MG - when a big, old make of car comes back

It was around 1989. I was young and pretty naive about cars. And I wanted a British roadster. The choice between a Triumph Spitfire and an MGB was clearly in favor of Morris Garages. The MG, at its time the most successful sports car in the world and long since a legend, was clearly the better and more mature car.

Red and emotional - my MGB 1971
Red and emotional - my MGB 1971

In fact, I was quite inexperienced, otherwise I would never have bought this car. The MGB, built in 1971, struggled with rust and other things that are generally said of English cars. It did not come from the hands of lovers. On the contrary. I bought the roadster from a riot policeman who drove with him every week from the Spessart to Munich. In any weather and regardless of the material. The term “youngtimer” was not yet on the world at that time, in 1989 the MG was just an old car.

I got the grate under control. Even then, MG had a heavenly spare parts supply that the Saab faction can only dream of. Dedicated companies and clubs, low prices and everything available right up to the body shell. The other problem, the one with the electrical system, was solved as required by new lines drawn parallel to the wiring harness.

And so the MG was a reliable, cool car that only once did not pack it back to the garage on its own axis. The reason was not the roadster, but my own stupidity.

An emotional car brand

The MG had a lot to offer emotionally. A divine sound, a strong acceleration, a tough chassis, a crisp transmission with electric overdrive. Above all, however, it was the car that could always be driven open. In any weather, because the heating was so powerful that it was able to melt the soles of your shoes. What is not a MG saga, but reality and educated attention in dealing with the heating, which could have warmed the entire Empire.

The convertible top designed by Giovanni Michelotti was really ingenious.

SUV, but at least the interior is emotional.
SUV, but at least the interior is emotional.

Optimized for operation with just one hand, the MGB could be opened and closed within seconds. This was just as easy while driving as it was at a standstill. Faster than any high-tech convertible top, some things are so good that they can no longer be surpassed.

And so the MGB delivered emotions, unforgettable driving and screwdriving experiences for almost 10 years, and when it left I was a little sad.

With the end of production of the MGB in 1980, the decline of the manufacturer began, the brand degenerated into an appendage of the Rover Group, and from then on the Octagon was only adorned with sporty Rover derivatives. It made us cry. In 2005 the brand became Chinese, was then married by decree to SAIC and vegetated in Britain and China.

I only followed the development half-heartedly, my eyes wet when I met an MGB or Midget, but my MG story was almost complete.

And now MG is coming back to Europe

What do you expect there? It's a bit like Saab is coming back. The expectations and emotions can in principle only be disappointed, because a lot of time has passed between 1980 and 2021, or nicely calculated between 2005 and today.

Marvel R - exciting MG e-SUV
Marvel R - exciting MG e-SUV

MG Germany comes, anything else would have been a surprise, first with a plug-in hybrid and an all-electric SUV. With the model name MG ZS after all, if you tie in with old traditions, one MG EHS has never existed in the history of the brand. The first car magazines have already tested, the judgments are benevolent but not full of enthusiasm. Average goods are what MG delivers, not too expensive. But it would not be enough for success.

But it's not that simple. MG is a small supplier and only delivered around 2020 units in China in 300.000. But since the market launch in 2007, the brand has grown continuously and today has a market share of 1,51%. The mother company SAIC, which stands behind MG and which, with its brands, is one of the largest suppliers in China, is big. Contrary to the initial plan, no Belgian importer, and thus also no former Saab managing director, is taking care of the development of the brand in Germany.

The SAIC group controls the business itself from the branch in Munich. Which in turn is a sign that they came to stay.

When does it get emotional again?

Is announced under the name MG Marvel R a progressive e-SUV that will be interesting in terms of price and design. Then, as a real surprise, there is a purely electric station wagon. A station wagon, just as a reminder, was once a highly effective type of car that offered a lot of cargo space and utility and at some point was almost washed away by the flood of SUV and MPV.

MG 5 - the station wagon is not dead. Not with MG.
MG 5 - the station wagon is not dead. Not with MG.

MG brings the first one in autumn purely electric station wagon on the German market, which alone is a strong wad (Bavarian for slap in the face) towards the discouragement of the established providers.

Yeah, and what about the emotions?

One cannot ignore the fact that MG was once the most successful sports car brand in the world. Defining the brand only on the SUV species would be like burying the 911 at Porsche. At SAIC, too, they are aware of which European jewel they own. It's getting emotional again, the roadster is coming back.

Red and emotional. MG Cybester.
Red and emotional. MG Cybester.

Inevitably for Chinese strategists, MG creates a new sub-brand called “Cyber”. The crowdfunding campaign for the MG Cybester is running in China, MG is enjoying the rebirth of the sports car brand.

At this point the story becomes exciting. Because what the Chinese providers lack across the board, MG has. Stories, dramas, traditions. It will not be easy to build on that, but nothing in the world is cast in concrete. The wheel of history continues to turn, and perhaps the brand with the octagon is now starting a new, exciting chapter.

With pictures from SAIC / MG

6 thoughts on "MG - when a big, old make of car comes back"

  • One more point about the MGB, MG-Rover pulled it out of the ground again in the 90s and built around 2000 new ones as RV8s, of which more than three-quarters went to Japan. They were all right-hand drive, although there are now a few converted to left-hand drive. However, these cars are still quite expensive today, but if you are interested you can google it.

    One more comment on full galvanization, which is actually only almost full galvanization. Manufacturers buy galvanized sheet metal, which is then cut and formed. The zinc layer survives the forming, but as far as I know, the cut edges are not re-galvanized.
    And those are the places where the brown plague can start after a few years, depending on how good the paintwork is and how long the water stays there.

  • The rust

    The other day I read on the packaging of a well-known manufacturer of frozen pizzas in millions of copies annually that I should put them on the (!) Wire rack ...

    I put it on the (!) Grate in a touch of civil disobedience and it still worked.

    Be that as it may, there were wonderful times when rust was still an issue in cars. Yes, of course, it was also annoying, it was after 7, was really a big topic after 13 or 20 years ...
    But what use are fully galvanized, carbon and aluminum on cars that do not receive a software update after 3 or 4 years, if the mobile phone is no longer compatible and you no longer have a key?

    Suddenly you have a problem that no piece of sheet metal and no welder in the world can solve.
    I don't like it. And pizza is still better made fresh and on a stone than placing it frozen on the wire rack. It just tastes a lot better.

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  • I am sure to find out more about the MG Cybester ziu. For me indertat MG is only known as a sports car and so I want to see the rebirth too. There are already so many SUVs.

  • Great car, your MGB. In contrast to the new models, it arouses emotions and you would actually like to have one ...;.)

  • Why did I only get associations with the station wagon - VW Passat?

  • As for the tests, there is a pinch of European arrogance at play. I read one in Auto Bild that the ZS seems to be solid. Above all, however, affordable and one shouldn't forget: You have been using battery-powered cars in Asia for longer than here.

    By the way: Nice roadster, Tom. I like 😉

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