Slow Car Fast
LIFE OF A GT
November 21, 2008 - I cut the flare off the Rabbit fenders today.
Here's the left front fender on the right rear of the MG. Actually, it fits pretty well on either side, it was just easier to photograph this one! It's taped too far back in this picture, but it's close enough to give an idea. I think it'll work.
entry 74 - tags: body, flares
November 21, 2008 - The flare still needs some trimming to make it fit on the car with the chrome strip, and I haven't decided if it needs to move up or down yet.
But the overall shape is encouraging. It looks like only slight forming will be needed in the rear.
The front's not quite as slick, but I have to pull the side marker light before testing much more.
entry 75 - tags: body, flare
November 21, 2008 - I parked the cars side by side for the first time today.
To reassure me that my plan is as intended, the MG refused to start and had to be pushed around, while the Camaro happily burbled around the yard.
It looks as if I could install the MG inside the Camaro. Going the other way around sure looks like a tight fit!
entry 76 - tags: donor
November 21, 2008 - Another view of the two cars side by side.
The Camaro is a very swollen car.
entry 77 - tags: donor
November 25, 2008 - Time for this to come out.
After a mad three and a half days of work in the garage, I have a new fabrication station and a lot more room. Room that will shortly be taken up by a multitude of Camaro and MG parts, of course. But the real work will get underway this weekend as the original engine comes out.
The car completely refused to start to drive into the garage, showing signs of some sort of major wiring problem. I also discovered a badly bodged alternator swap on the car. No worries, it's all going away.
Time to get dirty!
entry 78 - tags: engine, teardown
November 25, 2008 - Before pulling the car apart, I checked to see where the ride height is.
Since the entire suspension is going to be changed out, I want to make sure I put the new on in (approximately) the right place!
While cleaning the garage, I also came across a set of nicely finished Miata wheels - black with a polished lip - that would look good on the car. The Shelby wheels, unfortunately, will have to go due to the 4.5" bolt circle. Like most of the other cars in the garage, the MG will soon have a 4x100 pattern. I'd been eying the Ronal RB as a good option and that might still happen, but for the time being the repainted Miata wheels will do. I can run a 205/55-14 on them, which is about 1" smaller in diameter than MGs usually run. Most people would go for copious rubber in a car like this, but I'll probably set it up to clear some 225s at most and then just run really good rubber.
entry 79 - tags: wheels, suspension
November 27, 2008 - Time to pull the engine.
In case I have to put it back in, it's good to know the official manual will be very useful - check out step 35.
entry 80 - tags: dismantling, engine
November 27, 2008 - The MG has the largest AC compressor I think I've ever seen in a car.
Even the one in my 1966 Cadillac is smaller - and that one has a 7.2 litre V8 to turn it, not a little 1.8 four. That's the alternator on the right for a size comparison.

entry 81 - tags: dismantling
November 27, 2008 - After about two hours of work, the engine is ready to come out.
It all went pretty easily with very few recalcitrant fasteners. The only one that gave me any trouble was a pre-rounded nut on the driveshaft, but I won. I always win.
This car was in sad shape mechanically. There are missing fasteners, unplugged sensors and general hack work hidden around. But it sure looks solid, which is what counts.
The engine will get pulled tomorrow when I have Janel's help. Right now, the hoist is sitting out in a cold rain and I don't feel like wrestling it in.
This picture makes it look like some sort of exchange is going on. Nope, I just can't seem to work on a single car at a time. Also, the garage is not as messy as this picture makes it look!
entry 82 - tags: dismantling
November 28, 2008 - The engine is out!
Janel feels a bit sad for the poor little MG, but not too sad as you can see from the look on her face. The drivetrain came out fairly easily, without any terrible surprises. It took less than three hours to pull, including the usual learning curve tricks of trying to figure out where to attach the hoist. I didn't even need a second set of hands, Janel came down to spectate.
I think this car is going to be a good basis for the swap.
entry 83 - tags: dismantling, Janel
November 28, 2008 - The nekkid engine bay.
That front subframe has mounting points that are just under 19" apart. The Miata subframe? Right about 32", as the tape measure indicates. One thing's for sure, the new subframe will free up an enormous amount of room. At the expense of a small bit of work.
entry 84 - tags: engine bay, subframe
November 28, 2008 - Here's a shot of the only MGB - that I know of - to be fitted with Miata suspension.
The car was never completed, but it's very useful info. I've shown the rear subframe installation in the past, here's a shot of what was done up front. New frame arms. I'm going to do a little more reinforcing, especially of the upper shock mounts.
This picture also shows how much more potential space there is with the new setup. Combine that with a tubular front subframe like this one and all sort of room opens up.
entry 85 - tags: engine bay, subframe
November 30, 2008 - I wheeled the car outside and went nuts with the pressure washer.
The car's actually pretty clean considering it's 37 years old. None of the really thick oil-and-dirt goo I expect on something this age.
Once that was done, I brought the car back into its home for the next few months and put it up on jackstands. I was careful to get the car level, this will make it a lot easier to fabricate everything properly!
entry 86 - tags: dismantling
November 30, 2008 - The next step was to pull the front subframe.
Not a difficult task. It's astoundingly heavy. I forgot to weigh the car before taking it apart (whoops) but it's possible the V8-powered result could weigh less than the original.
I'm starting to reconsider the independent rear suspension. It would be cool to do, but it would be easier - and cheaper - to simply have the Camaro rear end cut down and reworked to run a 4x100 bolt pattern to accept Miata wheels. The solid rear isn't my first choice, but it's how the car was designed to run in the first place and there's a good body of knowledge on locating the rear axle already. Plus, it'll save a bunch of cash and I won't have to redesign the entire rear end of the car.
This car was never meant to be a lap record holder, but it'll end up on track at some point. Hmm. Decisions, decisions.
entry 87 - tags: dismantling, suspension
November 30, 2008 - The current engine bay.
I'll build up a brace to keep the front in line, then chop out those frame rails and inner fenders before building some new rails to fit the Miata subframe. My biggest worries are aligning the new parts and making sure I have sufficient strength, but looking at the factory stuff makes me wonder how much I need to be concerned about the latter. Still, it's going to see more stress than before. I should have an LS3 to measure for dimensions later this week, that'll help put me on the right track.
entry 88 - tags: dismantling
December 1, 2008 - I posted some questions about shortening the Camaro axle to the Grassroots Motorsports forum.
A good bit of information popped up: the Chevy S10 pickup used the same 7.5" rear end, but with a much narrower axle. In the case of the 2WD model, the axle is actually a little bit narrower than the Miata one. That's perfect! It gives me a little more room for wider tires and I'll have a cheap option.
I'll still have to adapt the axles for disc brakes (I can't bring myself to run drums) and convert them to a 4x100 bolt pattern. All possible. I have a good feeling about this, I think it'll be a good solution.
An extra bit of info from the LS1Tech forum - the 1998+ S10 use the same 28-spline axles as my Camaro, earlier trucks use a 26-spline. Very important to know.
entry 89 - tags: suspension
December 4, 2008 - Time to do a test-fit of the suspension.
In order to get it in approximately the right place, I'm going to set the lower control arm up so a line drawn between the inner and outer pivot points is horizontal. Most people try to set the arm horizontal, but it's the pivot points that matter. So step 1 is to figure out how high they should be off the ground.
I attached an upright to a wheel and measured the distance from the ground (approximately 8.5"), then figured out how high the car was jacked up (10" above normal ride height). So I want my pivot points 18.5" above the garage floor.
entry 90 - tags: suspension
December 4, 2008 - I can't lift the subframe quite as high as I'd like without cutting something, but here's an idea of the location.
Pretty good, actually. That rear mounting point should actually attach right to the bottom of the stock frame rail. The rails converge and rise in the engine bay, where I need them to spread wider apart. This is going to go fairly well, I think.
entry 91 - tags: suspension
December 4, 2008 - Of course, what I really wanted to know what how the wheel looked on the car.
Would my painted Miata wheels suit it? How far would it stick out of the fender well?
The answer is that it looks good. I like it. The tire diameter is 23" instead of the stock 24" on the MG, but I can probably live with that. I can run a 205/55-14 RA-1 (or some similar R-compound) to give me good traction without having to use a ridiculous tire size, and a 225/45-15 is a future possibility. The fact that I have a set of the RA-1s on these wheels in this size already is just icing on the cake.
entry 92 - tags: suspension, tires, wheels
December 4, 2008 - The tire does stick out a bit.
About as much as I'd expected based on my measurements, which is reassuring. A rough test fit shows that the Rabbit fender flare covers it almost perfectly. I'll pull one of the RA-1s off and test fit with that as well, but I have a good feeling about this - as long as I stick close to the stock +45 wheel offset, anyhow. I should probably make sure the +30 wheels with 205/50-15s fit, as that's what half of my race tires are.
The fairly radical camber is because I assembled this suspension out of spare parts and everything's just finger-tight. No attempt at alignment has been attempted!
entry 93 - tags: body, flares, wheels, tires, suspension