By on October 2, 2020

Recently we featured the MG RV8, which was an old MG B with a V8 engine from Rover. Today we cover a similar V8-powered MG idea, with some additional crazy sprinkled in for good measure.

Presenting the 2005 MG XPower SV-R. It’s all over the place.

The MG’s story starts with another firm entirely: Qvale. Almost required reading for this article, the Qvale in question is the Mangusta. An Italian-American sort of hybrid car, Mangusta was the original idea of Alejandro de Tomaso, who wanted to bring the De Tomaso name back to North America. The project was funded by Kjell Qvale, a wealthy former North American importer of Maserati. While the Mangusta was underway, de Tomaso (shortly before his death) was secretly working on a new Pantera as well. Qvale found out about the project, and he and de Tomaso argued until Qvale cut ties. He took the name and the car and put it on sale in 2000. MG will be along shortly, keep reading.

The Mangusta was produced in Italy at the high-tech Qvale factory between 2000 and 2002. Meanwhile, MG was thinking about something Qvale had asked previously. Qvale approached the newly-independent MG Rover group and asked if they wanted to distribute the Mangusta in Europe. “Probably not,” said Rover “but we’ll buy the whole operation, how’s that?”

In 2001 a deal was struck for Qvale to sell its holdings to MG Rover. The Mangusta had proved expensive and not too popular, and over its three years of production time, just 284 cars were made. MG knew they could make a better car, and as the Mangusta concluded its run, MG’s new XPower entered production at the former Qvale factory.

MG retained the laser-cut chassis and carbon fiber technology of the old Mangusta, but chucked the Gandini-designed coupe shape for one of its own. They called Peter Stevens, who previously penned the McLaren F1, Jaguar XJR-15, and Lotus Elan. MG did not create the new body molds itself but rather farmed the work to a firm called Caran out of Sweden. The driving force behind all this effort was to obtain big sales by sending the XPower to the North American market. The Mangusta had already undergone the expensive homologation process for sale there.

Power from Mangusta was retained in the MG, via either the 4.6- (SV) or 5.0-liter (SV-R) Mustang V8 engines. Like the Mangusta, the SV was sold with manual and automatic transmissions.

Complex production began in 2003. The British-designed and Swedish-built panels were fabricated in the UK by SP Systems. Then they were shipped to Italy, where the initial assembly was done at Qvale. The mostly finished car was shipped back to Longbridge in the UK, where it was finalized. The whole process had Cadillac Allanté vibes. Parts not fabricated by SP were sourced from Fiat, most often the Punto. In all, six different companies were involved in the XPower’s construction between start and finish.

The new car was a flop, as an expensive niche market vehicle from an ailing brand. The XPower was in production between 2003 and 2005 when MG Rover entered bankruptcy. At that time, only nine had been sold. All told, 82 examples were completed; some of them remained unsold until 2008.

Today’s SV-R was one of the very few more powerful cars made. The fastest version, it had somewhere around 400 horsepower and accelerated to 60 in 4.9 seconds. This 2004 example sold in the UK for £34,875.

[Images: seller]

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