The RV8 was a new taste of the old a quarter of a century ago; fancy a trip back in time?

By Matt Bird / Monday, October 4, 2021 / Loading comments

The MG RV8 is a story of a good idea badly timed and poorly funded. The logic was sound and simple, as so many great plans are: a drop-top MG B V8, a car that hadn’t existed previously, devised by British Motor Heritage (Rover-owned at the time) when it was making shells for resto projects. The project was greenlit after the Mazda MX-5 achieved huge success early in its life, a model of course that harked back to the glory days of the small, simple British sports car. This would be a reincarnation of the B, only now with a V8. Super.

Trouble was the RV8 wasn’t so much a reincarnation as rejig; though only five per cent of parts were shared with the MG B (a car 30 years old even at launch of the RV8), which meant leaf springs and rear drum brakes. A development budget of just £5m meant the RV8 couldn’t hope to be as advanced as the opposition. Its issues were compounded by the arrival in the same year of the TVR Chimaera; powered by the same Rover V8 as the MG but with more power, independent suspension, four-wheel disc brakes and a much less olde-worlde look, the RV8’s commercial fate was sealed.

Just 1,983 were made between 1992 and 1995, with around 1,600 going to Japan – a welcome international lifeline for Rover. With around half of those cars now back in the UK thanks to a buoyant MG enthusiast scene, they’re the ones often found for sale at around £25k, more often than not in Woodcote Green – cars just like this one.

But this Woodcote Green RV8 isn’t a car brought back from Japan; it isn’t £25k, either. Having been the 1,969th car built, chassis 2219 was bought by MG Rover dealer Stephen Palmer in Long Eaton; they were so fond of the RV8 that it went straight into the collection, never even registered. There it remained until the dealership shut up shop in ’98, when it earned a logbook and was sold to Cornwall, where it remained until 2015 but only accrued 657 miles. From there it went to Dorset, where it only picked up another 271 miles, a remarkably short tally for such a long time.

Meaning that what’s on offer here is an MG RV8, first registered in 1998 and having covered less than 1,000 miles since – surely a unique example. Even the low mileage ones have passed 10k now by virtue of the fact they were all produced more than 25 years ago. And, well, there are probably worse ways to spend a sunny summer’s day than rumbling around in an RV8.

Being sold in as-new condition, right down to an original accessories brochure and the Works hardtop, the RV8 is surely destined for another life of sparing use. It wouldn’t be a surprise for it to head into a collection or even a museum; there isn’t going to be another one like this, even from Japan. The price? Though surely priceless to some advocates, the selling dealer wants £50k. Which would buy two of the slightly higher mileage cars, or three of those with an intergalactic 60k on the clock. Nostalgia trips seldom come cheap though, especially V8 powered ones…


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