We love a good car show at AROnline and last weekend’s MGLive! at Silverstone proved to be both a brilliant tribute to the past and an eye-opener for current and future MG affairs.
Words and Photographs: Mike Humble
AROnline was in attendance for last weekend’s MG Car Club-run MGLive! event at Silverstone in Northamptonshire with Clive Goldthorp and myself braving the gusty wind and constant threat of monsoon-like rain. The promise of poor weather failed to deter the thousands of MG enthusiasts and owners who flocked to the event and by 11.00am on Saturday the access road to the race circuit was queuing back with patient motorists, some of whom had come from afar to pay homage to one of the world’s best-known sporting brands.
The main focus of this year’s MGLive! was the 50th Anniversary of the MGB – I am quite sure that Syd Enever was looking down from on high with a smile at the sight of so many of the half a million cars he helped design. There were so many stunning examples of the MG marque proudly on display – from Pre-World War II T-Type models right through to examples of the awesome MG RV8 and the MGF from the Rover Group era. Badge-engineered examples from the 1980s included a truly stunning Montego and Metro Turbo which both looked resplendent in black.
There was something for everybody with displays by Russ Swift, M.A.D – the world’s largest professional mountain bike display team – and the Tigers Children’s Motorcycle Display Team in the MGLive! Arena and an air display by current British National Aerobatic Champion, Gerald Cooper, in the skies above the circuit.
MGLive! Trade City had over 60 Exhibitors with the likes of British Motor Heritage, Classics Monthly, Rimmer Brothers and the MGF Centre all having stands – one of which prompted me to dip into the pocket: my Rover 75 now has a genuine, old stock Rover Group umbrella tucked away in the boot thanks to Brown & Gammons.
However, one the most interesting aspects of the day came in the form of some Oriental visitors. Just like the Japanese tourists who take pictures of everything they see in London, a large party from China were at MGLive! and taking a great interest in anything and everything to do with MG. They were seen taking pictures of the public and the cars – I even witnessed two of them taking close-up pictures of some model MGs which were on one of the stands in the Trade City.
I managed to pin one of the visitors down and he said that they had travelled over on a fact-finding mission to learn what gives the MG marque such a strong emotional appeal. For the brand to prosper in the UK, the parent company needs to get a handle on the feel and the unique character of MG. Before we parted company, I was also told to expect big changes in the not too distant future.
That, for me, was the most encouraging aspect of MGLive! 2012 – both Keith Adams and I have had decent exposure to the current MG6 and we can confirm that, pound for pound, they are pretty good cars spoilt by one fundamental factor – the marketing. Get a decent grip on the emotion of the brand and sell to the heart, get the automatic and diesel versions in the showrooms and there may be some chance of selling what is, in essence, a damn good car.
The 60 or more people from SAIC Motor in China who were at Silverstone for MGLive! last weekend are living proof that the company is deadly serious about the MG brand overseas. All someone needs to do now is to get that message across to the UK’s car-buying public…