Submitted by: Kelly H. Stevenson, Spurious V8 and MG Club
The 23rd annual British V8 meet was held on June 2-6 at Wytheville, VA, hosted by Kelly and Sandy Stevenson (and team). The Meet had its "Welcome, Parking Lot Pizza Party" on the Hotel lot on Sunday PM. If you’ve never attended, I’d describe this meet as a rolling multi-day cruise-in. There is no show, although there is show-and-tell. There is no car judging as we just don’t do that. Many are with the Spurious MG Club, but this meet is open to all British cars, modified or not. Even a stray Corvette is welcome. This group is wife friendly too, as about half the entries had a copilot.
Planning began during a warmup meeting on the way to the 2017 Lewisburg, WV meet, when it became obvious that Southwest Virginia is a drivers’ paradise. Wytheville has a population of 8,000 at an elevation of 2,200 feet and is easily reached at the confluence of I-81 and I-77. It is the hub of the “Claw of the Dragon”, which is comprised of five named driving loops of 60-138 miles with elevations as high as 5,500 feet. If these aren’t enough, the www.clawoft hedragon.com has 7 other maps of trails. And www.appalaHYPERLINK "http://www.appalachianbackroads.com/"hianbackroads.comc lists 14 loops stretching from Tennessee to West Virginia.
The town of Wytheville (“there’s only one!”) showed its appreciation to our group by having their Tourism Coordinator, Mary Jo Babbitt, help plan our activities and stay at the LaQuinta Hotel for the duration. Mayor Beth Taylor even attended our BBQ and Banquet. We were genuinely blown away by their hospitality.
About 55 registered (or not) attendees came from 17 states and two Canadian provinces, with Ontario and North Carolina tying for the most at 8 each (Fig. 1). Although MGB’s dominated the field, the variety was outstanding. (Fig. 2) Regarding conversion engines, 10 were Ford (8/5.0L 2/5.7L), 12 were Rover/BOP 3.5-4.0L and 5 were GM 3.4L V6, with the remainder being 1-2 each of various engines. The less cookie-cutter examples included a Lexus 4-cam, an LS4(5.3L), a Ford 347( Stroker 5.0L) and a turbo 4 Cyl. Ford 2.3L. This group primarily has modified cars, but a few stock 1800 MGs were registered as well as some original British V8 models: an MG RV8, a Triumph TR8, two Morgan Plus 8’s, a Triumph Stag and a Jaguar XKR. Where were the Tigers??!
Each day started with tech sessions followed by afternoon drives in small groups of 5-7 cars, so the cars don’t get bunched up and are free to exercise their legs. SW Virginia offers a great combination of cool weather, vibrant economy, outstanding roads and lack of tourists clogging the roads. Drivers can choose the level of road challenges and how aggressive they want to drive. From rolling hills through farmland to steep switchbacks, the roads are fantastic. Driving sometimes has unexpected results when with the combination of sharp corners, loose gravel, old tires, exuberance, aging reaction times, and groundhogs on blind curves. Sometimes the damage won’t buff out. And when the cars return, and especially after dinner, the parking lot comes alive with the day’s stories, equipment sorting and reuniting with friends.
The first tech session was anchored by Kelly and Artie Clark, both experienced insurance adjusters, discussing insurance for modified cars. Some of the group carries ACV (actual cash value) daily driver insurance on their modified cars, but many have collector car insurance with either agreed value or stated value policies, primarily from Hagerty or Grundy. Both offer elevated protection for the car but there are requirements for attaining a policy (usually also owning a car with ACV insurance). Mileage restrictions may not apply, but a carport (vs. enclosed garage) or living near the beach may be a limitation. The engine swap itself may put your car in the “Street Rod” category, with a higher premium. Artie also noted that homeowners’ insurance won’t likely protect a stored car during a temporary winter hold on street insurance. Even though most modified/restored cars are upside-down in market value, the vehicle replacement cost plus your time and materials probably needs more than ACV insurance. Take-Home Lesson: talk to your agent(s), understand your options and protect your investment!
Jim Miller (ModernTouring.com) gave a talk on 3D printing and some of the practical uses for it around the home and for your car as a preview to his presentation at NAMGBR MG2019. Like other introductory tech talks, Jim focused on the big picture while also answering a few questions deeper in the weeds. The take-homes were that a) 3-D printing provides a quick and now affordable way to move from a CAD design to a manufactured part and b) there’s a web community of support resources. With sites like Thingiverse .com and 3dnatives.com Software for Beginners, (or search for the Top 3D YouTube Channels), there’s ample help for you to catch up to (or at least stay in the conversation with) your Middle School Grandkids.
Scott Costanzo and Jim Blackwood gave a talk on multiport EFI, focusing mainly on the retrofitting the readily available GM 0411 module from 2000-2003 Silverado’s (about $40- cheap enough to carry a spare!). They walked us through required sensors, bin files, software and examples of the tuning process to control the injectors, timing, fans and A/C idle step: it’s all about performance, right? The guys gave direction to those who were considering EFI while providing good background to the rest of the group.
For those who wished to take a simpler route to fuel injection, Mike Moor and Graham Crestwick led a discussion on throttle body installations using aftermarket EFI systems. Mike discussed his overwinter project using the MSD unit while Graham chose FiTech. Paul Overbeek also reviewed his FiTech and Dale Knapke talked about his 2.3L Turbo Ford engine management. There are plenty of choices on the market for EFI and it’s great to have experienced installers in the group. They are all glad to help those making a conversion.
Mike Moor later gave us the history of his car’s evolution, proving that these projects are never really done. Over time, Mike moved up to a bigger engine, added the first Fast Cars’ front suspension, a home-made 4-link rear suspension, electric power steering and his recent EFI. Mike even had an impromptu tech session on the Back of the Dragon when his alternator cooked. If you’ve ever seen the video of Mike steering with only his left hand up the Tail of the Dragon in NC, you understand how well he has the car set up.
The newest car to this group was Monte Coffey’s 1972 MG Midget with a Holman Moody 289. A 5-time participant in the Hot Rod Power Tour, Monte gave a great HIWD talk. 330 HP in a 1900 pound package with an eleven inch driveshaft!
Meals were mostly open, except for the Sunday Pizza Party, Tuesday BBQ lunch in the Park, and the closing banquet. The Banquet was at the Wohlfahrt Haus Dinner Theater hosted by Kelly and Rick. The venue and food were excellent. Kelly paused briefly to dedicate a moment of silence for Dave Kirkman, who sadly passed last March. Once the remembrance concluded; the delicious meal was served by the staff of the Theater.
The Auction was conducted by Max Fulton with Rick Ingram working the crowd. It was entertaining and rewarding. Item donors were very generous with their offerings and much appreciated. As usual, there were three financial support activities: The ransom for the return of Jim Blackwood’s hat brought in nearly $500 for the support of the nonprofit educational project The Roadmaster; both the 50/50 ($820 after Ralph Ratta donated back his half) and the Auction ($1219) will be used to support future events.
Max presented a few notable awards:
1) First, Ed Peppard won the "Good Samaritan" Award for “picking up the remains” of Les Shockey’s TR6 as well as rescuing Monte Coffey’s MG Midget.
2) For leading this year’s meet, Kelly Stevenson was awarded a vintage George Dickel Powder Horn bottle circa 1964.
3) Ed Peppard presented Kelly with a wood plaque engraved with the meet logo in the parking lot later that night.
4) Max asked for a standing recognition of those who had incidences during the meet. The main criteria were: “Did you return under your own power?” and “Was your car facing the direction of travel when stopped?” Starting with an embarrassing “ran out of gas” to actual physical contact with the surroundings, Max evaluated the competition. Ultimately, Les Shockey won the “Hardluck Award”, as it was certified by the State of Virginia. That broke the tie with Daryl Siefert, whose crash was only appreciated by the Groundhog…
If this meet sounds like fun to you, then make plans for next year. The British V8 2020 will be at the Sheraton Westport Chalet St Louis on June 3-7, hosted by Rick Ingram and Pete Mantell. Details to follow!
Shared photos from the Event:
Fig. 1: Garages of Attendees: Attendees Homes
Fig. 2: Cars of 2019 British V8: Distribution of Attendees
Alphabetical Photo Key:
BBQ: PJ Lenihan at the Head of the Table (photo credit R Milks)
BBQ2: Kelly Stevenson at the Head of Table (photo credit R Milks)
Field of Dreams: View from Big Walker Overlook (photo credit R Milks)
Graham Creswick’s EFI (photo credit R Milks)
Guess Who’s in Town: Cars in Parking Lot (photo credit D Milks)
Left or Right? The roads went to the same intersection anyway. (photo credit D Milks)
Monte Coffey: Monte & His 289 Midget: (photo credit J Miller)
Multiport EFI: Jim Blackwood and Scott Costanzo (photo credit J Miller)
Not Everything is Modified: Scott Costanzo’s LS4 MGB with a foldy top (photo credit R Milks)
Not Really Cold: Mike Moor doesn’t need no stinkin top. (photo credit J Miller)
Old Friends Unite: PJ Lenihan and Rick Ingram (photo credit R Milks)
Parking Lot Debrief: (photo credit D Milks)
Pit Stop: MG’s at the Brewery (photo credit R Milks)
Plus 8×2: Not all V8’s Were Modified (photo credit R Milks)
Tech Session in the Woods: Mike Moor’s Alternator Cookout: (photo credit J Miller)
Sandy Stevenson- Unsung Hero (photo credit R Milks)
? & the Mysterians: Jim Miller leads 3D Printing Tech Session (photo credit R Milks)
Throttle Body EFI: Paul Overbeek at EFI Tech Session (photo credit R Milks)
Where’s the Midget (photo credit R Milks)