Austin Rover’s sports saloon celebrates its 30th birthday this year. TV’s Ian Ogilvy and top-class racer Steve Soper star in Mike Humble’s factoid stat-packed look at the MG Montego Turbo as it gets a good hiding at the Thruxton circuit.
I was in two minds over this video as there are two versions of it. One was strictly for customer consumption while the other featured an extra couple of minutes hammering home the message of customer care and the importance of making sure the car is ship shape upon handover. This particular video was the item for dealer training.
We all know, without the aid of our Rover tinted spectacles, that the products of the mid-1980s were far from perfect. However, ARG spent a lot of time and money trying to educate the dealers and make the best of every available piece of technology at their disposal to help them draw in the crowds. The MG Montego Turbo never sold in colossal numbers – but, then again, it was never meant to. It was designed to be a showcase or “halo” model that would create interest and extra footfall traffic into the showrooms.
In this corporate video, theatre and TV celebrity Ian Ogilvy (The Return of the Saint) drives to Thruxton circuit – in a 2600 SD1 of course, to meet saloon racing driver Steve Soper to find out what made the full-fat Montego Turbo so special. I remember the car well and was actually on hand at my then local dealer on the launch evening giving out cheap plonk and nibbles to the salivating customers – I was all of just thirteen years old at the time.
The shortened video was given to the first owner upon delivery along with a briefcase, polishing cloths, a gift for the lady of the household and leather MG key rings. Copies of the video pop up now and again on eBay but I’m proud to say that I still have my own 30-year-old VHS copy locked away securely in my filing cabinet – although the wow and flutter is getting worse, it still plays despite causing the auto tracking on my video player to almost have a hernia.
Highlights include some rampant understeer and Steve telling us that torque steer is nothing to worry about “once you get used to it”. Ian Ogilvy clearly looks slightly scared by some very aggressive driving on the racetrack early on in the film – what he thinks of the Montego Turbo over his white XJ-S is never touched upon. Some of the editing is a little clunky and you get the feeling that re-takes of certain lines were not encouraged – nonetheless it’s a lovely travel back in time.
Keep ’em peeled for the overtaking manoeuvre where the Director has opted to use a German lorry rather than something in-house from Leyland on a leafy country road. Fanatics of fine footwear might also spot Steve Soper’s tasselled slip-on loafer as he hits the gas in this scene. Also for your delectation is an utterly cringe-worthy swapping of statistics as Messrs. Ogilvy and Soper uncomfortably fumble over their lines in the Thruxton pit lanes.
Pull up a comfy chair with a hot drink as we take you back to 1985 when torque steer was King with the 126mph, 150bhp MG Montego Turbo. For the full utterly naff but wonderful short film click here.
Moving on to Rover and then PSV / HGV, he has circumnavigated most departments of dealerships including parts, service and latterly - the showroom. Mike has owned all sorts of rubbish from Lada to Leyland and also holds both Heavy Goods & Public Service Vehicle licences, he buys & sells buses and coaches during the week. Mike runs his own automotive web site and writes for a number of motoring or commercial vehicle themed publications
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