Opinion : MG’s prototypes secured. But where?

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

Remember those prototype MGs and Rovers that looked like they were about to be confined to oblivion? Remember the kerfuffle about how they were going to be scrapped, and never seen again? Well, apparently it’s all a load of rubbish, and we need not worry about their future. Confirmation about their future safety, such as it was, came last week.

Carly Escritt, MG Motor UK’s PR and Events Manager, supplied me with this statement. It was a simple one: ‘MG Motor UK notes the recent social media speculation regarding heritage vehicles. MG confirms that the vehicles concerned continue to be safely stored at Longbridge.’ So that’s that – the cars are safe, and we can all move on with our lives. Thank you, Carly.

While I can’t say I’m not relieved that it took the threat of a BBC interview to get something out of MG’s management, I think it’s disappointing that this minor PR fiasco (which made it to the television, remember) couldn’t be turned around into something more positive with a more community-friendly statement that told us where they were going live, or what purpose they are going to serve.

After all, sitting behind a glass window in a St Modwen designed-shopping centre or somesuch isn’t really what we had in mind, when thinking of a future for these vehicles.

A dear friend of mine commented, ‘Congratulations on your recent TV appearance re the Longbridge situation. That item has at least raised the profile of the issue, which can only be a good thing. I was a little disappointed in Colin Corke’s contribution, which seemed if anything to support MG Motor/SAIC in “doing whatever they like with what they own”, rather than stressing the PR benefits of them being seen to do the right thing.’

I stand by my original position that these cars really do belong at the British Motor Museum at Gaydon. There, they would sit alongside cars such as the Triumph SD2, BL Technology ECV3 and Rover SD1 estate as important dead-ends in the firm’s history – tales of what might have been had things been different. The MG Rover RDX60 and Rover TCV prototype really do tell similar stories of paradise (perhaps) lost…

Let’s hope MG does the right thing, and starts talking to Gaydon.

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

11 Comments

  1. Well the PR prototypes did used to reside at Gaydon but as they can confirm, were mixed up in the sell off of Rover Group and were taken back out again and effectively dumped in Longbridge.

  2. Where the they “. . taken back out (of Gaydon)”, by MG . . or,

    Where they “. . dumped in Longbridge”, by Gaydon?!

    The attitude of each, might indicate, where the prototypes could go next.

  3. Thanks for all your efforts with this campaign Keith, it is greatly appreciated. Hopefully these prototype vehicles together with other milestone cars such as the 5 Millionth Rover (a Rover 75) and 1.5 Millionth MG (a TF160, which like the aforementioned milestone Rover 75, has elements of the Monogram personalisation programme’s influence) will be handed over to a responsible custodian such as the British Motor Museum for them to look after for the benefit of the nation.

    Unless of course, St. Modwen plan to retain part of the Longbridge assembly plant for a small motor museum as a tourists’ attraction for the town, but with a more motor industry experienced group of trustees looking to manage it.

  4. I am reminded of the destruction of one of the Great Western Railway’s broad gauge locomotives that was placed on a raised platform at Swindon Works and remained there for some years until, in 1906 when, supposedly because the space was needed when the works were reorganised, it was taken down and cut up – on the orders of the then GWR Chief Mechanical Engineer, George Jackson Churchward. “Knowing the price of everything, but the value of nothing” comes to mind.

  5. As an MG Rover enthusiast of some years standing, and a lifelong buyer of Austin Rover (and predecessors) cars, I find it so very concerning and indeed depressing that MG Motor cant be trusted with anything in the UK. The recent reduction in design staff will surely result in closure of the Longbridge site, and the previous assurances of continued UK investment prove to be hollow. In my mind, the tiny investments they made here were, well, tiny in the great scheme of things automotive. It would appear that MG motor have the recipe, and now the UK chef can be fired.
    I get the impression that UK personnel at MG have their hands so tightly tied behind their backs by their masters in China, that it is difficult for them to put their head above the parapet to answer truthfully and meaningfully about UK operations until forced by situations.
    I don’t think that the European ethos of communication, and understanding the value of brand image has reached SAIC yet. This is not typical of many Chinese companies in my experience. Having personally developed several great, and open relationships with medium sized suppliers in China, outside of the automotive business, I find them easy to do business with, and very co-operative as a nation (provided you know how they work).
    Any comments?

  6. Just to say many thanks to Keith and all the people involved in saving these cars from oblivion and a more than possible sad end. The whole thing shows that this kind of rising awareness and been alert helps to sort out things in a possitive way.

  7. I wouldn’t have known about the possible fate of these prototypes if it hadn’t been for Keith & aronline, so well done Keith! Let’s hope MG UK improve their PR standards in future.

  8. The problem with prototypes like these, is that there’s no obvious place to keep them outside a manufacturer’s own “heritage” collection unless someone is prepared to pay to look after them, as they are of relatively little interest to the wider public. Fiat has a massive collection for example, including some of its oddities

    https://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/features/fleet-fiat-chryslers-best-makers-heritage-collection

    If I was the developer wanting a museum at Longbridge, I’d want examples of cars that were made there, e.g. an Austin Seven, A30, Mini, ADO16 , Metro and R8 etc rather than obscure prototypes that the public wouldn’t care about. Even Gaydon has a limited amount of space, and most of that will be taken up by examples of significant production models.

  9. As for that green car just pick up a Dodge Stratus and stick an MG
    emblem on it and no one would notice the difference.

    • The Dodge Stratus – ummm, that car looks NOTHING like the MG RDX60, for a start the Dodge was a 2 door coupe or four door saloon, this is a hatchback, the lights are totally different, as is the profile, rear and frontage, but it you want to compare it because the grill looks similar, then so be it, but to compare a Dodge to an MG, shows a lack of quality knowledge.

Add to the debate: leave a comment

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