Thursday, September 16, 2010

Another MG We Never Had in the US

Before MG-Rover went down the drain of bankruptcy, the company tried to move the MG marque upmarket with a number of performance models. American built Ford V8 engines found their way under the bonnets of the MG ZT sedan (saloon) and MG ZTT wagon (tourer) models. This was no small feat as the cars started out as the Rover 75 front wheel drive platform and the MG V8 models were rear wheel drive.

In 2001, MG-Rover purchased the Qvale Mangusta design from Qvale Motors. This Italian built car was powered by a Ford V8 and was already certified for sale in the US. The folks at MG-R thought it would accomplish their goals of going upmarket and returning to the USA in a limited manner. The designers at MG Rover were able to re-style the car and produce a running prototype in less than a year. The carbon fiber bodied car was targeted to sell at under £100,000 while providing performance of cars costing half again as much.

The new MG SV was unveiled to the motoring press in 2002 to almost universal praise. The introductory speeches by MG-Rover officials indicated that some models of the new car would be capable of cranking out 965 BHP - well over the base 326 BHP. In 2004, the even more powerful MG SV-R was introduced as a car that could be driven to a trackday event, compete and driven home again, not unlike the Ferrari 250 GTO of some 40 years before.

In all only 82 (or 86, depending on your sources) cars were constructed out of a planned production run of around 500. Word of poor build quality and unreliability kept the well heeled buyers away that MG-Rover needed to make the car a success. Porsche money for a car that needs to kept on a battery tender when not driven?

The plug was pulled in 2005 with the last cars finding owners as late as 2008. While the car didn't meet the goals set for it, it is a study in what might have been.

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