RAC Cars News


The What Ifs...

By raccars Published

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British car manufacturers have a fine history of producing promising concepts that, for one reason or another, never quite made it to fruition. Small cars were a particular target of the concept designer's pen, but industry bean counters, scared to take on the mighty Metro or the Mini, didn't have the guts to see them through. Rover, British Leyland and the BMC had heaps of ideas that never reached the production line, but with hindsight, some could probably have been quite successful. Would you have bought one of these?

Triumph Broadside

The Triumph TR7 could have formed the perfect basis for many interesting developments, but circumstances at BL at the time prohibited its exploitation. The Broadside and Lynx concepts of the late Seventies proved what interesting spin offs could be coaxed out of its basic, but flexible, platform. Both boasted bold looks, the Broadside notable for its stretched wheelbase, and with a more savvy commercial hand at the helm, could have sold well.

Austin AR6

Developed in the mid Eighties, the AR6 was ahead of its time. Aluminium construction and a three cylinder K series engine were, at that time, untested commercially, and Austin's ambitions were kept in check by government control. With massive development costs to counteract, the AR6 would have struggled to find a profitable enough market niche next to the already established Metro, plus brilliant and affordable new arrivals, such as the Peugeot 205 and Fiat Uno.


In an attempt to squeeze a little bit more of the Issigonis genius after the Mini had taken the world by storm, the 9X used many of the same hallmarks. Tiny but Tardis-like inside, lighter, more efficient yet more powerful and, most importantly, cheaper to manufacture. However, development dragged on through the late Sixties to the early Eighties, with BLMC unable to muster the funds to put it into production. It could have been brilliant but to take on the Mini during its most successful period was a daunting idea, while the success of the new Fiat 127, VW Polo and Renault 5 models showed the car buying British public favouring slightly larger cars.

Rover RX6

Rover thought long and hard about a replacement for the super successful Metro in the mid-Eighties. While it made sense to reuse the existing car's excellent platform, a decision was made to update an exterior which was starting to look old fashioned. The RX6 would have been perfect but Rover was unable to commit to the idea and went for a lukewarm rehash of the existing design instead, leaving the car without enough commercial thrust to survive.

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