The Princess is probably one of the last cars that anyone would be expected to modify in any way. There really isn’t much need to tamper with the styling and there is next to nothing available to change it in any meaningful way. Under the bonnet is a different matter. I decided I’d have a go at trying to install the MG Maestro 2.0 EFi O-Series engine and gearbox into a Princess engine bay. This green Princess was a scrapper so I decided it would make a useful test bed for installation.
Once dropped into the Princess engine bay it’s obvious that it’s an extremely tight fit. On the nearside the gearbox is pressed against the chassis rail and, the crankshaft pulley is pressed against the chassis rail on the offside. Obviously cutting the rails would not be feasible as they are the main strength of the front of the car.
Then you have the drive shaft problem, the differential needs to go back towards the bulkhead another 1˝” to align the drive shafts, and there is enough room to do that. Unfortunately it would mean that the bulkhead would have to be cut to make room for the exhaust downpipe, where the heat from the exhaust may damage the front suspension displacers. And if you want to fit a turbocharger, I can’t see where it would fit; there is no room for it. Once all that is sorted, it will be necessary to secure the engine in position, and the Maestro’s engine mountings are in different positions to the Princess, more thought required!
The other option is to put the EFi engine onto the Princess gearbox, but this means rotating the block 180 degrees as the Maestro gearbox sits on the nearside and the Princess gearbox sits on the offside. This would mean that the fuel rail would be behind the radiator. Not only would this entail making a large ‘power’ bulge in the bonnet, the exhaust would have to be modified to fit under the engine.
It may be possible to fit the EFi cylinder head onto the Princess block, but this would mean modifying the block to accept all of the engine management sensors required for the ECU, such as the knock sensor etc. Once it is installed, then all of the engine management and ECU wiring will have to be installed into the rather basic Princess system, which, unless you know what you are doing, could be a nightmare!
Then again, you could always try a Rover K-Series engine; these units are quite compact and should fit into the Princess engine bay very easily – a 1.8 VVC would be interesting…
So, I’ve had a go at at fitting an MG engine and decided it’s a bit too complex for me, mind you; an 115bhp Princess with a possible 0-60 time of around 8 seconds is probably best left with the imagination!
Kevin Davis. August 2003.
Updated September 2007.
This digitally modified image shows what a Rover 2.0 litre T-Series engine would look like. These kick out 136bhp in standard form, or 200bhp when turbocharged.