Sports car projects : ADO34, 35 and 36

Active between 1960 and 1964, ADO34 was a project to develop a Mini-based roadster, which would logically have replaced the MG Midget and Austin-Healey Sprite. Different versions were put forward by Austin at Longbridge and MG at Abingdon, while a coupé version (ADO35) was also developed, along with Austin-Healey versions of each car (ADO36).

The Longbridge cars

MG versions

The Longbridge ADO34 (above), roof-down and roof-up. This prototype was built (and probably designed) by Pininfarina, and now resides at the Heritage Collection at Gaydon.

The Longbridge ADO34, roof-down and roof-up. This prototype was built (and probably designed) by Pininfarina, and now resides at the Heritage Collection at Gaydon.

This car (above), as featured in "MG: The Untold Story" by David Knowles, is believed to be a surviving example of ADO35, bearing as it does a strong resemblance to ADO34, along with the hallmarks of Pininfarina's involvement in its design and production. It is now undergoing restoration in the hands of an enthuisast.

This car (above), as featured in "MG: The Untold Story" by David Knowles, is believed to be a surviving example of ADO35, bearing as it does a strong resemblance to ADO34, along with the hallmarks of Pininfarina's involvement in its design and production. It is now undergoing restoration in the hands of an enthuisast.

Austin-Healey versions

Opinions vary, but this plain-fronted car is generally considered to be the Austin-Healey version of ADO34, probably restyled by Dick Burzi at Longbridge. Pictured below is a closed coupé derivative, fitted with what appears to be a detachable hardtop. It is clearly not, however, the Michelotti-designed ADO70, as one commentator has suggested in print.

Opinions vary, but this plain-fronted car is generally considered to be the Austin-Healey version of ADO34, probably restyled by Dick Burzi at Longbridge. Pictured below is a closed coupé derivative, fitted with what appears to be a detachable hardtop. It is clearly not, however, the Michelotti-designed ADO70, as one commentator has suggested in print.

The Abingdon cars

Abingdon's ADO34, looking rather like a diminutive MGB.

Abingdon's ADO34, looking rather like a diminutive MGB.

The different frontal treatments devised for the MG (ADO34) and Austin-Healey (ADO36) variants. The Austin-Healey's badge reads "Austin-Healey Sprite". The sidelight/indicator units appear to have been sourced from the contemporary Morris J4 van.

The different frontal treatments devised for the MG (ADO34) and Austin-Healey (ADO36) variants. The Austin-Healey's badge reads "Austin-Healey Sprite". The sidelight/indicator units appear to have been sourced from the contemporary Morris J4 van.

This version of the Abingdon car features different frontal detailing, with a longer bonnet and wider grille.

This version of the Abingdon car features different frontal detailing, with a longer bonnet and wider grille.

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Clsssics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasable adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

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Keith Adams

About the Author:

Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007. Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Clsssics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent... Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasable adventures all across Europe.

7 Comments on "Sports car projects : ADO34, 35 and 36"

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  1. Sandgroper says:

    Great photos and thankyou for posting them – the Abingdon ADO34 brought back wonderful memories. I live in Western Australia and was over in Cowley (and other BMC factories) 1960-61 doing a training course. At Cowley I “happened” on the photographing room used to photograph cars for brochures. As I walked by, the curtain was wide open and sitting there was a red ADO34. I thought it was being photographed for a brochure and was to be the MG Midget. Alas it was just a concept car and the Austin Longbridge dominance prevailed. Bodylines was along that of the MGB. What amazed me was the incredible leg room for the rear seat passengers.

    At Abingdon they had a six cylinder Magnette based on a ZA but with a longer nose to accommodate the six. It also ended up a concept car. They called it “The Beer Wagon”. Apparently the bosses used it at the weekend and after a few beers gave the car a workout. I was told it went like a rocket but was a handful to handle because they had not sorted the suspension. I believe it had a Nuffield engine – not Austin. I’d dearly like to know more about this car

  2. Looking at the success of the ADO16 and the handsome ADO34 prototype residing in Gaydon, I think it was a big opportunity lost here. ADO34 should have been based on the ADO16 for production though. Peugeot made it right with the 204 – and at times I think that Pininfarina reused some of the design ideas from ADO34 in the 204 Coupé and Cabriolet. But back then design was more a trademark of the design studio than a corporate design we see today.

  3. Phil Simpson says:

    The Abiingdon one would have been a worthy successor to the Midget.

  4. Phil Simpson says:

    Both the roadster & GT have a look of the respective Peugeot 204 models. Or 304 for that matter seeing both were the same at the rear.

  5. Ryan Antell says:

    does anybody know anything about the restorative work being done on the ado34 coupe

  6. Christopher Storey says:

    They do indeed look like the Peugeots. And just remind me : how many of those were sold at all, let alone in the UK ? Just for once, BLMC ( I suppose it was still BMC then ) made the right decision ; the Spridget was no doubt 3 times ( at least ) as profitable per unit as these would have been , and in total profit terms I have no doubt they would have seen it out of sight

  7. Nate says:

    Though it would have its drawbacks (in terms of aerodynamics), an interesting variant would have been a 1970s version of the Coupe (ADO35) and Austin-Healey Convertible (ADO36) that featured a sportier Mini Clubman-derived front with either single or twin front headlights, the Coupe version in theory more or less resembling a tidied up and updated Ogle SX1000 GT.

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