The SSV1 was prepared by the developement team at Abingdon in 1972. The reason for this was to demonstrate that even small cars were capable of being modfied for optimum safety.
This MGB GT-based car featured a wealth of innovative features, including airbags (which worked in combination with passive seat-belts), anti-lock brakes, self-levelling suspension, impact-absorbing side-panels and a rather curious roof-mounted rearview mirror which afforded the driver a 120-degree field of vision.
Mounting the thick rubber bumpers low down brought two advantages: firstly, if the car ran into the side of another, the point of impact would more likely be in the sill area rather the more vulnerable doors; and were the car to hit a pedestrian, the low point of impact would tend to result in the unfortunate soul being lifted onto the bonnet rather than thrown forward into the car’s path. Pedestrian safety was to become a persistent feature of Leyand’s future safety prototypes.
The car was also equipped with a novel system designed to prevent tired, inebriated or otherwise incapacitated drivers from taking the wheel.
The car was presented at the third conference of the America’s National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in Washington DC in 1972, but none of its innovations were ever to see the light of day on any production MG to leave the Abingdon works.