Sports car projects : ADO56

Ahead of its time

This wooden model, photographed in March 1959, clearly shows the interesting passenger door cut-out, which extends into the rear wheel-arch area, presumably with the aim of facilitating access to the rear seats.
This wooden model, photographed in March 1959, clearly shows the interesting
passenger door cut-out, which extends into the rear wheelarch area, presumably
with the aim of facilitating access to the rear seats

Known within BMC as the ‘MG Sport’, ADO56 was devised by Alec Issigonis, based on an extended Mini floor pan. The car was styled by Dick Burzi, strongly influenced by Pininfarina’s Austin A40 Farina, and was engineered by Jack Daniels.

Sitting on 12in wheels, the car was later built as a running prototype, using a transversely-mounted Mini-Cooper engine. According to Austin stylist Barry Kelkin, who worked on the project, ADO56 ‘went like a bomb’ and came very close to being signed-off for production.

While the longer passenger door is retained, the driver’s door is more conventionally-proportioned. It is not clear whether this is simply a ‘double-sided’ model (to enable both options to be assessed) or whether they were seriously considering this arrangement for the final car.

The 1970s AMC Pacer was one car which bravely took this unusual feature into production.

Further reading

One month on, and the completed model is photographed for the archives.
One month on, and the completed model is photographed for the archives

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.

4 Comments on "Sports car projects : ADO56"

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  1. Chris C says:

    If it’s based on a Mini floorpan I wonder how much dead space is under the very long bonnet!

  2. dontbuybluemotion dontbuybluemotion says:

    What a strange contraption that ive never seen or heard about. There’s shades of MG Midget, BMC 1100 and Vauxhall Viva HC estate in there, Perhaps a forerunner to The Reliant Scimitar? What year was this commissioned? does anyone know?

  3. daveh says:

    Wherent there two version of this? Im sure this use to be on the site ages ago and had designs by Longbridge and Abingdon?

  4. Hilton D says:

    Had this car gone into production in the early 60’s it might have sold well. It looks quite attractive and modern for that period of car design

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