Tested 16.6.93

A full 13 years after the MGB had faded from view, Rover revived the model with an intriguing, but ultimately flawed, semi-modernised V8 roadster. 

The MGB’s live rear axle, basic suspension design (including rear leaf springs) and most of its bodywork were retained by the RV8, but wider wings made of GRP and fresh bumpers updated the car’s look. 

Power came from Rover’s venerable all-alloy pushrod 3.9-litre V8, which ranged from low woofle to flatout roar as it delivered ample torque throughout the rev range. Progress was swift rather than TVR Chimaera rapid, though. 

Despite the widened track and modern dampers, the live rear axle and limited suspension travel meant handling remained unsophisticated. Anything other than gentle steering and throttle inputs induced unnerving amounts of understeer and oversteer in turn, while urban potholes and B-road creases alike readily upset the car’s composure. 

Super-smooth, sweeping, dry roads were required for enjoyable progress. The brakes impressed despite using rear drums but lacked ABS. 

An otherwise good driving position was spoiled by an offset steering wheel, and head room was tight with the roof up. Drop it and wind noise became oppressive at speed.

For: Strong engine, beautifully built, retro looks 

Against: Poor handling, unrefined and lumpy ride

Factfile

Price £26,030 Engine V8, 3946cc, petrol Power 190bhp at 4750rpm Torque 234lb ft at 3200rpm 0-60mph 6.9sec 0-100mph 18.5sec Standing quarter mile 15.2sec, 92mph Top speed 136mph Economy 20.2mpg

What happened next?

Of the 2000 or so RV8s that were built, around three-quarters were sold to the Japanese market, although some have since returned. The RV8’s 1995 farewell heralded the debut of the significantly more modern, viable and dynamically convincing MGF roadster.



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