V8 - a powerful package developed by an enthusiast in both Roadster and GT forms
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. But it was not as relaxed as the long legged V8 produced by the Factory
MGBGTV8 which followed shortly after. 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.
enthusiasts are loyal to their machines but but they have attracted only a
few collectors and consequently prices today are modest. MGBV8 enthusiasts have
a fond regard for the Costello V8s because their production was an
Good looking Costello GTV8
in Cornwall. (Photo: Paul Denton)
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 future bodywork maintenance costs.
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