MG is planning to scrap a collection of unique prototypes, hailed as an important part of the history of Britain’s motor industry, as part of its plans to downsize the former Rover factory at Longbridge, according to sources at the plant.
The rare and one-off concept cars, which include the RDX60, a family car prototype that would have been tasked with saving the company had it seen production, have been stored at Longbridge on the southern outskirts of Birmingham since the company entered administration in 2005.
The news, which has prompted outcry from automotive historians and car enthusiasts alike, was broken by Keith Adams, a noted British motor industry historian and founder of British Leyland reference site AROnline.co.uk, on Wednesday.
“These are being removed from Longbridge today,” he wrote on Twitter, alongside pictures of the rare cars. “A man on the ground darkly said, ‘to be scrapped like the rest of it’.”
These are being removed from Longbridge today. Can someone from @MGmotor tell us where they are going? A man on the ground darkly said ‘to be scrapped like the rest of it’. At the very least I’ll buy the RDX60 as the author of the car’s complete biography. pic.twitter.com/h63aK4Wzpg
— Keith Adams (@KeithParkers) July 2, 2019
The Longbridge site is currently home to the SAIC Motor Technical Centre (SMTC), which is facing as many as 230 job losses as owner SAIC Motor (formerly the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation) seeks to downsize its technical centre, which is based there.
Other prototypes feared destined for destruction include the MG PR3 sports car concept, which paved the way for the MG F, and the Rover TCV crossover prototype.
When asked by the Telegraph about the fate of the prototypes, SAIC’s British subsidiary, MG Motor UK, refused to comment, fuelling speculation that the cars are set to be destroyed.
Volunteers from the Rover Sport Register and MG Car Club, as well as the British Motor Museum at Gaydon, are offering to take on some or all of the cars for posterity.
MG had previously given assurances to the MG Car Club that the cars were not to be disposed of when asked earlier this year.
Adam Sloman, general manager at the MG Car Club, said: “We remain extremely concerned about the future of all of these vehicles – not just the one-of-a-kind MGs.
“We’re monitoring the situation and had offered to take care of the cars in May, but were told they ‘weren’t being disposed of’. Our offer to care for the cars remains, and we stand by to help in any way we can.”
Adams told The Telegraph: “If you're in any doubt as to the importance of these prototypes, it's worth spelling out why. The MG PR3s signalled the beginning of the rebirth of MG as a sports car manufacturer in the 1990s.
“The Rover TCV and MG Rover RDX60, meanwhile, both represent the last throw of the dice from a dying car company desperately trying to put together a new product on near-zero resources.
“The TCV was used as a shop window to show potential suitors that the company was capable of producing innovative and viable products, while the RDX60 was MG Rover’s last-chance saloon – a medium-sized family hatchback and saloon that was based on the Rover 75, and which would have gone into battle against the Volkswagen Golf Mk5 and Ford Focus Mk2 had it gone into production in 2006-2007 as was anticipated.
“To lose these prototypes means we lose a vital missing link in the story of a long and drawn-out death of a car-maker. They need to be saved.”
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