Photo by Salt Water New England

Thursday, August 18, 2022

MGs

Photos by Salt Water New England

MGs are known for their British style, speed, and handling.  And also for numerous mechanical and electrical issues.  

MG is short for Morris Garages, which William Morris founded in 1924 to make sports cars.  The company was later consolidated in 1935 into Morris' larger entity Morris Motors.   

MGs made inroads into the US when, at the end of World War II, American troops who had been stationed in England and loved their pre-war models took their MGs home with them.

America soon became a critical marketplace.  In 1955,  MG release of the legendary MGA.  Its light weight and sporty handling meant a fun but controllable ride. It was very popular, despite technology and construction issues.  This was followed by the successful MGB.

Then brand then suffered dilution, mergers, and a highly problematic new model, MGF.

Licensing, and then ownership was most recently acquired by two companies, Nanjing Automobile and Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC)

MG, according to Nanjing Automobile general manager Zhang Xin, rather than Morris Garages, would stand for "Modern Gentleman."

Still, many of the older models are still around, speaking to the passion of their owners.  My father (and his father) had loved the MGs, problems not withstanding.  They remain exemplars of one of our pillars, Class-Feral.    

And while Bond's cars in the novels were "[o]ne of the last of the 41/2-litre Bentleys with the supercharger by Amherst Villiers" and a battleship-grey Aston Martin DB III, MG drivers would be forgiven for feeling aligned with this quote:

Bond liked fast cars and he liked driving them. Most American cars bored him. They lacked personality and the patina of individual craftsmanship that European cars have. They were just 'vehicles', similar in shape and in colour, and even in the tone of their horns. Designed to serve for a year and then be turned in in part exchange for the next year's model. All the fun of driving had been taken out of them with the abolition of a gear-change, with hydraulic-assisted steering and spongy suspension. All effort had been smoothed away and all of that close contact with the machine and the road that extracts skill and nerve from the European driver. To Bond, American cars were just beetle-shaped Dodgems in which you motored along with one hand on the wheel, the radio full on, and the power-operated windows closed to keep out the draughts. 
- Ian Fleming, Live and Let Die 













My Father Grouse Shooting With His MG

 

34 comments:

  1. Who does not love MGs, be they As, Bs, TDs, TFs, or whatever, even Midgets? Nn They are just fun, despite being irksome at times. I say these things even though I drove Triumph (until the BMW 2002 came along).

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  2. Beautiful automobiles

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  3. I have many fond memories of pushing my college roommates MG during all kinds of weather. Often the only way to get it started apparently

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  4. My first car, around 1962, was a 1952 MG TD that I purchased for $800. This brings back a lot of memories of driving to summer school classes at Perkiomen Prep, some 20 miles away, and many dates on sportscar rallies. The next was a 1960 Triumph TR3 that my insurance agent had traded for the newer all wheel independent suspension TR -4, with the warning that the MG was nice, but the TR-3 could get you into trouble. Later acquisitions were: a Fiat-Abarth Zagato, which I wish I still had, and a Lotus Europa. Today, an environment conscious Toyota Prius. Many good memories of the earlier sportscars, despite their idiosyncrasies.

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  5. The idiosyncrasies of these cars are what make them interesting, You never knew when the headlights would fail, or your have to get your girlfriend to 'pop the clutch' while you pushed to get the car started again. Maybe that's what makes Inspector Morse's Jaguar MK 2 so interesting and worth finding one like it, or a Land Rover series 2A, a 60's Morgan Plus 4. Nostalgia. Like our 'preppy lifestyle.

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  6. A few more comments: Owls Head Transportation Museum has an excellent collection of the early MG Cars. The man for who Ian Fleming named 007, James Bond, lies buried in our local Episcopalian Cemetery at The Church of Messiah in Gwynedd, PA.

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    1. I'm guessing that the MG with the LOBSTER vanity plate is at Owls Head.

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  7. Moving forward to the early 1960's, the innovative MGB will forever be compared to its lesser upstart, the Triumph Spitfire. Seemingly placed in between was the beautiful Lotus Elan, costing more but worth it, as the three famous Brits lifted Queen and Country from the last vestiges of postwar austerity.

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    1. I had a Triumph Spitfire and loved it, but I coveted an MGB or better still a Lotus Elan (I had friends that had both).

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    2. A friend in college had a Triumph GT6, basically a Spitfire with a hardtop. I wasn't familiar with cars like that and riding in it was a new experience. No other car had better engine access than the Spitfire and the GT6. At the time (around 1970), THE car to have was a Jaguar E-Type. Never knew anyone who had one, but another college acquaintance had both a Triumph TR3 and a Lotus Elan, the only one in town.

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    3. There was also a Lotus Elan plus two which was slightly bigger

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    4. When I left college and moved to the D.C. area, I noticed a lack of sports cars, most of which would have been British, and a general lack of small cars in general. The ones I did see in college (late 60s, early 70s) were the less expensive, less powerful cars like MG Migets, Sprites, Fiat 850 and 124 sports cars, and of course, MGBs and various Triumphs. Also the occasional XKE, as they were usually called, as well as a few Volvo P1800, just like Roger Moore drove. More importantly, however, there were three Land-Rovers, all Series II, and one of them was mine.

      Today, there is a Morgan dealer in that town. There had to be. I went to school in Morgantown. But no other sports cars.

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  8. My father always drove MG's. Wonderful cars. Superb photos above

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  9. I had an MG, but it wasn't a "real" MG. Instead, it was one of those so-called badge engineered cars from BMC, that included Morris, Austin, Riley and one or two others, all pretty much the same. It was, however, a fairly sporty car. Market-wise, it fell between the Mini and a larger model called, believe it or not, the Maxi, which was a hatchback. All had front-wheel drive. None were especially attractive, in my opinion, but some models, including the MG version, had nice, traditional grilles.

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  10. As a teen, I didn't have an MG, but my friend Dave did - a yellow 1974 MGB. My best friend Tina had a racing green 1968 Sunbeam Alpine. Some of my best memories are summer days and nights spent racing around in those cars (and often on the side of the road trying to fix them)!

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  11. Mg’s are interesting in so many ways. As a car, not very good. But as a thing to behold and drive they are spectacular!
    They were then as they are now just superb!

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  12. Old fellow (original owner) rented one of the garages behind my parents' house growing up to keep his '52 TD (other garages held an opera-window Thunderbird, etc.); he'd come and start it up several times a month; I've wanted one ever since - and may still get one in my dotage, when I'm no longer paying tuitions. This desire was only slightly lessened when I learned that the frames on these English cars are made of, yes, wood.

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  13. A prewar MG 14/40 in red figures in the Maisie Dobbs novels.

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  14. I had a 1968 MGB in British Racing Green with the classic spoked wheels. You really had to be a handy mechanic to keep these cars on the road. Just keeping the engine timed seemed to be a weekly chore. I'm not complaining - the car was a blast.

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    1. My dad had a yellow 12 cylinder E Type Jag. NEVER could keep the 3 carburetors in sync. GREAT car nevertheless. We fit 6 of us in the convertible w the roof down as little kids--Dad driving and mom in the seat with my little sister on her lap and me and my 2 brothers on the folded down roof. Probably would be charged with child abuse today. We LOVED it zooming down 537 in Colts Neck, NJ after a day of horse back riding. One of my best childhood memories. Zoom! Zoom!

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  15. In the film "The Man in the White Suit" Joan Greenwood drives a prewar MG PB? ; great combination.

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  16. Just saw a gorgeous Morris Minor Traveller at IYRS having it's woodwork (re) done. Probably not for the first or last time.

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  17. In my opinion the MGA is the prettiest two seat sportscar ever made

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  18. I've always wondered who these GIs were who had the time, money, and personal contacts to be tooling around England in sports cars during wartime and severe rationing.

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  19. A beautiful red MG TC often seen on Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot.

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  20. In my last few months in the U.S. Army, all of my unit mates had purchased cars. Parked in front of our barracks was a Corvette, an MG-B, a Jag XKE convertible and a Mercedes Benz sedan. To compete I had to do something a little more daring. A friend told me about a new sportster by Triumph. On visiting a showroom after one look, that was my new ride: a canary yellow 1970 Triumph TR-6. Sold on getting married and now regret it.

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    1. Do you regret getting married, selling the car, or both?

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  21. We have had several over the years, and are restoring one now, that we shall use for rallye races! Your greatest post ever! Thank you so very much! Cheers!🇬🇧🏎⛽️

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  22. My dad was one of those service people who brought an MG-B home from Europe. He ran a motor pool in the army and like maintaining the car. He eventually drove similar small convertibles, an Austin-Healey and an Alfa Romeo. He ended up preferring more modern options like the Lexus SC and Nissan 350z - less interesting visually but outstanding to drive & mechanically less prone to failure.

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  23. To Mark from Palm Springs: Selling the car, our marriage just celebrated its 50th anniversary. Ken from PA

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    1. Congratulations... sorry about the car!!!!!

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    2. To Anonymous: Congratulations on 50 years of marriage. If everyone were like you and your wife, I'd be out of business. (I'm a divorce lawyer.) Perhaps she should buy you another TR6 as an anniversary present (although a Mazda Miata (or whatever they are now calling it) would be more practical).

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  24. I've never been a sports-car driver -- can't drive stick, actually -- but my mother was once a fan. She drove a Triumph TR6 until late in her pregnancy with me, in 1970, until her doctor insisted that she give it up. Throughout my childhood, she would occasionally refer to her dream of getting an Austin-Healey. She never did, though. And while she still rents cars sometimes as she nears 80 in her Miami Beach retirement, her sports-car days are over.

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