Nov 23, 2010

The full story behind MG Cars photos, video

MGB was Britain's best-selling sports car. It was produced by the British Motor Corporation and sold under the MG marque. Available in both convertible and coupe ("GT") forms, it was launched in May of 1962 to replace the MGA, and produced until October 22, 1980. A later run of updated MGBs, the RV8, was produced in the 1990s

BMC was the largest British car company of its day, with (in 1952) 39 percent of British output, producing a wide range of cars under brand names including Austin, Morris, MG, Austin Healey, Wolseley as well as commercial vehicles and agricultural tractors. The first chairman was Lord Nuffield (William Morris) but he was replaced in August 1952 by Austin's Leonard Lord who continued in that role until his 65th birthday in 1961 but handing over, in theory at least, the managing director responsibilities to his deputy George Harriman in 1956.

BMC's headquarters were at the Austin plant at Longbridge, near Birmingham and Austin was the dominant partner in the group mainly because of the chairman. The use of Morris engine designs was dropped within 3 years and all new car designs were coded ADO from "Austin Drawing Office". The Longbridge plant was up to date, having been thoroughly modernised in 1951, and compared very favourably with Nuffield's 16 different and often old fashioned factories scattered over the English Midlands. Austin's management systems however, especially cost control and marketing were not as good as Nuffield's and as the market changed from a shortage of cars to competition this was to tell. The biggest selling car, the Mini, was famously analysed by Ford Motor Company who concluded that BMC must be losing £30 on every one sold. The result was that although volumes held up well throughout the BMC era, market share fell as did profitability and hence investment in new models, triggering the 1966 government sponsored merger with Jaguar to form British Motor Holdings (BMH), and three years later leading to the merger of BMH with Leyland Motor Corporation.

In 1958, BMC hired Battista Farina to redesign its entire car line. This resulted in the creation of three "Farina" saloons, each of which was badge-engineered to fit the various BMC car lines.
The compact Farina model bowed in 1958 with the Austin A40 Farina. This is considered by many to be the first mass produced hatchback car: a small estate version was produced with a horizontally split tailgate, its size and configuration would today be considered that of a small hatchback. A Mark II A40 Farina appeared in 1961 and was produced through 1967. These small cars used the A-Series engine.

The mid-sized Farinas were launched in 1958 with the Wolseley 15/60. Other members of the group included the Riley 4/68, Austin A55 Cambridge Mk II, MG Magnette Mk III, and Morris Oxford V. Later, the design was licensed in Argentina and produced as the Di Tella 1500/Traveller/Argenta. The mid-size cars used the B-Series straight-4 engine.

Most of these cars lasted until 1961, though the Di Tellas remained until 1965. They were replaced with a new Farina body style and most were renamed. These were the Austin A60 Cambridge, MG Magnette Mk. IV, Morris Oxford VI, Riley 4/72, and Wolseley 16/60. These mostly remained in production until 1968, with no rear wheel drive replacement produced.
Farina also designed a large car. Launched in 1959 as the Austin A99 Westminster, Vanden Plas Princess 3-Litre, and Wolseley 6/99, it used the large C-Series straight-6 engine. The large Farinas were updated in 1961 as the Austin A110 Westminster, Vanden Plas Princess 3-Litre Mk. II, and Wolseley 6/110. These remained in production until 1968.

The MGB was a relatively modern design at the time of its introduction. It utilized a unibody structure that reduced both weight and manufacturing costs as well as adding chassis strength. This was a considerable improvement in comparison to that of the traditional body-on-frame construction used on the MGA and T-type models as well as the MGB's rival, the Triumph TR series. The design included wind-up windows and a comfortable driver's compartment.

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