They did however approve using this experimental marketing ploy for the B project, and the MG Super B was born.

Now back to reality.



Of course nothing of this regarding Chrysler and BMC/MG ever happened. It's kind of a shame that Ma Mopar never really partnered with a true sports car manufacturer because it might have been something very exciting. I know they purchased the Rootes Group (Manufacturer of the Sunbeam Alpine/Tiger) in 1967 but they never followed through with a Mopar powered V8 Sunbeam. Their excuse at the time was Chrysler didn't have a V8 that would fit the chassis. One has to ask, if that was the case then why purchase the Rootes Group? That's why I believe the MGB platform would have been a better choice.

I'm sure you have by now guessed that my next project is an MGB.... and you would be right. MGB's have been fitted with small block Fords, Chevys, Rover v8's and just about everything in between. However, no one I've been able to find has swapped in a Mopar small block and I think its time someone did. Unlike my other projects, this one will be an exercise in frugality. The budget will be extremely limited as you will see.

I picked up a '77 MGB at an auction for the whopping sum of $450.00. It was an abandoned project and consisted mainly of the body and running gear. No interior or convertible top, and it had been partially disassembled. Rust issues on this example are minimal and it's a pretty solid starting point.

I found a 1989 roller cam 318 core motor for $100 and an A-904 out of a running '67 Coronet for another $100, (the guy was swapping to a 4 speed so I got the torque converter and driveshaft as well). Instead of going with a Chrysler rear end, I decided to use a Ford 9 inch pumpkin I had left over from a previous project, and I found a bare 9 inch housing for $135. So at this point I have less than $800 invested, but..... the engine, trans, and rear all need to be rebuilt so that number will go up. I also know that going with an automatic trans isn't really in line with what a sports car should be. That may be the case but If I want to drive a manual I'll take out my 4 speed Polara or 6 speed Corvette. This project will not be a fire breathing rubber burning hot rod. What it will be is a mild performance build with nothing over the top. I'm looking for reliability and fun, not earth pounding power. Anyway, with a mild 318 (225 hp or so), this little MG Super B will be a healthy little sports car with a power to weight ratio similar to a C-5 Corvette.... at 1/10th the price.

Stay tuned, this will be something a little different for sure.



Out with the old.





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