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MG - Britain's Favourite Sports Car.

Haynes.

Malcolm Green/Andrew Roberts.
ISBN 978 0 85733 107 6
Third edition published October 2011. (Hardback, 192 pages).
Book on MG sports cars

UK RRP 25

Buy this Book:
This, the third edition, and second update of Malcolm Green's original book on MG by Andrew Roberts, brings the story of MG and the sporting cars that have worn its badge right up-to-date. MG cars, even when compared to those from other automotive legends such as Jaguar, Austin, Morris and Triumph, are without doubt the best-supported classic British cars in use today, with legions of enthusiasts, clubs and suppliers ensuring that cars of the 1930s through to the 1980s and beyond, are still frequently encountered on the roads of Britain and overseas.
The format of this book is comparable to that of many Haynes' titles. The introduction takes the reader on a potted tour of MG's earliest years, when Morris Garages took the basic Morris Cowley, in "bullnose" form, improved its specification and sold the new versions under the MG name. Models such as the 14/28, the 18/80, C-Type and M-Type, came and went as the marque grew and grew not only in popularity, but in the range of models it could offer. Involvement in motor racing was seen as an excellent way of raising the sportscars' image in the eyes of the public, something that rivals Austin had already had great success at with their "7", and period photographs and descriptions of speed record cars including EX120 and EX135, are included within this first chapter.
The following chapters then focus on key models from MG's copious back catalogue, starting with the TC, the TD, TF and MGA, while sporting saloons such as the Y-Type and ZA/ZB Magnettes also receive their own sections. After the MGA in its various forms is covered, attention switches to the Midgets, Sprites, MGB, MGC (including the lightweight MGC GTS competition cars), MGB GT V8, RV8 and later models the MGF, and the MG TF.
Each chapter is illustrated with colour photographs of each model, complementing the design history of the car in question, along with its specification, including mechanical, trim and performance variations where applicable. The MGA Twin Cam chapter for instance includes some very interesting details, that differentiate it from the "cooking" single-cam versions. The centre-lock wheels and twin-cam badges I'd already known about, but I hadn't realised that, for example, the front panel behind the radiator grille is different, as is the profile of the bonnet when compared to the 1500 to clear the twin-cam engine sufficiently (although this was later standard fitment on 1600 and 1600 Mk2 MGAs). The twin-cam engine was never noted for its reliability, with problems of holed pistons and excessive oil consumption doing the model no favours at all, especially when compared to sister, B-Series powered cars, that exhibited none of these woes.
Midgets and MGBs are, I'm sure, the most numerous MGs in preservation today, and each have extensive chapters detailing their backgrounds. It's amazing to think that the MGB first saw light of day in 1962, and continued, with only minor revisions and improvements (if you could call features such as the rubber bumpers improvements!) until 1980. Even that wouldn't be the end of the new-build MGB story, as the V8-engined RV8 took a much-altered silhouette of the MGB, modernised it, and went into production in 1993, reminding the public of MG's sporting pretensions - at a time when the marque was more associated with re-badged Austins than proper sportscars - and acted as a launchpad in many respects for the upcoming mid-engined MGF.
As the title suggests, this book is more focused on MG sports cars rather than saloons, although the 1950's Magnettes and earlier Y-Type do have their own sections. Fans of later MG saloons won't find much about their chosen machines in this book - just one page is given over to the Farina-designed Mk3 and Mk4 Magnettes. The MG Metro gets a nod thanks to a column concerning the 6R4 rally car, and also in a single page feature looking at the MG-badged saloons of the 1980s (namely the Metro, Maestro and Montego). Although pale imitations of "proper" MGs in many people's eyes, it was these re-badged saloons and hatchbacks that kept the marque alive, until the RV8 and MGF came on stream and brought the marque back to the two-seat sportscar market, after they'd turned their back on this segment. The introduction of the MX5 soon changed that mindset, hence the introduction of the MGF (and revised TF).
Chapter 15 begins to shed light on more recent happenings at MG, starting with the Rover-based performance saloons of the 21st Century, produced while under the ownership of BMW (rather than BMC). Cars based on the 25, 45 and 75 would be good sellers, the ZR for instance becoming the best-selling hot hatch in 2005. Activities on track, at Le Mans and in the British Touring Car Championship, didn't harm sales either, although sufficient investment to see new cars into production was an omnipresent issue for the firm.
The new chapters in this third edition continue with a review of the collapse of MG-Rover, and its acquisition by Chinese giant SAIC. This would lead to the return of (albeit limited) production to the Longbridge site. What the future holds for MG will no doubt feature in future books on the marque. The MG6 saloon of 2011 doesn't really make me think of MG when I see it, but hopefully is the prelude to the re-born car company producing proper, affordable, sportscars in the near future, that do full justice to the company's long and respected history.
As a book that relates the story of MG's early beginnings, its post-war heyday, and the recent trials and tribulations as different owners came and went, this is a worthwhile read.
(The book Me And My MG is also reviewed in this section of the site, and may be of interest to MG owners.)
RJ
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