Microdot (car)

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1976 Microdot
TypeConcept car
1 built
DesignerWilliam Towns
Body and chassis
RelatedAustin Mini
Length6 ft 8 in (2.03 m)
Curb weight1,008 lb (457 kg)

The Microdot is a concept vehicle by William Towns for a small, economical town car. The car was first shown at the 1976 British International Motor Show[1] and was an evolution of his 1972 Minissima car. The Microdot was a petrol/electric hybrid vehicle with a small 400cc petrol engine powering a 3.5 kW generator[2] and, designed to carry three people side-by-side on short city journeys, with the driver sitting in the central position.[3]

The concept car was eventually purchased by the Heritage Motor Centre.

Mallalieu Engineering[edit]

In 1978 William Towns collaborated with prototype vehicle builders at Mallalieu Engineering, Wootton, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, with a view to limited production. The Microdot prototype, built by William Towns on a cut-down Austin Mini chassis, was given opening doors and a 6-inch (150 mm) longer nose, to accommodate the aluminium Reliant car engine, one of the smallest and lightest UK car engines then available, instead of the original hybrid proposal.[4] Mallalieu Engineering was best known for making Bentley Specials, the Barchetta and Oxford, based on the Mark 6 Bentley.

Mallalieu attempted to gain external funding from the Post Office pension fund, but this was not forthcoming due to concerns raised with the Government's scientific advisor who attended the meetings, and the project stalled in 1980.[5] Mallalieu Microdot (company number 01504509) was dissolved on 23 June 1987[6] and the project disappeared.


Designers from film special-effects studios in London, who had created the original Star Wars spaceship interiors, created "alive" interior cockpit designs and motor industry experts from Lucas and Ever Ready advised on batteries, power-trains and instruments.[citation needed] Relying on 8-track stereo tape recordings by celebrities, it was planned that a Microdot would "talk" to its owner.


  1. ^ "Micro what?". Motor. 149 (3864): 36. 30 October 1976.
  2. ^ Popular Science (page 90) February 1977
  3. ^ ARonline Microdot
  4. ^ "Concepts : Towns Microdot". AR Online. 14 September 2016. Retrieved 7 September 2023.
  5. ^ "Noel Hodson's firm Mallalieu Engineering designed and built a hybrid electric car on a Mini chassis in 1978". Oxford Mail. 28 July 2017. Retrieved 7 September 2023.
  6. ^ "WebCHeck - Select and Access Company Information". Wck2.companieshouse.gov.uk. Retrieved 28 September 2009.

External links[edit]