OCTOBER 30, 2000
MG's racing future?
THERE are signs that the racing car manufacturer Lola is involved in a bid to split the MG name away from the troubled Rover Group. Last week two members of the board of Rover quit the company but said that they would continue to work to build MG cars. Financier Brian Parker and Terry Whitmore of the Mayflower Group, which builds a lot of MG sub-assemblies want to try to make MG a going concern independently of Rover. Lola and Mayflower have close links and we believe that Lola is already designing a new MG sportscar and preparing for a future in competition with the MG brand.
Rover's future is in considerable doubt particularly now that Malaysian car manufacturer Proton (which is owned by F1 sponsor Petronas) says it is not interested in buying the company. Proton is bidding for an engine and transmission business called Powertrain which BMW is currently selling..
MG has a strong sporting history dating back to 1913 when William Morris produced first Morris Oxford. In the early 1920s Morris Garages, the Morris dealership in Oxford which was being run by Cecil Kimber, created a sportscar version of the Morris Oxford and named this the MG. The original model was followed by the Midget, the Magna and the Magnette and as the cars were comparatively cheap they were widely used in competition. MGs regularly competed at Le Mans in the 1930s although its most famous successes were in British events with victory in the Tourist Trophy in 1931 and in 1933 (Tazio Nuvolari driving on the second occasion).
On occasion the MGs were stripped down and used as single-seaters and in that form MGs won the Coppa Acerbo voiturette races in 1933 and 1934. The following year the company came under full control of Morris and active involvement in competition ceased. The cars continued to be raced by private individuals throughout the late 1930s both in Europe and in the post-war era in the United States and in the 1950s the company produced the famous MGA, MGB and MGC models. By then MG had been merged with Morris and Austin to form the British Motor Corporation and a series of takeovers followed resulting in the company becoming part of British Leyland, the forerunner of Rover.
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