The MG Car Company Limited was a British sports car manufacturer begun in the 1920s as a sales promotion sideline within W R Morris’s Oxford city retail sales and service business by the business’s manager, Cecil Kimber.
Best known for its two seat open sports cars, MG also produced saloons and coupés. Kimber was an employee of William Morris, it is thought that MG are the initials for Morris Garages.
The MG business was Morris’s personal property until 1 July 1935 when he sold MG to his holding company, Morris Motors Limited, restructuring his holdings before issuing shares in Morris Motors to the public in 1936. MG underwent many changes in ownership starting with Morris merging with Austin in The British Motor Corporation Limited in 1952.
MG became the MG Division of BMC in 1967 and so a component of the 1968 merger that created British Leyland Motor Corporation. By the start of 2000 MG was part of the MG Rover Group which entered receivership in 2005 and the assets were purchased by its new Chinese owner Nanjing Automobile Group (which merged into SAIC in 2007) for £53 million, with production starting again in 2007 in China, and limited production in the UK as MG Motor.
The first all new model from MG in the UK for 16 years, the MG6, was officially launched on 26 June 2011.
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, 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, 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.
From its earliest days MGs have been used in competition and from the early 1930’s a series of dedicated racing cars such as the 1931 C Type and 1934 Q type were made and sold to enthusiasts who received considerable company assistance. This stopped in 1935 when MG was formally merged with Morris Motors and the Competition Department closed down. A series of experimental cars had also been made allowing Captain George Eyston to take several world speed records. In spite of the formal racing ban, speed record attempts continued with Goldie Gardner exceeding 200 mph (320 km/h) in the 1100 cc EX135 in 1939.
After World War II record breaking attempts restarted with 500 cc and 750 cc records being taken in the late 1940’s. A decision was also taken to return to racing and a team of MGAs was entered in the tragedy laden 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans race, the best car achieving 12th place.
Prior to the use of the Toyota Tundra silhouette in the Craftsman Truck Series, MG was reported as the last foreign brand to be used in NASCAR. It was driven in 1963 by Smokey Cook.
In 2001 MG re launched their motor sport campaign to cover the 24 Hours of Le Mans (MG-Lola EX257), British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) (MG ZS), British and World Rally Championships and MG Independent British Rally Championship (MG ZR). The Le Mans team failed to win the endurance race in 2001 and 2002 and quit in 2003. MG Sport Racing raced in the British Touring Car Championships with the MG ZS between 2001–2003 as a factory team. In 2004 WSR raced the MG ZS as a privateer team. After three years without a major sponsor, WSR teamed up with RAC in 2006 and the team was called Team RAC.In 2007 an MG ZR driven by BRC Stars Champion Luke Pinder won class N1 on Britain’s round of the World Rally championship. Wales Rally GB. The MG British Rally Challenge still runs today despite the liquidation in 2005.
In 2004 plans to race in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) with a heavily modified V8 powered ZT supertouring car were cancelled due to MG Rover’s liquidation in April 2005.
On 25 January 2012, Triple Eight Race Engineering announced it would run a pair of works GT models under NGTC regulations in the 2012 British Touring Car Championship season. The drivers would be Jason Plato and Andy Neate under the banner MG KX Momentum Racing.