1979 MGB with a Zetec Inline-Four

1979 MG MGB with a Zetec Inline-Four

Brian Collins spends his days working on British sports cars at his company Ceres Motorsports in Oviedo, Florida where they find new life and sometimes a new heart.

1979 MG MGB with a Zetec Inline-Four

1979 MG MGB with a Zetec Inline-Four

The project started when Brian purchased a 1979 MGB roadster in 2012 on Craigslist. The roadster was in great condition having only two previous owners and 43,000 original miles. Brian daily drove the MGB for several months. The car worked great but the lack of power and gearing really showed itself on long drives and Florida highways.

1979 MG MGB with a Zetec Inline-Four

The MGB’s naturally aspirated 1.8 L inline-four made 63 horsepower. Brian decided against increasing the displacement or going forced induction. He settled on using a Ford Zetec inline-four because it’s affordable, compact, and aftermarket support.

1979 MG MGB with a Zetec Inline-Four

Brian sourced a 2.0 L Zetec inline-four from a 2003 Focus ZX3. He rebuilt it with ported heads, Comp Cams stage 2 camshafts, Kawasaki ZX9R motorcycle carburetors, and custom serpentine system. Ignition is managed through a crank position sensor, Ford EDIS4 module, and a Megajolt Lite Jr. ignition module. He installed the engine using stock MGB engine mounts with custom frame mounts. The engine makes 130 horsepower from the factory but Brian estimates changes bumped it to 185 horsepower.

1979 MG MGB with a Zetec Inline-Four

1979 MG MGB with a Zetec Inline-Four

The engine is kept cool thanks to a three-row aluminum radiator from a 1966 Mustang with a 16-inch electric puller fan. Brian built a custom thermostat neck and coolant rail to direct coolant to the radiator due to the engine being turned from transverse to longitudinal.

1979 MG MGB with a Zetec Inline-Four

Brian paired the Zetec with a T-5 five-speed manual transmission from a 1998 Mustang V6. He was able to use the transmission thanks to modifying the input shaft and using a 1993 Mustang 2.3 bellhousing, 1992 Ford Escort flywheel, 1987 Thunderbird Turbo Coupe clutch and pressure plate. He also used a 1999 Camaro hydraulic throw out bearing with the stock MGB clutch master cylinder. The MGB still retains the factory Salisbury rear end with 3.90 gears.

1979 MG MGB with a Zetec Inline-Four

The paint is a 1970 MG shade called Blue Royale accented by new chrome bumpers. Brian modified the window and latch mechanisms to accept early model handles. The MGB rides on 15×6 Ceres steel wheels with BF Goodrich Super Comp II 195/55-15 tires complimented by a suspension lowered 1.5 inches in front and 1 inch in the rear.

1979 MG MGB with a Zetec Inline-Four

1979 MG MGB with a Zetec Inline-Four

All gauges found inside the cabin are stock and work. The speedometer needed the output gears modified and uses a 1969 Camaro speed cable. The tachometer works thanks to a Dakota Digital adapter receiving a signal from the EDIS module. The oil pressure gauge uses the stock line with an adapter connected to a -3 AN hose and the temperature gauge uses the stock sensor placed inside the coolant rail.

1979 MG MGB with a Zetec Inline-Four

The MGB has been a blast since being finished in 2014. The engine swap was such a success that it will not be the company’s last.

1979 MG MGB with a Zetec Inline-Four

Source: Ceres Motorsports

2 Comments

  1. Rob

    really looks the part – what offset are those wheels ? steel “dunlop style” are, in my opinion exactly the right wheel for the “B”

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