Shortly after the introduction of the MGB, work began apace on a potential replacement – little did the crew at Abingdon realize that it would soldier on through the end of the next decade – and it was decided that the rear suspension of the next car should have a more modern design (a decision also reached by Triumph with the TR4A IRS). The only chance to economically realize the desire for an independent rear suspension in the car was to use the final drive unit from the Austin Gipsy and adapt it for use with the Hydrolastic suspension that had made its debut in the Mini.
As management was eager to replace the Midget and Sprite (for which it had to pay royalties to Healey) management decided that by offering two different engine options a replacement for the MGB and Spridget could be accomplished with the same car.
The body for what would be known as MG EX234 was designed by Pininfarina in Turin and resembled the Fiat 124 from the front and the tail of the Alfa Romeo Spider from the back. The interior was much more modern than that offered in the MGB and the center console incorporated a wide armrest and was well integrated. Development work on mating the body with the chassis was effected by a small group led working off on their own.
During testing at Silverstone, several well-known drivers including John Surtees gave the car’s handling the stamp of approval and its prospects appeared to be brightening. Unfortunately, from the start of the project in 1964 through 1966, the specter of increasing United States safety and emissions regulations was on the horizon and MG was forced to allocate its limited resources to meeting the challenge posed by the restrictions. The prototype survives and was purchased by a collector in 1976.
By Johnny Oversteer