In 1988 JE Engineering UK converted an MG Metro 6R4 to a V8 engine for the Spanish gravel (Tierra) championship for Patxi Arbelaiz.
JE Engineering, founded by V8 guru John Eales, had been developing performance 4.2L Rover V8 engines to run in the Toleman Paris Dakar 6R4s. The original development 6R4 ran a cut-down version of the Rover V8 so this was an obvious transplant. The V6 engine with its high-revving fragile characteristics was swapped for the bombproof Rover V8 engine which was proven in hot, dry, dusty conditions.
JE Motors produced a 4.6L V8 that was fitted to Patxi Arbelaiz's 6R4 for his assault on the 1988 Spanish Gravel Championship. With fierce competition from Carlos Sainz in his Marlboro backed Ford RS200, Gustavo Trelles Jolly Club backed Lancia Delta S4, Antonio Zanini's Citroen Visa 4x4, Joseph Servia's Seat Ibiza Bimotor, the Renault Maxi Turbo 4x4 of Guillermo Barreras and the Audi Quattro of Ignacio Sunsundegui, Patxi regularly finished in the Top five with the Metro 8R4 and finished his first year of rallying 10th in the Championship.
1989-1991 saw much of the same stiff competition, with Patxi now regularly running in the top three and finishing 6th in both championships.
Following a serious accident the car was reshelled, the new shell having a distinctive air scoop in the roof to improve air flow to the big mid-mounted 4.6L V8 and a revised strengthened front end. Patxi continued to set fastest stage times and regularly run in the top five on selective rounds of the 1992-93 Championship. Patxi then retired from full-time rallying and only brought the Metro 8R4 out once in 1994 to finish 3rd on the Rally de Zaragoza. The last event the car took part in was the 1995 Rally Cartagena which ended with the car retiring due to steering problems.
The car was then retired to Patxi's collection and had not been seen for 20 years. Sports and competition car expert Mark Donaldson discovered the car through contacts in Spain in 2014. The car was then purchased by its current owner and has now returned to British soil 26 years after its first registration. Enthusiast owner Tim Bendle intends to demonstrate the car at various events in the UK and Europe.
Engine: 4.6 ltr
Aspiration: Naturally Aspirated
Camshafts: Twin Single Under Head Camshafts
Carburetion: Fuel Injected
Transmission: 5 speed