Autoworld Museum, Brussels, Belgium
from November 7 to December 3, 2023
An eventful story
The MG 100 years exhibition at Autoworld Brussels is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the famous English brand, renowned for its sporty roadsters. It was in 1923 that the octagonal Morris Garages logo first appeared on a car, when Cecil Kimber, Morris’ sales director (and later managing director), created the MG brand, a sort of sports branch of Morris. The brand would soon become the emblem of British sports cars. After models derived from Morris, Kimber founded the MG Motor Company in 1930 to follow his own path. Subsequently, MG was bought by Morris, then by BMC (British Motor Company) and later by British Leyland (which eventually became Austin Rover) in a great movement of concentration of English brands.
While in the 1920s/30s, MG offered saloons derived from Morris models, the brand became known above all for its light 2-seater sports cars which took the name Midget and are the ancestors of the typically British roadsters. While many “gentlemen drivers” raced with these models, MG derived real racing cars from them, and even designed speed record machines. Sporting victories turn into commercial successes. After the war, TC Midget and TF Midget took over. But it was above all the MGA that would be the starting point of a real boom after the Second World War, becoming the archetype of the small English roadster, light, simple, and very sporty.
Returning from Europe, U.S. soldiers literally imported the craze for these cars into the United States, amplifying the commercial success. Launched in 1962, the MGB was the successor to the MGA, and became a huge success with more than half a million units sold. Before being dethroned by the Mazda MX-5 (which took over the recipe), the MGB remained the best-selling roadster in the world for a long time. Late on, MG suffered from the collapse of the British Leyland group, becoming the sporting badge of more or less successful models. The group’s brands will then be dispersed to different manufacturers.
During the BMW era (which bought Austin Rover in 1994), MG revived the recipe for the small roadster with the modestly successful MG F. Bought by a Chinese group in 2005, MGs are now mainly electric SUVs, while waiting for an electric roadster, perhaps sporty but probably not light.
As part of this retrospective, Autoworld is exhibiting about fifteen models retracing this eventful history, from the first Midget of the 1930s to the MG F, through the MGA and MGB, roadsters and coupes, with small 4-cylinder engines but also larger V8 Rover. It’s also an opportunity to discover some large sedans from the 1930s, lesser-known cars from the MG lineage. Autoworld also presents a curiosity, a rare MGB Berlinette Coune, designed by the Belgian coachbuilder Jacques Coune before the release of the MGB Coupe by MG, and produced at around fifty units.
The photos on this page belong to the Autoworld Museum, no right of reproduction without the express permission of the museum.