All Car Central Magazine

MG History by Geoff Wheatley

In 1938 sixteen months before WWII commenced the British sports car company MG attempted to introduce a new concept in the sports car field. A four seat car based on the then current MGTA with a one point five liter six cylinder power unit. Marketed as the Open Touring model.

MG VA Tourer 1938 All Car Central Magazine

MG VA Tourer 1938, Submitted by Rick Feibusch

The price was a few bucks more than the MGTA at two hundred and ninety five pounds equal to $ 1200 at the then current exchange rate. At this price the car was an attractive buy especially with the new six cylinder engine and a deluxe leather interior with polished walnut wood dash etc. The principle question at the time was how comfortable would this car be, especially for the passengers in the rear seats as they were virtually located over the rear frame with a basic road damper arrangement similar to the two seat sports vehicle. In the various trials organized by several motoring publications that aspect seemed to be omitted however, one such magazine, the Autocar did say that in certain situations the rear passengers might find the journey tiring! (The classic British understatement of course). There seems to be no official figures on the number sold over the short period of the cars life before the MG factory turned over to war work in September 1939 when the Second World War commenced.

It is also interesting to note that there was never a post war version of this car although certain other British manufacturers did attempt to market an open four seat tourer, most without much success. Britain is not the country to promote open top vehicles with short and often wet summers and equally cold and damp winters. The hardy driver of open top sports cars in the UK after the war was at best limited although the demand for such cars in both Europe and the USA grew year by year especially in such locations as California and south of the Mason Dixie line. 78 percent of all sports cars produced in Britain between 1947 and 1977 were exported to America which says a lot about our weather and joy of the open top and the open road. Furthermore with the devaluing of the British pound in 1949 these cars became an attractive buy. In 1939 it was four dollars to the UK pound but after 1949 it was closer to two and a half. Then again in the mid 1960's it dropped to below two dollars and it's much the same today.

MGB 1964 All Car Central Magazine

MGB 1964 Submitted by Rick Feibusch

The highest selling British sports car in the 1960's was the MGB that was produced in much the same style over the seventeen years that it was in production. The engine was changed in the early 1970's due to environmental requirements imposed by the US Federal Government which did not improve the performance or enhance the appearance. In 1980 when the company closed its doors there was an attempt to keep production going and when BMW decided to buy Rover, this purchase included MG), a mid engine MG was produced at the British factory in the same location where the then new BMW Mini saw the light of day. But sad to say it was not a success, the British public was not used to mid engine sports cars and the teething problems continued for about five years before production ceased.

However the Mini is still being produced in the UK and without doubt was/is, a success story of the post war years.

Mini Cooper GP 2013 
2000 Made; 1 of 500 for USA  All Car Central Magazine

Mini Cooper GP 2013 2000 Made; 1 of 500 for USA

1960 Austin Mini 850 sn-AA2S7L18001 All Car Central Magazine

Orginal 1960 Austin Mini 850 sn-AA2S7L18001

The original Mini appeared on the show room floors in 1959 and since then has topped the million car market. If Rover had had the ability to invest in this unique car the same way that BMW did I would be writing a different story about the British Car industry. Apart from Morgan and Aston Martin there is nothing left of the British motor industry... If there is any lesion to be learned from this situation it's ... Keep Government at arms length from the business world...
Geoff Wheatley ©

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