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A brief history of MG cars; from the 18/80 to the MG's of today!

Updated: Feb 12

Ask anyone with even the smallest amount of classic car knowledge to name their favourite cars and you can guarantee that MG will be mentioned time and time again.


One of the most iconic British car marques and MG is probably the most known around the world. There small, sporty speedy models, especially the two seater Midget. What once was the MG Car Company Ltd, it has now extended its life as MG Motor Co, part of the Shanghai Automotive Group.


When did MG start making cars?


Despite being one of the most recognised marques on the planet, MG's beginnings were steeped in confusion. Not, you understand because that some of you may or may not know, the company creator or where it all started - but which of the cars were first produced at the famous Morris Garages in Abingdon.


Its foundations can be traced back to mid-1920's and Morris Motors. Around this time, an Oxford Morris dealership producing its own cars, which bore the MG and Morris badges.


In 1928, the company now firmly established, being the MG Car Company Ltd. In that same year, they produced their first all-original MG car; rather than modifying Morris cars. The MG 18/80. The following year, the familiar tradition of small MG models began with the 'M' type.


The brand quickly established itself in the racing world. 1933 MG had the first non-Italian team to win the prestigious K3 at the Mille Miglia road race and soon after began producing and exporting 'T' Midgets in 1936.


When was MG bought by BMC?


Ownership of MG was originally in the hands of William Morris but, in 1935 were transferred to Morris Motors. It was in 1952, that both companies were absorbed into British Motor Corporation which, had merged with Austin. The new BMC would also include Jaguar under their might and, from a partial nationalisation, BMC were no more and British Leyland appeared. In 1986, it became the Rover Group.

During this period, MG were the only 'real' MG sports cars, with others being rebadged models from other makes.


When did the Abingdon factory close?


From the 60's, MG started to lose models. The tough economical 1970's proved particularly damaging for the firm, with several plants being closed. This included the shutting down of the historic Abingdon factory, which has been turning out MG's since the company's start in 1929. Closing of the factory caused uproar, and basically sealed the death of the marque.


One good thing this decade was the production of the millionth MG car in October of 75, that car was a left hand drive MGB roadster.


After the closure of the Abingdon factory, the MG brand was temporarily abandoned.


When did MG start making cars again?

In 1982 Austin Rover revived the MG marque and built high-performance versions of their hatchbacks and saloons of the Montego, Maestro and Metro models.

The MG Metro continued production until 1990 with the Maestro and Montego suspended a year later.


BMW buys Rover Group

British Leyland, just referred to 'BL' had become Austin Rover and then Rover Group, MG was then passed to British Aerospace in 1988. In 1994, MG was passed to BMW who had acquired Rover.

The previous year, MG had been revived again with the launch of the RV8 then followed by the MG F in 1995.

The MG F was a two-seater sportswear that remained in production until 2002 when it became the MG TF. The MG F was the first 'mass' produced sportscar since the MGB had ceased production.


When was MG Rover Formed?


In 2000, BMW sold Rover and from the ashes MG Rover was formed from both marques.. They continued selling unique MG sports cars from the base engineered models that came from Rover models. The MG ZR was based on the Rover 25, the ZS, Rover 45 and the MG ZT/ZT-T based on the Rover 75

However, this new ownership lasted till 2005 when they went into administration and car production was suspended in April of that year.


MG bought by Nanjing Automotive Group who merged in turn with Shanghai Automotive Industrial Corporation (SAIC).


In 2005, Nanjing Automobile Group purchased the MG Brand and MG Rover Group's asset's for £53 million pounds. The new group became NAC MG UK and later, renamed as MG Motor.


2006, it was being reported that David James had begun entering talks with Nanjing to buy the MG brand. The aim was to produce sports cars based on the Smart Roadster (now discontinued) by the DaimlerChyrsler group. However, no agreement was reached and the project remained dormant.


In China, due to conflict by both Nanjing and SAIC (who had intellectual right to the 25, 75 and engines) the Chinese government made the companies merge (being state owned, they had this control) and SAIC became the new owner of the MG brand.


In 2011, MG launched the MG6 in GT (hatchback) and Magnette (saloon) models. These were the start of a new generation of MG's and were the first available in the UK, after the re-launched MG TF by Nanjing.


September 2013 saw MG launch the MG3 and, the following year saw MG voted third place for 'Best Manufacturer' category in the Auto Express 2014 Driver Power Survey.


SAIC has launched a variety of SUV's, the GS, ZS, ZS EV (Electric Vehicle) and their most recent offering is the HS.

MG have since then achieved record-breaking growth in the UK, with sales rising; in 2014 it achieved a growth of 316%!


MG have made a presence in India and recently acquired the Haloi car plant a former GM Motors plant. The first offering is the MG Hector which has been received well and have started to increase their portfolio with the MG ZS EV, MG6E and the recent launch of the MG Gloster.


The Abingdon factory is now a business park, but there is a plaque at the entrance to remind you that the factory was once there.


What about sports cars/roadsters I hear you say, well SAIC has confirmed that next year (2021) they will launch an all electric roadster based on the beautiful E-Motion concept, I'll leave you to glance at it......



#mg #morrisgarages

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