A Michelotti MG? More than one. Really? Most of us never knew about the connection between the prolific Italian designer and MG from Abingdon.
In a strange twist, Giovanni Michelotti – who would become famously associated with Triumph for his landmark work on the Herald, Vitesse, TR4, Spitfire, GT6, Dolomite, 2000 and Stag – found himself working for the small Swiss design house Ghia-Aigle in 1952. At the request of the Swiss MG distributor, Ghia-Aigle was asked to design bespoke bodies based on the MG TD Midget. As such, the firm purchased six cars and the young Italian was tasked with styling the cars.
With a front grill that resembled the Talbot-Lago T26 GSLs and featuring raked vestigial rear fins, the car was rakish and far more Continental than anything that had appeared on a postwar MG. In profile, the car had elements of Bentley and the later Facel-Vega but was a unique creation on its own terms.
Michelotti soon left Ghia-Aigle to begin his long association with Vignale and in a fit of coincidence he was again asked to build an MG based special. This vehicle resembled the Ferrari grand touring cars and featured a body fashioned from aluminum. The styling featured many later Vignale cues and provided an interior that would have shamed many luxury cars of the day with intricate wood veneer and a hidden liquor compartment for drinks and glasses. Despite an excessive amount of chrome, the alloy body made the car only slightly heavier than stock and the performance was consistent with other similar cars of the day. The Michelotti MGs survive today (at least two of the six Ghia-Aigle cars and the Vignale coupe) and they are an interesting footnote to the man’s long association with Triumph.
By Johnny Oversteer