A Brief History
By Kevin Cobley
Ask an MG owner what “MG” stands for and they might just smirk and say “Mighty Good” or “Money Gone” or even “My Gosh…it runs!”. Less devious enthusiasts will confess it actually stands for Morris Garages. Cecil Kimber is considered the great patriarch of MG. Kimber was the manager of Morris Garages in Oxford under the redoubtable William Morris. The marque came to life in the form of modified Morris cars from 1923-24. History is a bit foggy when the mighty octagon started appearing on these cars, but soon all MG cars were branded as such. In the late twenties the celebrated MG Midgets began their run which was an immediate favorite for hill climbs and sport racing. Indeed, the factory even maintained a lively racing program of its own and did quite well.
The advent of WWII halted production and the factory, now located in Abingdon, was converted to the war effort. The MG factory produced many items to help stop Hitler including the Crusader Tank which saw active service in North Africa. This vehicle would have made a very formidable MG. Some units survive to this day although none sadly are registered for our ABFM. They’d certainly make an interesting new MG Class on the field.
After the war, returning American GIs brought home some dandy souvenirs in the form of MG sports cars. They seemed small and spindly with few concessions to comfort, but they were enormously fun to drive. Soon the MGTC roadster, based on the pre-war TA and TB models, landed on America’s shores. This was followed by the even more successful MGTD. A brief run of the MGTF completed the T-series era. In 1956 an all new model “MGA-First of a New Line” arrived. Based on the LeMans prototype the MGA sold over a 100,000 examples including a lovely coupe version. The MGB arrived in 1962 to much fanfare and would dominate the entry level sports car scene throughout the swinging sixties. You could buy a roadster, a dashing coupe version, the smaller Midget version, and the big 6 MGC. The seventies were not kind to MG. The Marque was not keeping up with new competition from Japan and other imports. Sales weakened. 1975 brought new federal regulations that added large black rubber bumpers along with raised height which increased body roll. Further insult came two years later with an unwelcome change to single carburation. The MGB held on until 1980 and then Abdingdon shut down for good.
The MG faithful clung to hints and half promises for years that the marque would return to America, but those ships of new MGs never sailed. The MG Marque is now owned by a Chinese company that slaps the MG label on their sedans. What would Cecil Kimber think? Regardless, the true spirit of MG continues to thrive in the preservation and enjoyment of these cars by many thousands of enthusiasts. That will go on for many years to come.