I read with interest the letter from Mr. Pflaumer on the future of MG and I too share his concern. For the best part of this century, this country has been proud to produce dr best “all round” sports cars in the world and indeed, the demand has always been high. Until now, MG have soundly beaten their competitors all over the world and the name MG has been synonymous with speed, safety, styling, enjoyable motoring and success. Alas, the marque does seem to be in danger and indeed rumours of the possible closure of MG are rife. It is possible that British Leyland intend to cease MG and it’s known that the company produce too many models. But do British Leyland have a case for cutting MG?
It was argued that the currently produced MG.-B is out of date and is no longer a world beater. The TR7 was promoted as a clear favourite, yet excitement for this wedge-shaped little car seems to be lacking with sports-car enthusiasts. It is clear that the TR7 is not selling sufficiently well and it is also clear that the market is open for a well-proved, soft top car.
In 1978 the new British Leyland chairman, Mr. Michael Edwardes, has indeed a formidable task in putting British Leyland on a sound footing. Whilst the new models are considered for the future I would hope that a nonwedge-shape, soft-top sports car is on the drawing boards.
With an already eager world market for MG and a definite desire for safe, fast, open topped motoring, British Leyland could, through MG, produce a stylish two-seater with a little luggage room, a detachable roof, a top speed of over 100 m.p.h. with reasonable petrol consumption and they would be onto a winner. Acceptance of a new marque or the uncomfortable taste left by the TR7 would not have to be overcome as acceptance of MG is worldwide.
In 1976, British Leyland announced that the MG-B GT V8 would no longer be made. Only 2,500 were produced, and already the better cared for examples are highly desired. A reintroduction of a new model from MG would I am sure be most welcome and would be very successful. In the meantime MG would continue to outsell its immediate competition and with one or two changes would be totally successful once again. I would consider that the following range, if available would sell very well both at home and abroad:
Midget 1500 c.c. with a choice of rubber or chrome bumpers to suit individual taste or foreign regulations.
MG-B 1800 c.c. and/or 3500 (V8) with a choice of bumper styles and with a “Targa style” hardtop.
Like the Midget, the MG-B would be supplied with a factory fitted hardtop with removable roof panels for storage in the boot for variable weather conditions. A soft top and tonneau would still be provided. MG-B GT 1800 c.c. and/or 3500 (V8) with choice of bumpers and a heated rear window as standard. A factory fitted sunroof and electric windows would be welcome extras. The V8 MG-B roadster would have a Triumph Stag style roll bar for added safety and style and all models would have improved lighting.
As basic body panels and mechanics would remain the same, there would be no immediate re-tooling requirements. If a new model MG could not be produced for a few years, the gap would be filled admirably by the above.
As a possible venture into the “exotic” market, an MG on the basic design of the TF fitted with modern mechanics could be considered. A well built model of suitable quality could be mass produced and would sell all over the world.
In the coming years, British Leyland management have many problems to overcome. New models already specified may cost millions to cancel or alter and it may be a while before a replacement for the MG-B, MG-B GT and Midget can be produced. But it could be considered now and a healthy market demanding open topped sports-car motoring, but without spikey, wedged shaped lines, could be catered for with an improved and modified existing range.
As Secretary of The MG Owner’s Club, I speak to MG enthusiasts all over the world and I am certain that there is a deep-rooted love for the marque MG. The disappointment would indeed be very bitter if ever we saw the demise of MG.
Purely in the name MG, British Leyland have a tremendous asset. In the difficult times of the company, the huge selling power of the marque MG should be capitalised. Improved existing models and a promised new range would ensure the promised success of British Leyland and the future would become secure.
Over, Cambs. ROCHE BENTLEY •