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Created for the short lived Group B race category, the 4WD mid engined MG 6R4 (6-cylinder, rally car, four-wheel-drive) Metro of 1984 was a world away from the best selling supermini to which it bore only a superficial cosmetic resemblance. The competition car effectively only shared the name of the production Metro as it featured a mid-mounted engine with four wheel drive transmission enclosed within a seam-welded tubular chassis. The development of this vehicle had been entrusted to Williams Grand Prix Engineering.The resulting car was shown to the world in May 1985. It was powered by a David Wood designed bespoke 3-litre V6 powerplant which used some of the engine architecture of the Cosworth DFV. It featured twin overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder. The engine was a break from the norm, as it wasn't turbocharged as the majority of its competitors were. The engine was mounted back to front in the car, with the forward end of the engine facing the hatchback and the gearbox attached conventionally behind it and, therefore, in the middle of the vehicle. The four-wheel-drive was permanently engaged, and drove separate propshafts to the front and rear differentials. The rear differential was mounted on the side of the engine sump with one driveshaft running through the sump to the nearside rear wheel. Much of the outer bodywork was made of GRP, with the only exception being the roof panels (which were aluminium) and the steel doors. These were, however, concealed by plastic airboxes. Indeed, models now on show generally have stickers demonstrating where it is safe to push from when moving the vehicle, so as not to damage the bodywork.
The 6R4 appeared in two guises. There was a so-called Clubman model which was the road going version which developed in the region of 250 bhp (186 kW), of which around 200 were made and sold to the public for £40,000 (the homologation version). A further 20 were taken and built to International specifications which had a recorded output of over 410 bhp (306 kW; 416 PS)At its launch in 1985, Rover announced that it would complete the necessary number of cars required for homologation by November of that year. This was undertaken at the group's large manufacturing facility at Longbridge. The car was to participate in the Lombard RAC rally in November 1985, and an example, driven by works driver Tony Pond, finished a highly respectable third, behind two Lancia Delta S4s.This good start was unfortunately not repeated, and although a 6R4 was entered in rallies at Monte Carlo, Sweden, Portugal and Corsica during the 1986 season, none of the Metros managed to complete a course. The majority of these problems were related to the V6 powerplant which suffered teething issues. Halfway during the 1986 season, Group B was banned (following a series of fatal crashes in which both competitors and spectators lost their lives). From that point on, the 6R4 was always going to be limited in front line competition, although they were run with limited success for the remainder of the year. A number passed into private hands and have proved formidable rally and rallycross cars. Despite the expiry of the 6R4's homologation the MSA still allow the cars to run in competition although engine sizes have been limited to 2800cc (single plenum engines) and 2500cc (multi-plenum engines).
SNIPPETS FROM THE WORKS ARG MOTORSPORT DAYS BY ANDREW MANSELL.As you know 001 ,002 and 003 were originally short chassis, 2 valve engine cars...first run with 15 inch centre lock tarmac wheels.then 13 inch gravel tyres on SPEEDLINE one end and BBS the other.. by now we had gone to four stud fixings.At about the time we were modifying the chassis and the v64v engines were being readied ..It was decided that we would have to go to 15 inch gravel tyres...this would involve cutting out the steel part of the wheel arches.At that time we didn't even have suitable gravel rims to fit, to see how much to cut out.....I had to "mock" up a set of 15" BBS split rims using 2 outer rims ( yes they had a valve on the inside also)...and mount them with Michelin TRX from the big Rover...then remove the springs from the struts and see how high they would need to go....this part of the cars development was first done on 003....Andy
I think it must have been 1984...went down to Michelin test track near Almeria in southern Spain....In the Transporter with transport driver Joe Brogan....with the all the 6R4s inexistence 001 002 and 003....Just about all the spares that had been made....got to the services on M4 just outside London....starter motor on Leyland Buffalo failed ...I took it off and cleaned the brushes and armature...but no good...we had to get a tow off another truck every time we turned it off....ALL the way down...fixed it with a new one,in the sunshine....Andy
This will make you all feel better......on another occasion a very early car was sent to Clermond Ferrand to Michelins French test facility ...when it was put on there test rig....they said it was the stiffest chassis they had tested.......much later when one of the definitive cars, after all the chassis mods etc... was tested.....they said it "just as stiff"....Andy
The worst rally for me personally ( without anyone being killed or injured)...was the '86 Scottish.....we were all so high with a dozen or so of our cars dominating the event....I remember watching and listening on a mound at Knock hill....fantastic.....only to have it all shattered by the dreaded dust ingress.a little later...I think only two 6r4s finished the event, ..David Gillanders (I think he used different filtration and a more enclosed engine compartment) and the course car ...the 250 bhp standard Longbridge car with power steering added...unfortunately for me I had to wait at Glasgow ..until the event had finished to bring this car back to Cowley...I had the flu and felt really rough.....I pulled it back behind a Range Rover but I had to stop every 40 miles or so ....to try and get myself together...with the events in Portugal and Corsica...and now this....I was off work for a couple of months physically and mentally drained... I was back just before the thousand lakes...6R4....the best and worst times for me.....ANDY
C95KOG after total rebuild....the only paint on the car that did the RAC was the# 4 scrutineers mark.,.we even had to change the roof panel.Thanks to Andrew again for the pics and words.