What to pay for an MG RV8?
This is a question frequently raised by enthusiasts contacting the V8 Register who are thinking of getting an RV8. In this note, Victor Smith sets out some of the factors influencing prices and points to possible trends. (This article was first published in the V8 Newsletter in the Arpil 2001 issue of Safety Fast!, the award winning monthly magazine of the MG Car Club. The note was updated in August 2002).

Three factors determine price
As with most classic cars three factors determine price - the number of vehicles in the market, the number of buyers and sellers and the condition of the vehicle. With the factory MGBGTV8, vehicle condition has been seen to be the major factor in determining price over the years and a similar factor appears to be developing in the RV8 market. In terms of market size, only 353 examples were released in the UK market when the RV8 was launched in 1993 with an astonishing 1,530 going to Japan. So the model gained an initial exclusivity in the UK market which helped maintain the launch price for some time. Many purchasers of UK models thought that exclusivity would continue. Now over five years later, the flow of RV8s returning from Japan is substantial and the effect on the UK secondhand RV8 market is a sensitive issue for them. The flow of new RV8 members joining the V8 Register is evidence of a steady demand in the UK for this modern classic sports car. Equally the model has become popular in Australia too - the airconditioning which was standard equipment of the Japanese specification cars is particularly useful downunder!

Unusual feature - differential pricing
An unusual feature of the RV8 market seems to be differential pricing between UK models and reimported Japan specification machines. The differential seems to be in the region of £1,500 to £2,500, or possibly even a little more. In many ways the differential is illogical and understanding why it exists is not straightforward. One of the factors depressing the price of reimports is that the majority are finished in Woodcote Green, with only a few in Oxford Blue and other colours. It seems a growing proportion of the prospective RV8 purchasers prefer something other than Woodcote Green and consequently there is a premium for the few Oxford Blue or Nightfire Red reimported RV8s that come on to the market. The price discount for reimported cars is also odd as Japanese specification RV8s have air-conditioning fitted as standard equipment which you might think would be seen as a valuable benefit. In fact at least a half of enthusiasts acquiring a reimported RV8 have the AC system removed, principally because the equipment does take a considerable share of the passenger legwell space! In the UK, it seems many owners of reimported RV8s do not feel the air-conditioning is worth the loss of passenger legwell space and have the system removed and then two spotlights inserted in the AC intakes at the front thereby reverting to the frontal appearance of a UK specification RV8. In Australia the air-conditioning has been a particularly attractive feature for Australian RV8 enthusiasts who find it beneficial in their hot Summer climate. Where members do retain the AC system, they have to remember to run the AC system at least once a month to maintain its efficient working.

Corrosion is a factor checking reimport prices
Another factor checking the prices of reimports is the incidence of corrosion on reimported RV8s, particularly around the windscreen. A double journey by sea seems to be the cause, especially the return leg when the level of salt air protection may not be the same as that required by MG Rover when the vehicle was originally shipped to Japan. On the plus side, many of the reimported RV8s have exceptionally low mileages. As Lance Bennett (a V8 Register member with an RV8 in Japan) reported recently, Japanese owners have usually kept their RV8s garaged for much of the time. In many cases the reimported RV8s are very well prepared before delivery to customers in the UK by specialists like HS Imports in Somerset who have the capability and experience to make the necessary changes to meet UK road going requirements. The economics of reimporting RV8s and the need for prompt stock turnover do seem to result in the reimporters trading the machines at prices significantly lower than the advertised prices for genuine UK models seen in recent motor magazines. The reimporters also seem willing to offer good discounts for advance orders.

What is causing Japanese RV8 owners to sell their cars?
Lance Bennett (Oxford Blue 1595) in Tokyo reported in a recent V8 Column that the increasing flow of RV8s returning from Japan is caused by the seriously costly annual inspection required for vehicles in Japan known as the "Shaken" from their third year following initial registration. This produces an incentive to sell RV8s in Japan and results in disposals at auctions. But what is the possible effect of the flow of reimports to the UK? Other factors having a bearing on Japanese owners deciding to sell up are the high cost of garaging in urban areas and their concern over the reduced Rover servicing and back-up for the model in Japan.

What is the likely effect of the flow of reimported RV8s on the UK market?
Well it is possible to identify pointers to the scale of the likely effect on the UK market of the flow of reimported RV8s based on registrations of reimported RV8s recorded with the V8 Register. It is clear the scale of reimporting is substantial in terms of the original stock of 353 UK specification machines and the 17 pre-production machines, most of which are still in the UK. Some 67 reimports have been registered with us over the last few years, amounting to 18% of the initial stock of UK models. We are aware that some 20 of the original UK models have been exported to Europe, so the reimports amount to almost 19% which is clearly a significant proportion of such a small existing stock of RV8s in the UK. We are reasonably sure that around 85% of RV8s in the UK are registered with us and we know that only 24 of those RV8s have been reported as having been "sold-on" in the last couple of years. Clearly we have not full data on all RV8 secondhand sales, but in the light of the small turnover indicated by our data and the small stock of RV8s in the UK, the 67 reimports are clearly substantial. (Update in September 2002: since preparing this note in September 2001, the flow of RV8 reimports to the UK has increased considerably and now the number in the UK is almost equal to the stock of UK specification cars.

Current RV8 prices in the UK
As Spring arrives, sports car prices generally become more buoyant. Current prices for UK spec RV8s from limited research of advertised prices in the press indicate they are in the range 18,500 to 17,500, although Classic & Sports Car magazine's monthly guide indicates RV8s at 22,000 (show or concours condition) to 15,000 (average roadgoing condition). Clearly with advertised cars you cannot judge condition and we know RV8 and MGBGTV8 prices are very sensitive to condition and originality. We have also received information from a member that an MG Rover dealer just west of London has been offering a couple of reimported RV8s at 15,950. The advert from HS Imports in the February/March 2001 issue of MG World indicated their price for reimported RV8s is in the range 13,500 to 14,500. Since then prices for reimported RV8s have fallen further and prices of 13,000 for Woodcote Green examples have been seen. See update on RV8 prices. More

So what of the future for RV8 prices?
Well in volume terms, more RV8s are likely to be shaken out in Japan and many will find there way back to the UK and continue the influence on UK domestic secondhand RV8 prices. However not all RV8 reimports are sailing to the UK, many are going to Australia where the air-con specification is very welcome. Quite how Australian passengers cope with the cramped legwell with the air-con kit competing for space I am not sure! Based on RV8 registrations the V8 Register has received from Australia, the number going there is at least as large as that to the UK. But even if the flow of reimports continues, the enlarged stock of RV8s in the UK will still be relatively small for a classic MG.

Key concern for RV8 enthusiasts is spares support and availability
As the RV8 has passed the tenth anniversary from the launch of the model there are inevitably concerns over the continued spares support and availability from MG Rover and specialist V8 suppliers. Provided that continues, RV8 prices are likely to remain at levels which will please existing enthusiasts with UK specification machines. The uncertain factor is the future flow of RV8s returning from Japan - I feel three factors will apply. First the flow of RV8s at auction will be governed by the state of the Japanese domestic economy and the tendency for Japanese RV8 owners wishing to sell their car to avoid the costs of owning an ageing specialist car. Second the Foreign exchange rate will also play a part because whilst the Yen is low, the car represents better value in overseas countries importing the cars bought at auction. Third a considerable flow of RV8s is going to Australia (recent reports say around 100 RV8s are there now), where the air-con specification is a particular attraction. So this contributes to an expanded demand for ex Japan machines in addition to the established demand from the UK. (Update September 2002: we understand there is now around 180 RV8s in Australia).

More RV8s in the UK will increase the potential RV8 spares business
One good feature of the increasing number of RV8s in the UK market will be the attraction of the larger volume of RV8 spares and maintenance business to MG specialists in the industry prepared to serve that market. Hopefully that should maintain RV8 spares availability and encourage competitive spares pricing. Our popular RV8 Workshop Notes series is providing spares and maintenance support and advice which will help enthusiasts and specialists maintain their RV8s.

Little sign of any cross market effect between the MGBGTV8 and RV8
Finally there appears to be little cross market effect between MGBGTV8s and RV8s as secondhand prices do not overlap and clearly the RV8 is a more modern car which tends to attract a different profile of V8 enthusiast. A recent issue of Classic Car indicates 8,250 for a chrome bumper MGBGTV8 although our information suggests good quality examples are trading at around 10,000. Spares availability for the MGBGTV8 is particularly good and spares prices are clearly significantly lower than for similar RV8 parts. As always, maintaining the breed is the key issue!

Prospects for the RV8 look good at present
The RV8 is increasingly popular with MG enthusiasts and MG is a key brand for MG Rover in terms of not only sales but also their reputation for good service and spares support. The continued availability and cost of RV8 spares will increasingly become the key issue for RV8 enthusiasts and this is where the V8 Register is providing vital support with the expansion of the RV8 Workshop Notes series - now recognised as the leading source of RV8 spares and servicing information.

(Note: this article was first published in the V8 Newsletter in the April 2001 issue of Safety Fast!, the award winning monthly magazine of the MG Car Club. Updated in September 2002)

Other useful notes

RV8 price trends

RV8 import trends

RAWS impact on Australian RV8 imports

Reassurance with RV8 reimports

RV8 auction system in Japan

RV8 auction news from Tokyo

"Dirty seats" on RV8 auction reports

Understanding RV8 auction reports

Copyright reserved by the V8 Register of the MG Car Club, PO Box 251, Abingdon-on-Thames, Oxfordshire OX14 1FF