MG Motor: Innovators Then, Innovators Now
Published On Feb 04, 2020 03:27 PM By Sponsored
Owning the Hector and the ZS EV puts you in an illustrious company of cars and personalities
An idea is hatched, partnerships are formed, a product is built, an identity is forged, and a legacy is born. This chain of opportune events describes the genesis of most automotive brands today -- except for MG Motor. While the first MG was born in 1924, the groundwork leading up to it is a textbook case of innovation, improvisation, and most importantly, building a car that would go beyond the utilitarian and into the realm of excitement -- a trait MG cars retain to this day.
MG (Morris Garages) was founded by William Morris, who later went onto start Morris Motors Ltd. While MG served as a repair facility, Morris Motors was a designated automobile manufacturer producing quintessential British cars for the masses.
The first streak of innovation that spawned the MG of today materialised when Cecil Kimber, then a business manager at Morris Garages, decided to replace the conventional bodies of some Morris cars with sporty two-seater roadster ones meant for racing.
The First MG
MG Old Number One
The first of these custom-bodied cars was the ‘Old Number One,’ based on a Morris Cowley chassis and built specifically for the Land’s End Trial in 1925. It was powered by a 1.6-litre, 4-cylinder petrol engine that produced 25PS of power -- a hefty figure for a non-race spec car in the 1920s -- mated to a three-speed manual transmission. Although a one-off, the Old Number One made MG a force to be reckoned with among car enthusiasts by winning a gold medal in the race. Not soon after, MG was established as a separate brand, with Kimber promoted to general manager.
First Among Equals
Subsequent cars from MG followed in the footsteps of the ‘Old Number One.’ They were stylish, compact, reliable, and affordable. More importantly, technological innovation continued to remain at the heart of MG cars, which often made them first among equals.
For instance, the company launched the MG TC in 1945. The car took a war-ravaged economy by storm with its then unheard of features list and went on to sell almost 2,000 units. It also became the first British sports car to make a splash in the American continent.
MG ZB Magnette
In 1956 came the MG ZB Magnette, a sedan with superb styling and even better internals. That’s because it was among the first few MG cars to use monocoque construction, whose greater rigidity made for a spirited and engaging driving experience.
But the car that cemented MG’s image as a maker of innovative, sporty and affordable cars was the MGB in 1962. The world’s most affordable sports car at the time, it had a production run of over 5,00,000 units. The cultural impact of the model can be gauged by the fact that it counted a university-bound Prince Charles among its owners. He owned an MGC, the bigger brother of the MGB.
The Metro, the Maestro, and the TF were some other signature MG cars that seared the brand into the hearts of car buyers around the world.
Success Built On Sporting Pedigree
The surprising success of the Old Number One in the motorsport arena gave a fillip to MG’s eventual commercial success. The company recognised this only too well and continued to participate in and win notable motorsport events around the world.
MG K3 Magnette
In 1933, MG entered the Mille Miglia, one of the world’s toughest races, with the K3 Magnette. The car emerged victorious in the 1100cc class, making MG the first non-Italian auto manufacturer to win this category at the marquee event.
But the car that established MG’s credentials as a technological tour-de-force was the Ex181. MG built this car to break the world land speed record and duly achieved the feat in 1957 with a speed of 245.64mph (395.31kmph). The company broke the record again in 1959 by clocking a top speed of 254.91mph (410.23kmph) at the Bonneville Salt Flats. Piloting the record-breaking MG Ex181 was British motorsport legend Sir Stirling Moss.
The company also enjoyed success in the rallying arena with the iconic Metro 6R4 in the 1980s. It was the only naturally aspirated competitor in a class full of smaller-capacity turbocharged cars -- and in typical MG fashion, punched way above its weight.
MG in the 21st Century
After being around for almost a century, MG finally entered India with the Hector SUV. It is India’s first internet car and boasts of several segment-topping safety and technology features at a highly competitive price tag. Soon after, the British brand launched the ZS EV, India’s first pure electric internet SUV, and showed that electric vehicles can be viable, if not better, replacements for conventional ICE vehicles. More importantly, both these cars prove that the MG of today continues to abide by the brand’s ethos of an affordable and enjoyable driving experience built upon a foundation of technological innovation.