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CURRENT BID: £21,000
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1996 MG RV8

Guide Price: £25,000 - £30,000


﹒Rare auto conversion
﹒1 of 150 produced in Nightfire Red
﹒3.9 Litre V8
﹒Original condition
﹒Low mileage

The Background 

In 1989 Mazda launchd the MX-5. At this time the British Motor Heritage, which was then owned by the Rover Group, had placed the MGB bodyshell back in production to serve the MGB restoration market. The success of the MX-5 gave Rover confidence that the market for 2 seater roadsters had re-emerged, and the decision was taken in 1991 to create an updated MGB model. The suspension was slightly updated, but still shared the leaf spring design used on the MGB. The engine was the 3.9-litre version of the aluminium Rover V8 which produced 185 Bhp and was coupled to a Rover 5-speed gearbox. A limited-slip differential was also fitted. 

The MG RV8 debuted at the British International Motor Show in October 1992. The RV8 body shares the original boot lid and doors from the original MGB, but the other external panels were revised to accommodate the axle’s wider track and wider wheels and tyres. The rear lights, of which just 2000 were made and specially commissioned for the car, do share some resemblance to the original lights and you may recognise the front headlights as these are taken from a Porsche 911. 

The MG RV8 turned out to be a fairly successful exercise for Rover. Known as Project Adder they were built by a team of MG veterans who were bought out of retirement for one last project. This included everyone from engineers to assembly line workers and they produced just 1,983 cars. The RV8 success reconfirmed to Rover that they had the expertise and the touch to build roadsters.

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The History 

This lovely 1996 MG RV8 was first registered in Japan in April 1996 where it stayed for a few years and covered less than 10,000 miles until it was deregistered on the 18th December 2002, ready for it’s export to the United Kingdom.

Since the RV8 arrived in the UK and was registered on the 1st April 2003, it has had 9 owners, who from looking at the paperwork really have cherished the car, everything is documented.

A brief list to give you some idea of work carried out in recent years.

2011 - New steering rack 
2013 - Air con condensers replaced
2014 - Front Spax suspension upgrade, wheels refurbished and powder coated
2016 - Rear Spax dampers and poly bushed, Power steering conversion installed, Power boost valve and ECU chip by Optimax 
2017 - New black mohair roof and tonneau cover 
2019 - BorgWarner Automatic gearbox conversion
Plus regular services, it really has been a no expense spared car. 

There are two of the main upgrades to the car that must be mentioned.  Firstly, the installation of the Power Steering that was installed by EZ Electric PowerSteering UK. This has made the car much nicer to drive around town or on the twisty bits you won't be disappointed. The second upgrade is that it has been converted from 5-speed manual to an automatic gearbox. Again, this has made the car nice and easy to cruise along, the install is factory finish, you wouldn't know it was never fitted from new.

The reason for the sale of the MG RV8 is there's not really a great deal of room in the car to take luggage etc on long weekends, which is why the seller has decided to part with it.

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The Paperwork

WOW! There is an abundance of paperwork. Everything has been documented for the car. The drivers handbook is present along with the service booklet, sales brochure, receipts and invoices for all the work carried out, which is in excess of £15,000. All the old MOT’s are present and some old tax discs (remember those). 

Also included in the sale is a useful ring binder workshop manual along with a full parts manual, and a nice dyno printout from a rolling road tune up session. Some Japanese owners manuals and the certificate of de-registration are there should you wish to take up a spot of Japanese reading. 

The RV8 comes with 2 sets of keys and also 2 immobiliser key fobs which is Thatcham category 2. There is MOT on the car until 8th June 2021 and the V5 is present. The seller is also including the personalised number plate in the sale E15 MGR.

You can tell a lot about a car just from the paperwork alone, and the sheer amount of receipts and invoices certainly tells you the RV8 has been well looked after.

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The Interior

Finished in beige leather the seats are just nicely worn in and you would say the condition matches the mileage. Sitting in the driver’s seat the odometer shows 35,203 miles, all the clocks and switches are in excellent condition, work and illuminate as they should. The carpets again are in excellent condition. There is a set of mats used to protect the carpet included with the car. 

There has been a stereo upgrade to a CD Sony head unit. Moving further down there is the automatic gear lever which illuminates as it should. Considering this has been a conversion it looks factory fresh and matches in perfectly with the rest of the interior. The door cards again are in good condition. Being from Japan the car has air conditioning and this works as it should. The Burr Walnut finish on the dash and the door card tops has suffered some very slight cloudiness on the lacquer, but it's not that noticeable.  

Into the boot area and there is the tonneau cover and the rear wind deflector. The carpet is excellent. Under the carpet is a full size spare wheel, which has also been refurbished, together with the jack and wheel brace.

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The Exterior

This MG RV8 is finished in the stunning Nightfire Red, which is 1 of 150 to receive this paint colour.  41 came to the UK, 1 went to Europe and 108 to Japan. 

Starting at the front of the car there are no obvious stone chips to the bumper or leading edges of the wings and headlight surrounds. The indicators and headlights are free from cracks. Being a Japanese car it doesn't come with fog lights, these apertures are used for the cooling to the air conditioning condensers. The bonnet and wing gaps are nice and straight and align as they should. The RV8 has also had a replacement windscreen and surround that was installed in 2016. 

Moving around to the sides, the car is as straight as a die, all the panels align straight and even. In 2017 the car has been treated to a new black mohair hood and tonneau cover which is still like new, and when closed it's still tight. The rear window is also as new and scratch free. 

The original wheels have been treated to some refurbishment and re-powder coated to give them an excellent finish. Michelin tyres wrap the wheels with 205 65 15, which have plenty of tread left on them for many miles.

Like the rest of the car, the rear is also as it should be with the shut lines correct and no marks on the bumper. The rear of the car is so much like the original MGB but just a little more refined and if by any chance you don’t know what you are following, there's the V8 badge just to remind you.

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The Mechanics

When Rover reinvented the 2 seater Roadster they didn't mess about. They went straight for a nice big 3.9 litre V8 and this particular one is produced after a dyno run 191.6 Bhp with 224.9 Lbft thanks to a Power Boost valve and Optimax ecu chip. 

As mentioned previously, the MG RV8 has had an automatic gearbox conversion which was successfully carried out by classic car specialist Riverside Engineering in Whaley Bridge. 

The gearbox is a fully reconditioned BorgWarner 65 3-speed from a Rover SD1 and the same one used in Triumph Stags. There is an oil cooler mounted in front of the radiator helping to keep the gearbox cool. The kickdown will give you that extra bit when needed. Inside the car the gear shift surround has been trimmed in matching leather and the display for the gears lights up. According to the MG Register there is believed to be only one other RV8 in the UK that is an automatic. 

The rear suspension on an RV8 is the same leaf spring design found on the old style MGB. Helping to keep things a little more stable on the road the RV8 has been treated to poly bushes and adjustable damping Spax dampers. The front suspension has also received Spax adjustable dampers. 

The seller reports that there are no unwanted noises from the car and it drives and pulls through the gears as it should. The only sound you have to worry about is the singing of the V8.

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The Appeal 

This 1998 MG RV8 3.9 litre V8 has the classic lines and looks of an MGB but with a slightly modern twist, making it have its own identity without moving too far away from the classic we all know.   

0-60 in less than 6 seconds it will certainly give you the grin factor! The addition of the power steering, plus the automatic gearbox makes this RV8 so easy to take anywhere with ease.

Notice to bidders

Although every care is taken to ensure this listing is as factual and transparent as possible, all details within the listing are subject to the information provided to us by the seller. Car & Classic does not take responsibility for any information missing from the listing. Please ensure you are satisfied with the vehicle description and all information provided before placing a bid.

As is normal for most auctions, this vehicle is sold as seen, and therefore the Sale of Goods Act 1979 does not apply. All bids are legally binding once placed. Any winning bidder who withdraws from a sale, is subject to our bidders fee charge. Please see our FAQs and T&C's for further information. Viewings of vehicles are encouraged, but entirely at the sellers discretion.

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Vehicle specification
  • Year 1996
  • Make MG
  • Model RV8
  • Colour Nightfire Red
  • Odometer 35,203 Miles
  • Engine size 3900
  • Location Cheshire
Bidding history
11 bids from 5 bidders
  • thompso•••• £21,000 01/03/21
  • jmspeed•••• £20,000 01/03/21
  • thompso•••• £18,250 28/02/21
  • jmspeed•••• £18,000 28/02/21
  • thompso•••• £17,500 27/02/21
  • jmspeed•••• £17,000 23/02/21
  • dgrchy-•••• £16,000 22/02/21
  • DaveR £15,750 22/02/21
  • Zippyxx £15,250 22/02/21
  • jmspeed•••• £15,000 22/02/21

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