Every kid dreams of being a race car driver. While that dream hasn't exactly come to fruition for most of us, at least one deep-pocketed enthusiast will be able to make it a reality at next month's Goodwood Revival auction. An authentic, one-of-two 1985 MG Metro 6R4 Group B rally car will be crossing the Bonhams auction block.
An unlikely candidate for a rally car, the MG Metro 6R4 hit the World Rally Championship (WRC) in 1985 without much success. The Cosworth-sourced, mid-mounted, 3.0-liter V6 had a number of teething issues, and following a lone third-place finish in 1985, the duo of MGs were unable to finish an entire race throughout the 1986 season.
Group B was eventually dissolved in 1987 before the car was able to find its footing. But even without any success in the WRC, the 6R4 pictured here is an amazing piece of engineering, and would look right at home in any collection.
It was originally designed by Patrick Head of Williams Grand Prix engineering, and featured the aforementioned Cosworth-sourced V6. That engine was good for 250 horsepower (186 kilowatt) in ‘Clubman’ trim, or 410 horsepower (305 kilowatt) in full works tune.
After a short career, the car was sold in 1997 to Australian hobbyist racing driver John Potter, who swapped out the Cosworth plant for a 3.0-liter engine from Nelson Engineering Services. That’s when the MG came to life, racing in a number of rallycross events across Australia, and taking home a class win at the Targa Tasmania event in 1998.
After exchanging hands once again, and returning to the U.K. in 2012, the car is set to cross the auction block for the first time at the Bonhams Goodwood Revival next month. It remains in pristine condition, and wears a ‘Rothmans Rally’ livery that mimics the one wore in 1985. Estimates have the car going anywhere between $130,000 - $160,000 (£100,000 - £120,000).
Gallery: 1985 MG Metro 6R4 Group B Rally Car
Even back in the 1980s, Austin-Rover's Metro must have seemed an unlikely candidate for World Rally Championship honours. But although the MG-badged Metro 6R4 - like its Group B rivals from Lancia and Peugeot - bore a passing resemblance to the road car whose name it bore, beneath the skin it was an entirely different animal. Gone was the puny A-Series engine/front-wheel-drive package, replaced by a 3.0-litre, 90-degree V6 sited behind the front seats and driving all four wheels. Twin-cam cylinder heads, modelled on those of Cosworth's Formula 1 DFV V8 engine, enabled the V64V unit to develop 250bhp in 'Clubman' trim, with up to 410bhp being available in full works tune.
Designed by Patrick Head of Williams Grand Prix Engineering, the mid-engined chassis, needless to say, owed almost nothing to that of the standard Metro. In the course of development a host of aerodynamic and other appendages were grafted on to the basic Metro bodyshell, resulting in an end product that looked... well, 'purposeful' was about the kindest description.
Group B regulations required a minimum build of 200 cars, the first of which was completed in mid-1985 and the last in November of that year. When Group B was axed by the FIA, Austin-Rover disposed of the reputedly 120-or-so cars left unsold, warning purchasers that the Metro 6R4 was 'not intended for domestic, casual, business or other motoring on the pubic highway...'
Sadly, the works Computervision-sponsored 6R4's debut performance, when Tony Pond drove one to 3rd place in the '85 RAC Rally behind a brace of Lancia Delta S4s, would prove to be its most successful. However, after the works team's withdrawal from World Championship rallying, the 6R4 found its true métier - Rallycross - a sport it would continue to excel at well into the 1990s.
This Metro 6R4 was driven in period by Haymarket Publishing's Simon Taylor and David Power, who shared the car in hill climb events at famous venues such as Shelsley Walsh, Prescott, and Gurston. The car was prepared by Power's company, Power Engineering.
In May 1987, Power drove the Metro at an event at Prescott, following which it was considered necessary to replace the front wings; the car's front end was then upgraded with a set of very rare, and much sought after, inner front wings. Constructed in aluminium with honeycomb reinforcement, these 'evolution' wings were bonded and bolted to the bodyshell. These wings had been built prior to the San Remo Rally of 1986, and had been fitted to the cars driven in that event by Tony Pond and Malcolm Wilson. It is believed they were removed prior to the RAC Rally of 1986 and subsequently purchased by David Power from the works stores at Cowley. These wings are still on the car today.
In March 1997, the Metro was sold to John Potter in Australia, who further up-rated it with a twin-plenum, 3.0-litre, International Specification engine from specialists Nelson Engineering Services. The car retains a factory 'dog' gearbox and is fitted with power steering. Only ever driven on tarmac events, it remains in superb condition and is also extremely competitive, as evidenced by a class win in the 1998 Targa Tasmania. After that event, the Metro was sold to Garry Cliff in New Zealand. It returned to the UK in 2012. Accompanying documentation consists of sundry bills, a V5C Registration Certificate, and current MoT.
According to an article in Autosport in 1992, this car is built on an ex-works shell; however, this information is not verified, and is believed to relate to the car's 'San Remo' front end. Prospective purchasers are advised to satisfy themselves with regard to the car's specification prior to bidding.