Rover Special Products wanted to recreate the magic of the early-1980s by producing a spiritual successor to the MG Metro Turbo. The Metro SP was that car and it reached the stage of a full-sized styling prototype.
While Rover Special Products had handed out the Montego Lifestyle and Maestro-based Tarka to Steve Harper at MGA to come up with some concepts, it also pondered the idea of a high-performance Metro, known as the SP. The car, which was to be powered by a 1.4-litre K-Series Turbo pushing out 120bhp, was meant to bolster appeal of the newly-revitalised Metro range, which at the time of its launch in 1990, was topped by the 95bhp GTi.
Steve describes the Metro SP as a true VHPD (Very High Performance Derivative), given its light weight and ample power output, and wanted to ensure that the styling reflected this. As can be seen from the sketches above, he penned a number of aerodynamic solutions stating: ‘adding a rear spoiler to such a compact hatchback is difficult, but I tried a number of radical ideas. The high spoiler was inspired by the Ford Escort RS Cosworth, which I styled the year before – while a low-mounted option (shown on the blue car) shows an alternative solution that would eventually be adopted in the Peugeot 207 WRC many, many years later.’
The car made it to a full-size concept in early 1991, with MGA’s clay modellers bringing Steve’s design to life beautifully. As can be seen from the images below, Steve’s main focus was the car’s flanks, which received wheelarch blisters and filled-in side scollops, while the high rear spoiler looked to have come straight from his Cosworth.
Steve reflects: ‘The “hot hatch” was a booming market and, even though there were MG and Turbo derivatives before, it was felt that there were still more possibilities to explore that niche.’ Rover didn’t agree, and decided not to pursue the project, but it did lead to MGA being called in to cook-up a mid-engined concept for the upcoming MG PR3 project…
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.