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This was a very unusual job on a Griffith that I look after. The chap that owns this car called me to report that he had taken the car for a little drive when it suddenly lost power and made some odd noises followed by a cloud of steam. Fearing the worst, I went round to his house to view the damage. I started the engine and initially it ran perfectly, but then after 15 seconds or so, it started to misfire and clouds of steam emerged from the passenger side exhaust pipe. Also, large amounts of water started pouring from the rear of the engine and the exhaust manifold. My initial thoughts were a catastrophic failure of the righthand cylinder head gasket or some sort or casting or component failure. Either way, it wasn’t good news for the owner. Luckily he didn’t live too far away from my house, so we filled the cooling system to the brim and gingerly drove it to my house for further investigation. On arrival it did appear it might have been steam powered and sounded awful.

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The car was driven into the workshop and I started to take it apart. One of the things that happens with these engines quite regularly is head gasket failures. I suggested that it would be a good idea seeing as the gasket failure was most likely to put hi-tensile ARP head studs and competition head gaskets to prevent the problem occurring again.


As it turned out the head gasket hadn’t failed but the owner wanted me to do the upgrade nevertheless. What had actually happened was that the inlet manifold bolts had loosened over time and when the engine warmed up, the coolant passage at the rear of the head leakedinto the inlet tract and into the rear cylinder. This then caused the cylinder to misfire and deposit copious amounts of coolant out of the manifold gasket and exhaust pipe.


So it turned out to be a simple fix really, but the owner wanted other upgrades to be carried out as well as you will see. The end result not only looked good, but the engine ran beautifully.

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One slightly tired looking rough running V8 Griffith engine, needing some loving tender care.

Trumpet base removed.

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So work commenced removing the plenum chamber and associated components.

Cooling system drained, fuel rail and injectors removed along with the rocker cover.

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No damage to the head or cylinder, but the rear cylinder is rather clean surprisingly.

Both of the cylinder heads have been removed and the mating faces cleaned up. The bores and pistons are in perfect condition so no further attention is needed in that area.

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The cylinder head being cleaned up and checked for any damage. All was fine and both the heads were true and straight.

Both of the heads have beed fitted back on to the block, and if you look carefully you can see the hi-tensile head studs. I should have taken a picture of the studs before the heads were installed really, but you can find pictures of them on other TVR builds I have done. These studs virtually stop any head gasket problems even if the engine is used in competition.

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The pushrods have been refitted along with the rockers shafts.

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The inlet manifold has been vapour blasted and fitted with ARP stainless bolts. These are specially made for the engine and have 12 point heads and are stainless steel. The rocker covers have been shot blasted and stove enamelled red with new two TVR badges fitted.

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The injectors have been fitted along with the fuel rail and trumpet base. Also the alternator, front castings and pulleys which have also been vapoured or stove enamelled. Starting to look the part.

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The swirl tank has been polished and the silicon pipes fitted. You can just see the stainless tube at the front next to the header tank. Just the exhaust headers to fit and it’s about there.

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The rest of the pulley’s have been fitted along with a new drive belt. The exhaust headers have had the pre cats taken out and the swirl tank is to be polished. Also the cooling pipes will be replaced with red silicon ones and polished stainless connecting pipes.

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One Griffith engine that not only looks the part but runs perfectly with no steam effects. 

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