A century ago Oxford Isis the newspaper carried an advertisement for a new car called The Super Sports Morris.

Promising “Real speed, real comfort, unique look, beautiful proportions and excellent paintwork” at £350 it was also the first known display of the simple but instantly recognizable octagonal logo with the letters ‘MG’ inside.

Cecil Kimber, manager of Morris Garages in Queen Street, Oxford, recently received permission from William Morris to transform his practical family cars into something altogether sportier, and this was the ad that announced the new MG to the world – that is, the Oxfordshire, to say the least.

Over the next 100 years, MG would rise, fall and rise again, passing through the hands of company owners from near and far. It would be supported by the Ford family, kick off America’s obsession with British sports cars, but three decades later it would disappear from these shores without a trace. Nevertheless, the MG Owners’ Club is still the largest car club of one brand in the world, such is the love for the brand.

MG-Cyberster-Revealed
MG Cyberster MG

Recently, MG has been revamped into an award-winning budget brand, while the future holds much promise in the form of a return to its sports car roots.

While we await the arrival of the Cyberster sports car and the start of a new century for MG, fill in a few moments charting the course of the last 100 years.

1920s

1925-MG old number one
MG Old number one MG Owners Club

The first MG model, the Super Sports Morris, was registered on the road in August 1923, with six cars built at Queen Street. Two years later came the brand’s first foray into motorsport with the custom-built “old number one” on a Morris Cowley chassis. The Kimber won a gold medal in the lightweight class of the Land’s End Trial, building a reputation for reliability. In 1927 MG moved to a new factory in Oxford and in 1928 the MG Car Company was legally registered.

1930s

Edsel Ford's MG Midget
Henry Ford II in America’s first MG (center), flanked by Benson and Josephine Ford. Henry Ford Museum

In 1930, MG found its first American fan in Edsel Ford, who imported the yellow M-Type Midget. Over the course of three years, Ford reportedly drove the car 27,000 miles around Grosse Pointe, Michigan, before housing the little car in the company’s museum. In 1935, Morris saw the success of MG and the sports car company was bought out. 18,664 machine guns were produced in 1939 before his factory’s production was diverted to the war effort.

1940s

MG TC
MG

The peace relief was marred by the tragic death of MG founder Cecil Kimber in a train crash in London. Fortunately, good news soon followed, as in 1946 the 20 MG TC was officially imported into the United States. One of them caught the attention of California Jeep dealer Kjell Qvale, who secured distribution rights for the entire West Coast. Only 243 MGs were sold in America in 1947, but thanks to Qvale, it quickly grew to become the company’s largest market. Thus began America’s obsession with British sports cars, which is still healthy today.

1950s



In 1955, when we were dealing with basically pre-war designs, it was the first really new machine gun in almost 20 years. The gorgeous MGA was an instant success with 13,000 produced in its first year. Twelve months later, total MG production reached the 100,000 milestone, largely due to demand from the US.

1960s

Snake River MG MGB Restomod Driving Event
Stefan Lombard

At this point, MG was part of the British Motor Corporation, makers of the Mini, which also gave the company access to Austin Healey’s small Sprite platform. The MG Midget was launched in 1961, followed in 1962 by a big brother in the form of the MGB. Originally marketed as a roadster, the Pininfarina-style hardtop GT coupe arrived in 1965 and cemented the B as America’s favorite sports car for the next 20 years.

1970s

MGB GT V8 front three quarters
MG

In the late 1960s, MG was merged with Austin, Morris, Triumph, Jaguar and Land Rover into the nationalized British Leyland. MG production accelerated as the B reached 250,000 units by 1971 and the brand’s millionth model was assembled in 1975. Even the Midget passed the 220,000 mark when it reached the end of its life in 1979.

1980s

MG

After the boom of the 1970s, the 1980s were a bust. The last MGB was built in 1980 with the last example given to Henry Ford II to sit alongside his father’s dwarf in the company’s museum. At home, MG was relegated to badge engineering, its once-proud octagonal logo adorning heated hatchbacks and family sedans from Austin-Rover. There was one exception, however, in the form of the Group B rally MG Metro 6R4. Unfortunately, it was somewhat unreliable and arrived too late to make much of an impact on the World Cup.

nineties

MGF convertible sports car affordable classics
MG

Resurrection and redemption were the keywords for MG in the 90s. The company, now part of the Rover Group, released a run of nearly 2,000 MGB V-8s with engines from Land Rover. This was just a teaser for a resurgence of interest in the brand, as the roadster returned in 1995. The MGF was mid-engined and fun to drive, but BMW owners Rover decided not to bring it to the US despite it being the best-selling sports car in the UK.

2000

MG6
MG

BMW quickly lost interest in the Rover Group, leaving it to the British Phoenix consortium. The badge continued to adorn various racier Rover products and the F underwent a facelift, but the honeymoon did not last and the company went bankrupt in 2005. Chinese automaker Nanjing Automobile Corporation stepped in and bought what was left of MG and Rover. moving assembly lines to the east.

years of 2010

MG-Cyberster-Revealed
MG

MG changed hands again in 2007 when state-owned SAIC bought Nanjing. The year 2011 brought the first new MG since 1995 in the form of the rather settled MG6 sedan. The MG3 hatchback followed and a new era of budget MG motoring was ushered in.

1920s

There is no doubt that SAIC has achieved an impressive turnaround with this strategy. In 2021, the company sold half a million models worldwide, and MGs are now in the top ten sales charts of 20 countries worldwide. This success prompted a huge investment in electrification, and its MG4 won numerous awards for its high price and respectable range. But most interestingly, a huge increase in sales and technology spending means MG’s new roadster, the Cyberster, will go on sale in 2024. Could this mark the brand’s return to America? We hope so.

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