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This pre-production MGF originally graced the stand at the 1995 Tokyo Motor Show, before being returned to Britain to be converted into a racing car for use by MG in hill climb and sprint events – ostensibly for promotional purposes. Featuring some one-off composite body panels and all the paperwork to back up its unique story, this is an opportunity to own a fascinating and exciting piece of MG Rover history – one with just 10,613km (6,595 miles) on the odometer.

One of just two MGFs known to have an ‘SPL’ chassis number, the history shows it was completed by the factory on 18 July 1995, ahead of that year’s Tokyo Motor Show. In October of that year, after this show car had been returned to Longbridge, company directors agreed to convert it into a racing car, to be entered in hill climb and sprint events and promote the car’s sporting credentials.

Mr. Kim Johnson – who became the director of MG Sport and Racing Ltd – and MG Rover’s principal engineer Tim King were to be the ones behind the wheel at these events. The unregistered machine was trailered to and from competitions throughout 1996 and beyond, receiving further development over time.

The bonnet and engine lid are lightweight items made especially by MG’s experimental department at Cowley for this car, while the 1.8-litre engine was modified with Piper cams and Weber throttle bodies, plus a close-ratio gearbox, before the cylinder head was replaced with a new VVC unit running an Emerald K3 ECU and a larger throttle valve – plus a new exhaust system. A rolling road rated the engine’s peak output at 160bhp, a strong step up from the original 118bhp.

The factory continued using the car until MG Rover in its original form closed down in 2005, at which point the car was auctioned off by the business – and purchased from the same by Tim King, who wanted to keep driving and enjoying the car. It was then finally road registered, but remained in occasional competitive use until a couple of years ago. The seller has owned the MGF for the past month.

The original exterior retains the upgrades that were applied by the factory, including a marine ply front splitter, the composite front and rear lids with quick-release pins, a lightweight removable hardtop and 15-inch Revolution alloy wheels. The seller notes that the red paint has been renewed during the car’s lifetime, and that it now has just a handful of small stone chips, while the plastic rear window in the hardtop shows some stress marks due to its age. There are some marks across the tip of the front splitter, but otherwise the body and underside have survived their motorsport ventures remarkably unscathed.

Inside, the carpeting and sound deadening have been removed, and while the passenger seat is a red OEM item, the driver’s seat is a full racing bucket with a six-point harness. The car’s competition roll cage is covered in inspection and entry stickers for the different events the car has contested, while a fire extinguisher system has been plumbed in behind the driver’s seat.

The dashboard panel itself is straight and undamaged, but much of the car’s trim, including the gear lever gaiter, has been removed to save weight – save for the clock, heater and window controls – with simple metal blanking plates covering off the resulting voids in the centre console. The pedals have also been modified, with a Sparco clutch pedal and a custom throttle pedal. The original Tokyo show Japanese-market instruments reading in kilometres remain intact, while the car currently features an OEM steering wheel in very good condition. Meanwhile, the unprotected driver’s foot well has had its red paint worn away over time.

The car has continued to be maintained in its post-factory life, with its most recent service being in February 2020, at 10,340km, when new oil and filters were installed. It also had a full service in April 2019 at 9,612km with new spark plugs and assorted filters. In April 2017, the car received a full service and thorough inspection at West Cross Garage, gaining new brakes, wiring clips and an auxiliary belt, along with a full set of filters, fluids and plugs.

It passed an MOT in August 2019 with an advisory for a front indicator bulb, and will be retested before the buyer collects it. The recently fitted Toyo Proxes sport tyres have a healthy 7mm of tread on all corners.

Documents proving the car’s authenticity and outlining the agreements made around its use are included with the car, along with a large maintenance folder, notes about modifications made to the car’s specification, a rolling road data sheet, some documentation relating to different events the car contested, and a couple of magazine articles featuring the car (including an interview with Kim Johnson). A CD, cable and user manual for the Emerald ECU is also included.

This ex-works, ex-motor show MGF is a superb and completely unique artefact from the long history of a beloved British car manufacturer, with its provenance set out by excellent period documentation. Now road legal and in excellent, honest condition, it can be driven to car shows for display, raced in club events, enjoyed on a favourite back road, or all the above.

All cars and motorbikes on Collecting Cars are run through an online HPI check. This vehicle shows no insurance database markers for damage or theft, and has no finance owing.

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