"In 1985 I was approached by John Manklow, regarding an opportunity to start up our own engine building concern. I was an engine builder at Engine Developments in Rugby, working on mainly Cosworth DFV's, Volkswagen F3 engines and Judd's own designs. John and I had worked together there, and he had just spent a stint at Cowley, building V64V's. He had become a little disillusioned with having to build engines during the week, and also attend weekend events as part of the service crew.
Cliff Humphries, the man in charge of the engine build team at Cowley, realised they would be under-manned, and offered us the chance to build engines for them at our own premises. We were not the only ones, Nelson Engines and others were ìsubcontractingî engine work. Cliff was absolutely instrumental in getting us started, and we began trading as GoodMan Racing Engines, initially from my garage at home!
We would rebuild the engines and take them down to Cowley, to run on one of the two dyno's. Cliff was incredibly open to new ideas, particularly regarding reliability, which was not one of the engines strong points. A highlight has to be having ìourî engine chosen for Tony Pond on The '85 RAC rally, his 3rd place proving to be quite significant, with hindsight! At the time, we placed a cheeky ad in the Motoring News, congratulating Tony on his achievement with ìourî engine. Needless to say, it didn't go down too well with the top brass!
1986 flew by, with a move to our own premises, lots of rebuilds for Cowley, but sadly it became clear that Group B was not going to be allowed to carry on. Our focus shifted to preparing engines for privateers, rallycross 3.0 litres for Michael Shield and Mike Turpin, eventually stretching the capacity to first 3.6, then 3.8 litres. We maintained a close relationship with Cliff, as we were able to keep using the dyno's at Cowley while he was there. (We even bought one of them when they were decommissioned).
At times it seemed like the RACMSA was on our side, reducing the 6R4's engine capacity to 2.8 litres with the single plenum intake. All those engines would need modifying! Then it was realized that a 2.5 would comply with the blue book, and could run unrestricted! This triggered a period of very fruitful development, we were able to try all sorts of inlet/exhaust combinations, and also designed a slide throttle system, with overhead injectors, which mirrored the trend in F1 at the time. The 2.5 became a real ìcrackerî, revving to 10,750 rpm (Not 15,000 as I have read elsewhere on the internet!) and producing as much horsepower as the original works 3.0 litres. It was a privilege to provide engines for the likes of Peter Lloyd, John Price and many others, and I enjoyed the chance to co-drive for Keith Bird at a few events.
It all seems like history now. Unfortunately, while you are living through it, you don't feel the need to keep many records and photographs, so I guess it's important to get things written down while the memory of them is still clear.
Our involvement with the 6R4 goes on, John at Goodman Racing Engines, and myself at Dyfi Precision"
"At the end of 1980 after winning the F1 Championship I decided to stop travelling with the Williams Race Team due to family commitments, previous to Williams (1978-2002) I was employed with other F1 and sports car teams so I thought that was enough, Patrick and Frank tried to encourage me to stay on as Chief Mechanic which I had done from 1978 but my mind was made up, at that time Patrick had been talking to John Davenport about the Metro and asked me to set up a Prototype Dept. to evaluate making the Metro Rally car.
At that time Williams rented two factory units (Manufacturing and Race Prep) on the Industrial estate in Didcot and later another one for Bodywork and storage, a section of this was allocated for the Prototype Dept. and high walling erected to provide a secure area to operate, at this time the project was not officially sanctioned by BL so all very clandestine!
I remember going up to Sheffield during the Winter to a storage facility that sold machine tools as I was looking for a surface plate to build the car on, what a cold place that was a huge building with equipment everywhere presumably from closed down industry with braziers burning in the building so the staff could warm up now and then!
After looking at dozens of plates I found one that was suitable which weighed 8 tons, cannot remember how much it cost but the transport and crane to offload it at Didcot cost more.
On the way back the diff in the Marina van a freebie provided by BL to Frank started to fail and I just managed to get back to Didcot, boy did I have the mother of headaches with the noise!
So that was installed and other equipment purchased, a spot welder a big item just like they used on the production line were the Metro was made, I made a gantry with a balancer to support the head so it could be manipulated easily?
By then John Piper and Brian OíRourke joined the project, Brian had just returned from USA after working at a hi tec aircraft company and to see what he had to work with took him back a bit! They were ensconced in a Portacabin at the back of the unit.
Supports were made to lift the body above the plate so making it easy to gain access under the vehicle, at this point it had been decided that the engine would at the back and 4 wheel drive.
Brian did some prelim structures drawings/sketch and then it was necessary to go out and purchase a suitable mandrel tube bender to produce the roll cage space frame structure Brian had drawn, we found one or Roger Tippler in the Fab Shop found it and organised the tooling suitable to bend the T45 tubing, myself and Derrick Jones manufactured the space as a standalone item with sheet steel bulkheads and floor panels, we made up press tools to add strength to the flat panels and were inaccurate with the panel positions when in the press as it did not have enough throat, something that BL copied when they made the 200 homologation vehicles!"
"These were the very early days of the car, of course, when it was in plain red and ñ if you donít mind my putting it this way ñ still looked like a Metro. There are plenty of stories behind how it was back then. I spent a very great deal of time at one point ensuring that the size of tyre nominated ñ 600 mm. maximum diameter ñ would fit under the standard bonnet line. I was really pleased with the result. Similarly, the tops of the suspension towers were at the same height as the top of the seat bulkhead to give a flat rear deck. ARG Motorsport (at Williams we thought ARG! was appropriate at times) were quite forthright in terms of saying that any prospective type supplier would make what they asked them to and that was the size that they would insist on. Of course, by the time the 200 were ready (2 Ω years later) Michelin were already making tyres for Lancia and others and their attitude was ëYou will have 660 diameter and like ití, so those had to be made to fit. The only way to achieve that on the part of Rover was to bodge what they already had; no time to change (and we were years out of the project by then) so they just lifted the suspension tower tops the required amount. You can see this quite distinctly in the back where they just grafted a square tube-frame on top of the existing one; which then were built onto the 200 like that. The bonnet, of course, acquired horrible bulges to accommodate the extra height. Oh, well, we tried.
We ran the prototype at Cadwell Park which we used for some serious tarmac trials with Tony Pond. That was where we first ran the rear wing. There is a saga to that as well - which might take me a good while to put into words ñ so I wonít, yet. We encountered a fairly entrenched belief amongst the rallying community in those days that downforce was irrelevant, especially on loose surfaces. Coming from F1, as we were, that was regarded with scorn and so we set about trying to prove a point. ARG had a day booked at the MIRA full-size wind tunnel for their aerodynamics department (I think, all 2 of them) to have a look at the car with a view to doing simple drag reductions. We worked through all of that (mostly involved cutting the front off the gutter rails) and then put our rear wing on whilst the MIRA technicians went off for tea (which they seemed to do quite often). I remember the bemusement when they came back ñ words to the effect of ëSomething wrong here ñ the rear force has gone negative!í They had, clearly, never experienced anything other than lift before. Of course, that particular wing was ridiculous (it was a rear delta from an FW07 F1 car) and could never be balanced at the front, but it did make a point. When the time came to go to Cadwell we thought it would be worth digging the wing out again but, to be sensible, fitted an F1 flap as the wing instead. Since it was about 1/3 the chord length of the original that required us to cut down the make-shift end-plate that we had made for MIRA. It was a case of 2 lines on paper: cut it there and, then, there. What resulted was a funny thing with a sort of double angle in side view but did the job. Imagine my amusement when that shape became a fixed feature on the final car, I could hardly believe it.
I certainly have a print of the car running at Chalgrove for the very first time. I quite like that one as you can see everyone involved in building it ñ and no-one else (I think both John Davenport and Patrick Head were in meetings elsewhere). A cold morning in very good light but a bit slushy, as I remember it. Actually, no-one will acknowledge it, I suspect, but it did run once unofficially before then (other than the 20-m car-park check in the dark when everything was first connected up). We had built the chassis at our place in Didcot (the original - one-before-last ñ factory, now a shopping centre) but the car-build took place at Cowley. For some reason ñ I think it was the unavailability of scales for corner-weighting checks there ñ we brought the car down to Didcot to get the rest of the data, a Saturday morning. When it was done, Patrick couldnít resist it and insisted on driving it up and down the public road! John Davenport was never told about that and, I suspect, would have had apoplexy had he been. I have a photo of that somewhere and remember that, due to a shortage of MG-badged radiator grills at the time, it was fitted with the standard metro one. That had the green/blue stripes on it so that shot must be pretty unique."
I can easily remember the first time I set eyes on a 6R4. I was only 12 or 13 and my uncle lent me his greatest years of rallying the 80's video. I remember seeing the footage of the Quattro, 205 T16 etc going through the stages and thinking how fantastic they looked and sounded, but then when the shot of Tony Pond's 6R4 pushed into scrutineering for the 1985 Lombard RAC Rally appeared, I was instantly hooked! It just looked fantastic, and with some shots of the engine in the back and the dash came the one thing that we all love about the mighty metro, the noise of the howling V6. The first time I heard it I couldn't believe it, I am surprised the tape wasn't damaged considering the amount of times I was pressing the rewind button on the remote!
The first time I got to see a 6R4 in action was the 1998 Scottish National Rally. My uncle had taken me to see the international event, but when I was looking through the entry list in the event programme, I noticed the national rally and the first 3 cars were MG Metro 6R4's. I couldn't believe it, I was going to see one of these amazing machines for the first time in action. The only problem was that the National Rally took place on the following day, but I couldn't wait for it, my interest of the main rally had gone straight out the window, I was going to see a 6R4!
I will never ever forget the first experience of hearing a 6R4 in real life, a video certainly doesn't prepare you for the howling V6. You could hear it for ages on the stage getting louder and louder, I couldn't believe how loud it was before it arrived at our corner. The first 6R4 that came into view was Andy Horne, and you could tell that he was coming down the stage very fast and on the limit. The noise from the 6R4 when I was stood in the middle of the forest surrounded by miles of trees was nothing short of incredible, and within seconds Horne had gone past and on his way towards the end of the stage. The two following Metro's of Jim Carty and John Burn were equally as exciting and memorable. I was so excited that I had seen a 6R4, I kept telling my uncle how fantastic it was and I wanted to know the next rally that we can see one competing on. It was from that event, that my interest in the 6R4 took over as a big passion.
A Metro 6R4 owner who spoke to Nicky to source a car for him:
It all started with a chance meeting with Nicky Lindon from 6R4.net at this years Race Retro. I told Nicky that I was possibly in the market for a 6r4 but I had a very tight budget and a restoration project was probably what I was looking for, he went on to tell me that someone had been in touch with him asking if he knew any one interested in his 6r4 rally cross car,and so it started...
I gave Nicky my details to forward onto the owner and within 24hrs we were emailing one another unfortunately the car was located at the top of Finland and the owner only new three English words, "Hello,goodbye and Ok" ( this was going to be interesting ). We had to use Google translate to corespondent via email. I could make out the car was straight and complete by photos that he sent me. He had totally re sprayed the car blue/white only two weeks prior , before that it had spent the last ten years painted bright yellow.
The owner told me that he was a keen rally driver and had bought the Metro and had used it approx 6 times sprinting in Finland , he also told me he and his wife were about to go on 6 week holiday to Thailand within two weeks and if I wanted to view the car I would have to wait until the middle of May when they returned.
I soon realised if I wanted the car I had act quickly as I new other prospective buyers would be on my tail, fortunately for me my next working week was a quiet one. I decided to save time, I would drive to view and hopefully buy the car and tow it back with me. In the mean time I was corresponding with my friend David Sims and Nicky Lindon trying to find out about more of its history.
If I was to buy the car I needed the funds sorted.A deposit was bank transferred to Keeke ( the Finish owner) in Finland and a bankers draft for the balance ( recommended by one of England's leading banks ) was arranged.
Keeke told me if I was driving the best route would be driving all the way up through Sweden and a covered trailer would be preferable.The weather was cold,snowy and icy, it was possible I would face treacherous conditions. I had snow tyres fitted to my Discovery but I didn't have a covered trailer my flat bed car would have to do, plenty of tarpaulin and ropes and bungee were put in the boot.
Ferry tickets were hastily booked for one car and trailer and two passengers only to find out at the eleventh hour my pal I was travelling with had to pull out of the trip because of work issues,I rang round everyone I could think of to see if I could get someone to go with me but it was too short notice for any of my friends to race off to Finland this meant I missed the ferry crossing.
Eventually, three days later new tickets were purchased and another friend said he would be happy to help with the driving on this epic road journey, finally we were on our way from Hull to Rotterdam.
We worked out if we drove none stop for 30 hours stopping for only fuel and toilet breaks, doing 3hours driving and 3 hours sleeping going through Holland ,Germany , Denmark all the way up Sweden. Then down into Finland with one night in a hotel in Keeke's home town then returning through Denmark,Germany and Holland we should be home by Friday of that week.
All went well when we set off from Rotterdam then at two o'clock in the morning in the pitch black somewhere in the middle of Sweden we realised how far we still had to go.The roads went on and on. This was going to be one very long drive. To make matters worse when we stopped at a service station we we were told by a truck driver that the tyre rack on the trailer was loose. There was no weight on the trailer and all the bouncing around when unladen it was shaking itself apart , we hastily had to do a running repair with ratchet straps to hold it in place until we got to our destination when better repairs could be undertaken.
When we finally got to Olu in Finland aprox 5pm we were greeted by Keeke and his family in their lovely home. We were promptly shown the Metro which was located in a warm, heated garage surrounded by snow and ice. The car was exactly as described complete and straight so the deal was done and the Bankers draft for the balance handed over , Keeke put us in a nearby hotel as we had missed that day's banking hours .
The next day we were up early and returned to Keeke's home to meet him and to go to the local bank to cash the cheque.When we got to the bank the clerk told us that the bankers cheque would take nine weeks to clear. Now I had a problem, all my money was tied up in the draft and I had no way of paying for the car .
A frantic phone call back to a friend in England who graciously agreed to electronically send the balance over but this again was going to take another 48hours which would mean we would miss our ferry ticket home. Keeke, again put us up in a local hotel and we had to sit it out until all money's were transferred. This was tortuous wait. When the money finally came through we had the car loaded on trailer and all covers securely fastened down so that nothing flapped around damaging any of the paint work but there was no mistaking the silhouette of a 6R4 underneath .
We knew we only had 36 hours to reach our second ferry before we had to buy more tickets.We knew it would be a hard and arduous journey home.The snow, the icy and miles and miles of road.
At 3 o'clock in the morning on a quiet motorway I was woken by Mark (who was driving) to say we had a problem, the trailer was swerving violently from side to side. He finally managed to get the trailer under control and slowed everything down to a stop. I volunteered to get out and investigate with my torch it was -6 degrees outside. I opened the door put my foot on the floor to find the whole road was mile upon mile of black ice, it was only Mark's driving experience that saved us from having a huge crash and loosing everything . The road was so treacherous we had to do the next 30 miles at max 15 mph.
Mile after mile we carried on only stopping for fuel ,toilet ,crisps we thought it would never end.Eventually our Sat Nav told us we had 300 miles to go to get to Rotterdam terminal.We would be 20 mins late, after final boarding so we pressed on as quickly as we could or we would have to wait another 24 hours for another ferry.
When we got to the ferry terminal we were exactly 15 mins late and all the barriers were down.I got out of the car and ran to the office and begged the attendant to let us on, she replied that we should of been on 30 mins ago but if we quickly drove to the back of the ferry the load master may let us on , we drove at hair brain speeds to the back where they were just about to close the doors. I think they saw the desperate expression on our faces and they took pity on us and told us to get on as quick as F ------G possible.
When we got on board and switched the engine off you won't believe how relieved we were we cracked open a bottle of Vodka that out Finnish friends had given us and we both took a huge swig and paid a toast to what we had done, we had made it. Mark and I staggered to our cabin only to find we were on the Saturday night booze cruise from Amsterdam to Hull . We found lads fighting and sick in the corridors but this didn't matter nothing could alter the fact that we had made it and we were nearly home, we slept 12 hours solid .
Now at home the history of the Metro is coming to light it was registered as D479 PDM and was originally preped by RED for rallying and went through a few hands and eventually was owned by the famous rallycrosser Will Gollop who painted it in the famous Silkolene colours and was preped for Tiff Needell. I would be interested if any one has more history of the car and photos of the car.
I have not got the the cars original log book and registration number and I am in process of putting it back into its iconic Silkolene colours.I am trying to get it ready to show at this years world rally series Ay Lyden in May and use it on Slowly side ways events .
I would like to say a big thank you to Mark my friend who I couldn't of done the trip with out and to my other friend who financially bailed me out and to Dave Sims and Nicky Lindon for all their help and support .