MG: 100 Years Young

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  • MG: 100 Years Young
  • 01 May 2024

    MG: 100 Years Young

    Today, one hundred years ago, MG pioneered the creation of the popular sports car, giving millions around the world an attainable slice of MG magic.
Racing Origins

The Morris' for Mavericks

MG was first established as Morris Garages by British motoring pioneer William Morris in 1924. Behind the scenes however, it's General Manager Cecil Kimber who proposes the idea of faster cars with a sportier look. To do this, Kimber re-bodies and tunes up existing Morris car models. In 1930, MG releases its first model: the 14/28 Super Sports. With a top speed of 65mph, the car is actually existing Morris Oxford fitted with a two-seater body.

Kimber's approach to develop cars which quietly challenged convention resulted in an increase in MG's popularity. The company soon outgrew its original facilities and eventually moved to a town that became synonymous with the marque, Abingdon on Thames. Abingdon would play host to MG production for the next fifty years. 
The Morris for Mavericks
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Plucky Speed Chasers

Plucky Speed Chasers

In the 1930s, a whole host of racing drivers make the Magic Midget their car of choice. In 1931, the MG EX120, nicknames The Magic Midget, sets a land speed record by becoming the first 750cc car to exceed 100mph, logging a top speed of 103.13mph. The same year, Norman Black wins the Ulster Tourist Trophy race at Belfast where the Earl of March, who was in charge of the M.G. team at that time, congratulates him on victory. 

Anecdotes from the archives 

George Eyston independently took on speed records at Brooklands with his privately owned cars and sought MG as partner to break the 750cc record and exceed 100mph.

Magnette Magic at Mille Miglia

In 1933, a supercharged K3 Magnette wins its class at the Mille Miglia, making MG the first non-Italian marque to win a team prize. It was driven by Earl Howe and Hugh Hamilton, George Eyston and Count Lurani, with the third car manned by Henry Birkin and Bernard Rubin. This iconic victory at an event renowned for being the toughest in racing, set the stage for countless other successful. In its class, the K3 remained at the top for a further two years, becoming one of the most successful racing cars of all time.

Anecdotes from the archives

Eyston and Lurani had to replace no less than 157 spark plugs during the event and in the last 100 miles, both the Eyston and Howe needed on-road tyre changes because of punctures. 
Magnette Magic at Mille Miglia
Post War Rising
Flying Shingle at Palm Springs

Flying Shingle at Palm Springs

Ken Miles was known as "Mr. MG" for his MG specials in the early days of racing in California. The quintessential British underdog, Miles' most successful MG special was the 'The Flying Shingle', nicknames thanks to its swooping body and low ride-height. Together they would go on to win a plethora of races in California against more exotic and established rivals, before ultimately winning the Palm Springs Road Race in 1955. 

Success in the US meant Miles found himself as part of the MG team entered into the 1955 Le Mans competing in EX182. Miles and teammate John Lockett would pilot the MG to 12th place, making it the highest placed MG. 

Photos of Ken Miles: Jim Sitz
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Roaring Raindrop at Bonneville

The EX181, based on the MGA, was taken to the Bonneville Salts flats as MG returned to the world of record breaking. In 1957, the 1489cc engine developed 290bhp and legendary driver Sir Stirling Moss took the car to an incredible 245.64mph. In 1959, American driver Phil Hill took the MG to 254.91mph. The enlarged 1506cc supercharged, twin cam engine, developed over 300bhp and remains the fastest MG ever.
Roaring Raindrop at Bonneville
An American Love Affair

An American Love Affair

World War II saw thousands of American servicemen head to Great Britain and Europe as part of the war effort - during their time in the UK they came across the MG T Type sports cars and many took them home to America. Britain's export drive saw huge numbers and the USA became MG's most important export market.

Arguably one of the most beautiful cars to wear the MG octagon, the MGA arrived in 1955. Originally powered by a 1500cc engine, this was increased to 1600cc in 1959. Alongside these cars MG also produced a twin cam model, producing 106bhp. Over 100,000 MGAs were produced, with almost 95,000 of these exported from the UK. 
British Icons
Rockers Racers Rebels

Rockers, Racers & Rebels

The stylish MGA featured in "Blue Hawaii," alongside Elvis Presley in 1961. The world renowned singer, songwriter and cultural icon enjoyed driving the car so much that he bought it and kept it at his Graceland residence in Memphis, Tennessee. The car is the only machine owned by the legendary musician to also appear in one of his films.

Throughout the sixties and beyond, pop culture icons from music, sport and film all began owning MGs. From George Best to King Charles, and Bill Wyman to James Dean, the MGA fast become a cult modern classic.

Best-Selling MG of All Time

The best-selling MG of all time, the MGB roadster, arrived in 1962. It's arguably the first modern MG, since it was the first car from the marque to use monocoque construction, rather than a separate chassis as the MGA and others had. Like the MGA before, the majority of MGBs would be sent to the United States and it remained in production until 1980. No small feat. 
Best-Selling MG of All Time
Rover Revival
6R4: Remarkable MG Rovers

6R4: Remarkable MG Rovers

In May 1982, the MG Metro 1300 launched. It was one of the first 'hot hatches' and would lead the way to a faster version, the MG Metro Turbo a year later. The MG Metro proved to be a huge success and demonstrated the demand, and love, for MG motor cars. As rally car racing surges in popularity, MG decided to get in on the rise with the MG Metro 6R4, complete with a 3.0 V6 engine and capable of 410bhp.  

MGF: The Return of Roadsters

The MGF was the first all-new MG sportscar since 1962 and there was huge excitements ahead of the car's release. It was innovative, too with a mid-engine and gas suspension. It quickly became a best-seller across much of the world. Rover Group by this time, was under the ownership of BMW and now wanting the MG to compete with its Z sports car, the MGF never made it to the USA. 

The new century saw an exciting new approach from MG Rover, Muscular cars with plenty of power and presence made a real statement of intent. This new design direction is headed by prominent supercar designer Peter Stevens - of Mclaren F1 and Lotus Esprit fame. 
MGF: The Return of Roadsters
Electric Era Reborn
Quietly Brilliant Electric Cars

Quietly Brilliant Electric Cars

Fast forward to today, and the world of automotive has changed dramatically. True to its maverick spirit, the MG makes the move to become a truly international car brand at the forefront of delivering a range of vehicles that lead the electric revolution. The manufacturer's first fully-electric hatchback car, the MG4 EV, hits the road to rave reviews and a whole host of incredible awards. 
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Roadster Reimagined

The development of the Cyberster has seen a much anticipated return to form for the marque. A first of its kind, the Cyberster is the world’s only fully electric two seater roadster, taking its styling cues from the classic MGB Roadster. With scissor doors and sleek lines, the Cyberster is a tribute to those who seek to defy the ordinary and is set to launch across Europe in 2024.

 
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