Several V8 engine conversions were made to MGBs before Ken Costello
was able to develop and offer his MGBV8 Conversions. His advert promoted
the "Costello MGB V8 as the most economical high performance
sports car available".
Here we have a timeline showing three earlier MGBV8s.
Part of our "Looking back" series ahead of the 45th
Anniversary of the launch of the MGBGTV8 in August 1973 and the 40th
Anniversary of the formation of the V8 Register in October 1978. Looking
with a V8 Ford conversion in 1965
Roger Wilks' post on the MGB Register's Facebook page says he
came across a brief report of an MGB powered by a Ford V8 whilst
reading some back copies of his car magazines. It was in Autosport
February 1965! He ponders whether "Tony Farrell beat Costello
and MG in placing a V8 in our much loved MGB?"
The article reports "Tony Farrell of Gran Turismo Developments
in Hove is developing an MGB with a V8 Ford engine. Full details
are to be released as soon as teething troubles are overcome".
with a Daimler SP250 2.5 V8 in 1965
The Works entered MGBs for le Mans in 1964 and 1965 ran well
but clearly MG felt they could do better so they sent a standard
MGB Roadster to Ricardo at Shoreham. Their engineers set to
work on the modifications needed to install the Daimler powerplant.
The first track tests resulted in the lay gear shearing and
then gearbox problems. Then mysteriously the project seems to
have come to a halt.
The MG Daimler V8 Roadster was registered with the V8 Register
many years ago by a member in Wiltshire and later by a Swiss
MGB Buick V8 in 1967
Barely five years after the launch of the model, an MGB with
an alloy Buick V8 nestling under the bonnet appeared in Australia.
The conversion was carried out by Mark Keeley, a high performance
American car importer in Sydney. It was reported in 1967 in
a fascinating article by Al Lauder in an Australian car magazine
with the caption "For go-manship, not show-manship, would
you believe an MGB Buick?" News of this remarkable MGB
V8 Roadster reached MG enthusiasts in the UK and Abingdon and
soon the idea of a V8 powered MGB became of real interest. Sadly
the corporate politics within the BL Group at the time did not
encourage the development of the MGB with the V8 engine that
became such a successful upgrade for Rover models. But later,
when the BL senior management finally saw how good an MGB V8
could be, they authorised the development and production of
the MGBGTV8 model at Abingdon. See
MGBV8s in 1970
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. See
The MG Plant had settled their ideas on a large engined MGBGT
for some time and had chosen the Rover V8 power plant 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. An MGV8 prepared by Costello was loaned to BL
and eventually the senior management recognised it was worth
getting it into production but setting a tight development budget.
The model was launched in August 1973. See
Development of the MGBGTV8 at Abingdon, Don Hayters recollections.