However, Ken Costello proved otherwise and, to his credit, he took one of his own cars to the MG factory to show them how he’d done it. The MG management and engineering teams were impressed, and according to an article published in volume IV, issue 2 of the MG V-8 newsletter of August 1996, Costello was unfazed by the thought of a factory car appearing, saying: "I'll keep on building them because it will take you two years to get into production"!
Costello’s willingness to share his expertise, along with the quality of the conversion, prompted Charles Griffin, British Leyland’s Director of Engineering, to give the go ahead to buy a Costello-converted MGB V8 to enable them to reverse-engineer a production car of its own.
To this end, six standard 1800cc MGBs were pulled off the production line; half were right-hand-drive and half left-hand-drive. As 1972 MY vehicles, all were fitted with clear glass, hard plastic inner door pulls, navy blue vinyl seats with brushed nylon centre panels, and the ‘tapered slot’ steering wheel that was only fitted between August 1972 and June 1973.
The car we are offering here is number 96, the fourth prototype example built, the first to use the chassis number prefix GD2D1, and one of the three original right-hand-drive models. The fate of one of the RHD development cars is unknown and as the other now lives in Australia the example we are offering here is the only one in the Northern hemisphere, so we expect it to draw a lot of interest.
After being used extensively for pre-production development and testing (including a high-speed run through France in the hands of Alec Hounslow and Mike Hearn during which it hit 138mph) it was kept at the factory and used for back-to-back testing against the first of the rubber-bumpered MGBs at places like MIRA. It is also said to still hold the unofficial factory record for posting the fastest time between Longbridge and Cowley, which probably isn’t something you’ll find in any official history of the company…
The vehicle was eventually released for sale to the general public after four grueling years, at which point it was snapped up Norman Ward, the son of Robert Ward, MG Cars’ plant director at the time. He bought the car on the 28th April 1976 for £875 - and then kept it for the next 32 years
The car was then sold to its second owner, a lifelong MG enthusiast who researched and documented the car’s history for the first time. It is thanks to his hard work and dedication that we are able to present such a comprehensive history!
See listing on themarket. co. uk for full details and lots more pictures.
Price is an estimate, for sale by online auction on The Market, ending Wednesday 4th October
See- details above details belowa998?status=live or click 'Visit Our Website' link above for over 500 photos, documents and videos about the car.
Vehicle can be viewed in with us in Abingdon, South Oxfordshire. Please contact us for more information or view the full listing at themarket. co. uk
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