Sports car projects : ADO76

When MG met Michelotti

Given it's a Michelotti design, there are clear Triumph styling cues in this proposed MGB.
Given it's a Michelotti design, there are clear Triumph styling cues in this proposed MGB.

Until recently, AROnline listed the ADO76 project as a rubber-bumpered version of the MGB, but in essence there was much more to it than that…

Moves were afoot in both Abingdon and Pressed Steel-Fisher (PSF) in Cowley to produce something with a clear 1970s style for the upcoming decade… sadly, it never ended up that way and did end up just being a project to add (stylish) rubber bumpers to the MGB.

The ADO76 programme was run in PSF in Cowley, as well as Abingdon and Longbridge – and here is one of the ideas that was flouted during the early stages of its development between 1968 and ’69. The idea was for Skunk Works in Swindon to create an MGB replacement based on a Michelotti-styled base. The main detail changes over the outgoing MGB would have been the following details:

  • A longer front end including new grille and lamp surrounds.
  • A ‘faster’ screen rake angle
  • A completely new rear end including new lamps arrangement.
  • A ‘wrap over’ ‘B’ pillar ‘targa’ top including either removable or hinged glass
    roof panels (a la Tomcat).

The project was run by Don Hayter at MG Abingdon and Dave Osman at PSF, and according to one engineer involved in the ADO76 programme, this was a codename never applied to the Federalised MGB, although another source says that it was an all-encompassing programme that did include it.

As ever, we’d like to hear more information…

Keith Adams


  1. Fabulous looking car and again not built. It makes me furious to see what is clearly a Datsun 260/280Z many years before it came on the scene. Argggghhhhh Leyland management = IMBECILES

  2. Spen King went to the US in the early 70s and was told in no uncertain terms that what they wanted from a British sportscar over the pond was a simple, fun car. No mid-engined nonsense, if you please, just a conventional front-engined RWD car.

    In response BL spent tens of millions on the TR7.On a new factory (closed in 1979.) Nice enough as the TR7/8 was, you wonder why nobody said, “we’re already building a very successful conventional, front-engined RWD sportscar: it’s called the MGB. Why don’t we develop that instead and save our investment for a mid-range RWD saloon?”

  3. It looks too much like a hastily warmed up to MGB. Saying the Datsun 260/280 is a copy is daft- the 240Z had been around for years and cars like the Honda S800 had taken styling cues from British cars already. Besides, criticising Japanese manufacturers for using British themes is like slamming the Austin 1100 or Triumph Herald for using and copying Italian styling.
    Fact is that by the mid ’70s the game was up for this type of car. The era of the hot hatch and performance saloon had dawned. Triumph would have done better with a follow up to the Dolly Sprint and MG similar.

  4. The front-end would have looked better IMHO if it adopted the near Jaguar-like front-nose with quad-headlights (that almost resembles a Bristol Blenheim 2) akin to the unrealised 2-seater MG GT V8 Coupe clay-model (from MG the Untold Story) that was intended to differentiate the V8 and non-V8 MGB models.

  5. What they should have done was platform-sharing. The TR7 was an absurd stand-alone model, when it should have been part of a range sharing the same basic platform and design – 2 seater (coupe and convertible), 2+2, saloon + estate. The latter could have covered Morris Marina and Dolomite replacement

  6. I like the styling. I wonder if anyone has tried to count how many good looking cars never made it to production. I wonder how much money was wasted on drawings that never made it off the page!

  7. Hmm Interesting. Reminds me of the story about a full 4 seater MGC GT, that they thought about, to be launched as a “Riley” circa 1967/9 period.

    • First have heard of a Riley badged 4-seater MGC GT, wonder if it built from the remains of both Austin-Healey’s unbuilt version of the MGC GT as well as from Jaguar’s MGC-derived XJ Junior project.

  8. The Mazda MX5 came out in the late 80s and look how that has sold, that was what the world wanted.

    • David : the sad thing is that the MX5 has never been a great sales success, except in the USA, and European sales have dwindled to a trickle. Although there is no competition for it, nor it seems is there any demand for it

      • They have sold well over a million units. How do you define a “great sales success” given the tight focus market?

  9. While a fully realized version of ADO76 would have updated the styling, the fact is like Aston Martin’s unrealised plan for a William Towns design fully rebody (that appeared on the Towns styled Scimitars) and the more modernized MG RV8, the basic and aging MGB platform really needed a full update if not outright replacement.

    Both EX234 and even an ADO77-based MGB replacement would appear to be a more suitable starting point for a Midget/MGB replacing MGB sportscar (plus the later smaller Broadside-derived Midget/MGB successor) that could have better challenged the Mazda MX-5 and easily slotted below the TR7/TR8.

    At the same time, is it merely coincidental that the ADO76 and ADO77 projects are coded the way they were or was ADO76 originally planned to be connected to ADO77 at some point (and featured the latter’s as yet unelaborated V6) before financial issues inevitably caused ADO76 to drift away from its original brief as an ADO77-based sportscar towards first a Michelotti rebody as mentioned in this article and soon further reduced to just a slightly revised MGB with rubber-bumpers (that were not even body-coloured)?

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