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MGB GT V8 Published: 6th Apr 2017 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

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● V8 performance ● As easy to own as MGB ● Made as a GT only ● Aston-like character

It’s the MGB that enthusiasts yearned for, after racer Ken Costello showed how. The excellent Rover V8-power turned this GT into a cut-price Aston in terms of character and almost pace. Alas, too high a price for an ageing design, together with the infamous 1973 Energy Crisis and resultant soaring fuel bills meant that sales accounted for less than a third of MGC figures. With just 2600 made, their rarity has now seen values rocket, and justifiably so.


The press liked the BGT V8 although said that all the introduction of that engine did was to highlight the shortcomings of the ageing MGB. However, the ‘vintage’ feel that was so criticised when the car was new is appreciated as one of the car’s strongest suits. Effortless and smooth “So appealing is the BV8 package”, Motor wrote “that, when the failings start to show themselves, there is a sense of disappointment.” However the weekly concluded that, “As a poor man’s Aston Martin V8 the new MG has a charm and, with improvements, could even be a worthy alternative”.

Despite no automatic option, this is very much a two-gear car and the standard overdrive gives a lovely and long legged 28.5mph/1000rpm gait. Ironically, fear of poor economy that helped kill the car rarely manifested itself on the road as the V8s drank about the same as normal MGBs2.

You’d think that with the improved weight distribution, the V8 would handle better yet it still didn’t handle quite as predictably as the four-cylinder MGB; road tests at the time put this down to the stiff rear suspension and added ride height.

Best models

The vast majority were chrome bumper models, with only 750 the r/b style and officially no roadsters were made. However, survival rate is brilliant says the MG V8 register, with some 1900 around. Ken Costello carried on once the factory car was produced using the full fat 160bhp V8 as opposed to MG insisting on the lower 137bhp Range Rover tune although many have been uprated. Homespun conversions are plentiful but quality varies so take care here as even specialists say that the factory effort is the best developed of them all.


The price parity with normal MGBs couldn’t last for ever and, like the MG, there’s now clear water between them with the MGC fractionally ahead although it depends upon condition. Asking prices of up to £30,000 are becoming common and £20K for a good rather than exceptional car. Costellos can command slight premium if genuine (beware of fakes), depending upon their individual spec but DIY conversions (which many MGB specialists won’t touch) should be barely above normal MGB values.

Buying advice

The beauty of the B is that any part needed is available new, right down to brand new bodyshells, so nothing’s impossible.

Rust in the boot floor usually extends to the rear spring hangers and chassis legs underneath and repair is an involved job. Rot in the front bulkhead is not easy to repair properly, and over sills (look for poor seams where the ends tuck behind the wings) and plated castle rails (the U-shaped channel under the floor just inboard of the sills) are both bad news.

That classic V8 is long lasting if serviced right. Otherwise, watch for excessive tappet noise and sludging of oilways (a result of infrequent oil changes) as they are connected, furred-up waterways and worn bores.

The V8 used a modified and toughened up MGC gearbox with overdrive only working on top (although some cars sneaked through with it operating on third too, we’re told). Check for undue noise and sheer wear due to hard use. It is vital to use the correct 20/50 engine oil in the overdrive.

The MGB’s simple suspension set up coped pretty well with the lighter if faster V8 power and doesn’t generally give more problems over any MGB. Kingpins, unless they’re greased every 3000 miles, wear out with ease, and so it’s a common MGB watch point. The BGT V8 rode on special Dunlop rims which used alloy centres, so expect electrolytic rusting between the two surfaces. Bear in mind that if you need new rims, the sort fitted to the limited edition Jubilee MGB are the same. V8 expert Clive Wheatley can now offer new period replacements.


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