This was an overdue revival, for the last MGBs had been built in 1980. But when the Rover Group noted the growing popularity of small roadsters in the early 1990s — following the lead set by the Mazda MX-5 — the company created an updated version of the MGB roadster, fitted the big 4 litre Rover V8 engine, added a limited-slip differential and designated the old-new model as the MG RV8.
This was a very special sports car in the traditional British style, which had a dual objective — to revive the hallowed MG name and remind the buying public that the MGB had been the best-selling sports car of all time. The body was a curvaceous and exceptionally attractive reworking of the MGB body (described at the time as resembling an MGB on steroids). The engine was fuel-injected and teamed with a five-speed manual gearbox, whilst suspension and handling were updated (though not to the most modern of standards).
The handcrafted interior of this expensive two-seater was superb, featuring burr-elm dashboard, door cappings and centre console. This exclusive look was complemented by the finest Connolly leather and thick pile carpeting, with the overall effect being one of refined luxury. The woven hood may easily be raised and lowered by one person and folds neatly behind the seats. If this super sports car does have a fault, it’s the fact that it fails the golf bag test — the boot is small and mainly occupied by the large spare wheel.
Despite being written off as old-fashioned by many motoring writers, the MG RV8 enjoyed considerable popularity among well-heeled MG enthusiasts, and won the time Rover needed to develop and launch the successful MGF. With demand for RV8s exceeding limited supply, these modern-day classics are ultra-desirable and still offer an exhilarating drive.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1993 (until 1995)
3,947 cc V8
Top speed of 135 mph (217 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 5.9 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Ironically, as the MG RV8 had been inspired by the Mazda MX-5’s success, a large proportion of the 2,000 RV8s built over the three-year production run were exported to Japan, then in the middle of a love affair with British luxury goods.