M.G. Magnette with 2 ltr. Mitsubishi engine


Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures during the conversion so they are all recent and,   because of that less illustrative.
The Sirius motor and gearbox was purchased from an importer of low Ks Japanese motors. It is not turbocharged like the ones fitted to Starions in Australia, but is the 12 valve version which was only available in Japan I believe. The only other use for this motor here was in L300 vans but the engine/gearbox combination rules that out. I don’t know what vehicle it would have come from

The decision to fit the motor was made after rebuilding the original 1500, then replacing that with a 1600. The 1600 was then fitted with 1/1/2” SU’s and a mild cams grind but the performance still didn’t seem convincing as an everyday driver.
A conversion to an 1800B motor and preferably overdrive gearbox seemed like a logical choice but was too expensive to contemplate. The Mitsubishi was chosen from a range of motors at the importer’s based mainly on a few rough measurements with a tape measure of such things as the engine mounting locations and the shape of the sump.

Location in the engine bay was determined by hanging the motor and gearbox
from the hoist, finding a centerline with string and an angle by the same method.
The original chassis mounts were cut off and the Mitsu ones required surprisingly little reshaping to fit the contours and give enough contact area to be welded in their place The rear mount was a single flat bar 70x8mm bolted in the original bolt holes.
The only reshaping needed under the bonnet was a little hammering to the driver’s side inner guard to accommodate the alternator.

All that was easy and quick but what follows took more time.
The cable operated throttle had to be attached to the rod operated MG. A new bracket was attached to the firewall and a lever operated by the existing rods. This lever pulls on a shortened cable to the carby.

The Mitsubishi clutch was also cable operated. The clutch lever was cut shorter and a ball socket welded on to accept a pushrod. A new slave cylinder from a Mini was mounted on a bracket off the bellhousing & an adjustable pushrod made up.

A new bottom radiator tank was folded out of a thick brass sheet, the outlet from the top tank was moved to the other side and both tanks were soldered to a new core by a radiator specialist. An electric fan was then bolted to the core as there was no clearance for the Mitsu one and its drive pulley was offset too much in any case.

The exhaust had also changed sides. This meant fabricating a new bottom half for the manifold with a 45 degree outlet then a new engine pipe which had to find its way down through a very limited space between the steering joint and the block.

A new hole was cut in the transmission tunnel for the gear lever 120mm to the rear of the existing and a box made to accept the original chrome boot trim. This came a little close to the hand brake lever but was still workable. Bending the gear lever a little closer to the vertical would have solved this but wasn’t really necessary. Surprisingly the tailshaft needed to be lengthened. The Mitsu front universal and MG rear were welded to a new tube and the assembly balanced.

Electric connections were simple enough, but the instruments were never properly sorted out. Aftermarket oil pressure & temperature gauges were fitted. The speedo cable was modified to fit both ends but again the speedometer never recalibrated.

The original heater blower had to be removed during the conversion but I can’t remember the exact reason, whether clearance for the engine or perhaps the new throttle arrangement. It did however leave a space where I could mount a small brake booster. A heater from a Corolla replaced the original and is operated by the existing cables and blower switch.

The car was back on the road in 2 weeks, I worked at night after work, both weekends
and a couple of ``sick days”. The car performed very well from the start although a vibration at high speed drove me crazy for a while. I checked the driveline alignment
repeatedly and had the tailshaft rebalanced by a different company. Sometime later I was carrying some bags of cement in the boot (I said it was an everyday car) and it was beautifully vibration free. This convinced me that the rear springs were way too spongy allowing that longer tailshaft to get a whip up.
Other changes which I expected trouble from e.g. clutch, throttle have all worked very well. The engine has never overheated.

So that’s it. Not bad from memory after nearly 16 years is it?
The car has sold now but I will always love Magnettes and would love to have another one in standard form, just for the weekends!!

Phil Ballard

  • MG ZA Magnette 019
  • MG ZA Magnette 020
  • MG ZA Magnette 021

  • MG ZA Magnette 023
  • MG ZA Magnette 024
  • MG ZA Magnette 025

  • MG ZA Magnette 027
  • MG ZA Magnette 030
  • MG ZA Magnette 032

  • MG ZA Magnette 033