Welsh automotive engineer Wynne Mitchell has accrued considerable motorsport experience, having started his career as a student apprentice with the Rootes Group before studying mechanical engineering at Birmingham University.
In July 1984 Wynne joined Austin Rover Group (ARG) to work on the company’s sensational offering for the Group B era – the MG Metro 6R4 – with overall responsibility for all but the car’s normally aspirated V6 engine and its systems and his book provides a candid peep behind the scenes.
During the 1980s, ARG Group were using motorsport to promote some of their model range; Metro GTi, Maestro EFi and various Rover iterations, their dictum being ‘winning Sunday, selling Monday’.
But the most formidable weapon in ARG’s arsenal was a bespoke Group B rally car to contest the World Rally Championship and designed by Williams Grand Prix Engineering and perhaps therein lay the anomaly. A car designed by people who didn’t develop it yet developed by people who didn’t design it, enter the precocious MG Metro 6R4!
Wynne’s fascinating and after almost 40 years, brutally honest story chronicles three year’s exhausting, expensive and often frustrating testing, and development carried out at MIRA, Cowley and in the field both home and overseas as well as the combative theatre of international rallying.
The distinguished alumni of drivers Glyncorrwg-born Wynne worked with during this time included Tony Pond, Marc Duez, Colin Malkin, Steve Soper, Malcolm Wilson, Jimmy McRae, and fellow Welshman David Llewellin, all with their own idiosyncratic yet equally effective development methodologies and techniques.
For homologation purposes a total of 200 6R4 cars were built by ARG with around 17 designated ‘works’ rally cars, with others bought by privateers or used as recce/practice cars. To 6R4 historians, registration numbers became well-known and, in some cases, iconic although some cars were akin to Grandpa’s old axe with several body shell and engine changes and this book plots the history of these works’ cars.
Packed with 151 pages of vivid reminiscences, technical data, and some great images this specialized, and niche soft-back book will appeal principally to past and present 6R4 owners – the car is now a desirable and valuable collectors’ car – as well as students of Group B’s comparatively short history. The Classic Valuer reported one model was sold for £215,526.
Perhaps I’m a bit nerdy but I found the journey through Wynne’s detailed project diaries a thoroughly absorbing read which provided background to the many headlines we remember reading during that heady period of international rallying.
Costing £24.99 including first class postage, this self-published book is available via: 6R4.net. Reinforcing Wynne Mitchell’s motorsport credentials, he has already successfully published two similar books with Steve Conry: The Sunbeam Lotus Story and The Avenger and Sunbeam Lotus Diaries, written in the same style.
© Ken Davies