This MGB features Capri V6 power

Photography by Zachary Mayne

British car enthusiasts must be masochists. It’s amazing what they’ll suffer through thanks to their affection for certain old machines that hail from England. Wire wheels that might at any moment slip free from the hub and roll off down the road, cancerous rust that eats large holes in the bodywork, and, the most fun of all, those questionable fuel and electrical systems that harbor the ever-present chance of spontaneous fires—while underway, of course—are all part of the charm. 

California MGB enthusiast Bill Guzman is like most British car enthusiasts when it comes to accepting these minor foibles—after all, they’re just part of the ownership experience. And of course he has a typical story to tell of one occasion when his faithful—or is it conniving?—1967 MGB GT really turned on the charm.

The GT came close to being destroyed one day,” Guzman recalls. The culprit? A fire underneath the car. The big emergency? Guzman was driving the car at the time. “I stopped, jumped out and tried to get my small fire extinguisher, but it was too hot to reach,” he explains.

Luck was with Guzman and his MGB, though, as the driver of a passing fuel truck—oh, the irony—pulled over and used his extinguisher to douse the flames. Unfortunately, once the flames under the car were out, the heat re-ignited the carpet. It began smoldering and was soon ablaze as well. The extinguisher quickly ran dry and the tragedy began to reach comic proportions.

For the second time, however, disaster was narrowly averted. A fire truck driver who was returning to a nearby station spotted the smoke and came to the rescue. 

Once the fire was totally extinguished, Guzman was able to inspect the charred old classic. It wasn’t pretty. “The damage?” Guzman asks rhetorically. “Burned custom dash, door panel, passenger seat, distributor, wires, carb, brake lines, and on and on. The cause had been a defective fuel filter that leaked onto the header, thus starting a fire under the car.” 

Like a Phoenix

The event didn’t dent Guzman’s enthusiasm for his MGB, and he had the car rebuilt and back on the road a few months later. “The GT is a daily driver,” Guzman explains. “It gets a lot of attention from the public. People are constantly admiring it and inquiring about it, never suspecting what a big history the little car has.”

The GT started as his main machine back in 1979—he got it in trade for an MGB that had blown up and left him stranded in Santa Barbara, Calif. Even though the GT was supposed to be a driver, the modifications began soon after.

At first Guzman bored the 1.8-liter MGB engine out to a full 2.0 liters and installed a Weber carb and a Kent cam. “That didn’t last too long,” Guzman recalls of the powerplant. “It blew up after a year.” 

Once again without transportation, he decided to purchase a 2.8-liter Ford Capri V6 engine and transmission from his neighbor for $250 and transplant the driveline into the GT. Installing the V6 was relatively straightforward, with the biggest modification involving notching the cross member to make room. Guzman also cut out the stock rubber engine mounts and replaced them with custom solid metal pieces.

Bill Guzman’s MGB GT has seen a few different engine setups, and the current Capri V6 features a Sig Erson cam, 9.5:1 compression ratio and oversized 2.0-liter Ford Pinto intake valves. Carburetion is handled via a 350 cfm Holley. Guzman also fabricated a set of equal-length headers.

The suspension also got the works: Huffaker shocks, lowering springs, stiffer bushings and a rear Panhard rod. To reduce body roll, Guzman fabricated a 1.25-inch anti-roll bar for the front. The brakes feature Peugeot 405 rotors that work in concert with Ford Granada calipers and braided steel lines.

By far the most drastic visual change to the GT was the addition of a set of fiberglass Huffaker fender flares. Guzman also relocated the factory fuel filler door to one of the rear pillars and covered the opening with a Jaguar gas cap that lends the hatchback GT more than a hint of MGC Sebring style. 

Once the body work was done, Guzman painted the car himself. The color is called Dark Yellow Green and was lifted out of the GM color catalog—it’s actually a Firebird color. As a finishing touch, all of the chrome trim was removed, with the exception of the chrome bumpers. 

Taking a Small Detour

After getting the car looking good and running well, Bill decided to take it road racing in 1983. That move meant he had to gut the interior, add a full roll cage and install a one-piece racing bucket. 

For the next seven years he ran with the Sports Car Club of America. “The best I got was a second-place title finish,” he recalls.

“After it was no longer competitive at the race track, it sat for a couple years,” he continues. “Then one day I decided to put it back on the street.” 

Since he had gutted the car for racing and then sold the interior parts, he needed to fabricate a new dashboard and door panels. Once the custom pieces were finished, Guzman re-carpeted the interior and replaced the rear seat with a custom panel that has an access door for the battery. A pair of seats from a 1980 MGB and a polished wood Grant steering wheel finish off the interior.

On the Road Again

After putting the MGB back on the road, Guzman also decided to upgrade the transmission. By his own admission, the original Capri box was on the fragile side.

“I adapted a Mustang five-speed to the 2.8 engine using a Mustang II bell housing and clutch disc,” he explains. “The transmission is shifted via a Hurst shifter.” Despite the addition of one more forward gear, the original 3.90:1 MGB rear end still works well, Guzman reports. 

A peek under the front of the car reveals more engineering and fabrication, as Guzman built his own coil-over conversion kit that mates Eibach coil springs with aluminum-body Alden tube shocks. With the exception of having to cut a corner off the cross member, the kit is a bolt-in.

After years of serving as basic transport before becoming a competition car, this green GT now has a new role in life. “Now the GT’s main function is picking up parts and delivering packages for my business,” Guzman says. “On some weekends, I use it in the British car club events, rallies and some car shows.” He says that the GT has been the recipient of more than one car show award along the way. 

The V6 conversion also helped open the latest chapter in Guzman’s life. In 1999, he “accidentally” founded Classic Conversions, a company that specializes in V6 engine transplants for the MGB. 

“I was driving around one day, and this guy stopped me to ask about my car,” Guzman explains. “He liked the car so much, he asked me to build him one. The rest is history.” 

Guzman, who had been retired, now engineers and sells all kinds of speed equipment for the MGB, including V6 conversion kits, coil-over suspension setups and big brake kits. He even sells turnkey V6-powered cars.

Just think what would have happened had this MG not possessed so much personality?

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Comments
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Crossworth
Crossworth New Reader
7/6/22 12:00 p.m.

Wonderful article. I luv the color, the flares, uprated engine, I luv everything about it, except it is not in my garage - LoL.  How I wish could do more wrenching but family, "this old house" and a recently acquired working dog is zapping my 50+ year old chassis.  Perhaps someday someone may offer one for sale, naturally timing is everything.  As luck would have it, I have a '71 Capri that is collecting dust. Now I need a MGB and lotsa time. 

Thank you, Bill Guzman, for not giving up on your masterpiece.

Thank you Tim Suddard and David Wallace for your phenomenal magazine that I will forever subscribe too, even if subscription rates surpass a $100+. To me its the best auto magazine bar none. I would simply cancel other subscription to continue yours. 

Steve in Nor Cal

Crossworth1 @ g m a i l

Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
7/7/22 12:20 p.m.

In reply to Crossworth :

Thanks for the kind words. I ahve driven a lot of MGB's incuding supercharged and V8 cars. They rock!

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