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MG MGB GT V8 Factory Originals Technical - Costello V8's

I am researching the cars that Ken Costello built and would appreciate if anyone has any details. I believe (courtesy of David Knowles MG V8 21 years on) his first car was built in 1969 and he subsequently built over 200 cars. This first car used an oldsmobile engine with better combustion chambers and so could have been one of the 300 motors. He then used the P6B engines complete with the pent-roof SU setup until Leyland refused to supply him whence he sourced Buick and Oldsmobile engines from Belgium and rebuilt them to put into his cars. I gather he also used a webber setup to lower the inlet arrangement and managed to do away with his bonnet bulge on the MKII cars. He has since I believe made injection plenims and gearboxes for V8's.
I am keen to find out details about any of his cars, (ie) if he used disc brakes on the rear, if at the front he ever used vented rotors or 4 spot calipers, and what carburation types were used on the engines, also with respect to suspension, did he ever use the coil over setups on the front or were any other rear axles ever used.
Adrian Akhurst

I can confirm the details of the plenums for injection as I assisted him with the firts EFi conversion he did. This was on a GT and featured a 4.3 litre conversion. The Plenum originally had an integral cast throttle housing extension which meant the directing of the throttle towards the top of the passenger footwell for RHD cars meant that it was unsuitable for LHD cars. later versions used a bolt on throttle housing that menat that the LHD cars could be catered for.

The gearboxes offered quite a few advantages but were never built in volume for a variety of resons. The design was I think very neat and the size designed to fit the MGB tunnel without the need for any mods as is the case for virtually all other options. The ratios were beutifully stacked and set for the V8, but the change quality on the early pre production example I have many miles behind was less than ideal. It did ease up with a couple of modifications and a few thousand miles.

Brakes on the above car were vented discs with Rover Vitesse 4 pot calipers. The master cylinder bore was increased from the 20.6mm to 22.2mm (The base car was a late rubber bumper car.) I can't remember the sorce of the discs but this may also have been from the Vitesse as I remember them as being smaller in diameter than the original MGB 10.75", which I thought was a 'Rob Peter to pay Paul' change.

The rear brakes were still drums although there was work underway on a rear disc conversion.

The car also featured a revised Ron Hopkinson coil over front conversion and rear set up. The actual fit of the front set up was modified slightly and the damper settings were altered from what were supplied in the kits. This did make a maked improvement as I had enough experience before and after these changes.

There were also a couple of other interesting features on this car, simple things like electric windows and others like special damper valves in the brake hydraulic lines to reduce tendency for wheel lock. I was never convinced about that one!

The car I refer to was a special GT built for a well known TV personality and is shown on page 103 of the book you refer too. The photo was taken on one of its shakedown stays with me. There is probably quite a few other details about this car as it was the first built by Ken for a number of years, and required a little pressure to do it. His gearbox was a higher priority.

The earlier 1970's conversions with the Weber 40 or 45 DCOE were termed Mk2 and did reputedly have a power advantage over the original set ups. I have an original brochure for these cars somewhere.

I think that the above will be of interest.

Roger Parker

I have just acquired a Costello V8, one of his early conversions dating from 1971. Compared with later cars, much seems standard MGBGT, i.e.brakes and suspension, although the car was fitted with the telescopic shock conversion 4 years ago. Front anti-roll bar is standard size. Engine is P6, with the characteristic bonnet bulge over the carb/air cleaner assembly. Gearbox is standard MGB with overdrive (on 3rd and 4th). Radiator and diff ratios are MGC. Car has Costello v8 badges on front grill and tailgate, the front grill being standard 1970 MGB, not the honeycomb Costello grill which I guess came out after this car was built.
Chris Ward

This thread was discussed between 19/11/1999 and 28/11/1999

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