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MG Company History

Published: 24th Mar 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

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If there was any justice in the world, then the MG name would still be rivalling the likes of BMW and Mercedes as the brand to drive. Come to think of it, MG was more Audi in its history and outlook – and surely would have similarly prospered if the rubbish British Leyland management hadn’t starved this famous and much loved outfit of proper encouragement and cash.

The origins of MG date back to the very roots of motoring. Cecil Kimber joined Morris Garages in 1921 (William Morris had set up the Oxford-based business in 1913, and started building the first Morris Oxford), and during the early 1920s Kimber experimented with various special bodies based on plain Morris chassis. In due course he modified an Oxford to become the MG Super Sports (MG initials standing for ‘Morris Garages’, naturally). This proved to be such a successful marketing tool, that the MG Car Company was set up by 1928.

Successes in motorsport raised the profile of MG in the pre-war era, and as Britain recovered from the ravages of war, it started to produce a revised version of the TB (designated TC) sports and also the swish YA, plus also the YB saloons (with bodywork based on that of the mainstream Morris/Wolseley Eight saloons).

Further variations on the T series included the TD, then the final, TF. However, by the mid-1950s buyers were looking for more modern designs, which the MGA duly provided, even though it was essentially an updated and rebodied TF. The ZA and ZB Magnette saloons of the 1950s were fancier BMC saloons but were still loved by enthusiasts for their spirited performance,sporty handling and classy nature – a BMW of its day?

The Magnettes of the late 1950s and early 1960s were effectively upmarket, twin carb versions of BMC’s mid-range Farina-styled saloons, offering extra performance and refinement, but that they weren’t a patch on the ZA/ZB in terms of dynamics and sporty character.

The MGB ran for almost 20 years and in 2012 celebrates half a century of common sense fun Logical but surprisingly unsuccessful spin offs of the MGB included the six-cylinder MGC, which was touted as the replacement for the Big Healey, and the MGB GT V8 – which is arguably the best MGB of the lot.

The rot was setting in for MG because despite having some of the finest engineers within BMC, the company was continually neglected and under funded simply because British Leyland now saw once arch rival Triumph as the corporation’s blue-eyed boy and saviour of the prestige sector. MG saloons simply became fancier, flashier badge-engineered BMCs.

The cleverly re-engineered MGR V8 kept the badge alive before the arrival of the long awaited mid-engined MGF (1995 on) the first dedicated model since the MGB! That it was the UK’s best selling sports car of that time – fighting off the Mazda MX-5 no less. Yet as popular as the MGF was, it was too little, too late. BMW quickly extricated itself from the business it took over in 1994. In 2000 ‘MG Rover’ was acquired, shaken up and revived by the Phoenix Consortium who appeared to be the company’s saviour at long last.

Sadly it was a false dawn and the company went out of business in 2005 to be bought and revived by the Chinese where new MG models, produced by Nanjing MG. Rest assured, the Ocatgon badge will be around for many more years yet!

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