|Owner||MG Motor (since 2009)|
|Previous owners||1924-1935: William R Morris
1935-1952: Morris Motors Limited
1952-1967: British Motor Corporation
1967-1968: British Motor Holdings
1968-1986: British Leyland
1986-1988: Rover Group
1988-1994: British Aerospace
2000-2005: MG Rover Group
2006-2008: NAC MG
|Headquarters||Longbridge, Birmingham (Previously Abingdon, Oxfordshire)|
MG, the initials of Morris Garages, is an English automotive marque registered by the now defunct MG Car Company Limited,[note 1] 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. Best known for its two-seat open sports cars, MG also produced saloons and coupés. Kimber was an employee of William Morris.
The MG business was Morris's personal property until 1 July 1935 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 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. The assets and MG brand were purchased by Nanjing Automobile Group (which merged into SAIC in 2008) for GB£53 million. Production restarted in 2007 in China, and later at Longbridge plant in the UK under the current manufacturer MG Motor. The first all-new model from MG in the UK for 16 years, the MG 6, officially launched on 26 June 2011.
The original MG marque was in continuous use, except for the duration of the Second World War, for 56 years following its inception in 1923. The production of predominantly two-seater sports cars was concentrated at a factory in Abingdon, some 10 miles (16 km) south of Oxford. 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. The MG marque was not revived in its own right until 1992, 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.
The MG marque, along with the Rover marque, went to the MG Rover group in May 2000, when BMW "broke up" the Rover Group. This arrangement had 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 company's name supposedly originated from the initials of Morris Garages, W R Morris's (Lord Nuffield's) original retail sales and service business in Longwall Street, Oxford, 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, 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. The site of the garages was redeveloped in 1980, retaining the original frontage, and is now used as student accommodation by New College.
Debate remains 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 1 May 1924, with its 90th anniversary being widely celebrated in 2014. Others[who?] dispute this and believe that MG only properly began trading in 1925.
The first cars were rebodied Morris models that used coachwork from Carbodies of Coventry. Morris Garages built them 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, 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 soon ran out again, 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. The MG Car Club was founded in 1930 for owners and enthusiasts of MG cars.
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.
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).
Following partial nationalisation in 1975, BLMC became British Leyland (later just BL). British Leyland's management and engineering staff were predominantly from the former Leyland organization, which included MG's historical close rival Triumph. Triumph was grouped into BL's Specialist Division, alongside Rover and Jaguar, while MG was retained with the other former BMC marques in the Austin-Morris Division, which otherwise made mass-production family cars. While new Triumph models such as the TR7 and the Dolomite were launched during the 'Seventies no new MG models were introduced apart from the limited-production V8 version of the MGB. While the MG operations was profitable these profits were entirely offset by the huge losses accrued by the rest of the Austin-Morris division and any funding to the Division within BL was allocated to urgently required mass market models, leaving MG with limited resources to develop and maintain its existing model range, which became increasingly outdated. 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 built there was the MGB, and after the closure of the Abingdon plant, the MG marque was temporarily abandoned.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
On 22 July 2005, the Nanjing Automobile Group purchased the rights to the MG brand and the assets of the MG Rover Group (except the production line for the ZS model) for £53 million, creating a new company called NAC MG UK. This was later renamed MG Motor, after the merge of Nanjing Automobile with Shanghai Automobile Industry Corporation (SAIC). In 2011, MG launched a new model, the MG 6 in GT (hatchback) and Magnette (saloon), which were the first new-generation MG available in the UK since the MG TF. The MG range is now sold in China, Chile, Colombia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Thailand, South Africa, and the United Kingdom--availability of models depending on market.
MG Motor was voted third place for the 'Best Manufacturer' category in the Auto Express 2014 Driver Power survey. MG celebrated its 90th birthday in 2014, and enjoyed further celebrations with a record-breaking year that had the company lead UK car-industry growth in 2014. The MG brand's sales rose by 361% during 2014 thanks in part to the introduction of the MG 3 to the product range.
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 that 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.
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 Rover cut production of these models 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.
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.
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 the Second World War 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.
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 and 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.
In January 2012, MG Motor announced that it would enter the 2012 British Touring Car Championship through the newly established MG KX Momentum Racing team. In its debut season the team ran two MG6s driven by Jason Plato and Andy Neate. Jason ended the season in third place, with the car yet to find its foot in wet conditions.
The team returned in 2013 with Sam Tordoff driving, who performed well in his debut year having joined through the KX Academy scheme. Plato once again came third, with Tordoff sixth.
MG won the 2014 Manufacturer's Championship to break Honda's four-year reign. After just three years of competition, the MG6 GT sealed the title by 95 points at the season finale at Brands Hatch. Drivers Plato and Tordoff racked up seven wins and 20 podiums in the 30-race calendar. Plato finished the Driver's Championship in second place, behind Colin Turkington, while Tordoff finished seventh. In 2014, a third MG6 GT was on the grid, driven by Marc Hynes--also maintained by Triple Eight but in a new livery that didn't resemble the other two MG cars. MG came second in the Constructors Championship in 2015, with Andrew Jordan leading the MG team by finishing the season fifth.
The MG Rover owners club was set up to preserve the Marque (www.mgr-forums.com)
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 - and - litre form.