Blog : As you were, MG Motor UK

Keith Adams


No, your eyes are not deceiving you. This is a genuine photo, and it’s been sent in by AROnline reader, Alan Zafer, who gave me a fascinating insight into recent announcement that MG Motor UK had pitched up a new showroom in one of London’s more exclusive areas.

One thing I absolutely adore about AROnline is that there’s no end to the historic material that continues to be unearthed, and continues to come my way, despite us talking about events that are now ancient history. But here’s the thing, it is still living history, and that’s why it’s so important to share everything that rolls into my inbox.

Anyway, back to the picture, and Alan says this: ‘What goes round comes round! The building where the new MG Motor UK showroom is was also the original showroom for BMC back in the 1960s. As well as selling cars from this west London address, upstairs was home to the Boardrooms, and where  Raymond Baxter had his office!’

Indeed, in his 2002 interview with us, Raymond recalled: ‘We were all paid peanuts and I forget the exact figure, but because I reported directly to Lester Suffield, who was Managing Director of BMC, I went up to Longbridge pretty much every week. We had our offices at the end of Piccadilly in Devonshire House and I had a fabulous office overlooking Piccadilly right on the corner with a little balcony and everything. It was such a culture shock from sharing an office with Brian Johnston in the BBC, which was the size of this room – this was big executive stuff!’

Alan added, ‘In order to increase showroom traffic, one Christmas we put a sideways stretched  Mini  in the window…’

The picture above certainly paints a thousand words. So, MG Motor UK, what can you do to match the achievements of your illustrious predecessors?

ADO15- BMC Piccadily showroom 1967

[Editor’s Note: A reader has subsequently pointed out that the address of MG Motor UK’s new showroom is 47-48 Piccadilly whereas the original BMC showroom was at 41 Piccadilly.]


Keith Adams


  1. Is it sad I find the Pan-American airlines shop front just as exciting? Great stuff though Alan, I wonder if MG know the significance?

    • Following a comment from my missus “How can they call that a Mini, it just looks clumsy!”, the Countryman now has a new name in our house…

  2. Hmmmm Lester Suffield. My lovely late father was sacked by him in 1960. My father visited him at his hotel room during the New York motor show to tell what he thought of him and his alleged antics. Got the sack. My father was to take over from Lester Suffield to be in charge of the Canadian operation. So after that my father returned with family to Longbridge and became Riley then Wolesley sales manager.

  3. Yes PAN-AM… another famous company that is no longer with us, like MG Rover… and many others. I’m going all nostalgic!

  4. There was also an Aston Martin showroom in Piccadilly, not quite in this area i think but nearer the Park Lane Hotel . I used to gawp lustingly through the window . 75 cars later I’ve still not had an Aston !

  5. When the ‘bini’ was released I thought “how dare they, this is an affront to such a fine car” gradually over time it SORT OF grew on me but now I’m just left thinking that they’ve just milked it too much and they should sod off, I’m sure a lot of people won’t agree though, maybe bl missed too many marketing opportunities originally, who knows, but I just find the newest generation of modern minis to be hideous in the main

    • The mini was a truely innovative design when it was launched. Front wheel drive packaging to allow as much space as possible in a small car. Little things llike using small wheels to reduce the size of the wheel arches all added up to a clever car.

      There is nothing clever or innovative about the Bini, it is just a retro body kit over a very conventional car. With a crap boot and cramped back seats. With the retro nostalgia used to inflate the price.

      The real sucessor of the mini is something like the Honda Jazz, move the fuel tank to give a flat floor, and masses of interior space. Issigonis would approved of that.

  6. I’m sure there was a similar ‘extra long wheelbase’ version, with several side doors and mirrors replacing the door glass. Under each window it said one or the many mini brands (Morris, Austin, etc) and a tag line saying ‘which one do you see yourself in?’.

  7. I’ve seen a picture of that stretched showroom special Mini in a book.

    IIRC while it was only made for publicity purposes some people did ask if it was a special order model.

  8. Have to agree with bartlebe, nowt clever about the Bini. However, I think the Honda Jazz/Fit is far too big to be a modern Mini – a modern Maxi more like.

    Back in 2003 I was looking for a new replacement for a much-missed 1990 Panda and the Daihatsu Cuore, (L701 series) came closest. It had just been replaced with the mostly inferior Charade and was also a better car overall than the other Arosa/Ka/Cinqucento rivals of the time – so I grabbed one of the very last ones quick.

    Mine was a quite rare 3-door version, which looked very Mini-like from some angles – and unfortunately also rather Nissan Micra-like from others. Great properly little car, that ironically was mistaken for a Bini more than once.
    People were surprised that I wasn’t so happy about that….

  9. I would say the original Citroen C1, Peugeot 107 and the Toyota. Seats 4, small, economical and badge engineering at it’s best!

    • Original C106-Aygo not a bad shout, but the L700 Cuore was smarter, it offered the same interior space, combined with a bigger boot in a slightly smaller footprint, so closer in concept/execution, (and looks) to a Mini.

      Had the bonus of a proper interior instead of a Fisher-Price style dashboard, was less cheaply made and better finished than those three.

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