The converters : Towns TXC Tracer

This William Towns-styled Metro-based, mid-engined roadster brought the concept behind the MGF to fruition some 10 years earlier…

Looks pretty racy, too.

Tracer fire…

If you think the Tracer has a familiar look to it, there could be several reasons for that. First of all, William Towns clearly drew inspriation from his rather more exotic 1980 creation for Aston Martin, the Bulldog, with the earlier car’s shape particularly being echoed in the Tracer’s front and flanks.

He also carried over one of the Bulldog’s most individual features: its concealed headlamp arrangement, whereby the trailing edge of a flap in the otherwise fixed front panel would lower to reveal a fixed bank of four, square lights set into the car’s bulkhead. The Tracer also shared the Bulldog’s mid-engined layout.

You may also be able to see elements of the Reliant Scimitar SST, which Towns would go on to design in 1989. There is more than a hint of this car in the shape of the front bumper, but from the rear the similarities are even more evident, as pointed out by Reliant historian Daniel Lockton.

And there’s also a undeniable similarity – in terms of colour scheme, apart from anything else! – with Austin-Rover’s own contemporary MG Midget proposal, which was to have been based on the planned Austin AR6 Metro replacement. Indeed, the Tracer was itself based on the MG Metro, as can be seen from its distinctive alloy wheels, but unlike the Midget.

As with the Hustler, the donor car’s subframes and mechanical parts were united with a bespoke steel frame, onto which the fibreglass body panels were attached – in the case of the Tracer, just seven separate panels were required.

Austin Rover’s 1984 AR6-based study for a new MG Midget. While sharing some
superficial similarities with the Tracer, there was one crucial difference: the Gerry
-designed Midget never made it into production

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created in 2001 and built it up 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 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.
Keith Adams

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  1. Anorak time – the wheel trim design on the 1984 ‘Midget’ above would go on to become the wheel covers for the 1989 Rover 200 series?

    • That’s right Ian, I recall those Rover 200 wheelcovers in silver. I like the look of both these cars, due to the two tone colours and chisel style fronts. Even now, they don’t look that old fashioned.

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