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Model Covered: 2dr Roadster 3.9 petrol (some text hidden)
BY ANDY ENRIGHT
Introductionword count: 227
The MG RV8 is one of the stranger chapters in British motoring history. Just as we like to ponder how it would be if dinosaurs walked the earth today, a similar thought might have been running through the collective consciousness at Rover's Special Projects division in the early nineties. To be fair to these enthusiasts, they only had a shoestring budget and a keen sense of historical rectitude to work with, but it seems the fruit of their labours has become something of a forgotten venture. Powered by a hulking 3.9-litre V8 many saw the RV8 as the car the MGB would have become had it not been left to wither on the vine. Emerging on the heels of the MG Metro, Maestro and Montego, the RV8 would probably have been welcomed were it spectacularly inept due to the fact that it was a two-seater roadster with retro styling. That it was merely reasonably ill-sorted didn't deter those clamouring to put down a deposit at the Birmingham Motor Show in 1992. As a used purchase, the MG RV8 will certainly guarantee a degree of exclusivity as well as nodding appreciation from the sort of gentleman who smokes a pipe and calls the local bobby whenever they see a suspicious looking foreigner. If the automotive equivalent of Hugh Laurie is your thing, the MG RV8 will certainly appeal.
Modelsword count: 6
Models Covered: 2dr Roadster 3.9 petrol
Historyword count: 198
Some time after the earth cooled, dinosaurs died out and the general public realised the MG Montego was not the way forward, a germ of an idea was hatched at Rover Special Projects based at the Gaydon test facility in Warwickshire. Heading up this nucleus of 30 or so engineers was a gentleman called Steve Schlemmer, a man with an eye on what was happening up the road at the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust. The sheer unmitigated awfulness of the MG Maestro had provoked much wringing of teeth and gnashing of hands at BMIHT and rather than merely petition their local MP, they decided to manufacture entire MGB body shells in Faringdon, thus keeping the MG dream alive. Recognising that they'd never have the systems in place to build an entire car, the fruits of BMIHT's labour were appropriated by Schlemmer and his 'Adder' (think parochial Cobra) team. Work started in 1990 and resulted in the car being offered for sale at the end of 1992 priced at a heady £26,000.To put this into perspective, a 4.0-litre TVR Griffith retailed for £24,802. Take up was slow, due in no small part to a decidedly lukewarm press reception.
What You Getword count: 257
The MG RV8 is little more than a beefed up MGB with a 3.9-litre engine and slightly less archaic suspension. Anybody expecting it to rival a TVR Griffith in the handling stakes is likely to end up pondering their error from the comfort of a bush, but taken as it was supposed to be enjoyed, namely as a grand touring 'sporting' car of the old tradition, the RV8 is a qualified success. The interior is well appointed with a nice blend of leather and wood, although taller drivers will find headroom limited. The styling is chunkily elegant, retaining the classic MGB lines with just enough of its own identity to ensure that it was never accused of being an unimaginative pastiche. The curves and bulges that accommodate that big V8 and the wider wheels and tyres are neatly integrated and the removal of the side quarterlight windows gives the car a clean profile when the hood is dropped. This is helped by the fact that the hood stows flat, a trick which some manufacturers (step forward Jaguar and Aston Martin) still haven't got to grips with today. One of the problems with developing on a shoestring is that ancillary parts need to be sourced from a number of manufacturers. It's a tribute to the guys at Rover that they managed to make Porsche 911 headlamps, the same CDO instruments seen in TVRs, Jaguar XJS door handles, column stalks from the Rover 800 and door mirrors and air vents from the Metro look complement each other so well.
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