The Costello V8 - a powerful package developed by an enthusiast in both Roadster and GT forms
Ken Costello brought out his MGBV8 Costello in 1970. He started with a standard MGB and shoehorned a 3,528cc Rover V8 into the engine bay which retained the original opposed semi-downdraught twin SU carburettors on top in the centre of the Vee. To accommodate this equipment, the Costello V8 was fitted with a distinctive power bulge in the bonnet panel. The V8 engine was considerably more powerful than the detuned unit subsequently used in the Factory produced MGBGTV8s and had the 10.5:1 pistons producing 150bhp. This power unit was mated to a standard MGB Mk II/Mk III all synchromesh gearbox and the performance has been described as "electrifying" with a 130mph top speed and exceptional acceleration - it could reach 100mph in 22 seconds. Costello fitted chunky cast alloy wheels which have a passing resemblance to the very distinctive Dunlop cast alloy and steel rim wheels fitted to the Factory machine.

Distinctive Costello badge - V EIGHT COSTELLO

The Costello V8 was 2,443in the early 1970s - almost double the cost of an MGB and that price did not include overdrive, radial tyres or the Costello alloy wheels! Compared with other performance cars of its time, the Costello V8 was very expensive - the Ford Capri 3000 GT was only 1,570 for example. But the Costello V8 had that magical feature - V8 power. Costello produced V8 powered versions of both the MGBGT and MGB Roadster. In fact Ken Costello registered his own
Costello MGBV8 Roadster with the V8 Register many years ago.

Costello MGBV8 enthusiasts are loyal to their machines and have a fond regard for the Costello V8s because their production was an example of a private venture seeing an ideal combination where a car and a Rover V8 transplant would transform the performance of what was then an ageing sports car design and suspension package. Today Dave Vale in Kent

Good looking Costello GTV8 in Cornwall. (Photo: Paul Denton)

continues to support Costello MGBV8s. Whilst there is a continuing interest in Costellos, it is fair to say there is considerably greater interest in new MGV8 conversions, many using new Heritage shells which have far better rust proofing and future bodywork maintenance costs.

One of the myths one hears is that the MG Factory saw what Costello was doing and then stepped in and produced their own MGBGTV8. The truth is the Factory had been developing a large engined MGBGT for some time and had chosen the Rover V8 power plant. Their thoughts on the car had settled during 1970 and 1971 and at one time MG clearly hoped to announce production of the MGBGTV8 in 1972 but the Factory was held back by the constraints over their product development budget from the holding company, BLMC. This was clarified by Don Hayter during a talk he gave to a well attended meeting of V8 Register members at Sandford near Abingdon in February 2002 entitled "How did the Factory get the V8 package so right!".

When finally the Factory produced the MGBGTV8, it was clear it was a refined car for its time with an impressive specification. It is also a remarkably pleasant car to drive with a good weight balance and fuel economy.


Costello's advert in Motor magazine, October 1973
Larger copy of the adverts
Classic Cars for Sale review of Costello MGVs More
New Costello MGV8 website
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Another Costello V8 advert
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Light Blue 5005
A LHD automatic Costello MGBGTV8 originally exported to Canada.
Light Blue 5005

Costello V8 Roadster
BR G 6038
Costello MGBGTV8
Teal Blue 5013

Costello Race Car
Tartan Red 5012

Costello V8 Roadster
Jasper Blue 6026
This note is part of the Classic Power Profiles from the V8 Register, part of the MG Car Club.
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