Ride height and bumpers
Peter Holden (Glacier White V8 1183) retired from circuit racing a Midget a few seasons ago and thought about getting a MGBGTV8 which he could use for the occasional historic navigational event. He contacted the V8 Register seeking some guidance on ride heights and bumpers. This note is based on the reply provided by Roger Parker. (Sept 01)

Pete Holden's e-mail to Roger said "I have a couple of questions regarding the MGBGTV8 as I am looking at buying a car towards the lower end of the price range with the emphasis on a tidy and usable car which I can prepare for the occasional historic navigational event, so I definitely do not want to "waste" an exceptional vehicle! Of course chrome bumpers would be nice but I am already finding that chrome bumper cars in my price range (£5,000 to £6,000) suffer from excessive "tin worm". However I thought that as rubber bumpered MGBGTV8s certainly appear (from my brief surfing of the internet) to command lower prices. Are the following ideas feasible, even though the second is probably a heresy!!

Ride height - do rubber bumpered V8s have a higher ride height than the chrome models and can they be lowered? I have seen Brown & Gammons advertise a lowering and handling kit for rubber bumpered vehicles which I presume would do the job or are V8s in some way different?

Now for the heresy - if I remove the rubber bumpers, can I replace them with a one piece front and rear valence panels in glass fibre similar in style to those fitted to the MGCGTS? There are front views of several cars on page 30 of September's Safety Fast! but no rear shots. Can you advise a way forward?"

Well the reply from Roger Parker was both punctual and straightforward in his usual way. "The answer to your first question is the MGBGTV8 was about an inch higher than the same model year for four cylinder chrome bumper cars and so when the rubber bumpers arrived the four cylinder cars saw a rise of about one and half inches whilst the V8 saw a minuscule additional half inch or so. The reality is that this much smaller difference almost means that both models can almost be treated as the same.

Certainly the actual configuration between four and eight cylinder cars is similar except that the spring rates at the rear are considerably higher to cope with the effect of the V8 torque. The adoption of spacer blocks is therefore not advised because spacing the axle from the springs will increase the torque leverage effect and may cause adverse consequences. If it is felt lowering is necessary, using re-cambered springs is much better.

The removal of the rubber bumpers and their replacement with anything that has a connection with the chrome bumper set up (Sebring panels are chrome bumper cars without chrome bumpers) means you will face the same problem. Looking at the front and rear installations on rubber bumpered models:

Front bumpers - the rubber bumpers are mounted on

very large and heavily modified brackets fitted to the front ends of the original chassis rails. These encroach significantly on what would be the area below and above the bumper line. This also extends rearwards towards the radiator. These ends and the rearwards extensions will have to be removed to provide access for either chrome bumpers or Sebring panels. In addition the rubber bumper brackets that sit above the oil cooler platform completely block the fitting of a chrome grille. Even if just the first couple of inches of this is removed to allow access to mount a chrome grille the remainder will be as visible as a large wart through the slats! Perhaps only the late plastic eggbox style of plastic grille centre would partially restrict this view.

Next, the front wings on rubber bumpered cars have great big holes where the front wings on chrome bumpered cars have smaller holes in which the side light and indicator unit is fitted. The hole on rubber bumper wings is far larger than the lamp unit fitted to the chrome bumper wing. So conversions from rubber to chrome set up require either a change to a chrome bumper wing or welding in a shaped steel section from a chrome bumper wing to fit the lamp unit.

Rear bumpers - the same sort of large rubber bumper mounts are fitted to the ends of the chassis legs in just the same way as the front. These need to be cut away to provide access for the chrome bumper and a Sebring panel. In addition, you will find there is a void below each rear light which is occupied by an upswept section of rubber bumper. On chrome bumper cars there is a round section of rear wing. It is that section of the chrome bumper rear wing that would have to be welded in.

A number of companies do rubber to chrome bumper conversion kits which include the parts needed top cover the problem areas mentioned above. The work is such that by the time you have got as far as completing this conversion, fitting genuine chrome bumpers is a relatively small additional job, so the use of Sebring panels would only save only a small amount of work together with the cost of the chrome bumpers and brackets.

The solution as I see it is to persevere with the search for the type of car you really want because the cost of converting a rubber bumper car will near enough put the overall cost in much the same level as going for the chrome bumper car to start with."

Pete Holden subsequently contacted the V8 Register to report he had acquired a chrome bumpered MGBGTV8 (Glacier White 1183), previously registered by Paul Carrier in North Yorkshire. Pete noted "the car has had a colour change from its original Citron. This was carried out by a previous owner when having a substantial overhaul to the bodywork at Beer of Houghton back in the 1980s. The car is having "remedial" work carried out at present - mainly mechanical with a little welding and fitting a front valence in place of a glass fibre spoiler. I should have the car back on the road during December as my daily transport."

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