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MG RV8 Published: 17th Nov 2017 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

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Forget tuning the MGB… grab yourself the Queen B that gives the best of both worlds!

Why you may fancy one

After the disappointing and somewhat lacklustre six-cylinder MGC of half a century ago, followed by the welcome, if half-baked and too little, too late MGB GTV8 of the early 70s, MG (or rather Austin Rover) finally got it right 25 years ago with its MGR V8 – even if it was a limited run special based upon a Heritage bodyshell.

However, this V8 roadster that MG enthusiasts had been craving and making at home (spurred along by V8 instigator Ken Costello, no doubt) was more than a reformed retro rethink, being an almost entirely new car thus creating the B with extra sting that it should have been too many years back.

Here at Classic Motoring, we see the RV8 as not simply a born again beefier B, but a quaint alternative to a Big Healey that’s faster and easier to drive – as well as a less extrovert rival to the TVR Chimaera (and dare we say more tasteful and classical?).

Yet strangely, an RV8 can cost no more to buy than a common worker B and are handsomely cheaper than a MGC, and BGT V8, as this pair become sought after yet it’s by far the best developed MGB of them all… Forget tuning the MGB…



1992 Short and sweet this section as the car, after years of development, was shown in late 1992, built early ’93 and bowed out by ’95 after 1982 were made with over 1500 going straight to Japan.

The headlamps came from a Porsche 911, no less! In fact, it’s claimed only five per cent of the RV8 was carried over from the old BGT V8; 20 per cent of the car used modified and re-tooled components, with the remaining 75 per cent of bits new. In other words, if you’re thinking of making an RV8 from an old MGB, just forget it!

The majority were green, with Woodcote the most popular (1269). Good old BRG found 205 takers. Oxford Blue accounts for 258 cars, ‘White gold’ 12, Nightfire Red 150 and Flame Red 16. The rarest is clothed in Old English White; just five were so painted – check crafty recent repaints!



With the RV8 being so bespoke, it’s easy to think that this model is all new. Don’t – because, despite being cleverly modernised, RV8s still feel like old MGBs in so many departments and this down to the simple fact that’s it’s a little more than an improved ’60’s car rather than a 1990’s one. For many though, this is all part of the car’s essential Morgan-like charm. Performance from the TVR tuned 3.9-litre Rover V8 is rarely found wanting and much faster than the old 137bhp GTV8 due to an extra 60bhp. A fivespeed transmission is far preferred to the old overdrive transmission, too.

Where the RV8 disappoints, say experts such as RV8 guru Clive Wheatley, is in the damping department where low rent Konis are specified by Austin Rover to save a few bob instead of the brand’s better designs.

With this corrected, and perhaps electric power steering (£1800 from Brown & Gammons) installed, then this thoroughly modernised MGB then wants for very little.

And that first class cabin. Decked in wood and leather, there’s a touch of old world Bentley about its ambience. MGB owners will feel familiar here although the age old wind excessive noise still exists but this only slightly sours the RV8 as a nice, civilised tourer so much more comfortable than any Big Healey or Morgan Plus8.



Prices are pretty much on par with MGBs and comfortably below MGC and BGT V8 values which equates to £25,000+ for one of the best and £15,000 for average-togood examples; Japan repatriations are valued a bit more due to standard air con although their condition can be poor. Beware of shabby cars for under ten grand as they can be a money pit to bring back into line. Happily, they don’t rust like old MGBs as the shells were dipped after the metal had already been zinc-coated.

Frustratingly, given their rarity (around 350 UK cars but the total tally is nearer 500 thanks to re-imports), it’s surprising how many are in a sorry state and some put this down to the fact that they cost more than a normal MGB which is catching a lot of enthusiasts out. RV8 is cared for by the V8 Register who supply an exhaustive amount of info and support, including a buying guide. Specialists supply all the parts plus tuning or customising add-ons.



The RV8 offers the best of both worlds. On the one hand, it’s still the MGB that we know and (mostly) love while on the other, it’s been made modern where it matters yet without diluting the car’s 55 year old character. As a cut price Big Healey or Plus 8 this modern antique is a real honey B. Just try one for yourself.


Five top faults

1. ORIGINALITY There were no official changes during the model’s short lifespan but there’s plenty of aftermarket stuff around, so it’s up for you to decide on their worth (such as engine and suspension mods). The original alloy wheels scarce.

2. RUST Because RV8 was built on Heritage shells that were then zinc dipped when new, they don’t rot as anything like as badly as old MGBs, save for windscreen surrounds (Wheatley has better replacements).

3. ENGINE Usual Rover V8 bugbear is put down to lack of use and irregular oil changes all leading lead to the gumming up of oil ways and as a result promoting camshaft wear. Watch for blown exhaust manifolds (common with all Rover V8s). Ditto their gaskets and looming head gasket failure.

4. TRANSMISSION Hard life may lead to a short clutch one. The limited slip diff can play up while the early (Land Rover) LT77 gearbox is the most durable and cheapest to fix, compared to later R380 (do not conventionally tow a RV8 says V8 register as both gearboxes will be deprived of oil during such transportation and may well be damaged as a result).

5. RUNNING GEAR Steering is Land Rover Discovery; new, better dampers may already fitted? However remember that even the stock MG RV8 Koni designs are adjustable to suit personal driving tastes…

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