News : MG Rover prototypes in jeopardy?

MG Rover RDX60 (photo: Thomas AK)
MG Rover RDX60 (photo: Thomas AK)

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.

MG PR3  (photo: Thomas AK)
MG PR3 (photo: Thomas AK)

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…

Rover TCV (photo: Thomas AK)
Rover TCV (photo: Thomas AK)

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk 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

24 Comments

  1. This reminds me of the soulless destruction – there are no other words – of the broad gauge locomotive North Star. Following the end of the broad gauge in 1892, whole lines of broad gauge locos were scrapped at the Great Western Railway works at Swindon, but the ground-breaking North Star was preserved and put on a raised stand in a corner of the works. When space was needed in a rearrangement of the construction shop where it was, the loco was summarily taken down and cut up. Only the single driving axle and the pair of wheels survived. The Doric arch at Euston is another example of mindless destruction.

  2. This is potentially sad and annoying news if these Prototypes get scrapped. Surely they can be found a home in the UK (British Heritage Motor Museum for starters?). The RDX60 & TCV are particularly interesting.

    Nissan donated their first production Bluebird (JOB1) car to Sunderland Museum, so why can’t MG do something similar? Especially after they are turning the company into just an importer of MG badged cars now. I’ll watch this story with fingers crossed.

  3. That is a very odd looking car that RDX60. Front end looks like a Honda Prelude and a Vectra had babies and the back looks like something sat on it and squashed it by about 6″.
    The apparent comments from MG should finally make it very clear to “its a British car” apologists that this company doesn’t give a toss about the brand or its history. They’re literally trading on your gullibility.

    Oh and if anyone from Ford is reading this. Quit the cynical “environmentalist” scrappage scheme – after all why would we want to buy deathtraps where even the *seatbelts* catch fire. Even the Vauxhall Za-fryer is safer than some Fords.

    My dad actually used to know Sir Leonard Crossland (the gent was a keen farmer) – chairman of Ford UK – from what I’ve been told, he would not have been impressed with either the scrappage schemes or the unmitigated cack coming out of Ford.

    We need to run what we have for as long as possible, by law if that’s what it takes, not keep burping out unnecessary new cars.

    • Also MG have revived the ZS model name on their Crossover/SUV vehicle. Most people won’t remember what the original ZS was – or for that matter the ZR & ZT. Yes indeed, MG should be donating these prototypes to a Museum or let aronline buy them.

  4. This news is upsetting me greatly.

    However keep up the good work Keith, and if you do need any financial assistance to help buy the RDX60, set up a go-fund me page and there will be many people, including myself, who will generously contribute.

  5. Not Sad at all. Just another predictable negative bi-product of a caring UK Government and UK car buying consumers turning their back on Longbridge very finally back in April 2005. Some clearly demonstrating some pleasure at the demise of Longbridge. It’s the UK logic of now but not as we formerly knew it. All that whilst form long queues to pay over the odds for BMWs, Mercedes-Benz and all the rest instead.

    As several told me at the time… It’s all about freedom of choice. Yeah.. right… A Nation chooses … decline.

    QUOTE :~ “We need to run what we have for as long as possible, by law if that’s what it takes, not keep burping out unnecessary new cars.”

    Too right.

    Bought my last new MG in May 2003. That still going very strong in the family fleet despite its “They all do that” 1.8 K-Series which sixteen years on, has yet to do that. Same with several other Ks in the family. These include 1.4s, 1.6s, 1.8 NASP, 1.8 VVCs and 1.8Ts.

    Unless those we entrust to both the Nation’s and Environment’s well being do not run up to previous bad judgement form, stand by for OLD CARS MUST GO! Being keen to demonstrate how “GREEN” they are, on the same lines of DIESELS GOOD~ PETROLS BAD decisions they were suckered into by so called experts particularly those on the EU Mainland with their Indigenous Manufacturing foremost in their minds.

    The only surprising thing about that is that it took so very long to be exposed when the Bovine Excrement hit the VAG fan in full frontal mode.

    Now where’s those new BMW details? I fancy a nice black fat-gut 5-Series diesel. NO I DON’T … I shall continue to creep about in my aged MGs and Rovers for as long as our Governing Classes legally allow assisted by UK’s “were far more clever than you ignorant plebs” meejah… yes, I’m pointing the finger of blame at the guaranteed revenue stream broadcasting organ ever keen to award themselves more and more from that “We’re so worth it” money trough whilst vending their version of FAKE NEWS. SKY et al not far behind in the FAKE NEWS vending competition.

    OK Hold my hands up. I lied about the “creeping about” in my MGs and Rovers. Need proof positive?l I attended a “Speed Awareness” course recently and enjoyed it. A lively discussion with two dozen “speed merchants” attending. Mostly women. That was a turn up. That cost me £85 but still have clean licence…

    Right I’m off now in full “I don’t believe it” mode… 😉

    • Watch the John Cadogan YouTube vids on dieselgate & electric cars. The dieselgate situation in his opinion is a crime against humanity – and I tend to agree with him. I’m going to be keeping my 18/85 thanks. 28.6 last tank. Installed a custom intake & a richer needle (ram intake) and mpg improved 15%.
      The scary part is if you monkeygate yourself using a TFSI Audi and my carby Wolseley – you’re more likely to get lung cancer from the Audi (although to be fair the Wolseley will kill you slightly quicker). I thought progress involved moving forward, but maybe that’s just me..
      Funny how the “you’re getting a “new” car cos it’s more reliable” Hyundai Accent 2005 has been sitting in the garage for 2 *YEARS* and the Wolseley – even when the fuelling was somewhat mucked up (tw > kw needle solved that) – starts and runs like clockwork.

    • I didn’t think it was possible to go off on so many tangents all at the same time. We do have the worst Government, er ever at the moment, but I don’t see what the subject of this article has to do with them. As for blaming the British Consumer, why should somebody put their hard earned, post tax income into an inferior, outdated and obsolete product that will depreciate like a falling girder just because its British?

      • Paul,

        Don’t worry he’s just a product of the right wing press’s brainwashing, believing that a system of government that combines the worst of left & right wing policies will actually work.

        Think Stalin if he gave up any pretence of being communist with a dash of the toy town version old Labour government the right wing press likes to make us think existed up to 1979 (jobs for all school leavers even if you didn’t get a single O level, jobs for life even if you are a feckless slob because the unions will hold the country to ransom otherwise, NHS world class, no council house waiting lists etc)

  6. I don’t know what’s in it for SAIC, scrapping them. Bad vibes and bad publicity. Why not give them away for nothing? After all, it would cost them nothing to do that, and there could be some positive PR to be had.

    • It’s good old CBAS again. Can’t Be Assed Syndrome. They can’t sell it so it doesn’t matter. Formerly known as the “somebody-elses-problem-field” if I remember correctly.

  7. Sheep To The Rich Daily – the paper for ignorant lumpheads who hating monorites & sucking up to Billionaire tax dodgers is actually going to benefit them, when it’s obvious it’s totally against their interests.

  8. It seems to me that MG is finished in the UK at least. Nothing is built here ; now nothing is designed here ; and although the registration figures for 2019 show some apparent improvement, how many have actually been sold ? I cannot remember the last time I saw any SAIC MG on the road , and I haven’t a clue where the nearest dealership is to me

  9. Chris – my local ex Mitsubishi / Nissan dealer is now an MG dealer and I’m recently seeing quite a few 19 reg ZS’s locally plus more MG3’s. My Sis in law has bought a ZS too. Must admit I don’t know of any other MG Dealers in the region (North East)

    • Tolleys in Colchester have Citroën & MG and they’re selling a few 3 and the ZS. But they’re selling a damn sight more Citroëns…

      But for a fair sized SUV (Soggily Ungainly Vehicle) that ZS has a miserable boot.. At least the one I looked at did. If it’s equivalent to the Wolseley boot in cubic feet I’d be surprised.

  10. This is the type of news we have come to expect.

    CCW recently reported that the remaining buildings at Longbridge are in jeopardy.

    This weekend has been bad for me, I delivered my MG ZT V8 to its new owner having owned it since I collected it from Longbridge in 2005. A foolish decision, I am missing it already.

    I read somewhere that the Prototype 75 Coupe was sold recently?

    Its a good job that the excellent replica exists

    Keep up the pressure AROnline!

  11. We were at a car club dinner the other evening and a very knowledgable ex Longbridge man with friends still on site insist that these cars have just been put into store. Nothing bad is happening to them. Don’t shoot the messenger – I’m just saying!

  12. Hello Keith, I just saw the news about the impending fate of these prototype cars in The Daily Telegraph.
    I feel abit shocked that SAIC/MG Motor are deserting theirs and the nations heritage in such a dire and uncaring way.
    I saw the blue RDX60 prototype at the NEC Birmingham when I was 14. I was very impressed with the car and fondly remember the promotional video featuring a 3D rendered car.
    If you intend to buy this prototype (should your offer be successful) then I wish to make a small donation in order that this prototype is saved.

    Regards,

    Charles

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