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MG RV8: buying guide and review (1992-1995)

MG RV8: buying guide and review (1992-1995) Classic and Performance Car
The RV8 came about thanks to Rover’s Heritage division, which had recently started to remanufacture MGB bodyshells. MG needed to get a roadster to market in a hurry, and reworking its classic model gave it an easy solution. Despite (or maybe because of) the RV8 being based on a 30-year old model, its classic status was assured from the day it was unveiled, and with a mere 1982 built between 1992 and 1995, the cars are now sought after – and they’re also more unusual than you might think.
Many dismiss the RV8 as little more than a B in a party frock, but the metamorphosis involved replacing 95 per cent of the body panels to give a much more muscular look. The 3.9-litre V8 was also a massive improvement over the B-Series of the MGB, and to improve handling there was a wider track (covered by flared wheelarches) and upgraded suspension. The interior was streets ahead with its standard wooden dashboard and leather seats, and while it may have looked olde worlde, it was perfectly in keeping with the MG’s role as quintessential British sportscar. 
However, while all of these updates were welcome, the RV8 still drives like a 1960s car. So don’t assume the RV8 is like a modern sportscar; it’s a brilliant cruiser thanks to that torquey V8 but it’ll never give Elise owners anything to worry about.
Which one to buy?
Although 1583 RV8s went to Japan, many of those examples have now come back to the UK, joining the 307 originally sold here. No RV8s were ever sold in the US, and with all examples featuring right-hand drive there’s usually a reasonable number of examples to choose from.
With all RV8s featuring the same basic spec (V8 power, five-speed manual gearbox) and just a handful of colours, on paper there’s little to separate one RV8 from another. However, while  RV8s aren’t all that numerous, you can still be choosy. Of the cars available at any one time, few will have covered a particularly high mileage and most will have been cherished. Cars originally sold in the UK, plus those finished in Nightfire Red or Oxford Blue, carry a premium of up to 10 per cent over a Woodcote Green car; the latter is by far the most common colour.
Performance and specs
Engine 3946cc, V8
Power 187bhp @ 4750rpm
Torque 231lb ft @ 3200rpm
Top speed 136mph
0-60mph 6.9sec
Fuel consumption 23mpg
Gearbox Five-speed manual
Dimensions and weight
Wheelbase 2330mm
Length 4010mm
Width 1694mm
Height 1320mm
Weight 1280kg
Common problems
• The bodywork corrodes only if it’s been pranged then poorly repaired. Bodyshells were electrophoretically dipped after the metal had been zinc-coated. The one exception is the steel windscreen surround, so look for deformed rubbers – a sign of corrosion underneath. Sometimes repairs are possible; if not, you’ll need a new surround. Steel or glassfibre items are available and while fitting them is involved, it is a DIY proposition.

• The 3.9-litre Rover V8 lasts 300,000 miles if looked after but wears much faster if neglected and/or thrashed. Low mileage cars aren’t always the best bet, as regular short trips often causes premature camshaft wear. If not serviced correctly, problems can occur afte just 30,000 miles. A slight tapping sound from the top end of the engine is the givaway. Annual oil changes are the key, using a decent semi-synthetic 10W/40 lubricant. Fully synthetic is too thin.

• Blown exhaust manifold gaskets aren’t rare, so lift the bonnet and listen for blowing from the manifolds. Any one of the four individual gaskets could have blown, and it’s usually best to change them all at the same time. 

• The stainless steel exhaust corrodes, while the tubular exhaust manifolds can fracture from the twisting of the block on its mountings. Sometimes the cracks can be welded up in situ – but not always.

• The correct anti-freeze must be used, kept up to strength and changed regularly. It’s wise to leave the car idling for a while to check the operation of the cooling system. If it has been neglected, the car’s radiator has probably become blocked due to internal corrosion. Also check the fins at the bottom of the radiator; they can rot, leading to leaks.

• A five speed manual transmission was the only option when new, although the orignal LT77 Land Rover ‘box (reverse next to fifth) was substituted early on for the later R380 unit (reverse below fifth). The older gearbox is slightly more agricultural, but is longer-lived and cheaper to rebuild.

• The rear axle can trace its roots back to the Leyland Sherpa van, ans it’s important to listen for any whining sounds. The unit incorperated a Quaife limited slip differential, whihch make a rebuild very expensive. 

• Adjustable Koni dampers were fitted as standard, and adjusting them to the stiffest setting improves the handling.

• The originals wheels were unique 15-inch items, so if you want an original-looking car then ensure they are in good condition. Similar-looking 17-inch units are available if you want a better selection of tyres.

• The interior woodwork can suffer from delaminated veneer. It may be preferable to restore than replace as it will be hard to match the wood, although restoration can also lead to a colour mismatch. Either way it’s best to speak to a specialist

• The leather seats become tired quite quickly, and the cream leather – fitted to all RV8s – looks bad when it is not kept clean.

• To avoid an unwanted bill, ensure that the hood is in decent shape, as replacements are costly. Although fundamentally the same as the MGB hood, it’s still a big job to do.
Model history
1992: RV8 introduced, based on MGB bodyshell but with extensive mechanical and bodywork revisions. Power comes from a 3.9-litre Rover V8 with all cars getting a five-speed manual gearbox. 
1995: Final RV8 produced; it’s number 1982 off the production line.
Key clubs and websites
• www.mgcc.co.uk - MG Car Club
• www.mgownersclub.co.uk - MG Owners Club and forum
• www.rimmerbros.co.uk - MG spares and parts
Summary and prices
The MG RV8 is a highly desirable machine, and values have always remained strong due to the limited production run. Finding a car in great condition is not a struggle, and you can pick up something very presentable from around £13,000-£16,500. The very best examples, with the most desirable trim options, might just push £20,000. At the other end of the spectrum, a rough and ready RV8 could possibly be secured for just £7500.
Words: Richard Dredge
Last updated: 26th Nov 2015
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  • Lot 252

    MG RV8

    £15,000 - £18,000 est. £15,000 - £18,000 est.
    Auction Date: 24 Mar 2018
    • Mileage: 83000 mi
    • Engine size: 3.9
    Auction Date: 24 Mar 2018
    £15,000 - £18,000 est. £15,000 - £18,000 est.
    Auction Date: 24 Mar 2018
    Classic Car Auctions
    +44 (0) 1926 640 888 View contact number
  • MG RV8

    £24,995 £24,995

    *SIMILAR QUALITY CARS ALWAYS REQUIRED* SOLD Thinking of selling? Our proven commission sale or SOR (Sale or Return) program is a great way to utilise and access our professional services and facilities while still maximising the return from your vehicle with minimal hassle, stress and time, If you’d like to take advantage of this then please get in touch for further information. Alternatively If you’d like to move your vehicle on quickly and efficiently with minimal delay then we can make an offer on an outright purchase basis with payment and collection arranged soon after. A time-honoured MG RV8 in splendid condition and just 15,285 miles MODEL HISTORY The MG RV8 was bought to fruition by Rover Special Projects team, a team of 30 planners, engineers and designers based at Gaydon, Rovers test track in Warwickshire. Headed by RSP Director, Steve Schlemmer, the project was called Adder in recognition of the Anglo-American Cobra of the 60s, their objective was to recreate the MGB as it would have been had it never left production. Launched at the British Motor Show in 1992, the MG RV8 marked the welcome return of the MG sports car and the famous octagonal badge. At a price of £26,500 when new just 1983 units were made of which 1581 were sold to Japan. EQUIPMENT Flared front and rear wings, moulded body coloured sills, laminated windscreen, halogen headlamps, analogue clock, voltmeter, intermittent wipe, twin horns, cigar lighter, lights-on buzzer, courtesy light delay, boot lamp, illuminated glovebox, remote boot release, rear tonneau, centre armrest, 3-speed heater fan. EXTERIOR An appealing, curvaceous, wasp-waisted style immediately recognisable to MG aficionados is finished in optional pearlescent Woodcote Green, (Code HPE) at a cost of £750 when new. A stunning deep gloss finish preserved by temperature controlled storage and preservation wax will amaze onlookers. The correct panels produced by Abbey Panels are virtually unmarked other than a touched in chip to the bonnet and two miniscule dings. The original factory fitted soft top made by Tickford is pristine and the rear screen perfectly clear. The rear tonneau is present. The famous octagonal MG badging is unmarked and all chrome brightwork has a mirror finish. A born classic. INTERIOR Lavishly trimmed in fine Connolly Stone Beige leather, (Code SMJ), with a ruched pattern and rich in Elm Burr veneer adorning the facia panel, centre console and door cappings the interior is pure luxury. A fine expression of MG traditional sporting appeal can be seen with a full set of VDO black-on-white working instruments and chrome interior door handles, roll top lid ashtray and handbrake release button. The original MG velour mats have protected the dark Stone Beige cut pile carpets and even the correct leather gear knob remains fitted often replaced with wooden items due premature wear. The correct Panasonic radio cassette player with the MG logo remains fitted. Beautifully traditional. ENGINE & TRANSMISSION The 3.9 litre V8 is extremely flexible with large reserves of torque and 190bhp giving effortless midrange overtaking. 0-60mph is despatched in 5.9 seconds and a top speed of 135mph is quoted. The engine bay is spotlessly clean and factory original with all markings, plates and stickers present. The V8 burble through the twin exhaust pipe is intoxicating. The robust Land Rover built 77mm 5-speed gearbox changes with reassuring precision and a progressive light clutch action. Delightful. WHEELS, TYRES & BRAKES Distinctive cast alloy 15x6J road wheels are unmarked and still retain the MG centre security caps. The Zender split rim bolts have no corrosion. Matching Pirelli P6000 205/65 R15 tyres have ample tread. Servo assisted ventilated front disc brakes with 4-piston callipers and rear drums do an impressive job of bringing the vehicle to a safe halt. HISTORY FILE The MG RV8 was always destined to become a classic with just 1983 units made reviving a golden history and celebrating thirty years after the birth of the legendary MGB. This pampered example spent six years with the only Japanese owner, Mr Akifumi Shimizu of Wakayama who purchased the car on the 21st September 1994. Upon the first sha-ken, (MOT), in 1997 the car had covered 4,448km and in December 1999 the car was purchased for export to the UK with 11,800km. At this point a brand new VDO in mph was installed and professionally fitted retaining the old unit for authenticity. Since arriving in the UK a further documented 7,785 miles have been covered with three former keepers and MG enthusiasts. A comprehensive collection of paperwork, old MOT certificates and point of sale material make fascinating reading. The previous keeper part exchanged this cherished vehicle with KGF Classic Cars in April 2014 whereupon the garage owners Father, Mr Fasulo, fell for the charm, immaculate condition and V8 burble and just had to have it! Now only available to make room for a classic Ferrari. MOT Oct 2017, HPI Clear. To see a video of this car please click on the link below: https://youtu.be/v4mjAsD5ZpI To see a full set of photographs of this car please click on the link below: https://flic.kr/s/aHskKhCbrZ 'Like us' or 'Follow us' for exciting new cars coming soon at KGF Classic Cars: https://www.facebook.com/KGFClassiccar https://twitter.com/KGFClassicCars

    • Year: 1994
    • Mileage: 15285 mi
    • Engine size: 3.9
    For sale
    £24,995 £24,995