Car Reviews

First Drive: MGB GT V8 1978



The MGB GT is arguably one of Britain’s best-loved classics with them being some of the cheapest and best looking around. So naturally when I was asked if I wanted to drive one with a 3.5l Rover V8 lumped into it, how could I refuse?

Now let’s get some of the obvious changes out the way first. This MGB GT V8 is naturally, not original – so perfectionists look away now! But if I’m entirely honest, that’s not the point of this car. This MGB has only one thing in mind – Fun.


It has been heavily modified for track use meaning the original engine has been swapped out for a 3.5l Rover V8 and a five speed gearbox to go along with it. All of this of course accompanied by a pair of surprisingly comfortable racing seats and a roll cage, obviously…

The good thing about these little MGB’s is that they are surprisingly pleasant cars to drive, albeit a little rough around the edges. That and with being Britain’s best-loved classic car you can certainly be safe in the knowledge that parts for these little gems are readily available without breaking the bank.

how does it drive?

With this being modified to house a V8, it does mean that power to weight ratio in the car guarantees oodles of fun every time you take it out. However, with that comes a price – The extra weight over the front wheels does add a certain level of understeer. In its defence, it is understandable considering. That being said, it is completely manageable and does not affect the overall driving experience.


All of that taken in account, the handling is rather impressive with the car responding to steering input with ease and without throwing a temper-tantrum. The one thing that is worth mentioning on this is that you do need to keep an eye the front end when approaching tighter corners as you need to turn the wheel a bit more than you would first believe in order to make the turn. This is something that does pass pretty quickly though, as you get used to the feel of the car and becomes natural to do.

With having a 3.5l V8 bolted to the engine bay, it’s no stranger to getting up to speed – the main feature being the immense amount of torque to play with and a genuinely incredible soundtrack. The one thing that surprises you about this car is just how thunderous the exhaust note is coming from such a small car. It’s like someone decided they would put the bark of a Rottweiler into a Yorkshire Terrier – It’s genuinely amusing at times.

The interior is an interesting design fitted with such luxuries as a radio and some air blowers – exciting stuff! The red and alloy silver contrast certainly make this little MGB GT V8 stand out from the crowd. An interesting nugget of information is that the indicator lever is on the right side of the steering column instead of the traditional left which explains why other road users were giving me odd looks when the windscreen wipers were going berserk on a summers day.

The car is also pretty comfortable considering it’s just over 40 years old. I mean, you won’t be competing with any Rolls Royce or Bentley’s any time soon but it’s more than manageable – whether that be for the daily shop, or track day blast, the car feels planted and easily predictable.

The exterior continues the bold colour scheme with a silver case with black racing stripes that follow the car all the way down from bumper to bumper. Bodywork is in overall good condition but has the odd mark and scratch here and there from its past use of being a track car – Exactly how a car like this should be if you ask me.

Overall, the MGB GT V8 is an incredibly fun car, even with its odd quirks and imperfections. It would sit at home nicely in anyone’s garage who doesn’t take themselves too seriously. However, this car is not for the MG purists, whom I’d expect have probably already stopped reading by this point.

MGB GT V8 Spec list:

Year: 1978

Engine: 3.5l Rover V8

Power: 158bhp

Top speed: 125mph


1978 MGB GT V8


The MGB GT V8 is an incredibly fun car, even with its odd quirks and imperfections.

Liam Freeman
I pretend I know things about cars.

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