"The MG? Ah yes, here it is, the machine that broke three car companies.”
The words belong to Simeon Cattle, co-owner of Oxford-based Eclectic Cars. And although he exaggerates for effect, the point is well made: the MG X-Power SV, to name it properly, can trace its roots back to De Tomaso and from there to MG Rover via Qvale. None of them survived to tell the tale.
Of course, MG Rover had problems stretching far past the narrow confines of the SV to explain its demise, but if it did not cause MG Rover’s passing, the SV also did nothing to delay it. It seems inelegant to rake over all those ashes at this distance but, briefly, what started life as the De Tomaso Bigua concept car of 1996 and became the Qvale Mangusta turned into the MG X-Power SV after some judicious reshaping from none other than McLaren F1 stylist Peter Stevens.
The theory behind it was good: the car would be powered by proven off-the-shelf components (Ford V8 motors in various states of tune and an indestructible Tremec five-speed gearbox) but clothed in lightweight carbonfibre panels to avoid uncomfortable comparison with TVRs and justify a bracingly high price point.
But the car’s mixed parentage caused all sorts of headaches, not least the fact that the production process required each car to visit six different companies, one of which was in Italy. Although allegedly available in a range of power outputs up to 1000bhp courtesy of nitrous oxide injection, most were standard cars like this, powered by an off-the-peg 320bhp 4.6-litre Ford motor.
A total of 82 cars were reputedly built, of which three remained unassembled until last year, when Eclectic Cars persuaded the MG Rover creditor to finally complete their build, seven years late. One left-hand-drive car went straight to Germany, leaving two – one black, one ‘aubergine’ – to be re-homed by Eclectic for £60,000 a pop.