MG TF GT: Did SAIC Motor miss an opportunity in the USA?
Words: Keith Adams Photographs: Adam Sloman
I always remember feeling a slight sense of hope and optimism when NAC MG announced that it was going to start building cars in Oklahoma, USA. The announcement came in 2007 and, although little concrete news followed, I hoped, prayed and wished for a return to the colonies for what is one of the nicest unfulfilled MGs ever made, the TF GT.
However, in the event, the deal never materialised, with SAIC Motor calling things off within months and production being concentrated in China, with the Longbridge operation being slowly scaled up with the re-launch of the TF LE500 in 2008. It’s a shame, because I’m still convinced that MG could be a winner in the USA. It’s the one market – more than any other in the world, including the UK – where the warm, fuzzy glow of sports cars remains as strong as ever and the badge is untainted by the unpleasantness of the UK company’s death throes.
For the Americans, MG is a sports car company that went away, but who’s legend lives on and, with that in mind, it seemed to me that launching the TF GT and roadster in that market could – and should – have been a winning prospect. SAIC Motor, though, clearly has different priroties for the MG marque and the poor old Americans will have to wait a whole lot longer before they can buy a new car wearing the MG badge.
That’s because you can bet that the MG3, MG5, MG6 or MG7 won’t be heading stateside. I mean, who in the USA would want one of those? What they do want is a new MG TF…
Looking once again at the TF and TF GT (in these new pictures by Adam Sloman), it strikes me that a golden opportunity was missed by not Federalising the thing. Yes, us Brits and Europeans call the TF ‘old’ but, had it gone on sale in the USA around now with the raft of improvements that NAC had originally envisaged for it, would it have been greeted in the same way? Does it really look that old in comparison with the MX5? Does it lack style? No, of course not…
Mind you, what the TF does lack is a nice simple, uncomplicated engine which the Americans could fully understand. However, a quick look at the Lotus Elise soon shows that it’s perfectly possible to shoehorn in another power unit without upsetting the character of the car too much.
Come on MG, don’t forget the Americans – develop a nice sports car for them. Maybe even throw the TF at them… Oh, and as a consequence, we might get it too…
Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Clsssics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...
Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasable adventures all across Europe.
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