Lawrence Wood - 3900cc Mk I GT.

ACK 717K was initially converted to racing specs in 2003 but sat idle after 2004 until Lawrence commissioned a rebuild in 2012 by John Heffer and Paul Nash. Lawrence has successfully campaigned the Costello in the Thoroughbred Sportscar and BCV8 Championships (both MGCC), successfully taking three second-in-class places in 2014 and one second in 2013. He held pole position at Silverstone MG90 in 2014, but narrowly lost out to the eventual champion in a factory V8.

Purchased from Garry Heath, this GT started life as an Abingdon-built 1800cc MGB GT in April 1971. It was sold by the dealer John C. Beadle in Dartford to the first of two owners based in Sittingbourne. Sometime between then and 1974, it had the full Costello treatment. Garry believes this was done in 1973 as he received it with a Buick rather than a Rover engine, but it still had the power bulge bonnet, the egg box grille and the uprated suspension.

In 1985, Philip Rodley purchased the car from its second owner in a partly disassembled state. He decided to rebuild it as a concours example. Philip retrieved it as a rolling shell and put it in his garage, intending to finish the project himself. Some 17 years later, when the car had still not turned a wheel, it was put up for sale. Garry then 'inherited' the car almost as a 'barn find'. Since September 2003, the car has been completely stripped and rebuilt as a race car. Garry liked the idea of creating retro history, 33 years after he says the first Costello should have taken to the track.

In the late 1960s and '70s MGs (particularly MGCs) raced for class wins at Le Mans and other endurance events. This GT draws heavily on the works cars of the period which, like ACK 717K, were all finished in Tartan Red with white valances and white hard tops. The car now drives off a stronger 3900cc ex-Discovery unit, which has been race-built and delivers over 250 BHP.

The gearbox inherited with the car was as originally converted - basically an MGB box with MGC and other internal components. The car now races with a T5 Borg Warner TREMEC unit.

Lambiek Engelaar - Katwijk, Netherlands. 1967 3500cc Mk I GT.

Ken clearly remembers this car as one of his creations, probably from the late seventies, partly because it almost became a fixture at his home. The vehicle was based on a 1967 GT, using a Buick-derived 3.5 litre V8 equipped with a Holley 2300 2-barrel carburettor. Years later, it had been brought in for major repairs after being driven over a culvert at such speed that it distorted both the front cross-member and the bodyshell, but the owner never came back for it. It was, quite literally, clogging up the works and had to be moved. So, for nearly seven years it lay deteriorating on Ken's back lawn and he actually had to mow the grass around it. As far as he can remember, there was some money owing on it but he was never able to trace the missing owner.

Jos Jurriens, from Holland, had become aware of the existence of the car and made repeated, though modest offers for it as the basis of a reborn Costello. Rather than see it rot away, Ken eventually relented, so in 1997 the car was sold for a song, as seen, and with minimal paperwork. It was shipped back to Holland and then lay virtually untouched until 2007 when it was finally determined that the body was beyond economic repair and that the car would have to be re-shelled - a common practice in MGB circles. It was decided not to use a Heritage shell and a sound, Blaze Red 1976 GT - registration number PJA801R - was duly purchased and all the Costello parts carefully transferred as per the original. It therefore has all the usual Costello hallmarks; the Mike the Pipe exhausts, the V8 to MGB bell-housing and the disabled overdrive in top gear, the 3.07:1 final drive ratio and the Mk I Costello badge on the rear. It was then re-registered on Dutch plates and now carries the number GHD5413959G and a shiny new coat of paint in British Racing Green.

Lambiek Engelaar says he was recently lucky enough to be able to purchase the car, having previously been encouraged to drive his first road rally in it. Since then he's done a few more: "Nothing big though, no podium finishes, just some great days and weekends outdoors, during which it has seen plenty of rough roads and handled impressively well". He suspects that the engine has undergone some performance modifications: "Because it's a more aggressive drive than a factory V8. The Costello just wants to go, and go there fast", and, he adds: "It has made a deep impression on me which will likely last a lifetime".

Lothar Taverne - Vienna, Austria. Mk II GT.

A friend had seen a V8 Costello at the 1975 Earls Court Motor Show and enthusiastically told Lothar all about it. On a subsequent visit to London, he arranged a test drive with Ken which involved a memorable dash down Park Lane in a mildly tuned, bright red GT. He was instantly smitten and placed an order more or less on the spot.

He took delivery of his white, rubber bumper GT in August 1976, some six months after it had left the Abingdon factory as a four cylinder car. It was probably one of the last Mk II Costellos to be built. Lothar had specified lowered suspension, negative camber front wishbones, four-piston front calipers and AP vented discs, extra cooling vents in the bonnet and front wings, and uprated anti roll bars front and rear. See Ken Costello and Lothar examining the car in the photo above (and in the Gallery).

The car came equipped with Revolution 5-spoke wheels and standard 160 bhp P6 engine - soon upgraded to around 200bhp with gas-flowed heads, a Crane fast road camshaft and revised SU carburetion. Then came an Offenhauser inlet manifold carrying an opposed pair of Weber 40DCOEs which raised the output to around 230bhp. Lothar thinks this induction set-up was similar to that used on some contemporary racing TR8s.

However, this was not enough for the power-hungry Lothar, whose final engine upgrade involved fitting a Huffaker 360 inlet manifold/Holley carburettor combination, a more radical camshaft and further modifications to the cylinder heads. The result - a gratifying 290 bhp. The MG gearbox was then of necessity replaced with a 5-speed SD1 unit, an additional fuel tank was installed in place of the spare wheel, and the Revolution wheels were changed to split-rim 8 x 15" Compomotives under widened arches and shod with a succession of performance tyres from Avon, Yokohama and Dunlop.

Ex-Benjamin Mullaert - Brussels, Belgium. Mk II Roadster (SOLD late 2013)

Benjamin purchased this Costello from local classic car specialist Bernard Marreyt. It had previously belonged to another of his customers, Guy Verhofstadt, the former Belgian Prime minister and inveterate car buff. It is a smart-looking, dark blue 1976 LHD rubber bumper model, converted to chrome bumper specification - minus the bumpers. Mr. Verhofstadt had done a great deal of work on the car before deciding to part exchange it for a 1953 Lancia Aurelia, largely because the Lancia is eligible to enter the Mille Miglia, which would enable him to realise a long held ambition. The Costello had been used as both a road and race car, but has now had its roll cage removed to make it more civilised in everyday use. Bernard says "it performs impressively well".

It seems that it actually began life as a red 1978 RHD Costello Mk II GT which was exported as an MOT failure to Belgium where it was rebuilt, to Ken's specifications, into the modified shell of a later model, four-cylinder, US specification MGB. As Ken remembers it, the 'donor' GT was mechanically sound, but had failed that MOT test due to a terminal attack of tin worm.

This re-born V8 roadster certainly has the usual Costello hallmarks - twin SUs on a low profile manifold (but with pancake air cleaners) Mike The Pipe style fabricated exhaust manifolds and reshaped inner wings, the MGB 4-speed gearbox with modified overdrive, the optional Minilites - almost everything except the badge, which was apparently not transferred from the original vehicle. Sensibly, the engine now uses a revised front pulley arrangement and the standard '76 radiator expansion tank rather than the rust-prone original. It has also been equipped with MG-style rocker covers and a Mallory distributor. Mr Verhofstadt had bought the car as the genuine article in September 2008.

The Costello Cars

Listed in this section are Costellos which have taken part in domestic competition, either in series racing, hill-climbing, sprinting, trials, auto-tests and even drag racing.

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John Kemp - Adelaide, Australia. 3500cc Mk I GT.

Following exhaustive research last year, it was apparent that this car was the only Costello in Australia. None of the local owners' clubs there are aware of any others, and though they did point out a number of other V8-engined MGBs, they turned out not to be genuine Costellos. But in Summer 2009 real one pops up out of the blue - and in Adelaide too! (See Restorations)

John's smart blue GT is popular amongst the MG fraternity in South Australia, particularly around Adelaide. He competes with it very successfully in hillclimb events from time to time, as some of his photos show. The car is a 1971 Mk I model, purchased in 1981, which means John has owned it for more than half his life! He had coveted a Costello ever since reading an admiring article in Australia's Sports Car World magazine as a teenager back in 1972.

His example still has its original 3.5 P6 litre motor on twin SU carburettors and obviously runs very well indeed. John has owned five MGBs and still has three - including a full-house 4.8 litre racer with which he won his class in the Australian hill climb championships - but the Costello is without doubt his all-time favourite.

Stuart Simons - West London, UK. 3500cc Mk I GT (SOLD! April 2014)

Alan has owned this impressive-looking silver GT for some 4 years. He was actually looking for an E-type Jaguar, but his son found this MG for sale on Former Glory's website. So, having remembered the Costello story, he went along more out of curiosity than a desire to buy it. However, Alan liked what he saw, and following a quick spin, he snapped up the car there and then. The sound of the engine with its Typhoon fast-road cam and throaty exhaust had him totally smitten - and still gives him a huge buzz every time he drives it.

As purchased, it was equipped with the rear facing side draft Weber, making this car a Mk II Costello. However, it now breathes through a 4-barrel downdraft Weber 500. In 2009, Alan fitted a modified, reconditioned 3500cc engine - built for him by a friend who races his much-modified factory car.

Unfortunately, the paperwork was lost at some time, but the car has all the right Costello signs such as the original Weber, the modified MG gearbox and the strange header tank - which rusted out. Alan had a new one fabricated by a very good radiator specialist in Middlesex (so did I! LW). The car also has the correct final drive ratio, the right conversion plate for the gearbox, and the tell-tale Costello badge on the back.

Alan's car now wears one of the recently re-fabricated, laser-cut eggbox grilles and updated Costello badging on its flanks. With its stuck-on bonnet registration number and deep front spoiler, Alan's GT manages to look both smart and aggressive simultaneously.

Neils Jorgensen - Denmark. Fuel-injected Mk III Roadster.

Neils heard about the mgcostello website after Lawrence had contacted the Chairman of the Danish MG Car Club. He has owned his Costello V8 since 1998, having then bought it directly from Ken Costello himself.

In the early 1990's, Ken started production of MGB V8 EFI models (the Costello Mk III) making about ten in all. Neils' car is number two of those ten, made in 1991 (see the Technical section for photographs of similar engine bays). This particular car was exported to the USA to be sold there, converted to LHD, but it later returned to the UK, which is where Neils purchased it. There is one further Costello in Denmark, a RHD roadster purchased in the USA. More photos of Neils' car are available at www.tvr-mg.dk

Michel Lorielle - Southern France.

Michel was a founder of the MG Club of France, but to date is proving to be a little elusive. Consequently, not much is currently known about his car, but we do at least know it was an original Costello, exported to France in the late 1970s. It is now a heavily modified, Sebring-bodied road-racer as the pictures shows. There are more images of this car in the Gallery.