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MGR V8 Published: 6th Mar 2015 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!


What The Experts Say...

The last time we spoke to specialist David Gerald TVR, Mike Luck was pondering on the idea of converting Chimaeras to LHD to meet demand. This never materialised although he believes that a market will develop for refurbished and restored Chimaeras around the £35-40K mark as their values rise – but that’s some way off yet. Mike feels that Chimaeras are basically good bets so long as you get an original example (which are becoming scarcer) and watch for outrigger rust that demands a body-off examination and expensive repairs.

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Two cars with one objective – to make a modern austin-healey

Similar Yet Vastly Different

Or chalk and cheese because these cars are a bit of both. Their similarity stems from the fact that they are both new takes on contemporary models. In the case of the TVR, the Chimaera is Griffith-derived but ‘softened’ somewhat to appeal to a wider buying base.

In the case of the MGR V8, Austin Rover brought the old MGB back to life 12 years after ARG killed it. But at least it returned with a bang, boasting the type of suspension set up even the old MGB deserved decades previously.

The other common fact or is the engine used, being that stalwart Rover V8 – what else? In the MGR, it’s a 3.9-litre Range Rover unit albeit suitably tuned, ironically by TVR, to 190bhp.

This 3.9 engine is also found in the Chimaera but as a 240bhp entry level choice with 4.3 and 5-litre options also offered. Both use slick five-speed gearboxes. At first they shared the Austin Rover design but TVR ditched this in 1994 for a tougher Borg Warner instrument.

We’ve touched on the oily bits but for many the buying choice may already have been decided by their looks and character. The TVR is a beefy, brutal blokey-looking beast that gets you noticed, for right and wrong reasons, where as the MG, despite its radical facelift, remains very much a B and quite a nice looking one too. The same goes for the interior where the MG remains traditional as well as luxurious care of its wood and leather, all giving the MG a touch of the Bentley about it. In contrast, the Chimaera’s cockpit is racer like, designed with the driver in mind with not a hint of retro about it.

In the end it comes down to what you expect or want from a modern Healey substitute. The MGR V8 is a pretty successful pastiche that will appeal to many but you get the impression that the Chimaera is more what [father and son] Healey would have designed themselves, after playing it safe with the Jensen-Healey.

Touring or Track?

Without doubt, the TVR is the more focused and hard core of the pair and designed for driving in mind where in contrast, the MGR V8 is a compromise. This is not to say that the MG can’t become a useful track car because, suitably modified, it can be. Similarly the Chimaera is a sports car that you’ll enjoy rather than endure when you’re in a more relaxed mode. That said, the TVR is always the sharper, swifter machine, aimed at the harder core enthusiast because it was designed that way from the outset.

The main problem with the MGR V8, according to experts, was caused in its typical Austin Rover penny-pinching attitude after getting the fundamentals right. In this case it’s the standard damping which negates all the relative sophistication MG engineers incorporated in the chassis (and not before time-ed). Koni or Krypton-filled Spax types are the solution along with polybushing and braided brake lines to firm up the middle pedal say RV8 experts.

In terms of pace, the similar-powered TVR edges it care of an additional 50bhp but with a sprint to sixty in under seven seconds and well over 130mph top whack, the MG no slouch either and probably fast enough for most owners, especially as it dishes out 234lbft of torque for easy overtaking. The Chimaera feels much more alert and is supercar quick in 280bhp 4.3 guise, making the full fat 5-litre a bit of an overkill in our eyes.

Apart from better handling, that’s surprisingly user-friendly if treated with due respect, the Chimaera scores further with its power steering needing just 2.2 turns lock-to-lock. Most examples were fitted with it before being made standard on later models and it’s well worth having.

The MG is manual labour and so quite heavy work but an electric conversion can be fitted although it costs around £2000 from RV8 expert Clive Wheatley, for example.

Apart from a plusher look and fittings, the MGR’s cabin will be familiar to any MGB owner and liked because of that alone, despite wind noise levels which have barely improved since the 1960s. The Chimaera impresses with its cabin ergonomics (if not quality) and ride comfort; in terms of touring space there’s little in it and both are more than adequate for two on a trip where, a slower pace in both cars, can return around 25mpg; not bad for a tuned V8.

MG Best, But TVR Fast Improving

Despite TVR, as we knew it, going to the wall, owning and running a Chimaera hasn’t become a problem. There’s plenty of independents around while a new online partnership with TVR Parts – – will help secure a continued source of spares for both classics and contemporary models.

Apart from parts supply, there’s special technical assistance for repairs and knowledge, it is claimed.

The problem with many Chimaeras is hidden rust that can only be accessed by removing the body; specialists say rectification is extremely expensive and to rebuild one will take their prices well out of the budgets owners are currently prepared to spend, which is around £10,000 for a typical example.

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