IT’S part 324 of the ongoing BMC>MG soap opera, and things have taken another strange twist. I must admit that the news that Stadco and NAC MG have parted company didn’t exactly come as a big surprise to me. As I alluded to in my recent news story regarding the state of play at Longbridge, there has been something of a political game of football been going on at Longbridge. The two sides are represented by NAC MG on one side and SAIC on the other – with the net result being no new cars despite a glitzy launch this time last year.
NAC MG wants desperately to get the TF LE 500 on to the market as quickly as possible, now that development work and re-homologation has taken place, and the new car feels and sounds better than MG Rover’s original. However, SAIC wanted to delay the relaunch until there was genuinely new metal to sell… and as Shanghai has more muscle in this relationship than NAC, there’s only one way that this battle was ever going to go.
So, with the TF now paused, and BIW production at Longbridge ceased, does that mean we’ve seen the last of the TF LE 500? Of course not! It does, however, look like it’s going to be severely downscaled from its original brief of 15,000 cars, to perhaps no more than the run of 500 anticipated by the revised car’s name.
Does that mean that there will be no further MG sportscars? Again, I reckon the answer is no.
According to my deep-throat, SAIC’s (formerly Ricardo’s) engineers are working on the next generation of MG sportscars, and they’re based on the X120 TF replacement project that was on the drawing board pre-MGR melt-down. Although I’ve not seen any renderings, the informant certainly tells me there’s reason to be optimistic. With that scenario in mind, and SAIC’s ambition to build the new 550 at Longbridge in order to undertake a serious European re-launch of MG, NAC MG’s original low-key plans for the site were looking pretty jaded at best.
But the big question is, will it happen? I hear that SAIC’s top brass are flying here next week to review the situation, and if I hear anything (off the record, of course), I’ll let you know… but keep it to yourself. Meanwhile, I’m keeping my fingers crossed – I don’t know about you, but it all does rather seem like yet another hopeful chapter opener in this longest running of sagas….Let’s just pray that those hopes are not dashed this time around!
Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...
Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.