The Chinese are going to win my prize: Car Saviors of the Decade. Maybe it should be for a number of decades. They promise to bring the MG back to the world. The New York Times reported that the Nanjing Automobile Group of China announced plans to re-create the MG motor care marque (car line to American aficionados) from the ruins of the now bankrupt MG-Rover company of England who made the MG Ts, the MGAs and Bs and just plain made a generation or two of people who love cars happy. The plans are to create a "tri-continental car company" from China, England and the United States.
The Nanjing Automobile (Group) Corporation (Yuejin Motor Group Corporation, China's oldest car maker, founded in 1947) is a state-owned enterprise with 16,000 employees. The group occupies an area of 4,000,000 m², has fixed assets amounting to RMB 12 billion and an annual production capacity of 200,000 vehicles. The group's major products are cars, trucks, and travel buses.
Car brands owned by NAC
* Soyat (Chinese car brand, their models are licensed by SEAT and Isuzu)
* MG (Acquired MG Rover Group and Powertrain Ltd assets, including the brands: Wolseley, Austin, Morris, Vanden Plas (outside the US & Canada), American Austin, Princess, Austin-Healey and Sterling)
Truck brands owned by NAC:
NAC Joint Ventures:
The company plans a news conference and announcement of the location of a plant in Oklahoma. They plan to build an MG TF coupe to compete in the Mazda Miata class. The machines should have a selling price in the neighborhood of $US 20-25,000 and be produced starting in 2008.
It also will assemble a convertible TF Roadster version at MG’s now-shuttered factory in Longbridge, England, and three sedan models in China. American and European operations for MG Motors will be based in Oklahoma City, 90 miles north of the new factory in Ardmore, Okla.
The Nanjing Company is creating a unique niche in the world car market by restoring a famous marque and thereby attracting a loyal base of MG enthusiasts, many of whom live in the US. The MG Owners Club based in the U.K.
run out of a large MG parts shop near Cambridge, England, has about 40,000 members worldwide. Many live in the United States, despite the brand’s 26-year absence here.
MG began in the 1920s as Morris Garages and became an international symbol of freedom and non-conformity in the '40s and '50s when soldiers brought them and their memories back to the States. I even remember Rock Hudson folding himself into an MG TD in some long-ago comedy. The movie is forgotten, but MG TDs can never be forgotten. In many ways they are the symbol of the sports car that was. David E. Davis, Jr. who runs an on-line magazine called Winding Road says — and I cannot argue as the once owner of an MGA 1500 coupe,
“MG was really an integral part of the foreign car revolution that started in the late 40’s and early 50’s,” Mr. Davis said. “They weren’t terribly good cars, but they were so different and they were so much fun to drive that we all forgave them for their lack of reliability and fragility."
Nanjing promises the coupe, a roadster made in the British facility and three sedans made in China. Happy faces may be found in the MG Enthusiasts Club in Britain. At least, hopeful faces. The site includes a Buying Guide. A new $20,000 model might make it easier to own the MG marque than these prices:
Australia was a popular destination for new MGAs and the cars’ ongoing desirability has ensured high survival levels with most of those available being 1500 and 1600 Mk 1 Roadsters.
The Mark 2 and Twin-Cam are rare while the Fixed Head Coupe wasn't popular here and is also scarce. For practical and aesthetic reasons wire-wheeled cars command better money than those with drilled steel rims.
Prices are reasonable with $15.000 buying an older restoration needing minimal mechanical and cosmetic refurbishing.
Top-quality recent restorations will cost $10,000 more and cars with concourse potential $30,000-35,000.
I bought my 1959 MGA 1500 twin-cam coupe (the coupes were rare and had roll-up glass windows and non-leaking roofs) in about 1963 for $900 — a gigantic sum. It had wire wheels, knock-off hubs and a continental kit I removed. I painted it silver, pulled off the vinyl dashboard cover and finished the wood. Then covered the cracked leather seats with black naugahyde. It was one of the prettiest cars in car-culture Tampa and I made the best of it. I loved that car and even managed (I was thin then) to make love in it. It was the essence of sporty and the crux of fun. I owned a lot of cars after that including a '59 Mercedes, a new Saab (sob with a Saab), a raft of wonderful Volvos including two fine Volvo 164s, an Alpine (junk), a new 2001 Jetta built in Mexico (sturdy and fast but conservative) and my beloved '86 Bronco 4×4 302 which I am now renovating to get a few more miles out of it (past the 250,000 it has). Nothing touches the MG for joy and dreams of youth and freedom, fun and sex. I scanned an ancient print of me (the cropped out 18 year old) and left in the sexy beauty of that coupe.
Happy memories. Searching for more information on the Chinese group and the state of the UK facility I did discover that MG continues to be made and distributed in some countries — the U.S. is not one of them and the Lebanese showroom may not be full this week. They offer models of MG and, I assume, the Chinese influence could bring the car back to our shores and provide further stability. The future remains to be seen. My view of the past catalyzed by this press release gave me pleasure in the memory of a great machine.