Phil Leonard’s 1992 MG RV8 Race Car – Built for SCCA GT2 Racing!

2 Sep 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Phil Leonard’s 1992 MG RV8 Race Car – Built for SCCA GT2 Racing!

Built For SCCA’s GT2 Class: Phil Leonard’s MG RV8 Racecar

Owner: Phillip Leonard

City: Kansas City, Kansas

Model: MG RV8 (circa 1992/3)

Engine: Rover 3.5L aluminum V8, built by Bill Davidson

Built by: Clancy Schmidt, Robert Maupins and Scott Mock

Rover Group’s MG RV8 Model

The MG RV8 was a low volume, luxury sportscar introduced in 1992. Two thousand were built in a production run that spanned two years. The RV8 was only ever intended to be a limited production model.

Rover Group sought to bring the MG trademark back before the car buying public and to do so in the best possible light before returning in force with their upcoming, more modern, and far less expensive MGF model.

The British automotive press generally wrote very favorably about the RV8. As hoped, articles focused on the historic reputation of the MG brand, a badge long synonymous with sportscar for so many enthusiasts. Magazine writers especially emphasized the phenomenal and enduring popularity of Abingdon’s MGB model. At that time MGB was still the best selling sports car model in automotive history.

The RV8 delivered what many MGB owners had wished for; much more power and a more comfortable driving experience topped the list of virtues, but it remained a true open sportscar.

The MG RV8 was only ever produced in righthand drive configuration, and with very few exceptions sales were limited to the British home market and to Japan. It was okay for Rover if sales were extremely limited, so long as interest was piqued. They only wanted to inspire aspiration.

Readers would close their magazines thinking: I wish Rover would introduce an MG sportscar in my price range. or even I wish Rover would start selling MGs here again. The RV8 was a teaser. The MGF was coming.

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Code-named Project Adder, the RV8 development team worked with a shoestring budget and a tight schedule. They could do so because from the beginning their brief was to utilize the original MGB bodyshell as a foundation. British Motor Heritage had previously collected and restored original MGB press tooling and assembly fixtures and was already building Heritage bodyshells for MGB restorers. Heritage shells are actually better than original MGB shells in many respects.

For example, corrosion protection is superior due to use of galvanized zinc-coated steel sheet and also due to electrically deposited e-coat primer dipping of the assembled bodyshells prior to painting. The new RV8 body was styled by laying clay over a Heritage MGB bodyshell and then sculpting away until the RV8 shape emerged. A muscular bulge in the hood and a substantially wider stance resulted.

What about the drivetrain? That was a no-brainer. Many technical details had already been worked out in advance. MG itself had already produced

2600 Rover powered, factory-built MGB GT V8 cars in the mid-seventies. Both before and after that, swapping Rover V8 engines into MG’s was popular with enthusiasts.

Many hundreds if not thousands had successfully completed the swap. Rover electronic fuel injection and Rover five speed transmissions had been installed already. The whole drivetrain was in current production for other Rover models.

Technical success in the drivetrain area was a foregone conclusion.

All production MG RV8s were powered by a 3950cc (94mm bore, 71mm stroke) version of the familiar aluminum V8. Static compression ratio was modest at 9.32:1. Lucas multi-point fuel injection provided the engine with refinement. Only one new fuel injection part needed to be developed: a plenum cover with an MG badge on it. Early production RV8s used Rover’s LT77 5-speed, but an improved variant of that box came along as a running change.

For casual drivers, the principal difference with the R380 5-speed is that Reverse moved from left-side to right in the shift pattern. Changes from original MGB specs include 15 aluminum wheels, telescopic shock absorbers all around, 270mm vented front brake rotors, a limited slip differential, and tapered monoleaf rear springs with torque rods to refine axle location.

Arguably, the most interesting new idea introduced to engine swappers was that exhaust headers should exit through the wings instead of hugging the engine block. (Bonus: adding holes in the inner fenders aided cooling.) Advertised power: 187hp at 4750rpm. Advertised torque: 235lb-ft at 3200rpm. 0-62mph in 5.9 seconds.

Max speed: 135mph.

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