Concepts and Prototypes : Rover 75 V8 Limousine

The Rover 75 V8 Limousine was the car they weren’t going to build…

When the long-wheelbase version of the 75 was unveiled in 2002, the company made it clear that developing a V8-powered rear-wheel-drive version would be costly, and the limited demand wouldn’t justify the investment. Yet, they built one…

Ministerial Rover

This is the car they weren’t going to build… When MG Rover launched its long-wheelbase version of the Rover 75, it was made clear by company spokespeople that the only engine options you were going to be able to buy the stretched body with were the capable BMW M47-powered CDTi and the smooth as silk Rover KV6 engine in 2.5-litre form.

When the V8 version of the Rover 75 (Project X12/X13) hit the scene at the beginning of 2004, many people wondered whether it would be available in long-wheelbase form. After all, in such form, the 75 would have made perfect ministerial transport – a worthy replacement for the Rover P5B, so fondly remembered to this day…

Unveiled in Birmingham

At the NEC Motor Show in 2004, MG Rover announced that the Limousine version (previously known as the Vanden Plas) would continue to be powered by the original line-up – the cost of conversion and a lack of demand were cited as the reasons for this decision.

However, on a trip to Longbridge in December 2005, Chris Lane spotted a Royal Blue 75 Limousine sporting V8 wing badges. We asked the question as to whether this car was the genuine article or not – after all, MG Rover couldn’t afford to build it as a production car, but what would stop it making the odd one for evaluation purposes – or perhaps to get Mr Blair out of his Jaguar?

The answer has quickly come back. Nic Fasci, a former Homologation Engineer for MG Rover and all-round good egg filled us in: ‘Yup, we made one and it’s even got a real VIN number with the letter E in the seventh position of the VIN (well, it should have anyway). It was made, I think, at the request of the board so we could shunt people about with a bit of zest and comfort over the V6 or diesel models.’

Confirmed… and denied…

Nic added: ‘I don’t think that it cost too much to do in the scheme of things as there were a few LWB shells about so the usual X12 treatment off line was done and the only other things that needed doing as one-offs would have been the prop shaft, brake (possibly), fuel and battery lines as all of the other bits were in existence so to speak.’

Mark Baxter, a corporate buyer for the dealer group SMC, and V8 owning MG Rover enthusiast added some extra information back in 2010: ‘It is now owned by Nanjing and is used for ferrying around guests. We tried to buy the car last year, but the company wouldn’t release it to us, stating it was a prototype – and not one to be released to the public.’

The V8 model might have been a peripheral project to the health of MG Rover in general, but as a halo model, it was a success – being lauded by the press, and most people who drove it. A V8 version, therefore, would have been a niche model within a niche range – and very limited in appeal. However, it is easy to imagine the car being used by Number 10 to ferry around our Prime Minister – and that could have had some positive influence on the range…

…Now it’s just another curious MG Rover might-have-been, and one confirmed as having been scrapped in 2013.

With thanks to: Chris Lane for the picture.

Keith Adams


  1. I find it interesting that although a 3.5 limousine was destined for No.10, John Towers himself was happy to drive round in a 2.6ltre version, albeit money was thrown at it and it sports a 3.5 style grill !
    A Sony D.v.D system with a drop down – roof mounted – T.v between the rear seats and wireless headphones for the passengers, Inbuilt satnav with T.v for the driver to name but two items in the vehicle.
    The vehicle is still around and is now owned by a family in Cambs who, I understand, bought it from the receivers.
    Poor old John.

    • I’m afraid this information is incorrect, M. J. Wheeldon is wrong. This vehicle was last MOT’d in April 2008, this expired in 2009 and it hasn’t been taxed since 1st April 2008. It has undoubtedly been scrapped unless M.J.Wheeldon can provide some evidence to the contrary.

      • Sorry for the L-O-N-G delay, I’ve not been well.
        The vehicle to which i referred earlier might NOT have been taxed since 09, old son but is ‘under wraps’. Ergo, I can assure you that the vehicle is still with the family as I saw it in their yard just a couple of weeks ago. Why its not in use, I have absolutely no idea..

  2. Had the company been in better financial shape after the year 2000 Bavarian Asset Stripping, a shrewd commercial decision to make a small batch of these V8 Limos and present them FOC ( Free of charge ) to the UK Nation for the purposes of Government business would have been a cheap and effective long term advertisement programme for their product range. Those Nations who do not own or have an indigenous Automotive Industry ( Like the UK currently ) would be interested if such prestige vehicles were made available to them at very favourable cost. Product placement works.

    I believe FORD supplied Capris and Escorts etc FOC to the long running TV series The Professionals. Sold an extra shed load of what were after all only average production cars as a result. Product Placement works as an effective advertising tool.

    Consider this. Do not know if it was true, but prior to the Ford arrangement, BMC/BL supplied cars for the initial TV series but their penny pinching with snatching back the cars after the filming sessions saw the film makers looking elsewhere. If true, such short sightedness is unforgivable.

    Same old same old lack of foresight.

    • It says elsewhere on this site that BL had no idea about continuity – they would supply a white Dolly Sprint one day and a red one the next day, they didn’t think it mattered. They may have also supplied off-spec’ cars – I have seen an episode of the Sweeney featuring a Dolly Sprint without a front spoiler.

      • I’ve heard the story of one car supplied to The New Avengers came with a gear lever with the wrong box layout on the knob, making it hard get the right gear.

        The Professionals switch to Ford after having too many problems with BL supplied cars.

  3. Er, hang on, didn’t they make about 50 Rover 75 V8 cars ? I have seen one at a rally at Gaydon, and the ocasional one comes up for sale. There were, of course, quite a lot of the MG version. Both models were fitted with the Ford Mustang engine

    • @ Fraser Mitchell:

      Going by my copy of the production records, total production of the Rover 75 V8 was 166 (or 167 examples if you include the 2004 Geneva Motor Show car which originally started out with an MG ZT VIN, but was legitimately adjusted to reflect its intended Rover trim level specification prior to it being sold to its first registered keeper). This comprises of 150 saloons and 16 Tourers.

      Production of the MG ZT260 in all its guises was 717 examples. Therefore just 883 examples of the Rover 75 V8 and MG ZT 260 were built.

      Further details about the breakdown of the build records for the Rover 75 V8 are contained in James Taylor’s book – The Rover 75 and MG ZT: The Complete Story, published by Crowood.

      Hope this helps.

        • The Limousine’s VIN is listed in the production records as having the same VIN prefix as for the regular saloon bodystyle (recorded before build completion), but was obviously adjusted post build.

          Therefore total production would be as follows:

          16 Tourers.
          149 regular production saloons.
          1 saloon converted into a Limousine, with VIN prefix adjusted accordingly.
          1 saloon (the 2004 Geneva Motor Show car) which started off with an MG ZT VIN prefix, but with its VIN prefix adjusted to account for its Rover trim build specification before its sale to a dealer and subsequent first registration.

          Total – 167

          It would be interesting to learn when the decision was made to build this one-off Rover 75 V8 long-wheelbase variant and what, if any, implications this had on homologational or one-off requirements in relation to the VIN prefix. This might link into the reasons why S.A.I.C. was not allowed to sell it to another party (I had expressed interest to MG Motor UK Ltd in buying it in 2010 given its historical significance to the Rover brand, although after my interest and been acknowledged by the company never heard from them again).

    • Oh how I’d love that but crazy price! Id want to drive it and that would lose its USP. Its the same with all the virtually zero miles cars out there, loads of last of line Mini Coopers (classic mini) out there with no miles at big money and unless you continued to mothball them their inflated value disappears when you use it. Sad to see cars not being used.

  4. I have a copy of the 2004 MG Rover booklet and it has a photo of a R75 long wheelbase Limo – with that fabulous square full depth grille. looked good on 75’s and Roewe 750

    • I have one of those 166 (or 167) Rover 75 V8s, Hilton, and that grille is best viewed from some distance away. The bumper is a terrible fit to the car, and that lovely stainless steel surround neither fits nicely, nor stays put (the studs that secure it are expoxied onto the back, and they tend to come away over time). But this fails to detract from an awesome, characterful car that puts a smile on my face every time I drive it. It’s a bitser, a total anachronism, but it’s more than the sum of its parts.

  5. I would’ve personally brought out the Rover 75 from the start with the extended wheelbase and improved rear comfort on the saloon and tourer.

    The standard Rover 75 wasn’t terrible, but a lot of car reviews did accuse the car of lacking decent rear legroom, and it was noticeable too, more merely ample if not classleading, and wasn’t suitable for anything more than 2 adults max due to the narrow width of the rear 3 seat bench and afterthought centre seat (and certainly not recommended for long journeys either).

    Rover did release a long wheelbase version of the 75 saloon / tourer called Limousine which was quite spacious in the rear with a slightly better bootspace, but very few people bought one, and as a result of that, is hard to find on the used market.

    The long wheelbase Limousine version should have been sold from day one when the 75 was released, and should have been the only model available from the start in my view.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.