MG Cars

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This article is about the defunct MG Car Company Limited and the MG marque it founded. For the present day manufacturer of MG cars, see MG Motor.
The MG Car Company Limited
Industry Automotive industry
Fate Merged
Founded 1924
Founders Cecil Kimber
Headquarters Longbridge, Birmingham (Previously Abingdon, Oxfordshire)
Products MG Automobiles
MG
Owner SAIC (Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation)
Country United Kingdom
Markets Automotive
Previous owners 1924–1935: William R Morris
1935–1952: Morris Motors Limited
1952–1967: British Motor Corporation
1967–1968: British Motor Holdings
1968–1975: British Leyland Motor Corporation
1975–1986: British Leyland (BL)
1986–1988: Rover Group
1988–1994: British Aerospace
1994–2000: BMW
2000–2005: MG Rover Group
MG WA 2.6-litre sports saloon 1939

The MG Car Company Limited[note 1] was a British sports car manufacturer begun in the 1920s as a sales promotion sideline within W R Morris's Oxford city retail sales and service business by the business's manager, Cecil Kimber.[1] Best known for its two-seat open sports cars, MG also produced saloons and coupés. Kimber was an employee of William Morris; MG are the initials for Morris Garages. (there exist some doubt as to this. [2])

The MG business was Morris's personal property until 1 July 1935[3] when he sold MG to his holding company, Morris Motors Limited, restructuring his holdings before issuing (preference) shares in Morris Motors to the public in 1936. MG underwent many changes in ownership starting with Morris merging with Austin in The British Motor Corporation Limited in 1952. MG became the MG Division of BMC in 1967[4] and so a component of the 1968 merger that created British Leyland Motor Corporation. By the start of 2000 MG was part of the MG Rover Group which entered receivership in 2005 and the assets were purchased by its new Chinese owner Nanjing Automobile Group for GB£53 million, with production starting again in 2007 in China, and limited production in the UK as MG Motor.

Overview[edit]

The original MG marque was in continuous use, except for the duration of the Second World War, for 56 years following its inception in 1924. The production of predominantly two-seater sports cars was concentrated at a factory in Abingdon, some 10 miles (16 km) south of Oxford.[5] The British Motor Corporation (BMC) competition department was also based at the Abingdon plant, producing many winning rally and race cars, until the Abingdon factory closed and MGB production ceased in the Autumn of 1980.

Between 1982 and 1991, the MG marque used to badge engineer sportier versions of Austin Rover's Metro, Maestro and Montego ranges. It was not until 1992 that the MG marque was revived in its own right, with the MG RV8 – an updated MGB Roadster with a Rover V8 engine, which was previewed at the 1992 Birmingham Motor Show, with low volume production commencing in 1993.

A second revival came in the summer of 1995, when the high volume MG F two-seater roadster was launched.

The MG marque, along with the Rover marque, to the MG Rover group in May 2000, when BMW "broke up" the Rover Group. This arrangement saw the return of MG badges on sportier Rover-based cars such as the MG ZT in 2001, along with a revised MG F model, known as the MG TF, launched in 2002, however, all production ceased in April 2005 when MG Rover went into administration.

The assets of MG Rover were bought by Chinese carmaker Nanjing Automobile in July 2005,[6] subsequently bought by SAIC in December 2007,[7] who now operate a UK subsidiary, MG Motor.

History[edit]

The Morris Garage
Morris's 1910 building on his site in Longwall Street, Oxford
Enamelled badge on an early MG car.jpg

The company's name originated from the initials of Morris Garages, (however there is some doubt.[8]) W R Morris's, Lord Nuffield's, original Oxford city retail sales and service business when the business's manager, Cecil Kimber, began promoting sales by producing his own versions. Kimber had joined the company as its sales manager in 1921. He was promoted to general manager in 1922,[9] a position he held until 1941 when he fell out with Lord Nuffield over procuring wartime work. Kimber died in 1945 in a railway accident.

There remains debate as to when the MG Car Company started, although the first cars bore both Morris and MG badges, in addition to reference to MG with the octagon badge appears in an Oxford newspaper from November 1923, the MG Octagon was registered as a Trademark by Morris Garages on the 1st of May 1924, with its 90th Anniversary being widely celebrated in 2014.[9] Others[who?] dispute this and believe that MG only properly began trading in 1925. The explanation may lie in the distinction between the MG business and the company of that name which may have come to own it later.

MG NB Magnette Airline coupé

The first cars which were rebodied Morris models used coachwork from Carbodies of Coventry and were built in premises in Alfred Lane, Oxford. Demand soon caused a move to larger premises in Bainton Road in September 1925, sharing space with the Morris radiator works. Continuing expansion meant another move in 1927 to a separate factory in Edmund Road, Cowley, Oxford,[9] near the main Morris factory and for the first time it was possible to include a production line. In 1928 the company had become large enough to warrant an identity separate from the original Morris Garages and the M.G. Car Company Limited was established in March of that year[9] and in October for the first time a stand was taken at the London Motor Show. Space again soon ran out and a search for a permanent home led to the lease of part an old leather factory in Abingdon, Oxfordshire in 1929,[9] gradually taking over more space until production ended there in 1980. The MG Car Club was founded in 1930 for owners and enthusiasts of MG cars.[10]

Nuffield Organisation[edit]

Originally owned personally by William Morris, MG was sold in 1935 to Morris Motors (itself a member of the Morris Organizations later called the Nuffield Organisation) a change that was to have serious consequences for MG, particularly its motor-sport activities.

BMC[edit]

MG Magnette Mark IV, a typical badge-engineered BMC saloon car

MG was absorbed with Morris into The British Motor Corporation Limited, created in 1952 to merge Morris Motors Limited and The Austin Motor Company Limited. Long-time service manager John Thornley took over as general manager, guiding the company through its best years until his retirement in 1969. Under BMC, several MG models were no more than badge-engineered versions of other marques, with the main exception being the small MG sports cars. BMC took over Jaguar Cars in September 1966 and that December BMC changed its name to British Motor Holdings. BMH joined with Leyland Motor Corporation in 1968 to form British Leyland Motor Corporation (BLMC).

BL[edit]

Following partial nationalisation in 1975 BLMC became British Leyland (later just BL). Amidst a mix of economic, internal and external politics, the Abingdon factory was shut down on 24 October 1980 as part of the drastic programme of cutbacks necessary to turn BL around after the turbulent times of the 1970s. The last car to be built there was the MGB, and after the closure of the Abingdon plant the MG marque was temporarily abandoned.[11]

Though many plants were closed, none created such an uproar among workers, dealers, clubs and customers as this closure did. Years later, Sir Michael Edwardes expressed regret about his decision.[citation needed]

In 1982, the marque was revived and the Austin Rover Group built high performance versions of their saloon and hatchback models built at Longbridge (Metro) or Cowley (Maestro and Montego). The MG Metro continued until 1990, with the Maestro and Montego versions being suspended a year later.

BAe then BMW[edit]

In 1995, the MG F became the first all-new MG since the MGB

After BL became the Rover Group in 1986, ownership of the MG marque passed to British Aerospace in 1988 and then in 1994 to BMW. The MG name was revived in 1993 with the launch of the MG RV8, followed by the mid-engined MG F in 1995.

MG Rover[edit]

BMW sold the business in 2000 and the MG marque passed to the MG Rover Group based in Longbridge, Birmingham. The practice of selling unique MG sports cars alongside badge-engineered models (by now Rovers) continued. The Group went into receivership in 2005 and car production was suspended on 7 April 2005. As of 2003, the site of the former Abingdon factory was host to McDonald's and the Thames Valley Police with only the former office block still standing. The headquarters of the MG Car Club (established 1930) is situated next door.

In 2006, it was reported that an initiative called Project Kimber, led by David James, had entered talks with Nanjing to buy the MG brand in order to produce a range of sports cars based on the discontinued Smart Roadster design by DaimlerChrysler. No agreement was reached, which resulted in the AC Cars marque being adopted for the new model instead. As of 2009, the project appears to be dormant.

Nanjing and SAIC[edit]

Morris Garages
Main article: MG Motor

On 22 July 2005, the Nanjing Automobile Group purchased the rights to the MG brand and the assets of the MG Rover Group for £53 million creating a new company MG Motor. In 2011 MG launched a new model, the MG 6 in GT (hatchback) and Magnette (saloon) versions which became the first new generation MG available in the UK since the MG TF. The MG range are now sold in China, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica and the United Kingdom, availability of models depending on market.


Car models[edit]

The earliest model, the 1924 MG 14/28 consisted of a new sporting body on a Morris Oxford chassis.[9] This car model continued through several versions following the updates to the Morris. The first car which can be described as a new MG, rather than a modified Morris was the MG 18/80 of 1928 which had a purpose designed chassis and the first appearance of the traditional vertical MG grille. A smaller car was launched in 1929 with the first of a long line of Midgets starting with the M-Type based on a 1928 Morris Minor chassis. MG established a name for itself in the early days of the sport of international automobile racing. Beginning before and continuing after World War II, MG produced a line of cars known as the T-Series Midgets which, post-war, were exported worldwide, achieving greater success than expected. These included the MG TC, MG TD, and MG TF, all of which were based on the pre-war MG TB, and updated with each successive model.[12]

MG departed from its earlier line of Y-Type saloons and pre-war designs and released the MGA in 1955. The MGB was released in 1962 to satisfy demand for a more modern and comfortable sports car. In 1965 the fixed head coupé (FHC) followed: the MGB GT. With continual updates, mostly to comply with increasingly stringent United States emissions and safety standards, the MGB was produced until 1980. Between 1967 and 1969 a short-lived model called the MGC was released. The MGC was based on the MGB body, but with a larger (and, unfortunately, heavier) six-cylinder engine, and somewhat worse handling. MG also began producing the MG Midget in 1961. The Midget was a re-badged and slightly restyled second-generation Austin-Healey Sprite. To the dismay of many enthusiasts, the 1974 MGB was the last model made with chrome bumpers due to new United States safety regulations; the 1974½ bore thick black rubber bumpers that some claimed ruined the lines of the car. In 1973, the MGB GT V8 was launched with the ex-Buick Rover V8 engine and was built until 1976. As with the MGB, the Midget design was frequently modified until the Abingdon factory closed in October 1980 and the last of the range was made. The badge was also applied to versions of BMC saloons including the BMC ADO16, which was also available as a Riley, but with the MG pitched as slightly more "sporty".

The marque lived on after 1980 under BL, being used on a number of Austin saloons including the Metro, Maestro, and Montego. In New Zealand, the MG badge even appeared on the late 1980s Montego estate, called the MG 2.0 Si Wagon. There was a brief competitive history with a mid-engined, six-cylinder version of the Metro. The MG Metro finished production in 1990 on the launch of a Rover-only model. The MG Maestro and MG Montego remained on sale until 1991, when production of these models was pruned back in order for Rover to concentrate on the more modern 200 Series and 400 Series. High performance Rover Metro, 200 and 400 GTi models had gone on sale in late 1989 and throughout 1990 as the MG version of the Metro was discontinued in 1990 and the versions of the Maestro and Montego were axed in 1991.

The Rover Group revived the two-seater with the MG RV8 in 1992. The all-new MGF went on sale in 1995, becoming the first mass-produced "real" MG sports car since the MGB ceased production in 1980.

Following the May 2000 purchase of the MG and Rover brands by the Phoenix Consortium and the forming of the new MG Rover Group, the MG range was expanded in the summer of 2001 with the introduction of three sports models based on the contemporary range of Rover cars. The MG ZR was based on the Rover 25, the MG ZS on the Rover 45, and the MG ZT/ZT-T on the Rover 75.

The MG Rover Group purchased Qvale, which had taken over development of the De Tomaso Bigua. This car, renamed the Qvale Mangusta and already approved for sale in the United States, formed the basis of the MG XPower SV, an "extreme" V8-engined sports car. It was revealed in 2002 and went on sale in 2004.

Motorsport[edit]

From its earliest days MGs have been used in competition and from the early 1930s a series of dedicated racing cars such as the 1931 C-Type and 1934 Q-type were made and sold to enthusiasts who received considerable company assistance. This stopped in 1935 when MG was formally merged with Morris Motors and the Competition Department closed down. A series of experimental cars had also been made allowing Captain George Eyston to take several world speed records. In spite of the formal racing ban, speed record attempts continued with Goldie Gardner exceeding 200 mph (320 km/h) in the 1100 cc EX135 in 1939.

After World War II record breaking attempts restarted with 500 cc and 750 cc records being taken in the late 1940s. A decision was also taken to return to racing and a team of MGAs was entered in the tragedy-laden 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans race, the best car achieving 12th place.

Prior to the use of the Toyota Tundra silhouette in the Craftsman Truck Series, MG was reported as the last foreign brand to be used in NASCAR. It was driven in 1963 by Smokey Cook.[13]

In 2001 MG re-launched their motor sport campaign to cover the 24 Hours of Le Mans (MG-Lola EX257), British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) (MG ZS), British and World Rally Championships and MG Independent British Rally Championship (MG ZR). The Le Mans team failed to win the endurance race in 2001 and 2002 and quit in 2003. MG Sport+Racing raced in the British Touring Car Championships with the MG ZS between 2001–2003 as a factory team. In 2004 WSR raced the MG ZS as a privateer team. After three years without a major sponsor, WSR teamed up with RAC in 2006 and the team was called Team RAC.In 2007 an MG ZR driven by BRC Stars Champion Luke Pinder won class N1 on Britain's round of the World Rally championship. Wales Rally GB. The MG British Rally Challenge still runs today despite the liquidation in 2005.

In 2004 plans to race in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) with a heavily modified V8 powered ZT supertouring car were cancelled due to MG Rover's liquidation in April 2005.

On 25 January 2012, Triple Eight Race Engineering announced it would run a pair of works GT models under NGTC regulations in the 2012 British Touring Car Championship season. The drivers would be Jason Plato and Andy Neate under the banner MG KX Momentum Racing.

List of models[edit]

The MG TF is the last traditional MG [12]
The MG TF was "the last of the traditionally-styled MGs",[12] with a wood-framed body, separate wings, and running boards.
The MG MGB
MG MGB GT. The "winter appeal" of the MGB was widened with the arrival of the "GT" in 1965.
MG MGB GT.
The MG MGB. For 1975 Larger wheels raised the car slightly which with new bumpers ensured compliance with increasingly prescriptive safety requirements in (primarily, at this stage) the US.

The MG Rover owners club was set up to preserve the Marque (www.mgr-forums.com)

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The M.G. Car Company Limited, incorporated 21 July 1930. Dissolved 15 June 2010. Company No. 00249645

References[edit]

  1. ^ Adams, Keith. "MG: A potted history". AROnline. Retrieved 9 May 2011. 
  2. ^ http://www.mgnuts.com/mgname/
  3. ^ Wolseley And M.G. Companies. The Times, Friday, Jun 14, 1935; pg. 20; Issue 47090.
  4. ^ Bristow, Grahame (2002). Restoring Sprites and Midgets. Brooklands Books. p. 5. 
  5. ^ Motor Sport, February 1932, Pages 168, 171.
  6. ^ Smith, Craig S. (2007-03-13). "The Classic British Sports Car From China". The New York Times (Longbridge). Retrieved 2012-03-17. 
  7. ^ MG? Not In America! Auto Trends, September 2, 2008. Retrieved September 7, 2008.
  8. ^ http://www.mgnuts.com/mgname/
  9. ^ a b c d e f Green, Malcolm (1997). MG Sports Cars. Godalming, UK: CLB. ISBN 1-85833-606-6. 
  10. ^ Motor Sport, December 1930, Page 80.
  11. ^ "Leyland builds the last MG". Retrieved 2011-11-08. 
  12. ^ a b c Culshaw, David; Horrobin, Peter (2013) [1974]. "MG". The complete catalogue of British Cars 1895 - 1975 (Paperback ed.). Poundbury, Dorchester, UK: Veloce Publishing. pp. 212–213. ISBN 978-1-874105-93-0. Retrieved 2013-12-06. The TC Midget was ... announced in 1945, and its successor, the TD of 1950, though at first received with horror by enthusiasts on account of its specification, which actually included independent front suspension and even bumpers, is now ... revered and sought after.... The last of the traditionally-styled MGs, the TF, came in 1953 and was built in both 1 14- and 1 12- litre form. 
  13. ^ "Smokey Cook Career Statistics". Racing-Reference.info. Retrieved 2011-01-06. 
  14. ^ a b "Austin Rover Online". Austin-rover.co.uk. Retrieved 2011-01-06. 

External links[edit]