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…
Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...
Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.