The future of a number of unique MG Rover prototypes hangs in the balance, as it emerged that they were possibly being removed as part of the ongoing site clearance of the once-great car factory in Birmingham. The cars, formerly housed in the Longbridge Round House, appeared to be leaving the site and, so far MG Motor UK Limited, has refused to comment on where they might be heading to.
The cars, which include the Rover TCV concept, a late version of the MG RDX60, which was shown at a dealer conference in 2003 by being driven on to the stage and one of the three MG PR3 prototypes were spotted being moved around the site. These photographs were taken by Thomas Ak, who posted them on the Ex-Longbridge Workers Facebook Group, and which have been circulated widely across the Internet in the hope of getting a statement from MG Motor UK Limited.
This follows the news that SMTC’s Longbridge-based Technical Centre has now been closed – this has resulted in a number of redundancies and means MG Motor no longer has a significant UK base for Research and Development. Its closure is part of the general shut-down of Longbridge as MG’s parent company SAIC Motor concentrates its efforts on China, leaving the marque as a pure importer.
Thomas commented, ‘I’m not sure what was happening. I did ask the question, but was met with limited response. “Scrapped… like the rest of it,” was a general term used.’
AROnline received no comment from Gary Egan, Head of Vehicle Operations and Business Development at MG Motor UK Limited, when asked, and MG Motor’s UK Press Office said that a statement would be forthcoming. However, we’re still awaiting this comment, and will keep you posted when we find out more.
Meanwhile, a number of potentially interested parties have emerged since AROnline first published this story – all are keen to take possession of these cars, including AROnline, which would love to take on the RDX60, as the curator of the most detailed story about this car anywhere. We understand that the British Motor Museum (BMM) has attempted to contact MG about these cars, but so far has been unable to engage with any representative of the company.
In a statement, the BMM said: ‘The BMIHT has been involved in preserving historic items from the Longbridge site since the collapse of MG Rover in 2005, and we maintain relationships with the key players, St Modwen and MG [Motor] UK. We have been aware for several months of further changes taking place at Longbridge, and we continue to expend our best efforts in safeguarding the future of the remaining heritage, including Lord Austin’s office.’
Richard Usher, the brains behind a new car museum in Derbyshire, The Great British Car Journey, is also concerned and very interested in trying to save the cars, as well as Herbert Austin’s office, which is also onsite. He said: ‘I was at Longbridge a week ago and it was clearly being closed down. We have a strong desire to see any cars on site there preserved, and we would happily rehome these cars and the office at Ambergate.’
Gemma Cartwright, Organiser of the Pride of Longbridge, told AROnline that, ‘PoL has offered to house these cars in association with the MG Car Club, but MG has yet to actually confirm these cars are leaving Longbridge.’
One anonymous source tells us that William Wang, Managing Director of MG Motor UK Limited, has ‘already signed the order to have these cars scrapped,’ which is contrary to the comment from MG just a few weeks ago that, ‘they were going nowhere.’ However, given this story is now so public, we’re hoping this action can be reversed and a home found for these important prototypes.
We’ll keep you posted about how this story unfolds…