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.
Thanks to Graham Arnold for providing some of the source material for this page.
Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics 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 unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
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