1972 MGB GT Costello V8
The MGB was Abingdon's most successful sports car ever in terms of numbers sold. The only area where it could have been improved was the engine - 1800cc and 92bhp on a good day was not really enough to rival the Triumph TRs. The MGC tried to solve the problem by putting a 3 litre straight 6 in the front but it was really a bit too heavy and compromised the design.
London based tuner Ken Costello solved the problem by using a Rover V8 from the P6 saloons - 3½ litres of reliable lightweight power. He built examples by buying new MGBs (roadsters and GTs) from his local main agent and changing the engines. Many still survive and are rightly prized by those who realise that this is what the excellent bodyshell was crying out for. Costello used the saloon based V8, not the Range Rover unit used in the factory MGB GT V8; the latter had enough torque to go ploughing with, but was not really a sports car engine!
This car arrived as a stripped rolling bodyshell as the owner was doing the mechanical and trim work himself. The bodyshell had already had much work done and our job was to get it right. Here the rear panel and tailgate can be seen, showing the misalignment of the tailgate. We rectified this and also fitted new wings, doors, sill structures etc. - a typical panel renewal schedule for an MGB GT shell.
The car had a Webasto fabric sunroof that the owner was keen to retain. Here is the sunroof turned inside out - doesn't look too bad does it? However, when we unwrapped the white lining it became apparent that there was a lot of rot to deal with. Here the front rail of the sunroof is seen in all its flaky glory. We re-made this piece of wood with all the cutouts for the locking mechanism and the guide pieces. The main wooden frame inside the car's roof panel also needed renewal.
Then the bodyshell was painted in a vivid MG Red. The whole car was painted, including underneath the wheel arches, inside the cockpit and the engine bay - everywhere except underneath, which the owner wanted left black. The tailgate and sunroof now fit well. Here the sunroof is opened. The white headlining has to be fitted along with the sunroof as the two link together, so this was the only piece of trim we were asked to do.
The engine bay now looks glorious. Close inspection might lead you to think it is damaged around the lower bulkhead area - this was done intentionally by Ken Costello to gain clearance for the V8 engine and so we left it as is. The bonnet was the one major panel that Costello changed - he made his own out of fibreglass with a big power bulge to clear the twin SU carburettors. The factory V8s by contrast modified the manifolding so that the original MGB bonnet would fit - fine, except this strangled the performance yet further.
Costello's bonnet looks like the car means business. These genuine bonnets are as rare as rocking horse droppings so we took great care to strip and repair this one prior to painting. The car then went back to its owner to have the mechanical and trim parts fitted.