The MG ZR. It was a great car to develop (from the Rover 25), a hoot to drive and surprisingly popular in club motorsport. Indeed, it has become the weapon of choice for ‘standard car’ classes in sprints and hill climbs. A relatively modern car, easy to maintain and no need for a trailer to get to and from events. Club motorsport at its best – long may it continue.

Unfortunately, we were made aware of a problem looming. Whilst front struts and rear dampers are designed to last the life of the car, we all know that original equipment parts can degrade or even fail (an MOT when oil is leaking). Hence the availability of replacement parts in service for all cars of whatever brand. Except the MG ZR that is. Original parts have sold out. Aftermarket parts are still available for Rover 200, 25, standard and sport derivatives. The damping characteristics are fine for each derivative (making sure that you fit in pairs), but all are missing a vital ingredient. Essence of ZR. Or (rather less poetically) a rebound spring.

Our friends in club motorsport wishing to compete in the standard car class have a dilemma. They need their cars to be standard (obviously) but require the damping characteristics to be as good as new to have a chance in competition (or at least pass the MOT test). Save our Zeds? Time to develop a solution.

The front strut is a twin tube item with a carefully developed damping characteristic. Some would say it is rather harsh and crashy, but primary body control was the target. Nobody can say that the MG ZR was simply a ‘badge engineered’ Rover 25. The change was real and deliberate. The rebound spring? Yes, this added cost. It also gave much greater roll control. It also allowed the use of a stiffer, shorter road spring (it must work hard throughout its travel), giving a more sporting ride frequency and great visual appeal from the lowered ride height. The rear damper is also a twin tube item, again with travels and damping characteristics carefully tuned for the MG ZR.

It has been possible to replicate the original specification struts and dampers with the help of our supplier, Bilstein. It has been a lengthy project as we wanted to ensure accuracy of all characteristics, remaining faithful to the MG Rover produced MG ZR parts. The intention has been to produce OEM quality parts that are a direct replacement for the factory fitted struts and dampers. OEM quality parts to keep these cars on the road (and track).

Will they help our MG ZR sprint and hillclimbers to go quicker? That is not the intention. But a new lease of life will give the drivers more time to practice their art.