How the humble MG Metro 6R4 became a rally icon
From an ordinary supermini to a bonkers Group B legend
Introduced in 1980 as the Austin Mini Metro, this new supermini from British Leyland wore many names over 18 years of production. The most well-remembered name, however, was the MG Metro, and you probably already know why. But in order to truly understand the 6R4 rally legend, we must first take a look at the car it was lightly based on.
Just an ordinary supermini
The Metro was actually based on the seemingly timeless Mini, with which it shared a transverse 4-cylinder engine and a 4-speed manual transmission. British Leyland hoped to sell at least 100,000 units every year; by the end of the decade, over 1 million of these were sold despite its reputation for poor reliability and durability - a trait shared by many BL cars.
Credit: Motoring Research
Out with the old
For the 1990 model year, the Metro nameplate moved to Rover, with a heavily re-designed and re-engineered version of the car. Overall build quality was vastly improved, and it won the What Car? Car of the Year award in 1991. Four years later, there was another re-design, and this time it was known as the Rover 100. By 1998, the Metro was gone.
A bonkers Group B legend
Rewind to the mid-1980s and we have the MG Metro 6R4. 6 cylinders, rear engine, 4 wheel drive. An unlikely rally star for sure, but one that was loved by the masses. But under the recognisable fascia of the Metro, the 6R4 was a completely different car. As with the highly successful Peugeot 205 T16, the engine moved behind the driver and powered all four wheels permanently.
Awesome engine in an iconic car
But unlike the Peugeot, which used a modified and turbocharged 4-cylinder, the 6R4 took it a step further and fitted a naturally aspirated 3-litre V6 taking some inspiration from the legendary Cosworth DFV. In full race spec, without any forced induction, this powerplant could push out a hefty 410hp. And weighing just north of 1000 kilograms, it was light, too.
A place in history
And that meant that the 6R4 was very fast. In 1985 this car had its first WRC race in Wales, finishing behind two Lancia Delta S4 in third position. Clearly, this wasn't meant to be, as there were reliability issues with the engine in its early stages of development and did not manage to fix these issues before Group B was banned in the WRC during the 1986 season.
It's not over yet
But the wriggly, lovable Metro 6R4 was still a huge hit with the fans. Engineer and racer Will Gollop won the British Rallycross championship with the 6R4 in his class and set off to modify his own one. The result was mental: a de-stroked, 2.3-litre screaming V6 which reportedly climbed all the way to 11,000RPM.
Gollop's turbocharged rallycross machine
Not only that, but this Metro - dubbed the BiTurbo - had two turbochargers bolted to the smaller V6, producing up to a massive 750 horsepower. He gunned for the British and European titles in 1991, winning the British title and narrowly missing out on the European one due to a last-race crash. The next year, Gollop took victory in Europe with his extraordinary 6R4 BiTurbo.
Group B cars were banned from racing in rallycross for 1993, but that doesn't stop all of the cars that competed - including the insane MG Metro 6R4 - from being forgotten in history. It may have been notoriously difficult to drive due to a short wheelbase and plagued with reliability issues during its time in the WRC, but this legendary rally car wriggled its way into our hearts.