Just a Simple Wrench
Brand Loyalty - or
What has MG done for you lately?
by Ann & Jake Snyder
Mind you, we did not ask “What has your MG done for you lately?” We know that many of you find pleasure in your MGs on a daily basis. We ask, instead, “What has MG Rover done for you lately?” We were prompted to ask this question by two events that occurred in the space of a little more than one week in August. The first occurred at the University Motors Ltd Late Summer Party Reunion. As members of the MG Car Club, we were interested in hearing what the guest speaker, Steven Cox, would say about this very active organization that he chairs. But like many in the audience we were surprised and disappointed that, instead of talking about the MGCC competition program, the MG Silverstone Weekend, or any similar event, he spoke instead as an employee of the MG Rover Group and told us about their plans for collaborating with engineering firms in China. So make that another 25 years before MG returns to North America (not his statement, but easily inferred).
The second event occurred the following weekend, at an equally auspicious and exciting venue, the Road America 500, Round 7 in the 2004 American LeMans Series. We both consider this to be the most interesting of any national or international racing series to compete on this continent. Initially we were attracted by the MG prototype cars. You will recall that in 2001 and 2002, MG fielded teams of cars, the EX257s in the venerable 24 hour race for which this series is named.
In this country, several privateer teams have entered EX257s in the ALMS. In addition to the chance to watch the MG prototypes, we simply enjoy the intense competition within the various classes, from the EX257s and Audi R8s to Corvettes, Ferraris and Porsches, on the track simultaneously. This year we hoped to determine whether the cars being raced by Dyson Racing and Intersport were still MGs, since these cars were no longer identified as MGs in the entry lists. So as we explored the paddock that Sunday morning, we stopped first at Dyson Racing and took photos. The Number 16 car still sported the MG octagon on its nose and on the front wing, while the Number 20 car did not. The Dyson organization is quite impressive, and there were a number of neatly-uniformed engineers occupied with the cars.
In response to our question “Is the MG octagon displayed for old time’s sake or can the car still be called an MG?” one of the staff explained that MG’s license had expired, and Lola, the maker of the chassis, no longer cared to have the car referred to as an MG. In fact a new nose on the Number 20 car had been supplied with no indentation to accommodate the octagonal emblem. He said that he liked the appearance of the octagon on the cars, but he also pointed out that after MG sold the cars to Dyson, they had never provided any support.
Later, as we walked through the paddock, we were struck by the common theme connecting these two bits of information. As far as MG Rover is concerned, North America is on its own. This market is not under consideration. For years we assumed that the only new car in our future would be an MG. Although the cars that MG Rover sent to Minnesota for display at MG 2001 were not what we had in mind, we thought that eventually something similar to the MG F (now the MG TF) would be coming across the Pond. But the Qvale super car, now known as the MG XPower SV and the most likely candidate for the US market, is no closer to our expectations than those Rover sedans and hatchbacks that were re-badged as MGs.
So we have given up our octagonal rose-colored glasses for good. And for those of you still waiting for a new MG, we have some recommended reading. It’s a little two-act play by Samuel Beckett. If you haven’t read it, or just haven’t read it recently, you can find it online at
But there you have it, as the English say. There is no new MG model in our future. Be that as it may, we North American MG enthusiasts are not doomed to live in the past, treating our cars as mere toys, and applying for antique license plates. If there is a silver lining to this cloud, it takes the form of emerging technology for improving the performance of the MGs that we already have. The V8 Register is alive and well and adding members every year. And Moss Motors has already brought us the drop-in supercharger and has promised other modifications down the road (excuse the pun) that will bring our MGs into the 21st century.
So we will continue to follow the Dyson teams in ALMS, not simply because the cars were originally purchased from MG, but because they make a serious effort in a very competitive series. And we will take advantage of every reasonable innovation to make our 70s-era MGs drivable in the years ahead. We realize now that we gave up on Godot some time ago.