MG before the war

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Film now showing
Classic MG cars from the pre-war era

This original advert for the very first MG car stressed
the striking appearance -as well as sporty performance

As the company became more successful they regularly took out full page adverts in the appropriate magazines

A number of unique cars were bullt. This one was called "Old Speckled Hen" because of the speckled paintwork.

The first MG models were souped-up versions of Morris Oxfords and were known as 14/28s

The cute boat-tailed M type from
1929 was the first in a line Midget cars

The J-type Midget was brought out in 1932 and was more powerful than the M-type

Duration of video: 3 mins. 7 seconds

Company founder, Cecil Kimber, in the
"first" MG car -"Old Number One", in 1925

Many of the adverts contained a personal
letter from company founder, Cecil Kimber

The speed and performance of the cars was
usually the main selling points in the advertising

Victories on race tracks and at time
trials helped the sales effort considerably

The single seat MG-R type race cars were a regular
sight at race tracks from the mid 1930s onwards

The MG K3 Magnette, launched in 1933, was a more powerful
sports car which was aimed at the more serious car owner

The MG Tigress from 1930 was a production
racecar which has largely been forgotten in MG history

Not all the pre-war cars were racy sports cars.
This is an example of saloon car from 1929

The MG TA was launched in 1936 and evolved
into the successful MG TC of the post-war era

The MG NA from 1934 was one of
the company's four seater sports cars

The company's most prized asset -"Old Number
One" has been kept in immaculate condition

The one-off High Speed Service
van has also been fully restored

There are still many pre-war MG cars in existance, with many to be found at exclusive MG shows

An example of a classic MG M type which is still
driven on the road more than 75 years after it was built

In took only a few years for MG to go from being a small-scale, specialist, car maker based around Oxford, England, established in the mid 1920s, to become one of the leading sports car manufacturers in the world by the outbreak of the second World War.

The name MG stood for Morris Garages and the company began as a specialist entity of the giant Morris car making operation. The company’s sales manager, Cecil Kimber, had had an interest in motor racing from an early age and he persuaded company owner, William Morris, that there was a growing demand for sportier cars based on existing models and he was duly given the funding and support to test the market. 

Spruced-up Morris Oxford
The first car which was produced was named the 14/28 and consisted of a new body on top of a Morris Oxford. It had a spruced up engine, more distinctive body styling and other minor alterations and was offered for around £350 for the basic model.

Orders poured in and the venture proved so successful that the small, fledgling enterprise had to move three times to different locations around the Oxford area in the mid to late 1920s as the demand for the cars outstripped the volume that the MG mechanics could produce.

Various other models were then brought out before the launch of the MG 18/80 in 1928 which had a purpose designed chassis and was also the first MG car with the famous vertical grille -a trademark of the main models either side of the War.

The company had built a small production line at its new premises to speed up the manufacturing process, but the quicker the cars were produced, so demand for them increased even further. By 1928, the specialist enterprise had also outgrown the need to be kept under the wing of the Morris company and its name was changed to the M.G. Car Company Limited.

In 1928, it also took out its own space at the important London Motor Show where the company’s profile grew even greater and again it had to move to larger premises -this time to a larger factory at Abingdon, about 10 miles south of Oxford and where it settled until production ended in 1980.

Throughout the remainder of the pre-war period, the company produced many different cars and its continued growth was largely attributed to being able to make reliable, desirable cars which were offered at a very economical price.

Le Mans entrants
Another major breakthrough came in 1929 with the launch of the small M-type Midget, which was based on a Morris Minor. This car proved particularly popular among the growing band of amateur weekend racing enthusiasts and in 1930 two cars entered the Le Mans 24 hour race.

The M-Type was also believed to be the first MG which was exported to America when Edsel Ford (son of Henry) saw one on a trip to London and had it personally shipped to the USA on his return. 

The M-type enjoyed significant sales and led the way for the introduction of series of larger cars during the early 1930s.

New ownership
The mid 1930s saw a very significant change for the company with Lord Nuffield (William Morris), who had owned the company himself up to then, transferring ownership to the Nuffield
Organisation. Its managing director, Leonard Lord, was less of a sports car enthusiast and decreed that in the future, MG should concentrate on making fewer model types and sell them in larger numbers, than make so many different models which were primarily geared to the demand of a small number of specific enthusiasts.

The first main model to appear under the new ownership was the MG TA, launched in 1936. This was effectively the same car which evolved after the war into the MG TC and which proved extremely popular in America. In fact, it was the volume of sales in the US that gave the company the funding it needed to become a highly respected international sports car manufacturer in the second half of the 20th Century, as well as a legendary name in British motor manufacturing.

(c) Universal Motoring History