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LS3 Plus 8 Plus Review

posted Nov 15, 2010, 8:11 PM by L.D. McLaughlin Jr.
joe Speetjens, May 29, 2008
I have promised a number of people that I would write up a review of my Plus 8 Plus conversion that I picked up last week, so here it is. For you to fully appreciate this review, I think you need to know a little about me and my driving style.

I have had various British cars since 1971. I have had a TR4, three TR3’s, an Austin Healey 3000, an Austin Healey 100-4, an MG-TD, a JZR Morgan trike replicar, and four Morgans. I purchased my first Morgan in 1985, a 1965 4/4 that had been “rebuilt” as a church project. It looked great, ran great, but the suspension was so bad that I could only do 100 miles in a day and then I had to recuperate for a week or so before I could get back in it. There were no other Morgans in the entire state of Mississippi that I could find, so without any other information, I just assumed that they were all that way.

In my attempts to try to improve the ride, I found Bill Fink of Isis. He gave me some great advice, but little seemed to help. In 1987 Bill told me about a 1984 propane 4/4 that was for sale and I quickly purchased it. It was even more beautiful than the first and was extremely comfortable to drive. I soon converted it to gas and started to go on extended trips in it. From 1987 to 1995, I put a little over 50,000 miles on it with the longest drive including over 1100 miles in a single day. It was light, nimble, problem free, and fun to drive.

My next Morgan was the 1995 Plus 8 purchased new from Isis that has just been converted to a Plus 8 Plus. Prior to the conversion, I had put over 53,000 miles on it and had won a number of longest distance awards at the various Morgan events. Last summer, I toured the eastern US and Canada for three months. It was during that time that I first drove a Plus 8 Plus and thought about it the entire summer.

My most recent Morgan is a 1953 Plus 4 4-seater. I have always wanted a flat-rad and a 4-seater, and I’m delighted with this car.

So, as you can see, I am not a great speed demon or a horsepower fanatic. I am more interested in reliability, comfort and fun. Making the decision to convert a car that I greatly loved was a major one. There were a number of issues that concerned me. The price was, of course, an issue; the time being without it was an issue; whether I would still be as happy with the car afterwards was an issue.

Now that I have had my car back for a week, have driven it almost 3000 miles from California to Mississippi (including side trips along the way), and have driven Bill’s car for a week while he was finishing mine, I felt that you might be interested in what was actually done and my opinions.

The engine was replaced with a Corvette LS3 440 hp engine mounted 1 1/2 inches further back. The radiator was replaced with a GM stock car radiator and a 16 inch fan that keeps the operating temperature between 90 and 95 no matter what the temperature may be. The transmission was replaced with a GM GTO six-speed that shifts smoothly and is reported to be bullet proof. The rear axel, brakes and springs were replaced with a GM Camaro differential and disc brakes held in place by an anti-trap bar, a fabricated frame, and coil-over shocks. This set up gives the added advantage of moving the rear wheels about 1/2 inches further back giving a longer wheel base and centering the wheels in the wheel arches (Bill says 1/2 inch is all I gained, but it appears to be more like 1 1/2 or 2 to me). The installation looks very professional and is hardly noticeable unless you are looking for it.

Granted, the cost is expensive, but if you consider all of what is included, fabricated, and time spent PLUS the cost of all the other methods of getting a few more horsepower, better handling, better reliability, and increased value of the car, I think the expense may seem more reasonable.

Several individuals that have tried Bill’s Plus 8 Plus have commented on the harsh ride. I agree that Bill’s car does have a harsher ride than my original car, but I had already gone through the standard shocks, Koni’s, and AVO’s to get a really comfortable ride. My Plus 8 Plus ride is much more comfortable than Bill’s, but not quite as comfortable as the AVO’s were. The existing coil-over shocks are adjustable and the springs can be replaced independently of the shock, so I may play with them once the car is broken in. The bottom line here is that the ride comfort should NOT deter anyone who is considering this modification.

And now for what most of you are interested in—the power. This car goes like nothing I’ve ever driven, including my wife’s BMW M5. During the trip home, my GPS recorded 101.5 and 95.9 as top speeds and I never realized I was going that fast. Bill has managed to not only give the car more power but improve the handling as well. He and Keith had to change the angle of the steering column in order to accommodate the engine. Although neither Bill nor Keith think this should improve the steering, I believe that along with setting the engine 1 1/2 inches further back the steering is much improved. Turning the wheels while standing still is the same, but with any movement whatsoever, the steering becomes much easier. The rear suspension is comfortable and keeps the wheels on the ground. With the rear disc brakes, the car stops better and the hand brake actually works. The net effect is a very fast and controllable car.

My car was the 10th conversion and the first one to utilize the LS3 engine. I would suggest that anyone considering this, should drive one of Bill’s more recent projects. He and Keith are constantly improving their design.

Would I do it again? In a heart beat.