Costello MGBV8 profile
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.
The Costello V8 was £2,443 in 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 models. 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 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 far lower future bodywork maintenance costs.
One of the myths one often 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.

See our Costello V8 microsite. More

Classic Cars for Sale review of Costello MGV8s, March 2009. More

Barely five years after the launch of the MGB model, the first MGV8. More

Costello V8 Roadster & MGBGT facts
Produced: 1971 to 1976 with the first MGB V8 roadster conversion built by Ken Costello in 1969 with an Oldsmobile V8 engine.
Bodywork: Two door fixed coupe GT with rear hatch and two door roadster.
Engine: Either Oldsmobile or Rover sourced aluminium alloy normally aspirated V8 engines were fitted with twin SU carburettors or a single dual-choke Weber producing 150bhp.
Performance: 0-60 mph: 7.8 secs and top speed: 125 mph plus.
Fuel consumption: 25-30 mpg.
Production: It is believed that "no more than 225-230 cars" were made by Costello, believed to be 190 MGBGTs and 35 MGB Roadsters.
Specification: Front disc brakes and drums at the back, variety of wheels including the distinctive light alloy wheels, with a four speed gearbox with or without a Laycock overdrive.
Number of cars still existing: The V8 Register database has over 70 Costello V8s recorded.
Spares and servicing availability: Very good, particularly from the specialist V8 conversion spares and servicing traders.
Garage fit? L 13ft 3" (4.02m) x W 5ft (1.523m) x H 4ft 3" (1.292m) for the GT.
Prices: chrome bumper fixed head GTV8 from £6,500 to £20,750 and V8 Roadster from £7,000 to £23,500. Exceptional Class1 cars can reach £25,000 plus.

Distinctive Costello badge - V EIGHT COSTELLO

Motor magazine advert , October 1973. Another Costello V8 advert