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…
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.
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