Subsequent to the launch of the Mazda MX-5 in 1989, British Motor Heritage (by then owned by Rover Group) had placed the MGB bodyshell back in production to serve the MGB restoration market. The success of the MX-5 had given Rover confidence that the market for 2 seater roadsters had re-emerged, and the decision was taken in 1991 to create an updated MGB model. The suspension was only slightly updated, sharing the leaf spring rear of the MGB. The boot lid and doors were shared with the original car, as were the rear drum brakes. The engine was the 3.9-litre version of the aluminium Rover V8, similar to the one previously used in the MGB GT V8. A limited-slip differential was also fitted. The MG RV8 debuted at the British International Motor Show in October 1992.
The British Motor Heritage manufactured bodyshell was painted at Rover's Cowley plant before being transported to Longbridge for final assembly where the cars were practically hand-built on a separate line. The interior featured venered burr elm woodwork and Conolly leather.
Largely due to the rear drum brakes and rear leaf springs, the RV8 was not popular with road testers. The high price of the car put it in direct competition with contemporary rivals from specialist manufacturers such as TVR which offered modern technology and a more up to date driving experience.
A large proportion of the limited MG RV8 production went to Japan – 1,579 of the 1,983 produced. Three-hundred and thirty RV8s were sold initially in the UK. Several hundred (possibly as many as 700) of these cars were reimported back to the UK and also Australia between 2000–2010 with a peak number of 485 registered in the UK. Several sources consider this a continuation of the MGB model.