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40 years of the MG Metro

Posted: Wed May 11, 2022 8:16 am
by mab01uk
May 1982
Although we didn’t know it at the time, the future of MG would be tied-up with BL’s shiny new supermini. The story of the Metro is a fascinating one, not only because the car’s ability and success far exceeded the sum of its parts, but also because it had been the final flowering of several Mini replacement programmes that had been in train since the late 1960s. It relied heavily on existing parts, such as the Mini’s drivetrain and a simplified version of the Allegro’s suspension system. It was to be built by state-of-the art robots in Longbridge, swallowed £275m of investment, leading Michael Edwardes’ much-vaunted ‘product-led recovery’ for BL.

Even before the ink had dried on the Metro’s launch brochures and the customers had placed their first orders, BL was investigating how to build a faster version. First there was the intriguing Metro Plus – a go-faster Metro built by BL Motorsport in Abingdon – which ended up becoming the Wood & Pickett Metro Plus after the idea was canned in favour of something a little more commercially appealing.
However, from that programme, a modified cylinder head and carburettor was developed to tease out a Mini-Cooper S-matching 72bhp. Although it wasn’t obvious to industry watchers at the time, there was never any doubt that this would take the form of an MG Metro.
Harold Musgrove confirms this: ‘We never gave a thought to using the Cooper name. Why pay John Cooper royalties when we had MG to use? In hindsight, a Cooper S might have made more sense, but Austin Rover was weak on marketing, and I had no marketing experience.’

Metro Cooper rattles BL’s cage
John Cooper thinking the same way, and in 1981 announced the Metro Cooper – a Janspeed-tuned version with 80bhp and Wolfrace alloys that looked remarkably like the MG Metro. It was planned at the rate of 10 per week and to be sold through the Wadham Stringer dealer network.
But BL asked Cooper to rename it after threatening Wadham Stringer that it would not offer a factory warranty on the car. So, it became the Metro Monaco, and as John Cooper recalled at the time: ‘I wish they’d told me sooner – that would have made things a lot easier for Jan Odor, for me, for everyone…’
By this point, the UK had been gripped by Metromania. You couldn’t move for aftermarket-converted Metros. It even had the Royal seal of approval thanks to Lady Diana’s high-profile ownership. And it was into this climate that in May 1982 that Austin Rover rolled out the first production MG since the closure of Abingdon, and one which perfectly encapsulated the brand values of its maker. It was much needed, looked good and as the adverts proclaimed: ‘Your best friend will hate you’!
More of the MG Metro Story on AROnline here:-
https://www.aronline.co.uk/facts-and-fi ... /mg-metro/

Re: 40 years of the MG Metro

Posted: Wed May 11, 2022 9:15 am
by AndyPen
In theory at least, I still own an MG Metro. I took it to a garage to have the clutch done about 15 years ago, and never got it back. The owner was annoyed that his flywheel tool broke and it got overlooked for so long that I bought another car.

Re: 40 years of the MG Metro

Posted: Wed May 11, 2022 4:30 pm
by UHR850
My MG Metro engine in my 1973 Leyland Mini mk3.

Re: 40 years of the MG Metro

Posted: Wed May 11, 2022 11:34 pm
by iain1967s
MG Metro was the worst car I ever owned… a 3 years old facelift model [B909 WBU]. It looked nice but was a bag of sh*te.

The front wings rusted through, the electronic distributor was always overheating and misfiring, and it blew a hole in #4 piston for no reason at all. Then after fixing that it jammed the idler gear and broke the gearbox input bearing. Fixed that and the heater matrix blew, antifreeze raining down from the headlining. My date that night was not impressed.

Fortunately it got stolen - good luck to whoever took it; I made out ok on the insurance though.

First photo is the day I bought it, second is how it looked for most weekends while I owned it…

Re: 40 years of the MG Metro

Posted: Wed May 11, 2022 11:43 pm
by Exminiman
They were crap weren’t they :lol:

Re: 40 years of the MG Metro

Posted: Thu May 12, 2022 8:35 am
by mab01uk
They did provide a very useful source of 1275cc A+ engines in the breakers yards for upgrading our 998cc Minis though! :lol:

Back in early 1987 after seeing reports in the Motoring press and media that Graham Day (the then new Rover Group Chairman) was determined to keep selling the Mini, I was inspired to write a letter to him outlining how easy it would be technically for Austin-Rover Engineers to revive the 1275cc Mini Cooper by using the MG Metro engine and gearbox, just like many of us (including John Cooper) were doing as enthusiasts at that time. I was quite surprised to get this reply below......

Image

Letter from Rover Chairman, Graham Day - 1987 :-
viewtopic.php?t=23040

Re: 40 years of the MG Metro

Posted: Thu May 12, 2022 6:21 pm
by IanD1965
iain1967s wrote: Wed May 11, 2022 11:34 pm MG Metro was the worst car I ever owned… a 3 years old facelift model [B909 WBU]. It looked nice but was a bag of sh*te.

The front wings rusted through, the electronic distributor was always overheating and misfiring, and it blew a hole in #4 piston for no reason at all. Then after fixing that it jammed the idler gear and broke the gearbox input bearing. Fixed that and the heater matrix blew, antifreeze raining down from the headlining. My date that night was not impressed.

Fortunately it got stolen - good luck to whoever took it; I made out ok on the insurance though.

First photo is the day I bought it, second is how it looked for most weekends while I owned it…
Small world!!
I bought B909WBU from an auction in 1990. It ran faultlessly for 20 years , then I passed it on to a mate, he ran it with absolutely no issues for another 10!
😂😂
Ian pinnocio Davies.

Re: 40 years of the MG Metro

Posted: Fri May 13, 2022 10:40 am
by Metronick

Re: 40 years of the MG Metro

Posted: Fri May 13, 2022 9:24 pm
by spoon.450
Go on Nick…. You know you want to 😂😂
I had a mk1 MG Metro in 1991…….BUE 38Y……Red with apparently rare black interior. It put a rod through the side of the block so I rebuilt it with a scrapyard block +.060 and 285 cam and modded head. Went really well. I had a bike rack on the back also to carry my trials bike ( Ty 250 ). Also remember having to re bush the radius arms and replace the rear subframe rubber mountings……it was pretty rotten at 9 years old too !!

Re: 40 years of the MG Metro

Posted: Mon May 16, 2022 8:27 am
by mab01uk
Image

"The 4 works Turbos built by Roger Dowson 2 x ETC ( Watts, Brundle , Pond, Harvey, Hall), 1 x BTCC ( Brundle) and 1x DTM Armin Hahne)
Chassis by William GP engineering , engine development by Turbo Technics and Howley, 240bhp 840kg."

Love ‘em or hate ‘em the MG Metro is 40 years old this month!
https://www.facebook.com/thesportingminis/

Unipart Mini Moke - Metro Challenge & Group A 1982:-
viewtopic.php?f=4&t=10632