A NEW APPROACH IN AN AGE OLD BUSINESS+44 (0) 1926 691 141
Estimate: £475,000 - £550,000
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In the early eighties, and fully aware of the influence of Motorsport success on their sales figures, the British Leyland hierarchy was seeking another vehicle to carry the company name to sporting success, however, in reality, there were no obvious candidates. It was only with the announcement of a new 'Group B' category for rally cars, that the way became clear for what was to become the 6R4 programme. Under the new regulations, only 200 units were required for 'homologation' plus 20 'Evolution' models and there were relatively few design restrictions. Turbocharged engines, four-wheel drive, state of the art materials and lots of aero mods were allowed resulting, over the next four years, in some of the wildest and most powerful competition machines ever produced.
It was not to be their own designers that British Leyland turned to, however, although the Competitions Department under John Davenport had prepared performance parts for the Metro and a special rallycross version had already been created. This featured a fibreglass body clothing a tubular frame, with power coming from a 1.5-litre, A-Series engine fitted with a twin overhead camshaft 16-valve head, producing an impressive 200bhp. Suspension modifications, wide wheels and tyres, and bodywork tweaks all combined to give the Metro a purposeful look, amply confirmed when it started to score victories in rallycross events. At the time, the future of British Leyland Motorsport at Abingdon was extremely uncertain, following the closure of the MG factory and BL management decided to involve Grand Prix car manufacturers Williams Engineering, in what was to be their first outside project. Their brief was to examine the entire British Leyland range and to recommend a suitable vehicle as a basis for a 'Group B' car. Their choice was the Metro and Williams immediately received a standard Metro bodyshell to enable them to start work on the design programme.
Very early on, the general parameters were set as, following the huge success of the Audi Quattro, the decision was taken to adopt permanent 4-wheel drive with a mid-engined layout. The power unit would be a 250bhp, 12-valve V6 engine - developed from the faithful 3.5-litre V8 that had seen service in the Rover and MGB, but cut down in size both dimensionally and in capacity to 2.5-litres. Dry-sump lubrication was used and the engine was all alloy. At this early stage, the decision was taken not to follow the forced induction route as adopted by Audi, Peugeot and Lancia as Williams felt that turbo lag would compromise the whole package and not provide much in the way of engine-braking (turbo technology was at an early stage) so normally aspirated it was, initially with carburettors and subsequently injection. In February 1984, the project was officially announced. The 6R4 was, like its competitors from Lancia, Peugeot and later Ford, virtually a silhouette rally car. Power from the centrally-positioned engine was fed through a five-speed gearbox to permanent 4-wheel drive, the suspension was independent fore and aft by Bilstein struts and wishbones, and disc brakes all round aided retardation. The new car didn't disappoint as, just one month later, the 6R4 made its competition debut on the York National Rally when, in the hands of Tony Pond and Rob Arthur, the MG demolished the opposition for 55 stage miles - leading an Audi Quattro by almost three minutes before retiring with an alternator fire. It was a debut which promised much. Austin Rover - the British Leyland name having been quietly dropped - had decided on a policy of 'on-event' development but it was to be March 1985 before the 6R4 recorded its first win, again in the hands of Tony Pond and Rob Arthur. This was again a development, or interim, car with increased track and wheelbase and front and rear wings pre-empting the final design but retaining the carburetted V6. The event was the Skip Brown Gwynedd Rally and after this success, development work continued for a further two months.
By now the cars were all in the familiar blue and white Computervision livery - a consequence of sponsorship having been transferred from the MG Metro Turbos which had been withdrawn from the British Saloon Car Championship as a result of the homologation dispute with the RAC over the Rover 3500s competing in this Championship. The announcement of the definitive rally car eventually came in May 1985 - an ominously long time since the decision to go ahead with the 6R4 programme had been made - but still, the package looked well developed and highly promising. The two pre-production cars which had been demonstrated to the press at Knebworth House by Tony Pond and Mark Duez now had the new 400bhp V64V engines to the full 3-litre specification with fuel injection. This engine was a completely new design and bore no relation to the previous cut-down V8 and, indeed, it was the only engine ever to be designed purely for rallying, rather than being production-based.
The bodywork was now fully developed aerodynamically as was the suspension and although further testing followed, the design was now finalised making the way clear for the 200 production cars to be built in order to comply with the FISA regulations to qualify for Group B Homologation. These cars were all built to 'Clubman' specification and were essentially forest rally cars with a detuned 250bhp engine. With an all-synchromesh gearbox this version, known as the Clubman 6R4, was marketed at £40,000 as a ready-to-rally car. FISA representatives made several visits to Austin Rover to validate the production car totals and once the 200 examples were built, the MG Metro 6R4 was finally awarded its Group B paperwork. Just how many 6R4s were actually built is difficult to ascertain precisely but what is known is that 233 Clubman bodyshells were manufactured. Of these, 200 were built into Clubman cars which were inspected by FISA, and 20 of these were mock 'Evolution' cars which were meant to be the basis of the 'Works' rally cars. Since these were little more than mocked-up Clubman cars, they were subsequently stripped and sold as shells. Most of the remaining 180 Clubman cars were sold complete to the public, although it is known that some were sold as shells. The remaining 33 Clubman shells were held as spares. Importantly, there were 12 'Bona Fide' Works cars built from scratch and these were naturally even more highly-developed with Carbon Kevlar fibre body panels. Performance was incredible with the International specification cars achieving a 0 to 60mph time of around 3.0 seconds and a maximum speed of between 110mph and 120 mph depending on gear ratios.
As is well documented elsewhere, the world of International Rallying was devastated in 1985/1986 by a number of high-profile fatal accidents resulting in a number of Group B rally cars being outlawed for the 1987 season, effectively ending the 6R4's International career. Because of its long gestation period, the 6R4 undoubtedly arrived one or two years too late. Its performance on the 1985 RAC Rally - its best-ever placing - indicated that an earlier start could have yielded much better results, certainly in the 1986 learning year. However, perhaps because of their slightly macabre, 'bad-boy' reputation or maybe due to their ballistic performance potential and the short time-span in which they ruled, genuine 'works' Group B rally cars have become incredibly valuable, rivalled only by F1 cars with serious provenance and Le Mans winners. Consequently, we are delighted to be able to offer this genuine Works 6R4, C99 KOG.
C99 KOG was first registered on the 22/04/1986 to Austin Rover and its original registration document is still present in the car’s history file along with the green insurance card in the name of BL Public Limited Company. The car enjoyed a short but impressive career in International Rallying, taking part in three rallies. Driven by Malcolm Wilson and co-driven by Nigel Harris in the iconic Computervision livery, the car finished 4th in the San Remo, 17th in the Lombard RAC and 5th in the Bettega Memorial Rally. After the RAC, the car was sold by the Works to a UK-based collector in exceptionally original condition and placed into storage for several years. Sometime later, it was sourced and acquired by its next enthusiast owner who tasked well known UK 6R4 specialists with carrying out a sympathetic mechanical refurbishment in 2004. A total mechanical rebuild was carried out (documented in the file), but the exterior was left untouched so the original battle scars from its works rally career were left intact. On completion, the car was demonstrated at several events including the 2006 Goodwood Festival of Speed. Always remaining in UK-based ownership, this very important and historic works 6R4 is now publicly offered for sale. C99 KOG comes complete with a huge array of documentation which includes its original RAC Logbook, copies of the original Austin Rover specification sheets along with numerous invoices and magazine articles featuring the car.
#SAXXRWNP7AD570214 (C99 KOG) has the distinction of having achieved the second-best WRC result of any 6R4 on the San Remo in 1986 and this, coupled with the fact that it is the very latest specification as developed ‘in period’, means that in our opinion it is undoubtedly the best example of the breed available. Its exceptional originality and fully documented ownership history make for an unrepeatable opportunity and we welcome any enquiries and requests for appointments to view this ex-Works MG Metro 6R4.
NB; The eagle-eyed amongst you may have spotted that the front spoiler is a re-work. The original was forcibly removed by a tree stump back in 1986 and is not in the best of shape but will be supplied with the car in the interests of originality as will the original light-pod.
You can now book a one-to-one appointment (up to one hour) to view this lot at our central location of Stoneleigh Park (CV8 2LG) Monday to Friday, between Thursday 29th October – 12th November. Please contact Harry on 01926691141/ email@example.com to secure your appointment or to discuss the car in more detail. The health & safety of both our customers and team remain the utmost priority, we are therefore operating to strict COVID-19 guidelines and full instructions for arrival and inspection protocols will be given when making your appointment.
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