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Restoration Projects

Browse the collection of GT and Roadster restoration projects below to learn more about the various projects being undertaken. In time, all of them will eventually be up and running and back on the road where they belong.

Owners are encouraged to submit updates and photographs to the site, detailing progress on their projects. Contributors may then learn from each other and can also participate in technical discussions on the Forum.

Michael Morris - Northamptonshire, UK. 3500cc Mk II GT.

Michael's green GT has been in dry storage since the mid 1980's and a full restoration is planned. Today it is more or less in one piece - in a loft, and as you can see, under rather a lot of dust!

Some 20 years ago, Michael and his friends all lived near Silverstone and were car fanatics to a man - spending a good number of weekends racing and marshalling in the 'good old days', as Michael calls them. His youthful ambition was to own a high performance car.

Eventually, he was faced with the choice of buying either a Ferrari or a Costello, both second-hand in about 1976, but his father 'requested' that he buy the MG because he didn't think he could afford the maintenance on the Ferrari! This example of Maranello's best then needed a new clutch and some suspension components. However, as he was friendly with the people who made Ferrari clutches, Michael later argued (fruitlessly and unconvincingly) that he could have afforded to run the Ferrari anyway.

So the Costello it was, and it was regularly used both as a road and race car until the mid 80s. In this dual role, it undoubtedly coped better than the Ferrari would have done. Thanks to Michael's son Jonathan for providing the details. He is keen to see the car return to its former glory and to have a chance to drive to drive his Dad's Costello!

Phil Rule - Surrey, UK. 3900cc MkII GT.

Phil has owned his GT since 1985, having purchased it from John Trueman in Surbiton, Surrey. John had bought it new as an standard 1800cc MGB from HWM in Walton on Thames (now an Audi dealership) in October 1971. His very first drive in the car was from Walton to Ken Costello's workshop in Kent.

When Phil first saw the car, he was a local police officer in the Kingston / Surbiton area and as he drove past John's house one day happened to spot him washing the Costello on his driveway. Phil owned a regular BGT at the time, so stopped for a chat, telling John if he ever wanted to sell his Costello he would like first refusal. Three weeks later, John telephoned Phil offering him the car at an affordable price. Phil took up the offer that very afternoon.

He ran the car for 'four marvellous years', during which time he uprated the suspension and resprayed it red in preference to the original and rather lurid blaze orange colour. He drove to Le Mans for the 24hrs race and also over the Alps to Monza. Sadly, the engine blew most spectacularly whilst returning from the 1989 Willhire 24hrs race - though he was not racing himself - when a piston came out of the side of the block whilst he was tanking down the A11 at considerable speed. As a definite non-runner, the car was returned to his home and relegated to the garage - where, sadly, it has resided ever since.

Phil is now well into the restoration (November 2014).  The car has only covered 46000 miles from new, which is hardly surprising as it's not been used for 20 years.  Updates will be announced as progress is photographed.

Richard White - Wimbledon, UK. 3500cc Mk I GT.

At present Richard White's car is under wraps in the drive, as the photograph shows. He says that this is for the summer only as it is normally in the garage. At the moment he is otherwise occupied re-spraying his rather more prosaic everyday transport - a VW Type 2 Camper. The Costello should hopefully be back on the road later this year. It will soon wear a new coat of paint and will have had new sills and doors. The bonnet is now a standard MGB-type item, but the rest of the car appears more or less original.

As the black and white photo above shows, this was one of the very early cars on which Ken experimented with various bonnet designs. It is even earlier than Paula Summers' car. The air scoop bonnet was another one-off, fabricated in metal before Ken finally decided on the more familiar single bulge in glass fibre. Kelvin Brodie's archive photo, taken from 'A Tiger in MG's Clothing' (Sunday Times, July 25th 1971) clearly shows the additional projections added to clear the dashpots of the twin SUs on the original P6 inlet manifold.

Stefan Wagner - Frankfurt, Germany. 3500cc Mk I GT.

Stefan owns a 1972 Costello GT which is now based in Frankfurt. It was his dream to own one since shortly after buying first his car, an MGB Roadster. Motivated by this, he ordered some back issues of old motoring magazines, one featuring a story about four different MGBs - including a Costello. That's where he first really learned about Costello V8s and came to appreciate their rarity and desirability.

Some time later, he attended an exhibition for V8 cars in a local town. The show was devoted mainly to American metal, but there was this British racing green GT coupe standing there with a strange bulge on the bonnet - an MGB GT V8 Costello! Stefan enquired after the asking price (then 35,000 German Marks) but in those days this was far too much for him. Subsequently, the same car was seen driving around locally, having been re-sprayed 'cream orange' and fitted with Wolfrace alloy wheels, lowered suspension and Sebring front and back wings. Stefan was captivated by the sound of the big V8, and doubly determined to fulfil that dream.

Some 10 years later, whilst travelling to Hamburg on business, he saw an advert for an MGBGT Costello for sale in the classifieds of a classic car magazine. Amazingly, this turned out to be the same car he'd coveted ten years before, though by then it had been re-sprayed blue. Stefan was later successful in purchasing the car, for which he then paid 10k Euros, before putting it back on the road. Upon closer inspection, it was discovered that the tuned engine (producing some 200 bhp) had damaged the original MGB 4-speed gearbox. As it was then undriveable, the previous owner had already modified the transmission tunnel to create space for a 5-speed Triumph TR 7 (LT77) gearbox and put the engine with the 'new' gearbox back in place.

Stefan has now concentrated on refining the gearbox installation and ensuring all the running gear is working correctly. It has been quite a task. Welding has also been required on two wings and new doors and a boot lid are required. The Costello badge is still present, but now attached to the dashboard, and the bonnet bulge and the egg box grille identify the car as a Mk I.

Steve Wright - Solihull, UK. 3500cc Mk I GT.

Steve was aware of this 1972 GT lying unused in a neighbour's garage for some 10 years before actually seeing it. The neighbour was moving to live in France and Steve only realised that the car was a V8 some 3 days before France beckoned. Only on the odd occasion when his garage door was open was the GT partially revealed, covered by a sheet with only a chrome bumper visible. The neighbour had originally intended to take the car to France with him, but knowing of Steve's interest in cars, sold it to him as a non-runner the day before he moved, having been deterred by the high cost of transporting it across the Chanel. He had long since stopped using the car due to a running problem he couldn't cure, and then just lost interest. It was last on the road in 1990, though he had owned the car since 1982 up until Steve took it on in 2005.

A colleague told Steve that he thought this was a rare car, and recommended that he investigate its history. After obtaining a copy of the original log book from the DVLA, Steve discovered the Rover V8 engine installation was stamped as a Costello, as shown in amendments dated November 1973. The original owner of the car was a Mr. Eric Reynolds of Sutton Coldfield and it was under his ownership that it had become a Costello Mk I.

Hopefully the car will be on the road in late 2009. Steve has already rebuilt the engine and gearbox and has commenced work on the body, having purchased a replica eggbox grille. The car has the original P5/P6 Rover V8 engine, with fabricated exhaust manifolds and slightly modified block to clear a standard MGB starter motor. The photo shows the engine is now up and running on Steve's own test bench. More pictures are in the Gallery.

Judith Goertz - Fontainebleau, France. 3500cc Mk I GT.

Judith purchased this car from Dave Fitzpatrick in early 2009, subsequently taking it with her to her home near Fontainebleau in France. The car is Harvest Gold, and was supplied in 1971 and registered on November 2nd of that year. The delivery papers are with the car as it was supplied from Abingdon. The first owner was believed to be a director of Patrick Motors in Birmingham, with a second keeper in 1975, and Dave as the third owner.

Piranha contactless ignition was fitted in place of the normal points in the distributor, a glass fibre front spoiler had been fitted, and door mounted mirrors replaced the original wing mounted ones, but other than that, the car is original (to the best of Dave's knowledge).

Dave bought the car in 1978 with around 16k miles, and used it regularly until 1985, when it was taken off the road at 35k miles and garaged in favour of a motorbike and a larger family car. The engine had a full strip and rebuild, and a couple of body panels were replaced. It had been garaged since then, and was road legal, running, and driven into the garage when it was laid up.

When Judith acquired it, the car was cosmetically challenged, but otherwise in remarkably good condition considering its lack of use. She has now begun a full restoration having reallocated funds that had been split between two factory MGB V8s, a Triumph Spitfire, an old Mercedes and an even older BMW, an American Ford V8 van, an old jaguar XJ Coupe and some London Taxis!

The engine and gearbox are now in the process of being removed and the interior stripped down. Judith has her fingers crossed that the engine, having done very few miles since a rebuild, is not now seized, since it will not turn over. Putting the car on a ramp revealed a lot of rust which happily turned out to be superficial but that the exhaust system was completely rusted out. The braking system is going to require work too. In fact work is the key word in this project, before the car gets a full re-spray.

Guido Baldhoff - Germany. 3500cc Mk I GT

Original owner, Paula Summers and her story goes back a few years, to the time when she used the services of the late Trevor Taylor at his garages in Mitcham, Surrey (UK) to repair her '76 MGB roadster. Paula then purchased a second ('74) roadster as someone nearby wanted rid of it.

Trevor had a red Costello V8 in his garage that was a nut and bolt rebuild - possibly a US shell import - and he used to tell visitors to take a long hard look at this car, because 'it will be a long time before you see another one like it!' It had been in his garage for many years and for some reason the owner never came back for it, but Trevor carried on and had it 95% finished it before, sadly, he died. The owner of the garage (next door) took the V8 in part payment of rent owed on the garage. It was then left in a nearby undertakers' yard for a year or so in the open air.

Paula bought the red Costello after selling one of her roadsters. That was in November 2001, and it was in dry storage util June 2014 when Costello collector Peter Brodt accompanied Guido Baldhoff to the UK to begin its new ownership. The car now needs a little work to get it on the road, but is in otherwise mint condition, believed to have only done 1.8 miles (yes, just under 2 miles!) since Trevor test drove it.

The double-bubble bonnet (seen in the picture, left) was actually a one-off whilst Ken and his colleagues experimented with different clearances for the carburettors, before finally settling on the distinctive single bulge of the Mk I, twin SU version. Paula's car could well be the finest example of an original Costello remaining anywhere - apart from the non-original Cosmic wheels. She replaced the missing eggbox grill with one of our approved replicas. Guido now plans to perform some fettling and have the car back on the road by September 2014. We look forward to seeing the pictures of it then!

Peter Brodt - Frankfurt, Germany. 3500cc Mk I Roadster.

The rebuild of this ex-Peter Roscoe car is progressing well (June 2014). All welding is now complete, and the transmission tunnel lifted in order to fit an LT77 ‘box. Most of the parts have been painted (doors, front fenders, front valance, bonnet and boot lid) with the body due for completion late June. Both axles are finished and are ready to be installed. The car will be converted to left hand drive so there is only the problem with the double jointed steering column. Peter has a very good mechanic and welder so hopes to solve this problem when it arises.

Meanwhile, Nigel Bryant, a previous owner of this car (and pictured above with his steed) has been in touch with mgcostello.com and relates the following interesting history on this car. In his own words:

Back in 1997, my Land-Rover Defender was stolen from my forecourt and, fancying a complete change, I decided to re-invest the insurance compensation in a V8 MGB. In March, I found a black Costello Roadster advertised privately by a man called Jim Garman, who lived just off the King's Road in Chelsea. I seem to recall that he was a mining engineer and he had to move abroad, so he was keen to sell the car. Even in those days, I realised this was a rare model and should be a good investment, so I got a National coach up to London to inspect it.

It was street-parked but looked impressive with its roll-cage and full harnesses, although the bonnet was damaged where it had recently come undone and smashed back against the windscreen. Hopelessly smitten, and hence blind to any other shortcomings, I haggled Jim down considerably to £7,250 and collected the car a few weeks later. It was a 'bit of an animal' and not the easiest car to get accustomed to, especially amidst congested London rush-hour traffic, but it got me home to Poole OK.

Dawn revealed a few oil leaks and various other flaws, but the main priority was to get the bonnet fixed. I was given details of someone that seemed keen and able to do the job promptly, so I dropped the bonnet off at his workshop, whilst I attended to the other small repairs on the car.

Countless enquiries about progress were met with increasingly unbelievable excuses as to why the bonnet wasn't ready. At one point, the original fibre-glass bonnet was deemed too badly damaged to fix, so I bought a used metal one so that the bulge could be transferred to that (fifteen years later, I still have the metal I cut out!), only for the plans to change yet again, back to fixing the original - but with no actual result.

Whilst the car was on the road, I arranged for an amateur-photographer friend to take some 'decent' photos of it. By chance, the day that we had booked coincided with the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, so, although it was a beautiful sunny day, the local Sandbanks beach was deserted and we managed to blag our way right onto the promenade, normally packed with people and definitely out of bounds—see pictures above.

I thought such a collectable car would be easy to sell, but in those 'pre-internet' days, that proved not to be the case. I even paid a fortune to display the car for sale at the renowned Beaulieu Autojumble, but still with no success. Some potential buyers pointed out (correctly) that the car had sagged whilst being re-silled sometime in the past, which explained the dodgy shut-lines, and the 'clonking' door closing. Eventually I was offered about £5500 (as I recall), and as I was desperate, I accepted. This was in Sept/Oct 1997.

I believe the car went somewhere locally, in Bournemouth, but I never saw or heard of the car again. Today, I checked the DVLA database and saw that the car was still around and on the road, but I have no idea where. Finding your excellent website, I felt compelled to fill in another missing part of the Costello jigsaw, even though I no longer own the car. Hopefully the current owner will contact you one day, and it is good to see that Costellos are being recognised for their part in motoring history.

Whilst I kick myself for not still having mine, as I see from your website that it is even rarer than I thought at the time, it's sale was unavoidable back then, and my experiences with it were almost exclusively expensive and frustrating. I can only hope that my 'new' old MGB V8 will prove cheaper and more enjoyable to run.

Ben Tovey - Wiltshire, UK. 3900cc Mk I GT.

Ben's 1972 GT has had its share of 'improvements' over its life (some of them not very good and due to be deleted, like the bungee rubber accelerator return spring shown above) but it is otherwise fairly intact, with its bulging bonnet, eggbox grille, and modified 4-speed gearbox.

Unfortunately, the last owner de-chromed and de-badged the car and the grille is much the worse for wear. Ben is about to begin the process of a careful restoration - installing a new replica grille, replacing floor pans, rear wings, valance and a few other bits and pieces and generally returning it to its former glory. It will be re-sprayed in its original colour, Teal Blue.

As for the mechanics, and because the engine isn't original anyway, he is currently building a 3.9 litre Rover-based V8 with stage 2 heads, a fast-road camshaft and a 4-barrel Weber 500cfm on an Edelbrock inlet manifold. The car already has telescopic dampers all round, but Ben will be having the springs re-rated and will fit polyurethane suspension bushes. Front brake callipers will be changed to SD1, which he has already sourced.

As you'll see in the technical section, Ben will also be replacing the car's (very tired) standard MGB gearbox with something more robust, and after a good deal of research, he has become a mine of information on the subject. At the moment, balancing efficacy with economy, he will probably use his second choice, the Rover R380.

Ben also competes alongside Lawrence Wood in the MG Car Club BCV8 and Thoroughbred Sportscars Championships held between April and October each year in the UK.

Roger Barker - Midlands, UK. 3500cc 1972 Mk I GT.

This car is currently undergoing some light restoration so we look forward to hearing more about it once it returns to its rightful place on the road. The picture above is copyright Andrew Roberts and was part of a suite of professional photographs taken in the grounds of Goodwood House a few years ago.

Mark Dew, Forrest of Dean, UK. 3500cc Mk I GT

Mark Dew is the proud possessor of "several hundred" classic cars in various states of repair located in various barns around the country. He couldn't resist the Costello he found in someone else's barn; JBB 5K is a red GT and according to the documentation, it was first registered - with a P6 specification V8 already installed by Ken Costello - in 1972. The previous owner - one of five - had owned and driven the car every day for ten years up until 2002, when overheating problems caused her to lay it up in the barn where, another ten years on, Mark caught sight of it. At first he thought it was a standard 1800, but closer inspection gave the lie to that. He was delighted to discover something rather special.

The owner, Helen Russen, had bought the car as a Costello without knowing much about it, other than that it was "a quick MG", which is exactly what she had wanted. Mark braved her dogs to knock on her front door and eventually persuaded her to part with the car a couple of months ago.

JBB 5K checks out as an original Costello and is a very complete example, with all the usual Costello signifiers, right down to the Costello badge and the standard Dunlop alloy wheels. However, it is now in need of a good deal of TLC, which Mark says it will duly get. He considers it a very lucky purchase and promises us some pictures in the near future.

Eddie Ives—Buckinghamshire, UK. 3500cc Mk I GT.

Eddie Ives purchased this MkI Costello GT in 1976 from a local MGB specialist. The vehicle was registered in December 1971 to a P.C. Girling from Kent, UK and sold by Kennings Ltd. of Bedford.

It was his pride and joy to own and drive but a gearbox failure in 1980 put the car off the road. Along with personal changes of circumstances Ediie never had the enthusiasm to begin a full restoration that was later required. Son Daniel however has recently reached driving age and has inspired Eddie to begin work once again on the Costello. From the pictures supplied to mgcostello.com all the hallmarks of one of Ken’s modified cars are there; the ‘manipulated’ inner wings and sump, oil reservoir/filter housing on inner wing, Costello badge, eggbox grille and teardrop fibreglass bonnet.

It has the lever arm dampers and rear leaf springs which have since started to "S" with the torque on the rear axle. Brake callipers are single piston with large pads. The gearbox does not have the commonly blocked-off overdrive in third so perhaps the first owner had it removed. Engine mountings are either Mini Cooper S, or Leyland 1800 and brake pads were Triumph 2.5 PI Saloon.

Eddie is now seeking advice on who to help him with the restoration. Please contact Lawrence is you have any recommendations. Mgcostello.com look forward to publishing further progress about the car’s recommissioning in the near future.

Pascal Mathieu—Brussels, Belgium. 3500cc Mk I GT.

DHK 418K was purchased for the previous owner's collection in 2004 and last MoT'd in 2008. It is fitted with a twin exhaust system rather than the stock single-pipe arrangement and has a lower-than-standard axle ratio (3.3:1 instead of 3.07:1). The car was pictured in 'Enjoying MG' in September 1983 edition while owned by Pearl and Derek McGlen. This car was originally one of the ‘Lost Costellos’ so mgcostello.com is very pleased to have it reappear and dusted off!

Pascal is a long term English car addict living in Belgium with a principal interest in the Jaguar XJS Lynx Eventer, for which he runs the global community website (www.lynxeventer.com). Amongst his many cars he owns a MGB GT factory V8 (no one’s perfect! - Lawrence).

Another Eventer owner bought DHK 418K via the recent June 2014 Bonham’s auction. It was delivered to Pascal’s Brussels workshop soon after. At first sight it appears the car needs a full rebuild but a complete report will be made for the owner before works begin. There is an option to strip the car completely to restore the original body - which is in poor condition - either using a donor MGB in sound condition, or rebuild the car using a ‘new’ heritage body shell. It will also be converted to left hand drive.

mgcostello.com has stated that it is always favourable to retain the original, modified, body and this maintains originality and value.

Pascal hopes to take part in the Eifel Gathering in September but probably not with a V8 MGB, for which he can be forgiven. More restoration news very soon…