By 14 September 2016 3 Comments Read More →

Concepts : Towns Microdot

William Towns had high hopes for the Microdot, but they would eventually come to nothing…


The Microdot made its debut at the London Motor Show in 1976, where it couldn’t help but attract attention due to its typically neat, glassy styling – and its bright lime-green paintwork. However, its green credentials were more than skin-deep, as this was Towns’ styling exercise for an electrically-powered city car for the 1980s.

Indeed, it was not until 1980 that anything further happened to the car, for it was then that Abingdon-based specialists Mallelieu Cars announced their intention to productionise the Microdot, but with a good-old internal combustion engine rather than the electric motor that Towns had envisaged.

This would involve re-engineering the car to accept a Mini engine – requiring the sleek front end to be redesigned – while Reliant’s all-alloy unit and even a two-stroke marine engine were also under consideration. The plan was for Mallelieu to complete a short run of prototypes by the end of 1980 and to then attain the required Type Approval to allow it to be sold as a fully-built production model. Once approval had been secured, a decision was to be taken as to whether Towns and Mallelieu would join forces to produce the car, or alternatively sell the production rights to another manufacturer.

Two versions were planned: an entry-level economy model, which would sell for around £4000, and an upmarket luxury version for around £7000. However, these plans would remain just that: plans. In the end, the project was scuppered by rising costs, which would have seen the car costing anything up to £10,000, for which one could have bought, say, a Porsche 924 Lux or Ford Granada 2.3 Ghia. In hindsight, even the originally projected prices look expensive: a comparable Fiat 126 could be had for little more than £2000, while £7000 would have secured a top-of-the-range Princess or an entry-level Rover 2300.

As with the Minissima concept, the Microdot was later acquired by BL Heritage and can be seen at the Heritage Motor Centre at Gaydon to this day.

image


Thanks to Graham Arnold for providing some of the source material for this page.

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

Latest posts by Keith Adams (see all)

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.

3 Comments on "Concepts : Towns Microdot"

Trackback | Comments RSS Feed

  1. DGate says:

    Just read about the Microdot and can confirm that I purchased the Mallelieu prototype sometime in the late seventies early eighties after they had abandoned the project. I then consulted William Towns for advice on obtaining glass and to see if any moulds existed for body work from the Minissima. The prototype consisted of a square tubular space frame, a rather well formed alloy floor pan with moulded in seating, all new automatic mini lump, new subframes, shortened exhaust and wide wheels shod with quality tyres.
    I got the impression he was not enamoured with Mallelieu’s plan to install a mini engine plus he advised that as the prototype had ever so slight curves to the greenhouse area that to obtain specially manufactured glass would be prohibitively expensive.
    I was finally convinced to purchase one of his Hustler six kits.
    Mr Towns secretly won over his dislike of the prototype when I dismantled it to complete the Hustler but with hindsight I still prefer the microdot and Smart has proven the concept to be viable.

  2. Charles says:

    A British engineered precursor to the unlamented Toyota IQ based Aston Martin Cygnet. Though Towns probably would never have excepted a city car with Aston Martin associations.

Have your say...