A NEW APPROACH IN AN AGE OLD BUSINESS+44 (0) 1926 691 141
In the mid-1980s, the 'Group B' race category of the World Rally Championship inspired the wildest, most powerful rally cars ever built. The MG Metro 6R4 was born out of this short-lived turbocharged era and Austin Rover's optimistic thirst for motorsport success after the TR7 V8 and TR8 rally cars had hung up their competitive boots. The entire project was the brainchild of Austin Rover Motor Sport Chief, John Davenport, who decided to follow Audi's lead with their revolutionary permanent 4WD transmission and once the green light was given, collaborated with the best engineering brains in the land. Amongst others, Patrick Head and John Piper from Williams F1 were brought onboard as not only were Williams the best F1 team at the time, but they were also sponsored by the company.
In December 1982, the finished prototype was delivered to Cowley for in-house development to begin. However, it wasn't until 1984 that the 6R4 was introduced to the press in order to quell increasing speculation surrounding the project. Beneath its skin, the puny A-Series engine/front-wheel-drive package was replaced by a David Wood-designed 3-litre, 90-degree V6 positioned behind the front seats and driving all four wheels. Twin-cam cylinder heads, modelled on those of Cosworth's Formula 1 DFV V8 engine, ensured the 6R4 was a true giant killer.
The car appeared in two guises. There was a so-called 'Clubman' model, a road-going version developing approximately 250 bhp, of which around 200 were made and sold to the public, and a further 20 were taken and built to International 'Group B' specifications. However, in 1986 'Group B' rallying was scrapped after a series of fatalities involving spectators and just as the inevitable teething problems were being ironed out and the car was becoming competitive, the 6R4 was denied any chance of glory on an international stage.
This MG Metro 6R4 is probably the only unregistered, brand new, 'Group B' rally car in the world. With the odometer reading just seven miles and having never seen the rain, it has been 'dry cleaned' for its entire life and has remained in its delivery state, coated in factory wax, as collected from Abingdon in 1986 (photo on file). It was purchased by its first owner directly from the Austin Rover Group Ltd on 5th December 1986 as a kit with a full set of assembly instructions (also in the file) and transported to his home in Oxfordshire. Austin Rover's idea was to build the car as a 'ready to rally' car without Type Approval meaning that the Metro 6R4 had to be sold as a 'kit' on which owners were obliged to carry out a minor degree of final assembly prior to it being 'ready to rally'.
It lived out the next few years on stands at the family home until May 1996 when the late owner's widow contacted Kevin Wheatcroft at the Donnington Museum and offered the Metro on long-term loan to the Museum as she felt that it was better appreciated by an enthusiastic audience than sat in her garage. An agreement was reached with the Trustees and on the 17th September 1996 the little MG began the trip up the motorway to its new home.
There it was to remain until it was purchased by our vendor in 2002 when the mileage was five miles. The additional two miles has come about as he has run-up the engine and drivetrain on stands during the seventeen years in his care. As well as the Assembly Manual, the history file contains all of the purchase contract correspondence, letters from the original owner to Donington, and a number of photographs.
Whilst it would be quite possible to prepare the Metro for National Rallies or Rallycross and it, presumably, would be quite competitive with the other 6R4s, the essence of this car is obviously that it is effectively, out-of-the-box, brand new. As with anything saleable and desirable, the fewer there are, the value tends to escalate exponentially and if, as we believe, this is the only seven-mile 'Group B' rally car in the world, then you can form your own conclusions as to its likely future value.