Classic mistake

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Question: what do the following statements have in common: “A delight to own and drive”; “A car for enthusiasts”; “A classic car without the drawbacks”?

Answer: they all apply to the MG RV8.

Unfortunately, the remarks are attributable to the Rover Group. Independent assessment could never be so generous.

The RV8 was originally introduced to ‘celebrate’ the 30th anniversary of the MGB. Since then, it has continued in low-volume, hand-built production to satisfy a small number of masochists who have, quite clearly, never heard of TVR. It looks not unlike an MGB on steroids, but beneath the more aggressive new clothes lies some older, and familiar, technology. Not that there’s anything wrong with the 3.9-litre Rover V8. It may have been around for a while now, but it possesses lashings of torque (235 lb ft at only 3200 rpm) and adequate reserves of power (189 bhp / 4750 rpm). The fact remains, however, that an RV8 is listed at £25,440. It is a fact of life that low volume equals high price. It is equally true that a Marcos Mantara Spyder, with the same engine, is lighter, has superior handling and costs £24,801. The R may make a lovely noise, and it performs well in a straight line, but the leaf spring rear axle is an unwieldy anachronism. The R feels lively on any surface, and while that is not necessarily an unpleasant characteristic in a sports car the R simply isn’t a pleasure to drive in the same way as, say, the aforementioned Mantara or a TVR Chimaera (the 4.0 example of which is pricier, at £27,850, but well worth the difference). The MG’s steering is heavy, and horribly vague.

It doesn’t matter how much leather and wood you plaster over the cabin; it doesn’t matter that there’s a nice CD player occupying some of what little space there is in the boot.

You can always polish an antique.

I think I’ve now seen about three RV8s on the road since it was introduced in 1992, and one of those was the press car…