The Car Thread ... !

ilikewhey

macrumors 68000
May 14, 2014
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nyc upper east
My 6.7L PowerStroke came with 0W-40 synthetic and I put 0W-40 in it myself the last 9 years.
Mobil-1 isn't too cheapo as it uses 13 quarts and is roughly $10 a quart, then all of the other bits.
still got warranty left so i'm gonna have them put in the most expensive 0w-40 as possible 😂

ofcourse different story when the warranty is up.
 

quagmire

macrumors 603
Apr 19, 2004
6,418
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Yeah 0W-40 isn’t cheap oil necessarily. GM uses Mobil1 0W-40 ESP now in the Camaro SS and up and the Corvette and approved for track driving( which they warranty if anything breaks on the track). That stuff isn’t cheap either. Looking at $100 for 10 quarts where Pennzoil platinum 5W-30( what I put in my Camaro) costs $40-$50 for 10 quarts.
 
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D.T.

macrumors G4
Original poster
Sep 15, 2011
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Vilano Beach, FL
i mean i clearly see the price difference on amazon, but quality wise. ow40 is ow40 right?

The weight(s) don't necessarily dictate price, they're a specification:

<cold_weight>W<hot_weight>

(The W = Winter, i.e., the cold number to the left)

So the higher the number, the more "weight", which is really viscosity, you know, thickness. You want the oil to be thick enough to seal, lubricate, but not too thick.

So the two numbers:

When you start your car, you want it to quickly lubricate, the oil is cold, so it would be thicker and less capable, however, through the magic of chemical sciences, they put in additives, that allow it to be thinner during start (when it's cold), and then get a thicker spec as it gets hotter (the hot weight is SAE spec'ed at ~210˚ F), i.e., you want thicker to compensate for the loss of viscosity as the engine heats it up.

So some people might bump up from a 30 (hot weight) to a 40 if they're tracking their car, knowing it's going to get VERY hot, way over 210. Also, some people might spec a weight down, if they live in an area with super harsh winters and have to start their car after sitting outside.

The weight is also dedicated by the engine design (like drivetrain components) , for example, my 3rd Gen 5.0L spins to 7400RPM (well, I'm tuned so 7800 :D), has 32 valves, 4 camshafts, it uses a slightly lighter weight oil (factory spec is 5W20), and holds a ton (10 quarts!)

Price is mostly based on type (cheapest to most $$$), dino/organic, blend, or full synthetic and the brand (there's some "boutique" oils that are $10/q or more). I always run full synth, blends are good too (that's a little dino a little synth), synth gives you better coverage, you can run it longer, it's much more expensive.

Brand? I won't even go into as it's almost a religious war. :D I personally like Castrol, I scored their full synth Magnatec, 5W20, for $20/5-quarts.
 

bunnspecial

macrumors 604
May 3, 2014
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Kentucky
i mean i clearly see the price difference on amazon, but quality wise. ow40 is ow40 right?
No, not at all, and there are reasons why some will be more expensive than others.

In general, when making a motor oil, you can VERY broadly divide it into two pieces-base stock and additive pack.

The base stock is a bit of a complicated topic. Petroleum base stocks are divided into Groups I-III, with group I being the least refined and group III being "highly refined" with extensive treatment like hydrotreating and hydrocracking.

Traditionally, to be called a "synthetic oil", an oil needed to be made entirely of Group IV base stock, which is entirely synthetic(not petroleum derived) ethers. These are what give synthetics their desireable properties, too, such as better low temperature flow and "clinging" to surfaces rather than draining off back into the sump.

In the past several years, several companies have made the case that group III is also changed significantly enough from roughly distilled group I to be classed as a synthetic base stock. Consequently, virtually all "synthetic" oils on the market now are a mixture of Group III and Group IV. You likely won't find a full Group IV outside a boutique maker(Amsoil, Royal Purple, Redline, etc) and I don't even know if they are 100% group IV either. Mass market oils(meaning your Mobil1s, Castrols, Valvolines, etc) can vary in their ratio of group III to group IV, but the good names generally are heavy on Group IVs. Some of the budget synthetics, like WalMart Supertech(which is otherwise a great oil) I suspect are very nearly all Group III. I don't know of an easy way to find the exact ratio, though, although you can probably guess that an oil that's entirely Group IV will most certainly shout it from the rooftops.

The additive pack gets a little more complicated, and there's not a one size fits all solution for all applications. The specific things in the additive pack can vary, but in a good motor oil you'll find some form of all the following:

1. Detergents. These keep small particulates in suspension until they can either be filtered out, or are so small that the filter won't get them. These are what make an oil turn dark as it's used, and the idea(backed by research) is that it's more desirable in a pressurized oil system to keep them in suspension rather than have them deposit out where they can do damage. Non-detergent oils can still be found(API SA-I'll touch on API classes shortly) but in automotive applications they're basically limited to non-pressurized systems as you might find on very primitive engine designs and some agricultural engines.

2. Anti-wear additives. These are usually a variety of organo-metallic complexes that are very carefully balanced provide protection on any potential metal to metal surfaces(in reality, if you have metal-to-metal without even a thin layer of oil between them in a running engine, those parts are toast in a few seconds at most, which is why an engine losing oil pressure can be catastrophic). These vary in their exact composition and in how they work, but are important to keep an engine happy and healthy. Improved additives are part of the reason why it's nothing these days for an engine to go 200K miles with only regular oil changes(fuel injection is one of the other parts of that equation, but that's a different topic).

3. Buffering additives. It is inevitable that some combustion gases will escape past the piston rings and end up mixing with the oil even in a perfectly functioning, new, "tight" engine. These tend to be somewhat acidic, and acidic oil can cause all kinds of problems. The buffering additives counteract this, and in fact if you're dealing with really, really big engines that can take hundreds of gallons of oil, this is one of the main parameters that is monitored to see if the oil is still okay to keep in the engine. In an oil analysis, it's usually referred to as the total acid number.

4. Anti-foaming additives. There's a lot going on in the engine that can stir up oil in the sump, from oil getting beat up in the bearings to sloshing around in driving and plenty of other things. Overfilling can also cause the crankshaft to churn the top of oil in the sump. If any kind of air goes into the oil pump while the engine is running, it can lead to bubbles or even air pockets in the oil passages, which can both impede the movement of oil and also momentarily starve bearings and other really important spots of oil.

Additives can get really, really complicated and are one of the things that differentiate oils from each other.

First of all, any motor oil you put in your modern gasoline engine(at least in the US) should have a "Starburst" symbol from the API that has two letters in it, with the first being S. "SP" is the most current classification, while SJ, SL, SM, and SN are considered "Active". SP was introduced this year, and SJ dates back to 2001. SH and older are considered obsolete. API makes things simple and basically says that all classifications are retroactively applicable, but you should use the classification at a minimum that your owners manual says you should use. Major brands these days will be at a minimum SN, and without me checking I'd guess that unless you catch old stock your big names will be SP.

In addition to API, there are manufacturer-specific ratings for what they expect in an oil. Most major brands will go to the effort to make sure their oils meet a big, long list of these typically called for in American, Japanese, and German applications. These are generally more stringent than the API rankings.

I can remember that at one time, I knew a bunch of guys who ran only Mobil1 0W-40 even in oils that called for a lighter grade because it met a bunch of German specs that the more common 5W-20s and 5W-30s didn't meet.

So, the summary of this, make sure the oil meets BOTH the API ranking and also the manufacturer-specific classification your owners manual says. If you do that, you can rest easy knowing that your engine is protected properly.

As viscosity goes, a given grade represents a range of viscosities that are acceptable to be called that. Often, manufacturer-supplied brands are on the "thin" side of a given grade(there are reasons-mostly political-for that which I'd best avoid here). Most of the mass market oils tend to be in the middle, while anything marked "high mileage" may carry an older API spec or none at all and will tend to be on the higher end of the allowed viscosity for a given grade.

I should also mention that while the API says that specs are retroactive, there is some nuance to that. As an example, after class SJ, they started limiting the amount of phosphorous allowed in oil. This is because it can tend to foul catalytic converters. The major source of phosphorous is in a group of compounds collectively called ZDDPs and contain zinc and phosphorous. These are especially effective at reducing where on high pressure sliding surfaces. Modern engine designs have mostly eliminated these, but many older engines(particularly those designed before the 1970s or so) often used what are called "flat tapped" valve trains. All engines(or 4 strokes at least) have a part called a camshaft, which is directly responsible for opening and closing the intake and exhaust valves the correct amount and for the correct amount of time. In overhead valve engines(also called pushrod engines) the camshaft acts directly on a part called the lifter or tappet, which follows a specific lobe on the camshaft and through a series of other parts opens and closes the valve to which it's connected. Modern designs use a a small roller that rolls along to follow the camshaft, which greatly reduces friction. Older designs have a "flat" surface which slides along the cam. This is a very high pressure interface, and needs a strong anti-wear additive to protect the camshaft(which is an expensive part, and also essential for the engine to run correctly) from wear. One of the best at doing this is ZDDP, which forms a "glass" type layer at this interface that can be sacrificially abraded, but then is reformed. Insufficient ZDDP in the oil can reduce the formation of this, which can cause rapid(sometimes catastrophic) camshaft failure. This is particularly prevalent in vehicles like older muscle cars, where the valve spring pressures are high, but can happen in any flat tappet engine. Since class SN, the allowable amount of ZDDP has been reduced. Consequently, if you have a flat tappet engine, sometimes you seek out an oil that does not meet a current API classification but has the right amount of this additive. Most really heavy oils(like 20W-50) do, especially as these are usually not specced in modern applications, but a handful of oils specifically target this market and advertise their zinc content. The most available of these is Valvoline VR-1, which is what I run in flat tappets, but is not something you should run in a modern vehicle.

So to answer the question-yes 0W-40 oils can differ, and they are different prices. I like Mobil1 for general use, but in reality Walmart usually has at least one major brand synthetic(Mobil1, Castrol, Valvoline, Penzoil) on sale in 5 quart jugs, and when I do an oil change on modern vehicles I usually use whatever Wal-Mart has on sale :) . You can't go wrong with the mass-market synthetics from any reputable brand.
 

D.T.

macrumors G4
Original poster
Sep 15, 2011
10,727
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Vilano Beach, FL
Hahaha, I almost said, "I'll give you a quick version to explain the basics and @bunnspecial can provide a multi-page dissertation ..."

@ilikewhey I've owned dozens of cars, of all sorts of engine configurations (I4, I6, I6 turbo, Rotary turbo, V8s of various types OHV,DOHC, etc.), driven them on the street, strip, track, did a Texas Mile, and I've never had a failure, and pretty much just went with the manu-spec, and either the manufacturer brand, or the decently known option (like Castrol). So while you can certainly do a chemical engineering deep dive (and it's fun stuff), just following the dealer/manufacturer guidance and you'll be fine :)
 

bunnspecial

macrumors 604
May 3, 2014
7,216
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Kentucky
Hahaha, I almost said, "I'll give you a quick version to explain the basics and @bunnspecial can provide a multi-page dissertation ..."
When I looked back over the post after I'd written it, I almost put a "warning-wall of text ahead" :)

As I'm sure you know, oil is a pet favorite topic of mine :)
 
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Apple fanboy

macrumors Westmere
Feb 21, 2012
37,931
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Behind the Lens, UK
When I looked back over the post after I'd written it, I almost put a "warning-wall of text ahead" :)

As I'm sure you know, oil is a pet favorite topic of mine :)
But as an MG driver isn’t most of the oil you use on the drive anyway? :p
I actually saw one on the motorway today. Orangeie red. Top down. The driver was clearly enjoying himself!
 

bunnspecial

macrumors 604
May 3, 2014
7,216
4,313
Kentucky
But as an MG driver isn’t most of the oil you use on the drive anyway?
Right now it's probably as clean of oil as it's been since it was a pile of sheetmetal in Abingdon. :)

The engine is nearly together, but hasn't been filled yet(the last I heard). It will get a fill of some nasty, gloopy, high zinc 30-wt, get run at 2-3K rpms for 20 minutes, and then get filled with VR-1 for a couple hundred miles.

But yes, I am acutely aware of the minimally effective BMC engineered "front cross member and driveway corrosion prevention system." There is also the auxiliary "Continuous exhaust pipe interior barrier corrosion prevention system" that also serves as the "Continuous oil exchange system"(always ensuring a nearly constant supply of nearly unused oil in the sump provided that the owner diligently monitors the system) both of which operate increasingly with increasing engine RPMs. I hope to have eliminated those systems with the current rebuild.

And yes, MG drivers do indeed have two modes. One is absolute, unmitigated joy. The other is "Just what is broken on this bloody thing NOW" frustration.
 

Apple fanboy

macrumors Westmere
Feb 21, 2012
37,931
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Behind the Lens, UK
Right now it's probably as clean of oil as it's been since it was a pile of sheetmetal in Abingdon. :)

The engine is nearly together, but hasn't been filled yet(the last I heard). It will get a fill of some nasty, gloopy, high zinc 30-wt, get run at 2-3K rpms for 20 minutes, and then get filled with VR-1 for a couple hundred miles.

But yes, I am acutely aware of the minimally effective BMC engineered "front cross member and driveway corrosion prevention system." There is also the auxiliary "Continuous exhaust pipe interior barrier corrosion prevention system" that also serves as the "Continuous oil exchange system"(always ensuring a nearly constant supply of nearly unused oil in the sump provided that the owner diligently monitors the system) both of which operate increasingly with increasing engine RPMs. I hope to have eliminated those systems with the current rebuild.

And yes, MG drivers do indeed have two modes. One is absolute, unmitigated joy. The other is "Just what is broken on this bloody thing NOW" frustration.
Well hopefully you get some time driving time in before summer ends!
 

bunnspecial

macrumors 604
May 3, 2014
7,216
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Kentucky
Well hopefully you get some time driving time in before summer ends!
I'm leaning on my mechanic to finish it without being TOO much of a squeaky wheel. He knows that there are some other reasons why I need it done soon, but at the same time I want it done right because this is costing me too much to not.

So far, I've supplied close to $1K in parts, paid him $1K to pay the machine shop, and also given him $500 and a Marina for partial payment for the labor. Granted I imagine some people would say that him taking the Marina should add to the bill :)
 
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Relentless Power

macrumors Nehalem
Jul 12, 2016
33,470
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Reference MGs and about the consistent plaguing problems we hear about, what’s the issue to begin with? Is it cheaply manufactured garbage with poor quality control, cheaply manufactured parts, ect? I Get it, we all like our side-projects, but at one point do you stop investing money on a piece on junk? [And no, I’m not being pessimistic, just pointing out the obvious through lengthy history of how unreliable these cars are]. I’ve been to quite a few staged auctions in the past, and they can’t even give away MG’s.

But Hey, it’s all about what you like, and I understand everybody’s mindset is a bit different.
 

bunnspecial

macrumors 604
May 3, 2014
7,216
4,313
Kentucky
Reference MGs and about the consistent plaguing problems we hear about, what’s the issue to begin with? Is it cheaply manufactured garbage with poor quality control, cheaply manufactured parts, ect? I Get it, we all like our side-projects, but at one point do you stop investing money on a piece on junk? [And no, I’m not being pessimistic, just pointing out the obvious through lengthy history of how unreliable these cars are]. I’ve been to quite a few staged auctions in the past, and they can’t even give away MG’s.
WARNING-another wall of text ahead. I think two in one day is my limit :)

I think it's a bit unfair to categorize MGs as cheaply made or "junk." You have to get in the mindset of the era and mindset that they came out of. They are not a car for someone who wants tons of power, and definitely not a car for someone who doesn't want to get their hands dirty with their own repairs. With that said, the latter point is true of pretty much ANY old car-carburetors, distributors, and the like aren't parts you can just forget about like with a modern computerized car. When people talk about a "tune-up" now, they usually just mean replacing spark plugs. Old cars need periodic tune-ups(they needed them when new, regardless of where they were made) that consisted of jobs like setting the points, the ignition timing, and adjusting the carburetor mixture and idle.

British cars in general, though, have their peculiarities, and some people choose to live with them while others can't stand them.

In a broader sense, though, the MG marque has an important place in the history of what we now call the sportscar.

Basically, someone by the name of Cecil Kimber back in the 1920s started more or less hot-rodding Morris cars to increase performance. With the factory's blessing, "Morris Garages" cars came about, and started building what could be called some of the earliest sportscars. Prewar MGs were often quite advanced, with sophisticated for the time suspension and even overhead cam engines(in the P-type and J-type Midget).

In the late 1930s, WWII was looming, and MG designed a new model on a bit of shoestring budget. Since their engine tooling was worn out, they bought and completely transplanted an engine plant from France, and with that tooling built the reliable but somewhat less sophisticated XPAG OHV engines.

WWII happened with mostly devastating effects on the British economy, but for the British Motor Corporation(BMC) found some salvation in the MG brand and that American servicemen fell in love with the T-type MGs and started taking them back home. The TC pretty quickly turned into the TD, which was primarily made for the American market and sold decently well in what was starting to be a prosperous early 1950s postwar US economy. This was especially significant in that it brought a lot of cash(at least in one industry) into what was a fairly stagnant postwar European economy.

BMC had a big cash infusion from that along with the Morris Minor(which sold well domestically and internationally), and from that developed a new "corporate" line of OHV engines, the A series engine and the B series engine. These were essentially identical engines, with the B series being larger. Initially, displacements were ~1000cc for the A and ~1500cc for the B engine. The A engine made its way into the Minor(to replace its ancient, crude flathead), and into one of BMCs first real groundbreaking designs-the Mini. The Mini was a practical family hauler with a compact transverse front wheel drive layout and handling like a go-kart.

One of the first applications for the B engine was for a totally new and redesigned MG-the MGA. The MGA used sleeker "low" styling(compared to the "upright" design of the T-type) that was similar but distinct from the contemporary Triumph TR3 and Austin Healey 100 series, had a very nice double-A arm front suspension, and was generally an all around excellent product. I still consider the MGA one of the most beautiful cars ever produced. The MGA was also a bit of an experimental bed, with a very nice(but at the time very temperamental) dual overhead cam engine(billed as the "Twin Cam"). Unfortunately, that engine got a very bad reputation that it never was able to shake. I've talked to someone local to me who has a Twin Cam in his garage with a standard OHV engine, and the original TC engine sitting next to it. He'd part with the engine for $10K(which is high, but not out of line) but won't part with the car. I hate to see the two split up-the cars themselves have some otherwise unique features(for the MGA) including 4-wheel disk brakes and really interesting/fascinating Dunlop center lock spline-drive steel disk wheels.

The success of the MGA led to the redesigned MGB in 1962, which improved the suspension, changed to a unibody, upped the displacement to 1800cc and consequently the power to around 90hp, and overall made a very good design even better. The MGB was an overwhelming success, especially in the export market. It sold around 500,000 from 1962-1980, and 450,000 of those came to North America. There were also some derivative designs. The 6 cylinder MGC was a bit underwhelming-it was a lot more powerful, but the big 700lb cast iron inline 6 hanging out over the front axle really upset the handling. Postwar MGs had a reputation for being less powerful than the competing Triumph models, but a fair bit more nimble and better handling. The MGC was supposed to go right up against the Triumph TR6, but it was slower in a straight line and handled worse. Some of the body modifications to fit the 6 cylinder resulted in some weird and sort of unbalanced lines on the hood(including a big bulge on one side to clear one of the carburetors, which almost gives the look of someone realizing it wouldn't close, banging a dimple in it with a hammer, and saying "that'll do"). The real winner was the MGB GT V8, which used the aluminum Buick-Rover V8 that didn't change the weight distribution or overall weight appreciably. Unfortunately, it never was exported to the US(some are trickling over now)

Time, unfortunately, wasn't kind to the MGB either. When BMC and Leyland Motors-two previously rival companies-merged in the late 1960s to become British Leyland(BL), a lot of the BMC marques were left to founder in favor of the Leyland marques. Triumph received somewhat more attention than MG. The MGB was intended to only have a production life of ~10 years, but the money for its intended replacement never materialized and instead was "wedged" into Triumph to design the much-maligned TR7. The MGB soldiered on for nearly another 10 years past its intended design life, but with a bunch of changes not necessarily for the better. US crash and pedestrian safety standards caused a complete redesign of the front and rear bumpers to an all-rubber design("5 mph bumpers", or bumpers that wouldn't be damaged by a 5mph impact against a solid barrier) and a raised ride height. This was done for the 1974 1/2 m/y. All US cars were held to the same standards, but because the US was MG's biggest market and it required a non-trivial redesign of both the undercarriage and sheet metal, all models were modified. Pollution laws crippled US market cars even further-first with a low compression engine in 1972(8.0:1 vs. the previous 8.8:1), followed by California's prohibition on manual chokes in that went into effect in 1975(which caused a change to a single Zenith-Stromberg carburetor, something significantly easier to auto-choke than the dual SUs used previously), and then in 1976 the requirement for a catalytic converter brought in a budget cocktail-napkin designed combined intake and exhaust manifold that was incredibly poor flowing even if the cat weren't in it. Oh, along with that, a somewhat common mode of failure for the carburetor caused the engine to run overly rich(which would make the catalytic converter glow red hot) and the carburetor would leak gasoline right onto the cat, which set more than one on fire. The late ones are not very desirable or valuable today.

The A and B series engines really are, in their own way, great engines. They were made to be used in everything from sportscars to utility vans, and consequently aren't perfect at either task. At the same time, in a lot of ways they are VERY over-engineered with the philosophy of "if some metal is good, more is better." It's worth mentioning that they were very long lived designs as well. The A engine was used in the Mini into the 90s in England, while the B engine soldiered on about the same amount of time in India in the Hindustan Ambassador(which started as the Morris Oxford in the 1950s and was produced until 2014). An early MGB "angle cut" connecting rod is heavier than one out of a Chevy big block 454. I remember taking a pushrod to our machinist at work to ask him if he could shorten it-before he knew I was into British cars he spent a minute or two looking it over and said "I don't know what this is out of, but it has to be British." When I confirmed, he said "I've never seen a pushrod this size that was this heavy or solid." This wasn't unique to MGs, but British postwar customers often preferred simpler and easier to understand controls, which meant that manual chokes stuck around a whole lot longer than on pretty much any American made car. MGs never had power steering, and didn't get any kind of power assist on the brakes until 1975. Power windows were out of the question-for that matter 1962 ads for the MGB touted "Roll up windows" as a feature. That seems strange now, but it was a big deal when you considered that MGA windows(and other British contemporary cars like the Healey 3000) at the time still used manually-attached side curtains rather than a roll up window.

There are perceived issues that plague pretty much all British cars of the era. Electrical systems in particular have a bad reputation, and it's often blamed on Lucas, which was the electrical supplier to virtually the entire British automotive industry. Most cars use simple, straightforward, and minimalist wiring that many over the years have tried to "improve" much to their detriment. The single biggest issue is poor grounds, something that plagues virtually any old cars. To an American mechanic use to working on big Holley and other similar carburetors, the SU carburetors used on a lot of British cars seem utterly incomprehensible and having two of them induces nightmares. In reality, SUs are simple and if properly maintained are reliable. They also can-at least in theory-meter fuel significantly more accurately than any other carburetor design(you'll find statements to this effect in Bosch literature on early fuel injection systems). They just work very differently from a typical American carb. Syncing two carbs properly takes a bit of work, but it's second nature once you're use to it.

The oil leak thing is also a running joke. Truth be told, A and B series engines with good condition seals all around are tight and don't leak an appreciable amount of oil. The old XPAG engines used a rope rear main seal that will reliably leak several ounces of oil every time the engine is shut off, but that's not a unique design. In general, though, with a lot British designs, building things to somewhat looser tolerances allowed them to be a lot more forgiving of poor maintenance, and some of that leads to just accepting oil leaks as normal even though they're not in all designs. A worn out MG engine will use a lot of oil, but then so will any other worn out engine regardless of where it's made(worn rings in particular cause issues).

England in the 1960s and 70s was known for significant labor unrest, and that often crept into poor quality control. It's hard to even build anything when your workers walk out 400-and-some odd times in a year! The Leyland and BMC merger also was less than perfectly executed, with a lot of needless redundancy and also in some cases open hostility between marques in the workforce. To the credit of MG, workers at the Abingdon plant(which is where the vast majority of MGs were built) were mostly content and focused on building good quality products. At the same time, they were at the mercy of supplies from a lot of other plants, and no matter how good the workforce was in that one plant, it was hard to consistently build good quality cars when you had inconsistent quality in other parts coming in.

The British auto industry was known for not necessarily using the best steel or for adequately rustproofing it, so rust is a constant problem on pretty much any British car of that age.

Still, though, pretty much anyone who owns and old Little British Car(LBC) will tell you that they are absolutely in love with them. Yes, there are quirks, but one of the descriptions owners will often use is that the cars have character. Hop in a good running MG(or Triumph or whatever else) on a nice day and find a curvy country road. The lack of power assist and the like makes you feel connected to the road in ways that no modern car can. The fact that they're not overly powerful both keeps you out of trouble, but also keeps you on your toes with watching the road and things like proactive gear changes-and by the way the gearboxes tend to have such tight and precise shifts that shifting really is a pleasure. The "wind in your hair" feel from low windshields is hard to match from anything short of a motorcycle. It's not everyone's "thing", but it's hard for the driving experience in a situation like that to not put a smile on your face.

As for values-the MGB is something of a victim of its own success. Early ones, especially with a proper restoration or good original condition(note that there are a lot of bad restorations out there, but you need some knowledge to recognize what's right and what's wrong on the early cars) are bringing stronger prices. The rubber bumper cars have too many black marks against them, and one needs to be really strong in a lot of areas to get even a mid-4-figure price. I'm partial to the 74 1/2 GT(hatchback). Export of GTs stopped in 1975, and only a bit over 1000 rubber bumper ones made it to the US. I actually nearly bought one a few years back-it was a few miles up the road and could have been mine probably for $3K, but the clutch was slipping badly and I didn't think I could drive it to Cincinatti where I have a friend who's willing and able to provide the space and help with the job. That aside, though, in general Bs are just too plentiful. Nice MGAs(even the common 1500 models), TDs, and TFs still are $15-20K(if not higher), and prewar MGs bring really strong prices when they come on the market.

The bigger 6 cylinder British sports cars both are more desirable just for being more powerful and also less common. There's also the "halo effect" of the car everyone wants, the Jaguar XKE(E-Type outside the US). They're sleek, fast, and much more luxurious than most any other British sportscar. Turn key XKEs are solidly in 6 figure territory now, and even good starting points bring higher 5 figure prices. Since they've become mostly unobtainable, the Big Healeys(particularly the 100-6 and 3000) have crept up and really nice ones are flirting with $100K now(10 years ago, $30K would buy a nice if not concourse level one). TR6s are being pulled up now, and even the negatives of the MGC are kind of being offset by their rarity and I've seen more than a few MGCs change hands at $15-20K.

In all of this, I haven't touched on the other major 60s and 70s MG model-the MG Midget. The Midget name went back to the early days of the marque, but went away in the early postwar years only to reappear in the 1960s in a "shrunken" unibody MG. They're tiny, but are even tighter handling than the MGB. They were powered by the A series engine-later in a really zippy 1275cc displacement. Unfortunately, the rubber bumpers kind of killed them. They picked up the really crude 1500cc Triumph engine, and few folks really even like those cars-they handle worse than the older ones, are heavier, and MG guys don't like the idea of having a Triumph engine up front. Late Midgets are virtually give-away cars, while there is some value in earlier ones.
 

Relentless Power

macrumors Nehalem
Jul 12, 2016
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34,562
That’s some extensive back history and impressive knowledge you’ve acquired. Really, I appreciate your reply and passion for the MG.
 

Apple fanboy

macrumors Westmere
Feb 21, 2012
37,931
27,258
Behind the Lens, UK
WARNING-another wall of text ahead. I think two in one day is my limit :)

I think it's a bit unfair to categorize MGs as cheaply made or "junk." You have to get in the mindset of the era and mindset that they came out of. They are not a car for someone who wants tons of power, and definitely not a car for someone who doesn't want to get their hands dirty with their own repairs. With that said, the latter point is true of pretty much ANY old car-carburetors, distributors, and the like aren't parts you can just forget about like with a modern computerized car. When people talk about a "tune-up" now, they usually just mean replacing spark plugs. Old cars need periodic tune-ups(they needed them when new, regardless of where they were made) that consisted of jobs like setting the points, the ignition timing, and adjusting the carburetor mixture and idle.

British cars in general, though, have their peculiarities, and some people choose to live with them while others can't stand them.

In a broader sense, though, the MG marque has an important place in the history of what we now call the sportscar.

Basically, someone by the name of Cecil Kimber back in the 1920s started more or less hot-rodding Morris cars to increase performance. With the factory's blessing, "Morris Garages" cars came about, and started building what could be called some of the earliest sportscars. Prewar MGs were often quite advanced, with sophisticated for the time suspension and even overhead cam engines(in the P-type and J-type Midget).

In the late 1930s, WWII was looming, and MG designed a new model on a bit of shoestring budget. Since their engine tooling was worn out, they bought and completely transplanted an engine plant from France, and with that tooling built the reliable but somewhat less sophisticated XPAG OHV engines.

WWII happened with mostly devastating effects on the British economy, but for the British Motor Corporation(BMC) found some salvation in the MG brand and that American servicemen fell in love with the T-type MGs and started taking them back home. The TC pretty quickly turned into the TD, which was primarily made for the American market and sold decently well in what was starting to be a prosperous early 1950s postwar US economy. This was especially significant in that it brought a lot of cash(at least in one industry) into what was a fairly stagnant postwar European economy.

BMC had a big cash infusion from that along with the Morris Minor(which sold well domestically and internationally), and from that developed a new "corporate" line of OHV engines, the A series engine and the B series engine. These were essentially identical engines, with the B series being larger. Initially, displacements were ~1000cc for the A and ~1500cc for the B engine. The A engine made its way into the Minor(to replace its ancient, crude flathead), and into one of BMCs first real groundbreaking designs-the Mini. The Mini was a practical family hauler with a compact transverse front wheel drive layout and handling like a go-kart.

One of the first applications for the B engine was for a totally new and redesigned MG-the MGA. The MGA used sleeker "low" styling(compared to the "upright" design of the T-type) that was similar but distinct from the contemporary Triumph TR3 and Austin Healey 100 series, had a very nice double-A arm front suspension, and was generally an all around excellent product. I still consider the MGA one of the most beautiful cars ever produced. The MGA was also a bit of an experimental bed, with a very nice(but at the time very temperamental) dual overhead cam engine(billed as the "Twin Cam"). Unfortunately, that engine got a very bad reputation that it never was able to shake. I've talked to someone local to me who has a Twin Cam in his garage with a standard OHV engine, and the original TC engine sitting next to it. He'd part with the engine for $10K(which is high, but not out of line) but won't part with the car. I hate to see the two split up-the cars themselves have some otherwise unique features(for the MGA) including 4-wheel disk brakes and really interesting/fascinating Dunlop center lock spline-drive steel disk wheels.

The success of the MGA led to the redesigned MGB in 1962, which improved the suspension, changed to a unibody, upped the displacement to 1800cc and consequently the power to around 90hp, and overall made a very good design even better. The MGB was an overwhelming success, especially in the export market. It sold around 500,000 from 1962-1980, and 450,000 of those came to North America. There were also some derivative designs. The 6 cylinder MGC was a bit underwhelming-it was a lot more powerful, but the big 700lb cast iron inline 6 hanging out over the front axle really upset the handling. Postwar MGs had a reputation for being less powerful than the competing Triumph models, but a fair bit more nimble and better handling. The MGC was supposed to go right up against the Triumph TR6, but it was slower in a straight line and handled worse. Some of the body modifications to fit the 6 cylinder resulted in some weird and sort of unbalanced lines on the hood(including a big bulge on one side to clear one of the carburetors, which almost gives the look of someone realizing it wouldn't close, banging a dimple in it with a hammer, and saying "that'll do"). The real winner was the MGB GT V8, which used the aluminum Buick-Rover V8 that didn't change the weight distribution or overall weight appreciably. Unfortunately, it never was exported to the US(some are trickling over now)

Time, unfortunately, wasn't kind to the MGB either. When BMC and Leyland Motors-two previously rival companies-merged in the late 1960s to become British Leyland(BL), a lot of the BMC marques were left to founder in favor of the Leyland marques. Triumph received somewhat more attention than MG. The MGB was intended to only have a production life of ~10 years, but the money for its intended replacement never materialized and instead was "wedged" into Triumph to design the much-maligned TR7. The MGB soldiered on for nearly another 10 years past its intended design life, but with a bunch of changes not necessarily for the better. US crash and pedestrian safety standards caused a complete redesign of the front and rear bumpers to an all-rubber design("5 mph bumpers", or bumpers that wouldn't be damaged by a 5mph impact against a solid barrier) and a raised ride height. This was done for the 1974 1/2 m/y. All US cars were held to the same standards, but because the US was MG's biggest market and it required a non-trivial redesign of both the undercarriage and sheet metal, all models were modified. Pollution laws crippled US market cars even further-first with a low compression engine in 1972(8.0:1 vs. the previous 8.8:1), followed by California's prohibition on manual chokes in that went into effect in 1975(which caused a change to a single Zenith-Stromberg carburetor, something significantly easier to auto-choke than the dual SUs used previously), and then in 1976 the requirement for a catalytic converter brought in a budget cocktail-napkin designed combined intake and exhaust manifold that was incredibly poor flowing even if the cat weren't in it. Oh, along with that, a somewhat common mode of failure for the carburetor caused the engine to run overly rich(which would make the catalytic converter glow red hot) and the carburetor would leak gasoline right onto the cat, which set more than one on fire. The late ones are not very desirable or valuable today.

The A and B series engines really are, in their own way, great engines. They were made to be used in everything from sportscars to utility vans, and consequently aren't perfect at either task. At the same time, in a lot of ways they are VERY over-engineered with the philosophy of "if some metal is good, more is better." It's worth mentioning that they were very long lived designs as well. The A engine was used in the Mini into the 90s in England, while the B engine soldiered on about the same amount of time in India in the Hindustan Ambassador(which started as the Morris Oxford in the 1950s and was produced until 2014). An early MGB "angle cut" connecting rod is heavier than one out of a Chevy big block 454. I remember taking a pushrod to our machinist at work to ask him if he could shorten it-before he knew I was into British cars he spent a minute or two looking it over and said "I don't know what this is out of, but it has to be British." When I confirmed, he said "I've never seen a pushrod this size that was this heavy or solid." This wasn't unique to MGs, but British postwar customers often preferred simpler and easier to understand controls, which meant that manual chokes stuck around a whole lot longer than on pretty much any American made car. MGs never had power steering, and didn't get any kind of power assist on the brakes until 1975. Power windows were out of the question-for that matter 1962 ads for the MGB touted "Roll up windows" as a feature. That seems strange now, but it was a big deal when you considered that MGA windows(and other British contemporary cars like the Healey 3000) at the time still used manually-attached side curtains rather than a roll up window.

There are perceived issues that plague pretty much all British cars of the era. Electrical systems in particular have a bad reputation, and it's often blamed on Lucas, which was the electrical supplier to virtually the entire British automotive industry. Most cars use simple, straightforward, and minimalist wiring that many over the years have tried to "improve" much to their detriment. The single biggest issue is poor grounds, something that plagues virtually any old cars. To an American mechanic use to working on big Holley and other similar carburetors, the SU carburetors used on a lot of British cars seem utterly incomprehensible and having two of them induces nightmares. In reality, SUs are simple and if properly maintained are reliable. They also can-at least in theory-meter fuel significantly more accurately than any other carburetor design(you'll find statements to this effect in Bosch literature on early fuel injection systems). They just work very differently from a typical American carb. Syncing two carbs properly takes a bit of work, but it's second nature once you're use to it.

The oil leak thing is also a running joke. Truth be told, A and B series engines with good condition seals all around are tight and don't leak an appreciable amount of oil. The old XPAG engines used a rope rear main seal that will reliably leak several ounces of oil every time the engine is shut off, but that's not a unique design. In general, though, with a lot British designs, building things to somewhat looser tolerances allowed them to be a lot more forgiving of poor maintenance, and some of that leads to just accepting oil leaks as normal even though they're not in all designs. A worn out MG engine will use a lot of oil, but then so will any other worn out engine regardless of where it's made(worn rings in particular cause issues).

England in the 1960s and 70s was known for significant labor unrest, and that often crept into poor quality control. It's hard to even build anything when your workers walk out 400-and-some odd times in a year! The Leyland and BMC merger also was less than perfectly executed, with a lot of needless redundancy and also in some cases open hostility between marques in the workforce. To the credit of MG, workers at the Abingdon plant(which is where the vast majority of MGs were built) were mostly content and focused on building good quality products. At the same time, they were at the mercy of supplies from a lot of other plants, and no matter how good the workforce was in that one plant, it was hard to consistently build good quality cars when you had inconsistent quality in other parts coming in.

The British auto industry was known for not necessarily using the best steel or for adequately rustproofing it, so rust is a constant problem on pretty much any British car of that age.

Still, though, pretty much anyone who owns and old Little British Car(LBC) will tell you that they are absolutely in love with them. Yes, there are quirks, but one of the descriptions owners will often use is that the cars have character. Hop in a good running MG(or Triumph or whatever else) on a nice day and find a curvy country road. The lack of power assist and the like makes you feel connected to the road in ways that no modern car can. The fact that they're not overly powerful both keeps you out of trouble, but also keeps you on your toes with watching the road and things like proactive gear changes-and by the way the gearboxes tend to have such tight and precise shifts that shifting really is a pleasure. The "wind in your hair" feel from low windshields is hard to match from anything short of a motorcycle. It's not everyone's "thing", but it's hard for the driving experience in a situation like that to not put a smile on your face.

As for values-the MGB is something of a victim of its own success. Early ones, especially with a proper restoration or good original condition(note that there are a lot of bad restorations out there, but you need some knowledge to recognize what's right and what's wrong on the early cars) are bringing stronger prices. The rubber bumper cars have too many black marks against them, and one needs to be really strong in a lot of areas to get even a mid-4-figure price. I'm partial to the 74 1/2 GT(hatchback). Export of GTs stopped in 1975, and only a bit over 1000 rubber bumper ones made it to the US. I actually nearly bought one a few years back-it was a few miles up the road and could have been mine probably for $3K, but the clutch was slipping badly and I didn't think I could drive it to Cincinatti where I have a friend who's willing and able to provide the space and help with the job. That aside, though, in general Bs are just too plentiful. Nice MGAs(even the common 1500 models), TDs, and TFs still are $15-20K(if not higher), and prewar MGs bring really strong prices when they come on the market.

The bigger 6 cylinder British sports cars both are more desirable just for being more powerful and also less common. There's also the "halo effect" of the car everyone wants, the Jaguar XKE(E-Type outside the US). They're sleek, fast, and much more luxurious than most any other British sportscar. Turn key XKEs are solidly in 6 figure territory now, and even good starting points bring higher 5 figure prices. Since they've become mostly unobtainable, the Big Healeys(particularly the 100-6 and 3000) have crept up and really nice ones are flirting with $100K now(10 years ago, $30K would buy a nice if not concourse level one). TR6s are being pulled up now, and even the negatives of the MGC are kind of being offset by their rarity and I've seen more than a few MGCs change hands at $15-20K.

In all of this, I haven't touched on the other major 60s and 70s MG model-the MG Midget. The Midget name went back to the early days of the marque, but went away in the early postwar years only to reappear in the 1960s in a "shrunken" unibody MG. They're tiny, but are even tighter handling than the MGB. They were powered by the A series engine-later in a really zippy 1275cc displacement. Unfortunately, the rubber bumpers kind of killed them. They picked up the really crude 1500cc Triumph engine, and few folks really even like those cars-they handle worse than the older ones, are heavier, and MG guys don't like the idea of having a Triumph engine up front. Late Midgets are virtually give-away cars, while there is some value in earlier ones.
Fascinating.
You should write a book with your knowledge.
I’m old enough to remember British manufacturing issues in the 70’s. Power outages and three day weeks and all that.
 

SandboxGeneral

Moderator emeritus
Sep 8, 2010
26,437
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Detroit
@bunnspecial I quite enjoyed reading your two short stories! The one on oil was especially enlightening as there was a lot of information that I did not have a clue about.

That leads me to a question about contemporary vehicles and manufacturer recommended oils. Given what you wrote, is there any advantage to using a higher brand/tier oil, like Royal Purple, verses say the Motorcraft brand from Ford if all other things were equal, like 5W20?
 

bunnspecial

macrumors 604
May 3, 2014
7,216
4,313
Kentucky
Fascinating.
You should write a book with your knowledge.
I appreciate the confidence and compliments, but what I know in this area is nothing compared to others.

There's some really good reading out there on specific models. The T-series, MGA, and MGB each have their own definitive book on originality written by Anders Clausinger. I have the MGA and MGB books, and they are excellent with a whole lot of information on year-by-year changes, production figures, available options by year, and plenty of photos to accompany them. They can be a bit disheartening also :) . As an example, when I bought my car, it had a nice set of heavy rubber floor mats with a big embossed MG octogon that I assumed were original, and that I'd seen in a fair few other cars. My sister gave me the Clausinger book on the MGB for Christmas the year I bought my car(an all around excellent gift on her part) but as I was initially flipping through it, I saw a picture of a car with those same floormats installed. The caption gave a lot of information, but also included the note "Although these floormats are frequently seen in cars, they are reproductions in common circulation from a mold made up in the early 1990s. Original floormats are of a similar design but lack the MG logo."

There are also some good books about the British auto industry as a whole. One I have in Kindle but have yet to actually finish reading(I should do that soon-time permitting) is "British Leyland: Chronicle of a Car Crash." It's a great resource, but very heavy reading.

I'm pretty sure this video was meant for internal training and possibly a "get your act together" message to the workforce. It's a bit scary/sad, but is still a good and informative watch.


If you haven't noticed, though, sometimes I just like writing too :) , whether it's MGs, watches, cameras, Macs, or anything else that interests me(one of my lock-down projects has been a textbook on GC-MS that I still want to finish). I'm about to start my job as a full time college professor(as opposed to occasional adjunct teaching), a job that I've been told I seem a natural at.
 
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Apple fanboy

macrumors Westmere
Feb 21, 2012
37,931
27,258
Behind the Lens, UK
I appreciate the confidence and compliments, but what I know in this area is nothing compared to others.

There's some really good reading out there on specific models. The T-series, MGA, and MGB each have their own definitive book on originality written by Anders Clausinger. I have the MGA and MGB books, and they are excellent with a whole lot of information on year-by-year changes, production figures, available options by year, and plenty of photos to accompany them. They can be a bit disheartening also :) . As an example, when I bought my car, it had a nice set of heavy rubber floor mats with a big embossed MG octogon that I assumed were original, and that I'd seen in a fair few other cars. My sister gave me the Clausinger book on the MGB for Christmas the year I bought my car(an all around excellent gift on her part) but as I was initially flipping through it, I saw a picture of a car with those same floormats installed. The caption gave a lot of information, but also included the note "Although these floormats are frequently seen in cars, they are reproductions in common circulation from a mold made up in the early 1990s. Original floormats are of a similar design but lack the MG logo."

There are also some good books about the British auto industry as a whole. One I have in Kindle but have yet to actually finish reading(I should do that soon-time permitting) is "British Leyland: Chronicle of a Car Crash." It's a great resource, but very heavy reading.

I'm pretty sure this video was meant for internal training and possibly a "get your act together" message to the workforce. It's a bit scary/sad, but is still a good and informative watch.


If you haven't noticed, though, sometimes I just like writing too :) , whether it's MGs, watches, cameras, Macs, or anything else that interests me(one of my lock-down projects has been a textbook on GC-MS that I still want to finish). I'm about to start my job as a full time college professor(as opposed to occasional adjunct teaching), a job that I've been told I seem a natural at.
What will you be teaching? Nothing wrong with being passionate about something. I’ll give the video a watch later. After the F1.
 

bunnspecial

macrumors 604
May 3, 2014
7,216
4,313
Kentucky
@bunnspecial I quite enjoyed reading your two short stories! The one on oil was especially enlightening as there was a lot of information that I did not have a clue about.

That leads me to a question about contemporary vehicles and manufacturer recommended oils. Given what you wrote, is there any advantage to using a higher brand/tier oil, like Royal Purple, verses say the Motorcraft brand from Ford if all other things were equal, like 5W20?
Thank you for the compliment! As I said, I enjoy a good "word vomit" at times(even if it is two in a day) and am glad people read them :)

To be honest, outside of a few specific cases, I am not a big fan of boutique oils. Royal Purple at least seems to get the current API rating as well as Dexos1 Gen 2(GM spec) and a few other manufacturer specific specs on their High Performance line, but Amsoil is notorious for not doing this. Given my distaste for MLM in general, I also avoid Amsoil, but that's another topic. For me, the boutique oils really only offer an advantage over big brands in some fringe cases, and most people don't meet those.

I love Motorcraft syn-blend as a good general purpose motor oil, and use to use it a lot especially when I was back in college and early grad school and everything regularly sitting in my parents' driveway or garage was a FoMoCo product(a bunch of Lincolns, but also the 91 Ranger I dearly loved and wish my dad had called me before he traded it so I could buy it, but that's a different story). It use to be one of the least expensive oils that Wal-Mart carried, but has crept in price to where it's similar to comparable conventional/syn-blends(very few multi-grade oils out there now, especially any xW-20, are not syn-blends to some degree, as it's easier and cheaper to use at least some Group III base stock to get to those viscosities). Given a choice between-say-Penzoil yellow bottle, Valvoline Max-Life, and Castrol Edge GTX next to the Motorcraft, I'd probably grab the least expensive one, or if all were the same I'd probably use either Penzoil or Motorcraft(but that's as much preference as anything).

With that said, on a modern engine, at least after draining oil shipping from the factory on schedule, I'd be inclined to jump right to a full synthetic. In warranty, though, you need to be sure you follow the viscosity suggestions, and if you want to be absolutely safe stick to the manufacturer specified brand also. If something did come up on warranty, Royal Purple would be pretty easily recognizable. In the US at least, if the manufacturer requires a specific type of oil and that a dealer change it during the warranty period, it has to be done at no additional charge(in other words, you can't be compelled to continue paying for dealership changes during the warranty period, but if you can just drive up and say "change my oil" without being charged than they can require it). Also, if you do have an engine failure during warranty, the burden of proof is on the manufacturer to show that your lack of maintenance caused it. Still, though, it's easiest to not give them any ammunition and instead just stick to major-brand oils that meet the specs in the owners manual.
 
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bunnspecial

macrumors 604
May 3, 2014
7,216
4,313
Kentucky
Well I’m sure you’ll get lots of stuff from your interests in there.
Oil types, film development and watch cleaning maybe?
I've been a working chemist for 5 years now, or 10 if you count graduate school(which is more of a full time job than most full time jobs).

I'm excited about the new job, but I'm moving to a MUCH smaller school and won't have the seemingly endless resource(or at least that was the case pre-COVID) of a big state R1 school.

Still, I'm excited about hopefully building up their instrument facilities, and suspect when they hire my replacement at my current job, that person will probably want to get rid of some of my "pet projects" like the older GC-MSs that I've gotten going. I have the word in to PLEASE call me before they dispose of anything, as I'll gladly make it disappear. The new school has a really nice GC-MS-a Hewlett Packard 6890/5973. Agilent(the former HP instrument division) still has some decent support for those models even if they are off the "officially supported" list-they still sell refurbed units and supply a lot of parts. The one this school has is a fairly early model that I might eventually look into upgrading substantially(replacing the old HPIB-based comm boards with ethernet, which lets me run a version of the software that came out in ~2012 rather than 2000 and also adds some other more advanced capabilities). It's been sitting there in pieces since it was donated to them, and they told me in the interview that they "can't afford to have Agilent come out and set it up." I felt good enough about how the interview was going at that point(and also confident enough in my knowledge) that I more or less said "Hire me and you don't need Agilent to set it up and keep it going."(I didn't say the words "hire me" but I think it was implied).
 

SandboxGeneral

Moderator emeritus
Sep 8, 2010
26,437
9,905
Detroit
Wondering which engine/transmission I should go for in the Bronco....

Option A:
2.3L 4-cylinder EcoBoost
270 HP, 310 ft-lb torque
7-speed manual (6+1 Crawler Gear)

Option B:
2.7L 6-cylinder EcoBoost
310 HP, 400 ft-lb torque
10-speed automatic

If you want the manual transmission, then you can only get the smaller 2.3L engine. If you go with the automatic then you have your choice in engines.

I'm leaning toward the manual transmission option even though you get the smaller engine. Though the smaller engine still puts out a respectable amount of power.
 
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