A truly international crowd of over 15,000 MG enthusiasts descended on Silverstone – the home of the British Grand Prix – last weekend to celebrate not only the much-loved marque’s 90th Anniversary but also for a preview of current owner SAIC Motor’s near-to-mid term plans for the brand.
The famous Northamptonshire race circuit has hosted the MG Car Club’s (MGCC) main event for the last 64 years but that has evolved into much more than just a Club-level race meeting – what has more recently been promoted as MGLive! now features a wide variety of off-track attractions and events and has also become the principal date in many MG enthusiasts’ diaries for social gatherings. However, this year and with sponsorship from Peter Best Insurance Services and Hiscox Insurance , the event was re-branded as MG90 to reflect the emphasis on the marque’s history.
The undoubted highlight of the weekend for many of those attending will have been the MG90 Timeline. The stunning display, which had a total value of over £3 million, featured an example of almost every MG model from the 1924 14/28 Super Sport four-seater of Chris Keevill and the 1925 14/28 Salonette of Fred Body to the latest MG3 of Phill Jukes. The cars were stretched out for the full length of Silverstone’s Copse Runway and included a number of factory prototypes in addition to other significant cars such as the left-hand drive, British Racing Green MG F which was one of two on the stand for the model’s launch at the Geneva Motor Show in 1995.
However, a number of other famous old MGs were also on display elsewhere at Silverstone – these included MG’s first-ever, purpose-built competition car, Old Number One, which was on a rare loan from the Heritage Motor Centre at Gaydon, and the now Peter Green-owned, Thomson and Taylor-bodied 1933 MG K3 Magnette originally built for Whitney Straight and subsequently owned and raced by one of Britain’s most famous pre-WW2 racing drivers, Dick Seaman.
AROnline’s standout car at MG90 was, though, a tad newer – the MGB-based Jacques Coune Berlinette (pictured above), which took centre stage on the MGB Register’s stand in the MGCC’s Main Marquee, was launched at the Brussels Motor Show in January, 1964 and cost around two-thirds more than the standard MGB. A total of 56 cars were built during a production run which lasted two years but included just one right-hand drive version. A combination of British engineering and Italianesque styling make this rarest of MGBs pretty hard to resist…
The MGCC’s Main Marquee was the focal point for the Club’s Centres and Registers while many of the Club’s Trade Members and other MG-focussed businesses were to be found in the dedicated Traders’ City nearby – a total of 48 exhibitors included not only well-known businesses like British Motor Heritage, Brown and Gammons and Rimmer Brothers but also relatively newer entrants to the MG market place such as MG3 and MG6 aftermarket parts specialist, Roger Briscoe of MG and AMC Parts.
However, the Frontline Developments stand probably generated the most interest in the Traders’ City area – the company chose MG90 to launch a new model, the soft-top Abingdon Special (pictured below), which differs from Frontline’s ‘BGT-based LE50 in using the bodyshell from a ‘B Roadster. A four-cylinder, 2.5-Litre Mazda engine, which produces 304bhp and 242lb ft. of torque. powers the car while, with prices starting at £79,900, production will be limited to just 25 units.
The Live Action Arena hosted regular displays by the legendary precision driver, MG3-equipped Russ Swift and the UK’s leading freestyle mountain bike team, Savage Skills. The Sunday-only air display included formation flying by the Cotswold Airport-based SkyHawk Team of four Beagle Pups and two Bulldogs, a solo display by Roger Miles in his Miles Hawk Speed Six and an aerobatic display by Gerald Cooper in his Extreme Air XA41.
All of the MGCC’s well-established, Club-level Championships were included in the schedule for the two-day race meeting element of MG90, which again used Silverstone’s Grand Prix circuit. The seven MGCC Championships were joined by the Ferrari Owners’ Club ‘Ferrari Classic’ and ‘Ferrari Open’ series and the Porsche Club Championship with Pirelli. A full Race Report can be accessed via that link to the Motorsport section of the MGCC’s website while other competitive events included the California Cup Autotest on the Saturday and a round of the Luffield Cars-sponsored MGCC Speed Championship, which used the Stowe circuit, on the Sunday.
MG Motor UK hosted the MG Experience in Silverstone’s Stowe Complex last Saturday and not only provided a number of invited MG enthusiasts with an insight into the marque’s future until the end of this decade, but also gave them the chance to witness the manufacturer-backed MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save Team’s two British Touring Car Championship drivers, Jason Plato and Sam Tordoff, take the new MG3 Trophy out on track for the first time in public.
AROnline’s readers can access our articles about the MG3 Trophy racer, the MG CS SUV Concept and the MG EV Concept via those two links. However, before the invited guests were given a glimpse of those cars, they attended a presentation which included a series of talks by the company’s Marketing Manager, Matthew Cheyne, and SAIC Motor UK Technical Centre’s (SMTC UK) Vice-Director – Electrical Engineering, Richard McAlister, which majored on an outline of what SMTC UK has achieved to date but also gave the wider British public a chance to learn, at first hand, some details of the new Vehicle Architecture and Powertrains currently under development at MG Birmingham – as already mentioned elsewhere, four new models are scheduled for introduction between now and 2020. Not many car manufacturers engage so directly and openly with their potential customers on the subject of their Future Product Programmes…
However, in addition, those attending the MG Experience also had a first chance to see the new MG3 and MG6 90th Anniversary models in the metal (the latter being pictured above). Full details of the two cars’ enhanced specification and pricing will be announced shortly but both seemed to receive a favourable response from the public.
The MGCC’s General Manager and Event Chairman, Julian White, commented: “There were… a lot more people on the ground compared to MGLive! last year, which is partly down to the glorious weather we had and partly due to the features this year’s show had because of the anniversary. I think MG90 really proved to the world just how alive and well MG – and its following right across the globe – really is.”
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