Concepts and prototypes : MG ZT-T 190 VX08 OBW

Benjamin Adams

Prototype MG ZT-T for sale in the UK
Prototype MG ZT-T for sale in the UK

AROnline’s regular readers will recall that a one-off ex-SAIC development MG ZT-T ended up at a BCA Auction last month. Contributor Steven Ward first spotted the car and, in doing so, opened up the can of worms that this car is. Steven was not the only MGR enthusiast to see the car as MG Dealer Richard Hilton was also very interested in the car and persuaded his father, who has been associated with selling BL, Austin Rover, Rover Group and  MG Rover cars for as long as anyone can remember, to travel down to Derby and look at the car with him.

The car was, as Steven mentioned, Lot 1 that Wednesday and bidding was brisk to start with but ended with just two people vying for it. Richard tells me that he was very close to pulling out as he was reaching what he felt was the limit for the car – after all, outside of enthusiasts, who would want to buy a five year old (registered as a three year old) MG car?

Anyway, as luck would have it, the other bidder was having the same kind of thoughts and pulled out just before Richard who obtained the car for less than the reserve of £10,000. Richard’s confidence in the car was such that he actually drove it back on the road from Derby to his dealership in Hopton which is just outside Stafford.

How does it drive, I hear you ask? Well, the answer is just like any other ZT-T 190 – it doesn’t sound any different either, despite having a bespoke manifold and exhaust system compared to a standard car.

Richard has spent time looking into the history of this car as it is not very often now we see a low mileage, late MGR car let alone one that has bespoke fixtures and fittings. He reckons that the redesigned airbox and VW-style header tank are identical to those used on Chinese market MG7s and his research also suggests that the ECU is a Siemens product worked on by SMTC UK and will not work with any T4 software.

The keys and fobs now on the car are standard looking but, needless to say, I did not take them apart just to see the inside! Richard’s findings suggest that this car was used by NAC for development purposes and one of the perks at the time for NAC staff was that they could use, and often buy, these cars for daily use. However, once any staff members left NAC, the cars had to be sold or given back. This car, somehow, fell through the net and ended up being sold to a member of the public as a SAIC development car.

Intriguingly, in addition to the bespoke items mentioned above, there is a spare wire under the bonnet which looks like it should be plugged into something and the control box for the traction control is missing. The Traction and Cruise Control lights are on permanently when the car is being driven because neither of these systems work and it appears that a lot of the sensors are missing.

The front grille is more than just a ‘bodge up’ – that black panel is fibreglass but still rough around the edges and the badge has aged terribly. The rest of the car is pretty standard although the lack of roof bars but a ‘High-Line’ shark fin aerial will get noticed by those who know what to look out for.

The car is now provisionally sold for a ‘high end four figure sum’ to a gentleman known to Richard who is a big enthusiast of British cars generally. However, Richard doubts this car would ever be driven as a daily car – it is far too rare and bespoke for that – although he does feel that it’s not so far away from standard that it could not be ‘reverse-engineered’ if the lack of availability for a part ever forced that issue. Hopefully, it would never come to that as this is quite possibly the last of a very rare breed.

Richard is more than happy for interested persons to come and look over this MG ZT-T until he has actually sold the car and, should it become available, those who want a slice of MG history should consider very carefully whether they want a boring ISA to sink their retirement money into or this…

Keith Adams


  1. I understand that the Heritage Motor Centre at Gaydon was sold to Ford some time back but am not sure who owns or supports the museum now.

    However, whoever they are, the current owners/operators do not seem to be interested in MGR/SAIC cars and quite a number or BMC, BL and ARG cars have been sold off.

    Anyway, a very interesting article – this MG ZT-T is the sort of car to keep and keep going. Good luck.

  2. That’s a shame.

    The Heritage Motor Centre seem to be happy to keep the ‘last’ (ahem) classic Mini and Rover 75 but maybe that’s because they command a premium in their value. That said, the general interest in current MGs is pretty light – the seller of the ‘first’ TF LE500 has dropped the price by five grand since it went on sale.

  3. The trouble is that the Heritage Motor Centre museum is a public attraction for the general public. Funds are surely better spent on historic models rather than (in the eyes of most visitors) a car you will see in Asda’s car park.

    The value of this car (and several similar ones) was negligible to MG’s current custodians, but did they offer it to Gaydon?

  4. It’s nice to see and hear more about this particular MG ZT-T. The colour looks great and the square grille really suits it (albeit rough around the edges as stated). My previous MG ZS also had a tatty, faded bonnet badge which I replaced for around £11.

    I think that it’s a great shame that the MG ZT range did not stay in production and be given a facelift like this one. Good luck to whoever buys it and thanks for a good read!

  5. This makes you wonder if SAIC Motor should have released this car onto the British market instead of the limited run of MG TFs.

    I’m sure that, even today, an uprated ZT range would have found a willing customer base and helped to maintain brand awareness – particularly if the MG range could have included models ranging from 75 style and comfort to ZT looks and sportiness.

  6. The 75/ZT, of course, featured in the Atomic Kitten video Last Goodbye. The Kittens were very keen MG enthusiasts and I note that the brochures for the Atomix limited editions go for a fair few bob. I reckon that, if AROnline was to have a celebrity patron, there would be no better candidates than the Kittens!

  7. @Ianto
    Keen but also fickle – they switched to Toyota a year later but, in some ways, MGR had the last laugh as I think the carmaker outlived the band!!

  8. @Ben Adams
    No, I’m pretty sure that the Atomic Kittens are not officially disbanded, merely taking time out.

    It’s a shame that ARG couldn’t have had a dalliance with Toyota, instead of Honda. Who knows? They may have still been here.

  9. This car is a now for sale on eBay for £8,995 so, if someone has that amount of money down the back of the sofa, please buy and cherish it!

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