MG is a British sports car brand founded in 1924.
MG is best known for two-seat open sports cars, but MG also produced saloons and coupés. More recently, the brand has also been used to designate sportier versions of other models belonging to the parent company.
The brand was in continuous use (barring the years of the Second World War) for 56 years after its inception. Production of predominantly two-seater sports cars was concentrated at a factory in Abingdon, some 10 miles (16 km) south of Oxford. The BMC competition department was also based at the Abingdon plant and produced many winning rally and race cars. In the autumn of 1980, however, the Abingdon factory closed and MGB production ceased.
Between 1982 and 1991, the MG marque was revived on faster versions of Austin Rover's Metro, Maestro and Montego ranges. After an interval of barely one year, the MG marque was revived again, this time on the MG RV8 — an updated MGB Roadster with a Rover V8 engine, which was produced in low volumes.
The "real" revival came in the summer of 1995, when the high volume MG F two-seater roadster was launched. This was an instant hit with buyers, and sold in volumes which had been unthinkable on affordable two-seaters since the 1970s. The MG F was subsequently replaced under BMW's ownership by the "02 Model Year" revised version, otherwise known as the X40 project.
MG was one half of 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, but 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 who themselves were bought by SAIC in December 2007.
In 2007 pilot production of the MG TF resumed at Longbridge. Production of the MG 7 large sports saloon also started in China, and in 2008 the range is set to expand with the arrival of the smaller MG 3 and MG 5 hatchbacks.
MG got its name from "Morris Garages", a dealer of Morris cars in Oxford which began producing its own customized versions to the designs of Cecil Kimber who had joined the company as its Sales Manager in 1921 and was promoted to General Manager in 1922. Kimber remained as General Manager until 1941 when he fell out with Lord Nuffield over procuring wartime work. Kimber died in 1945 in a freak railway accident.
There is some debate over when MG started. The company itself stated it to be 1924, although the first cars bore both Morris and MG badges and a reference to MG with the octagon badge appears in an Oxford newspaper from November 1923. Others dispute this and believe that MG only properly began trading in 1925.
The first cars which were rebodied Morris models using coachwork from Carbodies of Coventry and were built in premises in Alfred Lane, Oxford but 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, 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 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, gradually taking over more space until production ended there in 1980.
Originally owned personally by William Morris, the company was sold to Morris Motors (itself part of the Nuffield Organisation) in 1935; a change that was to have serious consequences for the company, particularly its motor-sport activities.
MG was absorbed into the British Motor Corporation in 1952. 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.
Amidst a mix of economic, internal and external politics, the Abingdon factory was shut down as part of the ruthless programme of cutbacks necessary to turn BL around after the turbulent times of the 1970s. Though many plants were closed, none created such an uproar among workers, dealers, clubs and customers as this closing did. Years later, Sir Michael Edwardes expressed regret about his decision. Later forms of MGs built by BL's Austin Rover Group were often badge-engineered Austins, and were made at the Longbridge plant. As of 2003, the site of the former Abingdon factory was host to McDonalds 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.
After BL became the Rover Group in 1986, ownership of MG passed to British Aerospace in 1988 and then in 1994 to BMW. BMW sold the business in 2000 and MG became part of 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.
In 2006, it was reported that 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 and it was later announced that the re-launched Smart Roadster would bear the AC name.
Nanjing and SAIC
On 22 July 2005, the Nanjing Automobile Group purchased the rights to the MG name and the assets of the MG Rover Group for £53 million. Its new Chinese owners, stated that the brand would stand for something new in China, as MG general manager Zhang Xin said: "We want Chinese consumers to know this brand as 'Modern Gentleman'. To see that this brand represents grace and style."  In Europe it still stands for "Morris Garages".
Nanjing restarted production of the MG TF and ZT ranges in early 2007. The TF is being built at Longbridge, while the ZT (now the MG 7) is being assembled in China.
On 11 July 2006 Nanjing announced the development of a TF sports coupé . A new plant was to be built in Ardmore, Oklahoma to build the car, accounting for roughly 60% of TF output worldwide. A new development center would also be opened in the United States, located at the University of Oklahoma. The Longbridge plant in the UK was to continue to build TFs as well, and a third plant in Pukou, at Jiangsu Province in China, would produce the ZT and ZR. According to Nanjing, MGs were to go on sale in the United States in the early summer of 2008. However, in an interview in August, 2008, NAC MG UK's Sales and Marketing Director, Gary Hagen stated that the Oklahoma deal had fallen through. He also said that there would be no immediate return to the US market as they would first be concentrating on the UK and Ireland followed by the rest of Europe.
The MG range was relaunched in Britain during 2008, with the TF, now called the TF LE500, an updated version of the original model. The new MG 3, MG 5 and MG 7 ranges will be updated versions of the previous MG ZR, MG ZS and MG ZT ranges.
NAC entered talks with SAIC supported by the Chinese government about a merger. Their cars, MG 7 (NAC) and Roewe 750 (SAIC) share mechanical features. The takeover was completed on 26 December 2007. 
The earliest model, the 1924 MG 14/28 consisted of a new sporting body on a Morris Oxford chassis. 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 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 better than expected success. These included the MG TC, MG TD, and MG TF, all of which were based on the pre-war MG TB, with various degrees of updating.
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 marque MGB. 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 as British Leyland (later Austin Rover Group), the then-owner, continued to place the MG badge 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 viable 200 Series and 400 Series.
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.
In May 2000, BMW sold off the Rover group after a six-year ownership and its new owners were the Phoenix Consortium. The Land Rover and Mini marques were not included in the deal, and the new-look group included just the MG and Rover models. The MG range was expanded in the summer of 2001 with the introduction of three Rover-based sports models. 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 U.S., 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.
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 Le Mans 24 hour race, the best car achieving 12th place.
Prior to the use of the Toyota Tundra 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.
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 and still race in the series today with many wins to date. After three years without a major sponsor, WSR teamed up with RAC in 2006 and the team was called Team RAC. 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.
In 2007, a surprise announcement was made that a Super 2000 (S2000) rally car has been prepared in conjunction with rally experts MSD, who used to manage the Hyundai works World Rally team. This is the first sporting step the reformed company has made. Testing has been carried out on the MG ZR based car & it is expected to enter competition in 2008.
List of Models
1924-1929 MG 14/28
1924-1929 MG 14/40
1929-1932 MG M-type Midget
1931-1932 MG C-type Midget
1931-1932 MG D-type Midget
1931-1932 MG F-type Magna
1932-1934 MG J-tpe Midget
1932-1934 MG K-type Magnette
1933-1934 MG L-type Magna
1934-1936 MG N-type Magnette
1934-1936 MG P-type Midget
1936-1939 MG TA Midget
1939-1940 MG TB Midget
1945-1950 MG TC Midget
1950-1953 MG TD Midget
1953-1955 MG TF Midget
1961-1979 MG Midget
1973-1976 MGB GT V8
1992-1995 MG RV8
1995-2005 MG F
2002-2005 MG TF
2007- MG TF
1982-1990 MG Metro
2001-2005 MG ZR
2007- MG 3
Compact car (Small saloons)
1933-1934 MG KN
1962-1968 MG 1100
1967-1973 MG 1300
Midsize car (Medium saloons)
1924-1927 MG 14/28
1927-1929 MG 14/40
1928-1933 MG 18/80
1937-1939 MG VA
1947-1953 MG Y-type
1953-1956 MG Magnette ZA
1956-1958 MG Magnette ZB
1959-1961 MG Magnette Mk. III
1961-1968 MG Magnette Mk. IV
1983-1991 MG Maestro
1985-1991 MG Montego
2001-2005 MG ZS
2007- MG 5
Full-size car (Large saloons)
1936-1939 MG SA
1938-1939 MG WA
2001-2005 MG ZT
2007- MG 7
2002-2005 MG XPower SV
1930-1931 MG 18/100 "Tigress"
1934 MG Q-type
1935 MG R-type
1985 MG E-XE
The MGB was launched in September 1962 as the successor of the MGA. In place of the MGA’s separate chassis was MG’s 1st unitary bodyshell which made the car stiffer than other contemporary sports cars, altho it made it rather heavy too. Its mechanical components were mainly based on the MGA’s parts, the main difference being a 1.8L evolution of BMC’s B-series engine.
Its advantage compared to its forbear was an unprecedented level of comfort for a traditional sports car, which makes the B usable even today as everyday transport. Differences include softer suspension, wind up windows, better seats, bigger boot & cockpit.
Not only was the MGB well rec'd by the press at its introduction, it also soon became the fastest selling MG of all time.
Mark I (1962-1967)
In 1963 OD became an option & the following year BMC introduced a smoother running 5-bearing engine to replace the original 3-bearing unit, which if slightly less powerful had the benefit of being longer lasting, but these modifications weren’t of much significance compared to the introduction of the MGB GT in 1965. The GT was a concept dear to MG’s managing director John Thornley. He wanted to build a ‘poor man’s Aston Martin’. The team at MG had some difficulty in designing the coupé shape, so they commissioned Pininfarina to do the job. The design that came back was beautiful. Autocar magazine wrote ‘Perhaps one of the prettiest sports coupes ever to leave the BMC drawing boards’. Unlike the design team at MG, Pininfarina had discarded the B’s windscreen for a taller one. The end result was a car that does not look like an afterthought like the MGA coupé. The only major mechanical difference was the fitting of a Salisbury type rear axle instead of a Banjo type one, thus reducing noise in the cockpit.
Mark II (1967-1969)
These cars were launched at the same time as the MGC. The major evolution in the MkII cars (the official nomenclature was the 4th series) was the introduction of a new fully synchronized gearbox w/revised ratios. An A/T also became an option (until 1973) at the time. The electrical system’s polarity was reversed to negative earth, whilst American cars rec'd a revised dashboard known as the Abingdon pillow, a 3rd windscreen wiper & the 1st of a series of engine changes due to emission control equipment. (The last American spec MGB had as little as 62.5 BHP.) The launch of the Mk II series also coincided w/the appearance of the MGC.
Recessed Grille Cars (1969-1972)
A # of style changes were introduced for the 1970 model year, the most important being a black recessed radiator grille instead of the traditional chrome one which had been MG’s trademark for many years. It certainly gave purists a shock! Other changes included period Rostyle wheels, different seats which now had vinyl facings, new rear lights & a British Leyland badge on the front wings (fenders) which at most isn’t a very glamorous feature. American cars also had a split rear bumper. Contrary to popular belief this model sold extremely well; in its 1st full year of production, more that 36,000 came out of the Abingdon factory.
Honeycomb Grilled Cars (1972-1974)
In 1972, MG reverted back to a chrome radiator grille which resembled the older ‘62-’69 grille but had a black plastic honeycomb center, certainly to please traditional buyers. The cars rec'd different seats, the GT's facings now being made of cloth. American buyers got their glove-box back & in 1974 their cars rec'd huge rubber overriders which are known as ‘Sabrina’ bumpers (no relation w/'80s big boobed pop bimbo).
Rubber Bumper Cars (1974-1980)
1974 saw the most important changes in the B’s styling w/the appearance of the controversial rubber bumpers needed to meet American 5mph crash tests. Unfortunately, the suspension also had to be raised by 1.5" to satisfy std bumper height requirements which had the very undesirable effect of destroying the handling. Late 1976-1980 cars were fitted w/rear anti-roll bars which restored most of the B’s original handling, revised dashboards & garish striped cloth seats. British Leyland artificially tried to boost sales by introducing special models, the 1st being the British market Jubilee cars which were finished in BRG w/gold stripes along the sides & gold painted wheels from the GT V8. The 2nd being the final batch of cars, produced after the decision of definitely stopping MG production had been taken, these Limited Edition cars which were basically a run of 580 GTs & 420 roadsters painted in metallic beige (roadster) & pewter (GT). The cars were fitted w/either alloy or wire wheels & a front airdam. These cars were not the 1st to bear the LE tag as 6,682 (doesn’t sound very limited to me) black roadsters had been produced for the American market (the GT had been dropped from the US market in 1974 to give way to Triumph’s TR7) between 1979 & 1980. The cars were basically the same as the UK LEs apart from their color & their anemic emissions strangled & absolutely pitiful 62.5 BHP.(the power was raised slightly on the last cars). The last roadster & the last GT (both being LE models) were completed on 10/22/1980 & can be seen at the Heritage motor center at Gaydon, England. In all 512,243 MGBs were built (386,961 roadsters & 125,282 GTs) making the MGB the most successful sports car of all time.
The MGC is one of the most controversial of the post-war MG’s. At its launch, the car was very badly rec'd by the press & subsequently sold in rather small #s, but is today fervently defended by enthusiastic owners. The design of the MGC began in 1964. To understand some of the failings of the car, one must understand that this was a time of major cost cutting at BMC. The basic plan was to produce a more powerful MGB & at the same time make a badge engineered version to replace the ageing big Healey. Different power-plants were considered, but BMC (& not the staff at MG) decided that it would be the new 7-bearing engine that was being engineered for the Austin 3.0L. This ‘new’ 2912 cc I6 was in fact a development of the old C-series unit that was used in the Austin Healey 3000, it was also supposed to be shorter & lighter than the old motor. But when the team at MG rec'd the new engine it was only 20 lbs lighter & 1.75" shorter than the C-series. Most of the MGC’s handling problems probably stem from this extra weight up front. Because of the bulk of the power-plant, the front half of the MGBs bodyshell had to be redesigned & the front suspension was changed from a coil spring & lever-arm damper system to a longitudinal torsion bar & telescopic damper one. Even when all this was accomplished, the bonnet had to be given 2 bulges, one to clear the radiator & the smaller one to clear the front carb. In fact, apart from the 15" wheels (the B used 14" wheels), these 2 bulges are the only visual differences compared to the B. On the plus side, they do give the car a more aggressive stance. Both front & rear brakes were different to the B. The MGC also used a lower geared steering rack w/3.5 turns lock to lock compared to the 2.9 turns for an MGB. The gearbox was basically the same altho in a different casing as was the optional A/T.
Near the end of the development phase, Donald Healey, who was never very enthusiastic of the idea that the big Healey’s replacement would be a badge engineered MG, finally decided not to associate his name w/the MGC.
After a rather uninspired launch, the press gave the car a very bad reception, saying that the car was too soft, that the engine was rather smooth but didn’t feel very powerful & that the car understeered heavily. As mentioned earlier, this bad reception translated into very slow sales of the car.
There were some mods for the 1969 model year, when the car rec'd lower gearing to counter the claim that the cars didn’t have good acceleration, & reclining seats.
Production of the ‘C ended in September 1969 w/a total production figure of 9,002 cars of which 4,544 were roadsters & 4,458 were GTs.
MGB GT V8
The MGB GT V8’s story started well before its introduction in 1973. Abingdon was trying to fit a V8 in the MGB bodyshell as early as 1967. A prototype w/a Daimler 2.5L V8 being the 1st. The all-alloy Rover V8, itself originally a Buick unit was an ideal choice & the formation of British Leyland in the late '60s made the engine available to Abingdon. Ken Costello who owned a tuning business started to sell a modified MGB w/a Rover V8 unit installed from 1971. There is quite some debate on whether MG or Costello actually came up w/the idea of using the Rover unit & why BL stopped supplying V8s to Costello just before the introduction of MG’s car. As we will see later, even MG had difficulty obtaining the powerplants.
Rover’s all-alloy V8 engine went on to power a whole range of cars from the Range Rover to specialist cars such as today’s ultra fast TVRs.
The Abingdon car was introduced to the public in August 1973 uniquely in GT form & for the home market, it’s Rover unit was identical to the one used in the Range Rover apart from a different inlet manifold which allowed more space for the carbs (unlike the MGC, the bonnet is identical to the B). In this form, it produced 137 BHP. The V8 also had special wheels, altho the same diameter, up-rated springs & a different instrument cluster.
Even if reviews of the car weren't as bad as for the MGC, reception was lukewarm. The general feeling was that the car had too much of a vintage feel to it & wasn't comfortable enough, altho performance was fine.
The GT V8 evolved w/the MGB, getting rubber bumpers for 1975. The last car rolled off the assy line in September 1976. Production totaled a mere 2,591 cars. There are many reasons for the V8’s commercial failure, like it’s high price (2,294 £, when a B GT only cost 1,547, & a Ford Capri 3000GXL a Mere 1,824), the oil crisis, the lack of it’s presence in the US & the fact that MG had some difficulty getting hold of enough engines.
MG Owners Club - established 1973 by Roche Bentley]
MG Car Club UK - founded 1930
MG Car Club of Queensland, Australia
MG Car Club - Windsor - Detroit
MG Car Club Hunter Region - Home of the 2005 Australian National Meeting
MG Car Club Western New York Centre
Mg ZS/Rover 45 club
Kilsby MG Club (Northamptonshire)
MG Club of Greece
MGCCLIC - Established in 1957
MG Club of Portugal - Founded in 1981
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