By Jim Ellis
Published: December 23, 2008
Sunbeam Alpine V6 conversion
From the day the first Alpine rolled off the assembly line it cried for more power, the little four just does not have enough oats to make the car a nice mover and the early cars spit rods like they were designed to fail. While later versions of the engine were better the cars are still known for spinning the number three-rod bearing.
Rootes may be to blame for starting the Alpine power plant conversions when they shoe horned the Ford 260 in a S2 car then put the creation into production, thus the Tiger was born. But even Shelby could not over come the tight confides of the Alpine engine bay and the car lost its wonderful steering when it received the little Ford V8. Not to mention the firewall and tunnel rework required. Never the less even with the amount of work required to fit the V8 in an Alpine the conversion is still the most popular and from talking to Doug Jennings of Tiger Automotive it was performed from almost the first day a Tiger left the show room floor, thus the Alger was born. Wadded up Tigers have donated their guts to many an Alpine and later when rust took its toll rusty Tigers have done the same.
The birth of the Tiger has lead to the number one questions ask by folks new to Alpines, “What do I have to do to put a V8 in my car?” Which results in much moaning and gnashing of teeth by both Alpine and Tiger owners. Alpine owners fearing another hacked up abandoned Alger project and Tiger owners fearing another fake Tiger coming on the market.
The transplant carnage does not end with the Ford V8, oh no, Alpine owners have tried to fit most every engine under the sun in their cars, often with the aid of a gas axe. “Oh this Buick V6 should fit lets just chop the steering out of the way and go from there… Same for the small block Chevy. Then there are the various four cylinders that have gone under the hood with different degrees of success.
Now all this is not to say every engine transplant is a mess, just most of them. The reason being we under estimate the amount of time, skill and money required to pull it off and pull it off well, particularly when going where no one has gone before.
Which brings me to the second most popular engine conversion for the Alpine, the Ford 2.8 V6. The identity of the first person to figure out this tiny V6 was a perfect match for the Alpine is lost in the mists of time but the person who did it in such a fashion that Lord Rootes would have said “Forget Shelby.” was Jose Rodriguez better known as V6 Jose. Starting out with one of the first wadded up Mustang IIs and a dead Alpine Jose spent the next six months figuring out how to combine the two resulting in a car that should have come off the factory assembly line. Jose went on to develop and market a installation kit for this conversion that has been referred to as a work of art. Now I know what you are thinking, I am biased, you bet your butt I am! The V6 Jose conversion results in a car the handles better than a stock Alpine and will out run a stock Tiger, not to mention the conversion while not a bolt in is simple enough that it has been done by folks who have shall we say somewhat limited wrench turning experience.
So you ask what is involved in this conversion, how hard is it, what do I need? Well my advice is contact V6 Jose and order the full blown deluxe conversion kit. You can get a basic kit but in my opinion you are better off with the full Mary Anne, as Jose says. Then you need a 2.8 Ford V6 the later version from the Ranger/Bronco II has the correct oil pan and you will need to source some parts from a Mustang II, the timing cover and pulleys along with a bell housing so you can fit a later Mustang T5 transmission. Then to fit the engine and transmission in your Alpine you remove the factory engine frame mounts and weld in the kits frame mounts. You also have to modify the tunnel and the hole for the shifter. The tunnel mod is fairly straight forward you just slice the floor pan on the left side and push it over about an inch for the shifter hole you lose the ashtray and cut an opening for the T5 shifter. This requires some welding and fabrication to close in the new shifter hole but it is pretty basic stuff and compared to what is required to stuff a V8 in an Alpine is a walk in the park. Yes there is more to it like an electric fuel pump and external pull slave for the clutch, moving the inlet and outlet on the radiator, hardened keys for the rear hubs having a drive shaft made up and all the other little things that bring it all together. Still in the end it is a very clean and well thought out conversion that will result in many happy miles of motoring.
So come visit the SAOCA Forum and ask, “ What do I need to do to install a V6 in my Alpine.” Because while you could have had a V8 you want a V6!