Video of the Week : Templar meets Turbo – MG Montego (1985)

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

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.

Screenshot 2015-05-19 19.18.46

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.

Ian Ogilvy arrives for his meeting at Thruxton in a 2600 SD1
Ian Ogilvy arrives for his meeting at Thruxton in an SD1

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.

Are you the infamous Simon Templar? Steve Soper presses flesh with Ian Ogilvy.
Are you the infamous Simon Templar? Steve Soper presses flesh with Ian Ogilvy

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.

The video shows the Montego Turbo in full cry. Here we see some hard core heel and toe action - Soper style!
The video shows the Montego Turbo in full cry. Here we see some hardcore heel and toe action – Soper style!

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.

 

Mike Humble

Upon leaving school, Mike was destined to work on the Railway but cars were his first love. An apprenticeship in a large family Ford dealer was his first forray into the dark and seedy world of the motor trade.

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

7 Comments

  1. Love Steves Tasselled loafers at 08.30, so loved by sales reps at te time. How fashion has turned full circle again…they are now essential footwear for the fashion conscious young lady!

  2. I had one of these …a 1984 on a B plate. By 1990 there was nowt left of it, it had completely rusted away. As David Frost once said “these cars were shite then, and they are shite now”

  3. Having watched this dealer footage many times, I was often left wondering what happened to Ian’s rather nice Opporto Red Rover 3500 Vanden Plas after he left the race circuit with Steve Soper in the Montego and got dropped off in London?

    I hope it did not remain there forgotten and unused until the last road fund licence expired on 30th April 2012!

    • I cant believe it, i owned that particular rover SD1 B659 COH, i dearly regret selling this car, it was a dream drive i brought it from a chap in Layland, Lancashire, who lavished TLC on the engine with the works including Piper cam, up graded fuel regulator, improved ignition, Magnecor leads and 4 ltr re-bore, it was on the road till 2012 then i sold it to a chap from Lester, where it now sits looking sorry for it self with the engine extracted, i dream of getting it back and restoring it to its former glory.

  4. Steve Soper was a brilliant touring car driver – though him doing a promo for AR is quiet funny considering he was to go on and be famous for driving Fords and BMW’s!

  5. 150bhp and 0-60 in 7.5 seconds. The sort of numbers associated with Economy tuned, £20 per year road tax diesels these days.

  6. My brother had one of these (black: it was the stealth bomber), so did an ex-boss of mine.
    Bloody amazing to drive. Sheer whooooosh! Bugger to stear on take off especially being thrust so far back in the seat, and horrifying to see the fuel gague plummet, but a great drive, a real driver’s car. And (subjective as all art is) I love its looks.
    Kept track of my brother’s car after he sold it and it showed little sign of rust for maybe another three years and it was 3 or 4 when he got it. It ended up crunched on a roundabout (in Sarfend, I fink it was). Kid was probably smoking whelks or summat.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*


WordPress spam blocked by CleanTalk.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.