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Turn your English pudding into an Italian Stallion
Right, so you've decided that your Mog could benefit from a little of the Latin temperament either 1.6 or 2.0-litres of it depending on what you can find. Choose from the Fiat 124/125, the 131/132, or if you're lucky enough to find one, the Supermirafiori. Alternatively, some of the Lancias can donate engines but you will need the Fiat 'box to fit the Minor - and here you've got options of four and five-speed or automatic.
Once you have a suitable donor car, remember not to throw anything away when liberating its engine and 'box (the easiest way to do this incidentally is to shake the car violently for about three minutes which should leave you with one pile of useful parts and another of rust dust!). If you're going for the 2.0-litre version you'll need the 1600's front pulley and ideally its oil filter housing as well. While you are about it, get hold of a Jag fuel pump - the Minor one runs out of puff with the Fiat lump.Grit your teeth, set your jaw it's now time to attack the Morris. The front crossmember has to be cut out and replaced with one fabricated as per the diagram ('A'). (Don't worry - this is the only serious cutting you need to do!).
The dimensions aren't shown because you really have to constantly offer-up the parts and measure everything to ensure an exact fit, and this goes for all the brackets used in the conversion. Remember the old saying - "measure twice and cut once"?
The next stage involves a lot of careful measuring, adjusting and re-measuring. With the engine and 'box in the car, you will have to experiment to find the optimum position, but in general it should be mounted as high as possible to give enough room for the oil filter and for a reasonable amount of ground clearance.
You may find it beneficial to mount the engine a little higher at the front and canted slightly towards the exhaust side. Finding room for the oil filter can sometimes be a problem but there are of course ways around it: smaller filters from a Renault 4 or Reliant Kitten are one solution, a 180 degree conversion block which takes the standard element is another.
Hacksaws at the ready - the gearbox needs some attention. Cut back the bellhousing to clear the steering rack. The amount depends on how you've positioned the engine. Surplus metal on the clutch release arm will have to be ground down by about 3/4" to clear the chassis.
When you're happy with the position of the engine and gearbox - don't breathe! Measure carefully and fabricate the various mounts as shown, but don't weld them up until assembling the parts and checking their position in situ.
The engine mount shown (diagram 'B') utilises the original Fiat engine mounting rubber bolted to a flat plate, which is then bolted to the chassis. You will need to drill a clearance hole in the top-of the chassis for the lower mounting bolt.
Remember I said not to throw anything away? Well this applies to Morris bits as well because you need to use the original Minor gearbox mounts, filed into a slight wedge shape to fit in the tapered ends of the new crossmember as shown in the diagram ('C'). The gearbox cover will probably have to be quartered and made higher and wider, but this again depends on how high the engine and 'box have been mounted.
That's probably the most difficult part of the job done - so you can go and have a cup of coffee now. While nursing your aching neck and bruised fingers for a moment, you can start thinking about the rear axle you are going to use. No copping-out here because the Fiat engine is no meany when it comes to power so unless you like changing halfshafts and diffs every other day, the original Morris axle will have to go. The Celica axle is a favourite but really it's down to personal preferences and what you can find.
Choose from Marina, A60/MGB, Celica, or Capri with ratios to suit your requirements. Most of the axles are about the right width for the Minor, though the Mk 2 Celica one is slightly wider. If you can find a Celica GT then you've got a limited-slip diff as well. The Capri axle fits straight on to the Minor springs but the other axles will have to have new brackets made and welded to the casing. On the subject of extra brackets, this is the time to sort out some sort of axle location system. You can use Volvo radius arms fixed to Lada mounts on the underside and homemade brackets on the axle; or fit the axle location kit produced by Owen Burton which bolts to the lower spring plates. An alternative is the complete Marina axle, shock absorber and radius arm assembly from the Morris Minor Centre.
Having chosen your axle, you can now think about propshafts. This will have to be a hybrid of Fiat and whatever axle you are using and it is probably best to get this made by a specialist. While a single piece prop works well, a split prop makes for much smoother running.
The clutch operation is simplicity itself. Keep the Fiat cable and make up a bracket to secure it to the inner chassis member, utilising the original captive nuts. The lower part of the clutch pedal has to be lengthened by about 3 1/4 inches, more or less to suit preferences for pedal pressure, and activates the Fiat cable with the aid of a Clevis pin.
Helping the Mog to keep its cool is simply a matter of fitting a radiator from a Metro Turbo or 1300 Allegro, with a Lancia header tank. Finding hoses to fit though is more a case of trial and error as the 1.6, 2.0 Fiats and Lancia engines have slightly different layouts. A decent sized electric radiator fan is a must - a Renault 14 fan is a good bet.
As for getting rid of the exhaust gases, you can make up your own downpipes to fit the Fiat manifold, or alternatively have a set made. Ask around - you may be able to find a local specialist who has a set in stock! The exhaust system itself is really up to you. Probably the easiest method is to take a trip to your friendly neighbourhood exhaust centre and find the necessary pipes and boxes to fit. Some places will even bend the pipes for you.
Amps, volts, ohms and fiddly bits are next so pay attention. If you're using the original Fiat alternator just follow the wiring diagram below but you will have to get your Minor electrics changed over to positive earth first(!). The Fiat alternators are quite expensive so if you want to use a Lucas one, you will have to make up the necessary adaptor bracket. You can use Fiat instruments but Minor ones look more the part. Connect the Fiat cable to the Minor speedo with the little nylon fitting from a Fiat gearstick (part number 24 in the Haynes illustration) and hey presto, you can frighten yourself every time you glance at the speedo!
You are also going to frighten yourself unless you do something about the suspension and brakes. Discs are an absolute must as are telescopic shocks front and rear, and preferably a front anti-roll bar as well. And it should go without saying that your Mog should be structurally sound and capable of withstanding all the extra horses under the bonnet.
I suppose now you want to know about performance? Well, a sub-16 second run at the dragstrip should be easily possible!
Well that's it. You now have all the necessary know-how to create a very hot-blooded Minor. Until someone starts marketing a Rover V8 into Morris conversion kit, this swop should give you a really mean Moggy.
This article was written some time ago now and as always, things change. Newer and better alternatives for donor parts and techniques may be available now. Companies like Minor Mania Ltd, in London, used to make a Fiat fitting kit for the Minor - it would pay to give them a call.