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MG RV8 (1993 - 1995)

Last updated 27 November 2018


Model Timeline

August 1989
Project Adder instigated

Work on a new MG sports car was a running theme within Austin Rover and the Rover from 1984 onwards. The success of the MG M models had kept the flame of the Octagon alive, but what people wanted – and what market researchers repeatedly told the company was that the public wanted – was a roadster. The first proper attempt at a new MG following on from a series of new Midgets in the mid-1980s, was a larger, 3.9-litre front-engined roadster, denoted the DR2/PR5.

Following the sale of Rover to BAe in 1988 – and the resulting calmer financial climate that ensued – management’s attitudes towards the new MG began to soften. The launch of the Mazda Miata (MX5) in 1989 proved to be the decisive event that upped Rover’s commitment to producing and launching a new car – and by 1990, Rover had committed its resources to the PR3 project that would eventually be launched as the MGF.

Management, however, were caught with a problem: even though PR3 was an evolution of ongoing projects, its development cycle would still amount to at least four years’ worth of hard work (scheduled for a 1994/1995 introduction) – and the public were clamouring for a new MG rather sooner than that. That is where Project Adder came into the equation:

December 1989
Work begins on Project Adder by Rover Special Products

Project Adder came about in the closing months of 1989, when following the successful re-introduction of the MGB bodyshell by British Motor Heritage, the idea was floated of building new cars using this shell as a starting point. Into 1990 and the idea rapidly began to gain momentum once the management had given the project its blessing, following further positive market research. The formation of Rover Special Products in early 1990 facilitated the 'new' MGB’s development without compromising concurrent Rover saloon car projects.

The brief was clear – build a new MGB using as many in-house parts as possible and keeping within a budget of just £5 million.

As a result, the Heritage shell needed no structural modification – and the choice of engine was clear: after the DR2/PR5 concept was dropped in favour of PR3, it was decided sensibly that a similarly-powered MGB would use its engine (the 3.9-litre version of the Rover V8 engine) and occupy the DR2/PR5′s intended market slot.

And so it was: the Heritage shell was used, but new front and rear wings were fashioned a) to accomodate wider 1990s rubber and b) to give the car an appealing, curvaceous, wasp-waisted style. The new panels were produced by Abbey Panels and matched the overall high level of quality attained with the Heritage shell.

The new car was named the RV8 to denote its Rover engine – the “B” was dropped in order to appeal to new-age fans as well as the traditional MGB enthusiast.

October 1992
MG RV8 first shown at the British Motor Show

MG RV8 at launch; it proved something of a hit in Japan.

MG RV8 at launch; it proved something of a hit in Japan.

Launched at the British Motor Show in 1992, the MG RV8 marked the welcome return of the MG roadster. It did not prove to be the sales success in the UK that the company had hoped for, however. The barrier to sales in the UK could be put down to two factors:

  • 1) its high purchase price, coupled with the fact that 1992 marked a recession in the UK and
  • 2) TVR – the company produced cheaper, faster, more focused sports cars powered by the same engine.
May 1995
MG RV8 production ceased

Japan proved to to be a successful market during the recession, though, and of the 1983 RV8s made, 1581 were sold out there. Many have subsequently come back home to the UK to add to the 311 already sold here.

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