News : MG Rover prototypes saved!

MG Rover RDX60

After what seems like an unending battle to secure the future of the MG Rover prototypes that have been languishing in Longbridge since the firm went into administration in 2005, they have now been saved. SAIC has handed them over to the British Motor Museum at Gaydon for display, where their future will be assured as they look set for restoration.

The cars, which include the MG Rover RDX60 running model showed to the dealers and investors in 2003 (above), the Rover TCV concept, the MGF PR1, PR3 and PR3 running prototypes, the first production MGF and the TF Coupe, have all made it to Warwickshire, and will be restored and maintained while they are at the museum.

The collection of prototypes are officially ‘on loan’ to the British Motor Museum as part of a ‘multi-year arrangement’ and will be working their way through the workshop over the next few months. The RDX60 and MGF are set to be the first cars in to be restored.

Campaigned for by enthusiasts

The fate of these prototypes has been in question since at least 2019, when we were tipped off by a contractor on site that they were being moved, possibly with a view to being sold off or scrapped. MG Motor UK eventually responded with an announcement that they would be secured for the future, and would eventually go on display.

Then things went quiet until early 2023, when YouTuber and MG Rover enthusiast Tom Cowling (above) ran a video on his Tom // Drives channel showing various prototypes being stored in the open at Longbridge, looking the worse for wear. The story went viral, eventually leading to coverage on BBC TV. This, along with pressure from various industry figures and enthusiast groups, ended up forcing MG’s parent company SAIC into action.

Fast forward to late 2023, and a deal was struck between SAIC and the BMM, with the cars now being housed in the museum’s Collections Centre. They will be on display, starting with the RDX60 – with the plan being to restore the models, although the BMM can’t give a timeline.

Video walkaround of the RDX60

The star turn

The MG Rover RDX60 is rightfully being the presented as the star of the show. It’s a prototype of a vehicle that was never built with one of the most interesting, frustrating and ultimately ill-starred backstories of them all. Being housed alongside the Austin 9X, Triumph SD2 and Austin AR6 prototypes seems like a fitting place for it to be.

Tom is absolutely clearly delighted with the outcome. He says: ‘I’d like to thank the community for their efforts and supporting the campaign to get these cars in the museum. I’d like to recognise all of the people who made efforts before me as every small step made lead to the final push to get these cars where they belong today.’

Stephen Laing, Head of Collections and Engagement at the British Motor Museum, added: ‘This collection feels very familiar to me. Some, like the PR prototypes and MGF No.1, from when they were on display in the early years of the Museum. Others from regular visits to Longbridge over the past two decades. I’m pleased that our long-standing relationship with MG Motor UK has enabled the agreement of a multi-year loan of these unique cars.’

Gallery: MG Rover RDX60 model at the BMM

All photographs: British Motor Museum

Keith Adams
Latest posts by Keith Adams (see all)

17 Comments

  1. That’s great but what’s happened to the cars that were stored in the Exhibition centre? There were Austin Healeys, Minis, old Rovers, old MG saloons including the prototype R75 Coupe and a 1907 Rover 8hp!

  2. Great news but what about the 5millionth Rover (75) that used to be at MG and all the minis including the twin cam mini?

  3. Good lord that’s a horrible looking thing, inside and out. Like a Chinese knock off of the already horrible enough Vectra/Signum of the same era. Appreciate it’s a prototype but if this was to be the future it’s no wonder it came crashing down.

  4. Styling wise at least this is aping the then-current Astra and Vectra/Signum so, as it would have presumably taken a while to get to market had there not been MGR’s collapse in 2005, it would have looked similar to cars launched a few years earlier. So when it came to market it would have already been, in styling terms at least, similar in potential buyers’ minds to Vauxhall/Opel products that were due to be facelifted or replaced. In other words, out-of-date at launch. Much like the Maestro was.

    Good engineering might have saved the day to some extent though, and a swift facelift programme would have been needed to keep it fresh for as long as possible.

    Although it might have looked a bit dated at launch it was at least, to my eyes, a reasonably clean design. A good basis for a long production run, at least.

    All in all, I’d guess that if MGR had survived long enough to launch the car its success wasn’t guaranteed. But neither was failure.

    As always, making a profit whilst reliant on pretty much only the UK market would have been tricky – high list prices would generate more profit, but would have been hard to justify after the preceding models that had been through Project Drive and price drops, and selling at a low price relies on volume sales for profitability – again, after eking out previous models for years beforehand, and sales falling away, that would be difficult to pull off.

  5. Good news that these vehicles have been saved, as they do have some historical importance, especially RDX60.

    Gaydon already is a massive museum, but could do with some more space really, considering the collections it keeps gaining, such as the Vauxhall collection.

  6. It’s good that these have been saved – if only so they can be shown to future designers as horrible examples of misthought.

    The RDX60 looks , as others have observed, like a Signum [GM’s sad attempt to produce a successor to the Omega] at the front, and the rear glass profile reminds me of the first generation “fat bottomed girl” Renault Megane.

    If that’s the best MG-Rover could do, I’m glad they didn’t get to do it in production. It wouldn’t have sold at all well against the likes of the first generation Volvo S60.

  7. Congratulations to Tom for campaigning via his YouTube channel to have this interesting piece of MG Rover’s history saved for posterity- I’m sure we’re all looking forward to seeing the prototype restored and displayed where it should be, rather than languishing at the back of a car park!

  8. Delighted they are saved given their historical significance, and vey well done to Tom and all others who campaigned. But looks like a cut and shut, Vectra front, Astra rear and just as beautiful as that sounds. Same for the interior. Sorry.

  9. I think it could have worked with a bit more refinement on the outside albeit it’s got a way to go, I never myself rated Peter Stevens that much. The interior is dreadful, hard plastic everywhere, reminds me of an Astra Merit…

  10. If the RDX60 had reached production (with further development and improvements) it could have been a lifesaver for MGR. This is still the sort of car I would consider owning… sadly now outnumbered by crossovers

  11. That is great news, well done to all involved. I look forward to seeing these fascinating vehicles on dispay.
    So many negative remarks, what a shame.

  12. To be fair, I dont think the colour does it any favours. I’m also sure in final production form it would have looked the part and performed well in the market. Even now there are probably tens of thousands of folk in the UK who would purchase a new Rover if one was available.

  13. “Tens of thousands” of ‘folk’ in the UK are not a good basis on which to build a profitable global automobile-business though.

    Not unless you’re selling the cars for £100K+ a time.

    And honestly, who *buys* a new car these days? It’s all PCP and fleet-leases.

  14. Does anybody know what’s happening to the only surviving Rover P8 prototype which was uncovered many years ago outside the British Heritage Center in a rather sorry state ?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.