Rover RDX60 prototype found in Longbridge storeroom

Just as the surrounded Third Reich spent much of its dying energy developing machines it thought might turn the tide of war, defunct manufacturer Rover was working on its own white elephant in the days before its demise.

As the former MG Rover factory at Longbridge in England prepares to return to small-scale production of the MG TF sports car, a fascinating glimpse of what might have been has emerged. The RDX60 was the much-needed new medium-sized model charged with saving MG Rover. Recently uncovered deep within the Longbridge site, the prototype is an early model of a five-seat hatchback designed to replace the Rover 45, and compete against the Ford Focus and VW Golf.

Languishing in Longbridge's flight shed where much of MG Rover's secret pre-production work was undertaken, the top-secret test model once formed the centrepiece of the Birmingham company's plans - and with it, the prosperity of the ailing carmaker. Despite looking like the bastard son of a panzer tank and a Wacky Races entrant.

The potentially Golf-rivalling hatchback was based on the thoroughly engineered Rover 75, which had been in production since 1999, and was co-developed with engineering consultant TWR. MG Rover planned to launch it early in 2004 but delays and a lack of cash meant the RDX60 was stillborn.

It's clear the styling was somewhat unresolved, and it is probably for the best that it never saw the light of day.