The original MG marque was in continuous use, except for the duration of the Second World War, for 56 years following its inception in 1924. The production of predominantly two seater sports cars was concentrated at a factory in Abingdon, 10 miles south of Oxford. The British Motor Corporation (BMC) competition department was also based at the Abingdon plant, producing many winning rally and race cars, until the Abingdon factory closed and MGB production ceased in the Autumn of 1980.
Between 1982 and 1991, the MG marque used to badge engineer sportier versions of Austin Rover’s Metro, Maestro and Montego ranges. It was not until 1992 that the MG marque was revived in its own right, with the MG RV8, this was an updated MGB Roadster with a Rover V8 engine, which was previewed at the 1992 Birmingham Motor Show, with low volume production commencing in 1993.
A second revival came in the summer of 1995, when the high volume MG F two-seater roadster was launched.
The MG marque, along with the Rover marque, to the MG Rover group in May 2000, when BMW broke up the Rover Group. This arrangement saw the return of MG badges on sportier Rover based cars such as the MG ZT in 2001, along with a revised MG F model, known as the MG TF, launched in 2002, however, all production ceased in April 2005 when MG Rover went into administration.
The assets of MG Rover were bought by Chinese car maker Nanjing Automobile in July 2005, subsequently bought by SAIC in December 2007, who now operate a UK subsidiary, MG Motor.
The company’s name is thought to have originated from the initials of Morris Garages. W R Morris’s, Lord Nuffield’s, original Oxford city retail sales and service business when the business’s manager, Cecil Kimber, began promoting sales by producing his own versions. Kimber had joined the company as its sales manager in 1921. He was promoted to general manager in 1922, a position he held until 1941 when he fell out with Lord Nuffield over procuring wartime work. Kimber died in 1945 in a railway accident.
There remains debate as to when the MG Car Company started, although the first cars bore both Morris and MG badges, in addition to reference to MG with the octagon badge appears in an Oxford newspaper from November 1923, the MG Octagon was registered as a Trademark by Morris Garages on the 1st of May 1924, with its 90th Anniversary being widely celebrated in 2014. Some dispute this and believe that MG only properly began trading in 1925. The explanation may lie in the distinction between the MG business and the company of that name which may have come to own it later.
The first cars which were rebodied Morris models used coachwork from Carbodies of Coventry and were built in premises in Alfred Lane, Oxford. Demand soon caused a move to larger premises in Bainton Road in September 1925, sharing space with the Morris radiator works. Continuing expansion meant another move in 1927 to a separate factory in Edmund Road, Cowley, Oxford, near the main Morris factory and for the first time it was possible to include a production line. In 1928 the company had become large enough to warrant an identity separate from the original Morris Garages and the M.G. Car Company Limited was established in March of that year and in October for the first time a stand was taken at the London Motor Show. Space again soon ran out and a search for a permanent home led to the lease of part of an old leather factory in Abingdon, Oxfordshire in 1929, gradually taking over more space until production ended there in 1980. The MG Car Club was founded in 1930 for owners and enthusiasts of MG cars.
MG was absorbed with Morris into The British Motor Corporation Limited, created in 1952 to merge Morris Motors Limited and The Austin Motor Company Limited. Long time service manager John Thornley took over as general manager, guiding the company through its best years until his retirement in 1969. Under BMC, several MG models were no more than badge engineered versions of other marques, with the main exception being the small MG sports cars. BMC took over Jaguar Cars in September 1966 and that December BMC changed its name to British Motor Holdings. BMH joined with Leyland Motor Corporation in 1968 to form British Leyland Motor Corporation (BLMC).