Little known in the United States, the MGB Costello V8 is admired as one of the most historically important variants of the car produced. A skilled engineer and talented racing driver, Ken Costello saw a need to increase the performance of the standard MGB without resorting to measures that would adversely affect reliability.
Costello considered the alternatives and decided that the best answer was to install the BOP 215 3.5-liter V8 that was used in a variety of Rover models – introduced to the UK in 1967 – into an improved MGB to create a car that was faster than most contemporary E-Types and 911s and carried a 140 mph top speed.
Early cars used the BOP 215 to P6 specification with twin SU carburetors, fiberglass bulged hood and a distinctive egg crate grill. Braking and suspension upgrades completed the package and the engineering and finish work were completed to better than factory standards. Conversions were performed to both roadster and GT models with the majority of conversions made to the more expensive coupe.
BMC’s introduction of its own V8 model – two years after introduction of the Costello – proved the death knell for the bespoke MGB Costello V8 since it was more expensive to purchase than the factory built car. Costello modified approximately 225 cars between 1970 and 1974. Today, a high number of survivors remain and are highly sought after collectibles that usually demand higher prices than their factory built counterparts.
By Johnny Oversteer
Images provided by Sussex Sports Cars.