Take a look at the tantalising future that never was – but could still be! Auto Express, together with www.aronline.co.uk, has uncovered top-secret images of a trio of MG sports cars that was being readied back in 2005.
The project, codenamed X120, saw the Longbridge plant in the West Midlands working on a new Midget, a replacement for the TF roadster and an upmarket coupé to rival the Porsche Cayman. Although the models were canned when the company went bankrupt five years ago, they could make a return with the aid of Chinese investment.
Our pictures show the original illustrations of the cars, by designer Lee Mitchell. All were to be based on the same platform – a modified version of the existing TF’s. Power was set to come from a development of the K Series engine, which would have been offered with outputs of between 120bhp and 180bhp, and claimed impressively low emissions.
The disadvantage of using the TF’s platform manifested itself early in the programme, when it became clear the roadster’s compromised driving position would be carried over to the models. According to Mitchell, had MG added £2million to the project’s £50million budget, it could have used an all-new aluminium tub – but there simply wasn’t the money to pursue it. “It was a shame,” he explained. For relatively little investment, we would have had an amazing mid-engined platform that cured the packaging problems.
“The Midget was hobbled as it needed to carry over doors from the TF, but everyone loved the design.”
As the programme developed, the money ran out, and the operation was quickly scaled down. Mitchell recalled: “There was every intention to take the brand back to the US as MG Rover really needed to find new markets for its products. The business case relied on US numbers to turn a profit.”
Mitchell thinks the cars had success written all over them, and regrets the fact they never reached production. “I felt we were making history and it’s a pity it never came to fruition.” However, with new MG and Roewe models on the way, there’s every chance the MG sports car range could return.