From the motorsport archive: On this day in 2003

99 mg zt side profile

MG went a bit mad in its old age and produced a record-breaking V8 estate

What should a car company do when facing financial peril? Spend a fortune re-engineering one of its models from front- to rear-wheel drive, of course.

At least that’s what MG did in 2003, creating the 260 version of the ZT saloon and estate. With a budget of £30m, it hired engineering expert Prodrive to adapt the Rover offspring and fit it with a 256bhp 4.6-litre V8 from the Ford Mustang.

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Before the British BMW M3 rival went on sale, MG decided to generate some publicity by making the ZT-T the world’s fastest estate, hiring the So-Cal Speed Shop to create a record-breaker. It received a Roush-tuned 765bhp 6.0-litre racing V8, a Nascar gearbox, racing brakes and a parachute at the back.

“Literally, we can’t see the car for dust,” reported Autocar. “The only proof we have that the MG is flying is the scream of the small-block Ford, clearly audible even though it’s now nearly a mile away. The speed comes over the PA: 181.521mph.”

Doubts over the future of MG Rover were gathering – so much so that we doubted if the ZT would appear at Bonneville in August. It did, breaking the record at 225.609mph.

That, though, would prove to be MG Rover’s last hurrah.

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Source: Autocar

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