Never meet your heroes, they say, and I suppose the same goes for cars you’ve always hankered after. For me, the SV and SV-R have always been on the list. Whenever I see one at a show I will always be drawn to take a cheeky snap. There is something just so brutal about them. Having read about them in magazines like Autocar, when the original XPower SV and SV-R were launched, my first encounter with one was at an MG Rover dealership, south of London, just as MG Rover started to wobble. The dealership was keen to shift the brute. Though I can’t remember the discounted price I know it was well out of my price range.
Move on to 2019, and my first chance actually to sit in an SV, having attended an MGs on Track session at Snetterton, in Norfolk: Dave Pearce is a regular at these events and regular readers will know we’re big fans of them. Dave’s SV-R can often been seen supporting MGs on Track at publicity events.
I don’t think any SV could be accused of being an average car but the later 2004 SV-R model upped the game from its 2003 predecessor, with an 80bhp power hike thanks to a slightly larger 5.0-ltr Ford V8. Arguably, this particular car had something a bit extra as it was the SV-R press car, used by the likes of Auto Express, with all the bells and whistles which carried a supercar level price tag: £1550 for SatNav and £2200 for climate control. The paint option on this car is reported to have been £1500. This is on top of the £17,200 increase from the SV, to £82,950, plus other extras.
After a year as a press car the factory sold BX04 on, still with low mileage, to Brian Payne. Like Dave, he used the car for track days but he tuned it much further than its original XPower specification, as Dave explains: “Brian did all the modifications to it. He supercharged the Roush engine originally and got it up to around 600bhp. Then I think he sold that engine on and bought the 5.0-ltr basic Ford Modular Cobra engine then fitted numerous tuning bits like crank and pistons and modified it to take it up to the 460bhp that it is today,” which is a nice increase from the SV-R’s original claimed output of 385bhp, retaining the same displacement.
Considering there was a factory approved nitrous oxide injection kit, achieving a claimed 1000bhp, MG Rover must have felt the components very capable, so we wondered why Brian changed tack. “I don’t know. I think he may have just wanted another challenge. I think it would have been quite interesting on the track with 600bhp. They did come with traction control but the technology was a bit ropy in those days. But that’s been disabled. Problem was it would kick in, say if you go into a roundabout and start to slide, then turn off when you least expected it, bringing the power back on. I think your right foot is a better judge.” Forced induction might make a return to this SV-R’s engine bay. “I’ll get round to it one day,” laughs Dave.
Dave knew of the car before he bought it. “Bryan lived local and used to take it to Goodwood and Castle Combe sessions with MGs on Track. So I’d seen the car around and knew his engineering background and that the car had been looked after. I also got some spares from him, like a front splitter and a set of doors, not a complete set, but some. It’s not exactly easy to get an original set these days.”
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