The MG Metro 6R4 was Austin-Rover’s entry into Group B, the controversial rallying category that gave us a series of spectacular cars before being banned at the end of 1986.
As far as Austin Rover and its parent company BL were concerned, 1981 had marked a considerable change in the attitudes of company executives and dealer principals across the land. It was in this climate of optimism that the then Austin Rover Motorsport chief John Davenport hatched a plan. Davenport approached Williams F1, whom AR also sponsored, and subsequently Patrick Head would become project leader;
‘We turned the whole thing round with the engine at the back, the gearbox ahead of it with drive to both the front and rear wheels. We presented the concept to Rover and they said “This is great”, pushed the “go” button and off we went with the project. We finished it in about a year, delivered three prototypes to Rover in about November 1981 – six months’ development with Williams’ assistance.’
The MG Metro 6R4 (i.e. 6 cylinder, Rear engine, 4-wheel-drive) made its first public appearance at the end of February 1984 in a hastily prepared press launch at the Excelsior Hotel, London Airport. The reason for this was that press speculation was mounting – and, in order to undergo a full development programme, Austin Rover could do without the added hassle of playing hide and seek with scoop photographers.
The rest of 1984 was used to finalise the 6R4: a final engine needed to be developed and the aero package also needed more work.
The Rover V8 engine of the development car was replaced by the specially-designed and built four-cam, 24-valve, normally aspirated 3-litre V6. The power output was quoted at 410bhp at 9000rpm at the car’s official launch in May, 1985 – and it was promised that this would soon be improved upon. The aero package was modified and took the rulebook to the extreme, stretching the credibility of the ‘silhouette racer’ ideal to breaking point. However, that did reflect the-then current Group B thinking also followed by Peugeot 205T16 and Lancia Delta S4 – looking back at it now, it is easy to see that the cars were becoming completely over the top for the task in hand.
Pete Goodman Engine, Lyle Armstrong Drivetrain, Corsica stage Suspension from original ARM settings sheet, Lucas ECU, 5 speed dog engaged manual gearbox with 4WD, Viscous centre coupling, Prop shaft drive to front differential (quill shaft drive to rear), Fully articulating drive shafts, Carbon dash, Motordrive bucket seats with Sabelt 6 point harnesses, Integrated Roll Cage, Halda Road computer, MOMO wheel.
Liveries breed legends and Computervision can only be associated with one vehicle – The Mighty Metro 6R4 by Austin Rover Motorsport. Splitter, front and rear wings compliment impossibly wide arches; the de-facto Group B costume forming an almost caricature shape. One aspect not immediately obvious are the strakes on the front wings, guiding air towards the significant intakes that cool the mid mounted V6.
Considering such a car is designed for all action all the time, the paintwork and finish is pleasingly consistent throughout with no evidence of misuse
Stepping over the huge side sills and door bars is an effort in itself before you are snuggly pinched by Motordrive bucket seats, strapped by 6 point Sabelt Harnesses. With a myriad of switches and toggles the feeling is one more reminiscent of an 80’s music studio, although in this case the band is playing right behind you.
The only memory of Metro can be channelled by the map line of the (now carbon) dashboard and the OEM gear knob. The Halda road computer and Bosch comms system have been well preserved and provide an undisputedly authentic feel.
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION
The engine note is of legendary status; one can only imagine the emotion of the guttural Cosworth derived V6 reverberating between the tress before drifting into view in a flash of gravel and dirt with rally pods ablaze.
Commissioned for rebuild by Goodmans Engineering in 2017 the Works 3.0l engine ( with period Lucas Injection and loom by ex Works Adrian Butt) has completed just a handful of laps at Croft circuit for shakedown, while marque expert Lyle Armstrong has installed a fresh zero hour gearbox with overhauled differentials. A Tony Law exhaust ensures the car sounds at it’s best.
The correct semi – dog box is in situ, with a split gearbox bell housing also provided upon sale.
WHEELS, TYRES & BRAKES
No rally icon is complete without a signature wheel to compliment the design. The die-cast Dymag magnesium wheels look just right in the arches of the blistered bodywork, wrapped in Pirelli Classico P7 Corsa rubber.
Brakes are 4 piston AP’s all round; dual circuit with adjustable bias. Having been overhauled the braking system is in perfect working order.
Bespoke Suspension has been derived from official Austin Rover Motorsport settings. Optimised for Circuit / Sprint work ( caster / ride height ) bespoke Faulkner springs have been matched to Bilstein dampers; fully corner weighted and Hunter Hawker aligned by Mike Hope of Wooler with camber and toe adjusted to the ARM Corsica rally spec sheet. All original ‘Pink’ springs are supplied with the car.
First registered on 19th November 1985, C874 EUD has been the subject of a painstaking 10 year restoration with ex ARM Works staff involved throughout. The body has been prepared by Rodney Lyne and finished by Chillingham Classics while Pete Goodman has masterminded the engine and final ECU configuration. The revered Lyle Armstrong is responsible for all matters gearbox and differential.
As one of the last Works cars produced this example was destined for life as a cold weather development vehicle, with the likes of rally legends Pond & Wilson utilising EUD as a recce / pre-drive car. The car is also well known to the 6R4.net community and in particular Dan Ellmore who confirms purchase from original engineers, the pre-drive / IT car status and this car to be one of the 9 Works cars left in existence.
The Original Registration doc and both the RAC Competition car log book and record of vehicle ownership are present while a surfeit of RAC entry / scrutineering logs cover the cars competition history – reaching it’s pinnacle as winner of the Scottish National Rally championship in 1990.
Following the death of Group B, the 6R4 went on to dominate national events for the next 25 years. In this respect it became the most successful Group B rally car ever. With many marque experts and spare parts readily available, running a Group B car has never been easier or more affordable.
The car is in zero mile ‘matchbox’ condition and as such is ready for a new owner to make their own chapter in history as Group B has come of age for the car collector.