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Bryan
Hagerty Employee

6 European cars with American pushrod V-8 power

About two years ago, the Hagerty Drivers Club editorial team picked three sporty, European-designed cars powered by American V-8s and headed to the foothills for a day of canyon driving. The trio included an AC 428, which is a handsome, powerful convertible fitted with, appropriately, a 428-cubic-inch Ford V-8. The trio also included a Jensen Interceptor and an Iso Grifo, two of my all-time-favorite European/American hybrids.

 

I’m an unapologetic fan of pushrod V-8s, big-block and small-block alike, and the idea of beautiful bodywork wrapped around an easy-to-tune, easy-to-upgrade pushrod V-8 is a match made in heaven.

 

Read the full article on Hagerty.com:

https://www.hagerty.com/media/lists/6-european-cars-with-american-pushrod-v-8-power/

78 REPLIES 78
66GT350H
Passenger

What about the Sunbeam Tiger.  The series 1 and 1A had a Ford 260 cu.in. and the Series 2 had the infamous Ford 289.  These engines were not hot rodded but absolutely stock hp.  For a British sports car of the period, they were totally civil to drive (handled well). comfortable, roll-up windows. windshield wipers and heater/defroster that worked, the convertible top actually went up and down with minimal effort and stored undetectable. I owned 2 over the years and kick myself every for selling the second one.

 

Oldimpala
Intermediate Driver

As a guy who's driven a Tiger-260 (shoeless, because that top-loader gets awful close to your right foot).... You and I must have completely different expectations on "handled well."

The one-off bent outer tie-rods (to make the one-off steering rack work around the SBF and frame) lead to disproportionate steering angles, so the car tracks, well, odd. She pushes into every corner you can put her in. Pulling a U-Turn on a divided highway for example causes the inner wheel to hop because it's darn near perpendicular to the car.
The rear leaf springs are terrifying under even the 260's launch power (and a 2-bbl, not a CAT Tiger with a whopping 450-ish CFM Autolite/Holley.) Servicing the rear spark plugs through a hole/plug in the firewall? Valve cover leaks require disassembly of the engine bay, pulling the driveshaft and exhaust, and suspending the motor at almost 90 degrees to the ground?

The interior was pretty. The wood. The Motorola radio. The wheel. She was fun in a straight line, underway. Reliable, sure. Cool factor? Absolutely.

Driving experience? Gimme a Healey 3000 or MGA or TR6 if you want the Brit vibe; a C2/C3 if you want 'Murican torque in a sportscar. All better vehicles for less cash. I can keep my shoes on (Size 11) and fit in the car (6' 2",  215lb.) to drive any of those.

Cool car, sure. I miss my buddy owning it, but I don't miss driving it... 

adambravo
Pit Crew

DeTomaso Pantera

BoyfromOz
New Driver

Jensen Interceptor had a Chrysler lump.

ClayJ
Passenger

Gordon-Keeble, small-block Chevy

Peter_Veneziano
New Driver

Triumph TR8 had a Buick V8

LeonardsDad
Passenger

Where is the Griffith?

Bobc676
Passenger

I agree!  The Griffith had a 289 and was the fastest car of its time!!!

jggirard
Passenger

I  am  enjoying  your  news  letters  immensely,  They  are  Awesome.  Many  thanks.  

girard2010
Passenger

Additionally the DeTomaso Mangusta's with its incredible organic lines and ford (289 or 302) powerplant is right there with the Iso Grifo. 

ToniFHarder
Pit Crew

Jensen CV8, Jensen FF (4 wheel drive), De Tomaso Mangusta, Pantera and Deauville, Ginetta G10, all Bristols since 407, Gordon Keeble, some TVR... And off course soooo many Rovers and derivatives (Range Rovers, Land Rovers, Morgans, several TVR's et al) since Solihull adapted and adopted the wonderful Buick 215 lightweight V8. The list is longer than one would think. Long live pushrod V8! 

Rossbateman
New Driver

In May 1968, I was at the Morgan factory in Malvern Link to pick up my 1600-C which I had ordered six months before.  It still had 5 hours work to be finished, so I had time to chat with Peter Morgan and some of the workers in metal, wood , and leather.  One young fellow allowed that a V8 prototype existed---a bit of a secret, as I remember, and the "Plus 8" would be sold in 1969.  In his opinion, my English Ford engine car was the better choice, because "look at the savings in petrol!" I drove the first import into Canada---around the block in downtown Toronto.  With that lightweight Buick aluminum motor in that featherweight ash-wood-framed car, I really needed just high gear, even from a full stop. That was a wondrous discovery, but my '68 4/4 Competition looks better with its real chrome-rimmed dials, toggle switches, Connolly leather, and 72 spoke wheels.  The gear changing is nice too.

Ben
Hagerty Employee
Hagerty Employee

We found a Facel Vega with Tom Cotter while shooting an episode of Barn Find Hunter a couple years ago. Super interesting car. It was my first time seeing one in person. I think Dean Martin had an HK500 at some point. If anybody is interested in Tom's Vega find, you can watch it here: https://youtu.be/5p4JLdDe8SY?t=904

brownneil
New Driver

Notice how many have no exterior rear view mirrors, or in some cases, only a left but no right.

MadMac
Pit Crew

Buick's little push rod 215 cubic inch all aluminum V8 went on to Great Britain to power the Rover 2000 sedan, the MGB GT V8 and Triumph TR8 sports cars and Land Rover, Range Rover models in variations up to 4.6 liters.  I had a 215 in a 1962 Buick Skylark convertible with the tiny four barrel carburetor and two speed automatic.  Great fun. 

1xsnrg
New Driver

265cid

healeybj7
Passenger

The Buick 215 CI V8 engine was also used quite successfully in the Morgan +8 from 1968 to 2004.  

Morg
New Driver

And the Morgan +8.

Kribaby
Passenger

The Rover using the V8 was the 3500s. It was also used in a lot of TVRs and small batch sports cars. _Back in my younger days I’ve done Rover V8 conversations to a Land Rover, Triumph Spitfire and a Ford Cortina. A very versatile engine that has lived a long and varied life.

BD
New Driver

My brother and I had matching '62 Olds Cutlasses.  Mine with a 4 bbl and 4 speed, his with a turbo and automatic.

Rider79
Instructor

My dad bought a new 1961 Skylark two-door sedan, with that 215-4v and automatic.  He liked driving it, and I liked the little free-standing clock atop the dashboard!

Foersch
Passenger

Great article!  I love the lines of the Bizzarini 5300 GT.  Smoking hot!

shrimpf
New Driver

Intermechanica Italia and Indra and all of Iso Rivolta cars were equipped with american v8s. 

antijam
Pit Crew

Allards - ford Flathead and Cadillac V8's. Carrol Shelby and Zora Arkus-Duntov both drove Allards.

tmechanic
New Driver

What about the oddball Bizzarini AMX3 that used the AMC 390 only 7 of them were built, if I recall

OldCarMan
Instructor

The Ghia 450 looks like a scaled down Ford Torino in the front!
I am very sure that Tjaarda's Forenza design did NOT influence the Jeep ZJ,as that was going on years before at AMC.

310B
Navigator

Someone has already mentioned Bristol, but I was thinking of the Bristol 410 and 411 with Mopar 318 and 383 in them respectively.

Graham-Paige
New Driver

 

 

 

TRBOB
Passenger

I still own my TR8 I bought new. I few modes over the year and it dynos at 250hp. Still is a great fun to drive. I park next to Ferraris and seem to as much if not more attention and questions. Bob

Graham-Paige
New Driver

Pantera?

Graham-Paige_0-1587741499001.jpeg

 

Wedgewood
New Driver

I'm struck by how much the Ghia 450 nose resembles the first Celica.

Harrdware44
Intermediate Driver

Awesome article about one of my favorite niches of the car hobby - the true, original "Hybrids!"

Bettyemae
Intermediate Driver

Jensen Interceptor. 440 Mopar.

Brandan
Hagerty Employee

Yep, the Jensen was in the original Hagerty magazine article.
Paladin
New Driver

I've always been a fan of the DeTomaso Pantera; ever since I first saw one in a magazine as a kid.

Rossbateman
New Driver

Tim Horton (doughnut shops; NHL) tragically died when he crashed his Pantera at supra-legal speeds on the Queen Elizabeth Way in Ontario. 

Tiger2Jim
Passenger

Sunbeam Tiger, with the small block Ford V8.  Lots of fun to drive such a light car with so much torque!

renchero63
Pit Crew

I'm disapointed you didn't have the Iso Griffo on your list. Back in the 60s I used to go to a local Chrysler dealer that sold them. And even though a net search reveals that they were powered by big block Chevy and Ford Clevelands, I'm sure the ones I saw had Mopar engines. They were exquisitly stylish thanks to those damned Italians. And fast.

Brandan
Hagerty Employee

The Iso Grifo was mentioned. It was part of the three-car article that Stephan Lombard wrote for Hagerty magazine.
kirkbrit
Passenger

Intermeccanica Omega and all things Griffith (TVR etc) and DeTomaso are conspicuous by their absence.  Come on guys!

renchero63
Pit Crew

Studey4ever
New Driver

Jensen Interceptor = Chrysler powered

Ottoknut
New Driver

The De Tomaso Pantera powered by Ford's 351 C was one of the few European cars with American V8s to make it to North America.

MTPantera
Pit Crew

IMHO I believe one that you left out and is a beautiful design= Pantera.  Exotic and easy to work on.  Aftermarket up-grades (needed) are well manufactured and the Pantera commuity is full of wonderful people always ready to jump in and help

BD
New Driver

How about the TVR Tuscan?

Landyacht
Passenger

Before the Jensen Interceptor was the Jensen CV8. CV8 stood for Chrysler V 8 , they used 361's and 383's. Fiberglass bodied with aluminum door skins they had in my opinion beautiful lines. 500 were produced mainly right hand drive but a few lefts were produced as well. I'm happy to be the owner of 64 RH drive and will once again enjoy it when restoration is complete.

Brandan
Hagerty Employee

Those are beautiful, nice addition!

doug_s
Passenger

how could you forget the de tomaso pantera?!?

Musclebrose97
New Driver

Yes! Totally one of my favorites!