The Cars That Money Can’t Buy – MG E-XE

Sun 26th May 2019

Sometimes your wallet won’t stretch to purchasing your dream motor. But don’t worry too much, there are some cars that even the biggest bank balances can’t buy, the dream cars that will forever remain a dream. These are the concept cars that never go into production.

For a company that was best known for fighting the fires of union strikes and the threat of administration during the late 1970s and early 1980s, the introduction of a concept car for the Rover Group was certainly something of an extravagance.

Inspired by the Ferrari 308, the mid-engined MG EX-E debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1985 and definitely caught the eye. With an aluminium chassis and plastic body, the EX-E was designed by Rover’s Director of Design, Roy Axe and Gerry McGovern. It was the car’s futuristic shape which had the tongues wagging, especially from a manufacturer which had rarely ventured from the world of Metros, Maestros and Montegos.

The MG EX-E looked very similar to Honda’s HP-X concept, a car styled by Pininfarina and which would possibly be the inspiration for the Honda NSX which went into production in 1989.

Speaking to AR Online about the idea behind the MG E-XE, Roy Axe said: “I felt that the company needed a shot in the arm, something that would excite the press and create copy world wide, something unexpected. I also needed something to say to the design fraternity that ARG had a new design operation that could compete world wide, this in order to attract the quality of new people I needed for the work in hand.

“I owned a Ferrari 308GT4 at the time and felt that a sports car of this type updating the Ferrari and showing that England was just as capable of producing a car with world-wide appeal, would do the trick. Marketing were against the idea as ARG did not make such cars and that it would prove to be a sales distraction.”

Axe’s E-XE certainly generated the publicity required, but never made it beyond the British Motor Museum in terms of a future. However, Gerry McGovern did borrow heavily from the design when building the MGF ten years later.