- Credit: Motor1.com

How the humble MG Metro 6R4 became a rally icon

From an ordinary supermini to a bonkers Group B legend

4w ago

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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.

Credit: cars-data.com

Credit: cars-data.com

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

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.

Credit: Pinterest

Credit: Pinterest

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.

Credit: Evo

Credit: Evo

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.

Credit: FavCars.com

Credit: FavCars.com

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.

Credit: Wikipedia

Credit: Wikipedia

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.

Credit: Pinterest

Credit: Pinterest

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.

Credit: Motor1.com

Credit: Motor1.com

Closing words

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.

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Comments (8)

  • Loved these things. I wish I could drive one, even if just once. I was a big fan of the RS200 too!

      26 days ago
  • Such a shame rallying is what it is today considering how much of an event it used to be with the MG Metro and the Group B era. I was born in the wrong generation.

      28 days ago
    • Same with me, I agree with you 👍

        28 days ago
    • I'm in my fifties and I've seen them all, not just on TV, but live, the Quattro, the Stratos, this little rally bomb. It was insane to see these icons go, and you're right, I can't even be bothered these days to switch the telly on.

        26 days ago
  • Great little piece 👍

    (Heads off to eBay to look for group B cars)

      26 days ago
  • I remember these, completely insane and brilliant

      25 days ago

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