Over the years there have been several LHD cars built, mainly for sale abroad, but occasionally for people who want a car to keep and drive at their holiday home. Regulations vary throughout Europe with regards to registration and testing but generally the UK SVA standards are pretty similar to those found in other countries, with the exception of some emissions regulations.
Since taking over the NG marque in 2002 Findhorn Cars have build two LHD NGs: an NGTF destined for Holland, this had to go through UK SVA; and an NGTF for sale in Belgium, which had a Rover K-Series engine to meet emission regulations.
Aside from the obvious of putting the pedals and steering wheel on the ‘wrong’ side the only major adjustment needed is to the tunnel. To accommodate the wide MGB gearbox but leave foot room for the driver, the passenger foot-well on a standard RHD NG is quite narrow; not a problem for a passenger, but too small for three pedals.
Being GRP, the tunnel is easily widened using a replacement tunnel section available from us, but at the expense of the MGB gearbox. Modern gearboxes are much narrower than 40 years ago and most should fit, our recommended replacement depends largely on engine choice: if you’re after the classic British sports car feel and want to retain the MGB 1800 engine, we can supply a neat conversion kit to take a Ford Type-9 gearbox; the same gearbox also does for the Rover K-Series engine; if you want a bit more grunt from a Rover V8, the R-380 gearbox will also fit in the narrowed tunnel.
The rest of the build process remains the same as for the RHD versions and will lead to a lovely LHD NG that’s perfect for driving in the continental sun.
Due to the introduction of the SVA test in 1998 many people have been left with incorrectly registered kit cars and scratching their heads about what to do with them. The DVLA say that if you can prove to an inspection officer that the car has been on the road for at least 10 years and that, during that time, it has been referred to by its kit car name (usually an old MOT certificate) then they will amend your certificate. Problem Solved. Not always. Some people have cars that have always been referred by their donor make and model e.g. MGB GT, or simply lack the sufficient documents to confirm the age of the car, and are left with no choice but to SVA their car or lose it.
This raises the question: “what do I need to do to get my NG through SVA?”
The major headache for this is the conversion to an SVA chassis. SVA regulations state that the seat and seat belts have to be securely fastened to the chassis (not through the body like many of the pre SVA cars); this unfortunately means it’s off with the body and out with the welder. Whilst this may seem a daunting task, an SVA chassis conversion kit from Findhorn Cars will enable you to bring you old chassis up to SVA standard with the minimum of work:
Start by cleaning off the paint to reveal the metal around the relevant areas of the chassis (it pays to go a little way back to avoid a small fire!), mark up the position of the four front mounting brackets for the seats and tack them on; this will give you a datum for the rear brackets and enable you to spot on the outer two. It pays at this stage to try fitting the seat to make sure the width is correct for the runners.
Now offer up the new chassis cross beam from the conversion kit, mark it, clamp it into position and tack on the remaining two seat brackets. Again check the position by fitting the seat; whilst it’s in place also mark a position for the inner seat belt mounting brackets (placement of this is not too critical, as long as the belt will go between the seat and the tunnel). Remove the cross beam and weld on the four brackets (this is much easier done on the bench than on the car) before refitting it and tacking it into place.
With the cross beam in place punch a mark where the centre line of the beam intersects the centreline of the outer chassis rail (this should be about 40 mm behind the body mounting hole) and drill through with a pilot drill. With a square follow the line down to the underside of the chassis and punch and drill again, hopefully the holes line up and can opened out with an appropriate sized hole-saw to take sleeve; tack it in place from above. Screwing a bolt into the sleeve will stop the thread from getting any weld splatter in it.
Locate the remaining chassis beam from the SVA conversion kit for the rear mounting point of the belts and tack it into place; if you are happy with the fit of all the brackets then weld the whole lot fully from above first. The hardest part of the operation is welding the underside of the chassis, if the engine is out and you can flip the chassis on its side this will help a lot, but take care!
SVA also stipulates that the rear brake line, fuel line and battery lead must run through the chassis, not under it, so you will also need to cut holes through the central chassis rail to take these. Whilst the body is off it also pays to run the new lines through the holes as access is greatly improved.
All that’s left is a new lick of paint and you have an SVA approved chassis.
The Single Vehicle Approval (SVA) scheme is a pre-registration inspection for cars and light goods vehicles that have not been type-approved to British or European standards. The main purpose of the scheme is to ensure that these vehicles have been designed and constructed to modern safety and environmental standards before they can be used on public roads.
The Single Vehicle Approval (SVA) test is administered by the Vehicle & Operator Services Agency (VOSA) for the purpose of obtaining a Minister's Approval Certificate (MAC) which is required to register the vehicle. The test is concerned with standards of construction (unlike the MOT test, which is concerned with condition). These standards are outlined in the SVA Inspection Manual (obtainable direct from VOSA) which we recommend kit car builders obtain (cost £35 at time of writing).
The MGB 1800 is a great little engine. It’s simple which makes it easy to work on; reliable; makes a great noise; and gives a classic feel to the already classic styling of the NG. But it lacks that serious punch that glues you to your seat when you put your foot down and is, being a cast iron block, heavy.
Whether you’ve had your NG for a while, or have just bought a one second hand, and are looking for a quicker smoother ride then no doubt you’ve thought about replacing the B-Series engine with a Rover V8 and wondered what’s involved and how much it’ll all cost.
The engine itself is easy enough to come by, one of the benefits of over 40 years of production, and comes in many different sizes and forms. Gearboxes too are relatively easy to find, be it the older 5 speed LT77 or the more modern R380, both will fit neatly under the body of your NG. So what’s left?
Tight packaging of the engine under the bonnet has more or less put pay to internal exhaust pipes (although with a bit of grinding of the manifold and some careful manipulation they will just fit!), which means a new set of manifolds, side-pipes and a fitting kit. Whilst external exhausts will look great, they do necessitates a new bonnet set to allow the manifolds to come out on the join line of the side and top panels, and modified torque braces which clear the bottom of them (if your car is a TF you will need to cut a small amount out the wings for the manifolds, we can supply a pattern for this).
The other major overhaul that’s needed is to the cooling system. The larger capacity V8 needs a larger radiator to keep it cool, as well as an electric fan, external expansion tank and the requisite plumbing to link it all together; all of which you can get from us as a kit pack and is easy enough to install. With a couple of replacement brackets, the old nose cone will fit snugly back over the new radiator.
That covers the essentials. Depending on your engine and intended use you may want to fit a thermostatically controlled oil cooler and might need a new water pump boss and pulley to give clearance between engine and radiator. All of these are available through us; for component costs click here. The work is not difficult, especially if you’re thinking of carburettors, and will certainly transform your car giving a quicker smoother (and lazier) drive. Fuel injection is also an option, but this requires some more work to match up the two engine and car wiring looms, and a bespoke plenum chamber; if your thinking of going down this route, or have any other queries, please don’t hesitate to get in touch or come for a test drive in our 3.9l Efi TC.
The Findhorn TX is envisaged as the successor to the NG TC. This was the second of Nick Green’s MGB based cars, conceived as a traditionally styled sports car. It was a real success, with its simple construction, MGB running gear, a strong chassis and a one piece GRP tub for the body from the bulkhead back. The MGB enjoyed predictable rear wheel drive handling, which the NG TC inherited. Nick was soon installing the MGB V8 engine and going racing with the TCR V8. 28 years later, the TC is still in production.
A number of factors have caused changes to the TC car over the years:
In the late 90s, the SVA test was introduced. This cannot be regarded as anything other than a "good thing". However, fixed seat backs and a high upper seat belt mount severely restricted access to the rear luggage compartment;
The SVA test also caused upwards pressure on the price, for instance in the price of the collapsible steering wheel boss;
At first many 1800 TCs were built. The car that is popular now is the V8, and there are some pretty potent ones at that. Sadly the suspension was not really equal to the task. Big tyres removed the self-centring and big torque wound up the leaf springs;
John Hoyle developed improved suspensions and lowered the car, which helped the TC to move with the times.
Two years ago we took our TC on Peter Davis’s Guild of Motor Endurance rally to Sardinia. We had installed an EFI 3.9 and the car flew, but the shortcomings of the suspension were beginning to become evident.
I had already been thinking of a bigger car, the TCII. This was conceived to use MGB axles, but was rebuilt with XJ40 suspension. She is a great car, but again showed up some shortcomings of the flat chassis and tub concept. The scuttle shook and shook. This has been cured with a massive steel hoop. The TCII has a rear boot, which is a good thing and a re-styled rear end, which is not!!
In effort to regain lost luggage space, we have cut open an old TC and raised the boat tail, giving it a hinge. Exposure will tell us whether it looks right.
So this year’s Findhorn Cars team on the Italia Roma rally will comprise these three cars all of which incorporate some improvements – what next then?
The Findhorn TX …
This is a clean sheet of paper exercise, although its suspension developments will be available for the TC. Midnight oil has gone into:
The Chassis. The traditional NG chassis is strong, simple and easy to build the car on, so I have been reluctant to depart from it, and have designed up from it. Intuitively, nicely triangulated upper longitudinals above the exhaust manifolds should provide missing torsional stiffness. Space frames work when the nodes are interconnected by triangulation, but the engine and passengers have a habit of getting in the way!! Suffice it to say that we plan as rigid a bulkhead frame as possible with triangulation extending for and aft. The aft extensions will double as side intrusion barriers.
Front suspension. The MGB real kingpins provide an intractable obstacle to a combination of wide tyres, self-centring and anti-dive. The TCII scores on all of these points. So a new upright was needed. Looking to the future, a current production upright in the form of Wilwood Pro-Spindles has been chosen. May be XJ 40 parts would have been as good but the availability of Wilwood brakes to go with the Pro-Spindles clinched the design. After a few false starts with the CAD, a promising, bump-steer free geometry has evolved.
Rear Suspension. The Hoyle suspension is a big, big improvement , but has some shortcomings, not least huge cost. A more conventional double wishbone system with integrated chassis mounts should allow anti-squat, better wheel location and longer tyre life. A limited slip diff will not be forgotten.
Beyond the chassis, the plan for the engine compartment is supercharging and possibly LPG in view of present huge fuels costs. A modern engine would be a nice idea, but the Rover V8 is the better "devil you know" for the time being, to say nothing of the SVA advantage of an older engine.
Changes to the body can be summed up very simply – more elbow room!!
This story may take some time to tell. Doubtless there will be pitfalls and financial stumbling blocks along the way. Suffice it to say that the chassis jig is in preparation. If the TX is as iconic as the jig’s origin, I shall be well pleased. It was a transport frame for an Olympus engine as used in Concorde!!