The Magical MG: Classic Sports Cars on Display


These photos document a sensational collection of MG cars that were on show at the MG European Event of the Year, organised by the MG Car Club of Switzerland to celebrate its Diamond Jubilee (60 years of classic motoring).
The event was held from 8th to 14th August 2008 in the picturesque Swiss lakeside town of Zug. This festival of MG magic boasted concours, gymkhana, club and trade stands. The site had ample space for tents and camper vans and was the departure point for the daily tours. The surrounding area offered a superb choice of scenic excursions into the hills and over demanding mountain passes – in an MG of course!

The origins of the MG marque
In the early 1920s the Morris Motors factory in Oxford, England was mass producing popular cars, but there was a demand for more individual, sporting variants. A motor dealer, Morris Garages, saw a commercial opportunity and began taking standard cars from the factory and putting sporting bodies on them. The letters on the famous MG Octagon Badge are the initials of Morris Garages. Sporting bodywork also involved lowering the bodyline. It was said that “instead of sit up and beg, it was lie down and peer”. Despite certain mechanical enhancements the cars did not exhibit much improved performance; the real excitement was because it felt faster!

MG Midget
By 1928 a series of re-bodied and re-engineered vehicles had been produced and this culminated in the first MG Midget, a re-working of the main-stream Morris Minor. A sports car icon had been born. Success demanded better production facilities and a new MG factory was established in 1929 in the nearby town of Abingdon. If you look carefully at the pictures you will spot several Midgets, and their racing derivatives, with their characteristic boat-tail rear ends. In the 1930s, along with a variety of saloon models, the Midget was further developed with the T series. The characteristic grill with vertical slats and the famous badge had fronted a total of 22,500 MGs by the outbreak of World War 2. A remarkable achievement for a car marque which was only 15 years old!

The Effect of War
The Second World War halted car production of course and when it resumed in 1945 the new MG TC was almost identical to the pre-war Midget TB. Many of the square-backed Midgets you can see in the photographs are in fact post-war cars. A side effect of the conflict, which proved crucial for MG’s later success, was the fact that many American airmen, who had been based in Britain during the war, took back to the USA the nippy little MG sports cars they had driven to and from the airfields. Once the Americans had seen MGs, they wanted more of them and the American market became by far MG’s most important, ultimately accounting for 90% of all sales of MGs.

Post-War Cars
MG Midget
The Midget T series continued with the TC, TD and TF models and the sporty two seaters with sweeping mudguards and sills are as popular today with classic car enthusiasts as they were in the 1940s and 50s (when they were considerably cheaper!). Just looking at the number on display at this Diamond Jubilee meeting is proof of that.

By the mid-1950s it was clear that an updated MG sports car was essential and the MGA was born. This car had modern lines. Gone were the running boards. The pressed steel bodywork swept back from the much lower and similarly swept back radiator grille. When lifted, the bonnet revealed a neat oval aperture as can be seen in the photographs. Nestling within is the powerful 1600cc engine. Matched with a choice of open roadster or coupe bodies, the MGA was a big hit. For many enthusiasts today this model is the MG of their dreams.

By the early 1960s over 100,000 MGAs had been produced, but it was time for even the MGA to be replaced. The Midget had been revived in 1961 through a re-modelling of the Austin Sprite (which was already being made at MG’s Abingdon factory) but the big news was the launch of an all-new MG, the MGB. Whereas the MGA was built with separate chassis and body, the MGB featured a monocoque body shell, 1800cc engine and a top speed of 105mph. This was the car for the swinging 60s, with its full-width low grille with vertical chromium bars. It sported equally sparkling chromium wrap-around bumpers. It was roomier and much better equipped than the MGA. It was an instant success and the company was soon exporting 30,000 MGBs a year.
This excellent car was kept in production for an almost unbelievable 18 years! The various owners of the MG company during that time lacked the money to invest in a new model, so the MGB underwent a series of upgrades to maintain sales. By the time the last car rolled off the production line in 1980 over 500,000 MGBs had been made. This long period of development means that the MGB is a very easy, comfortable and practical car to drive and maintain. It is widely promoted as the most practical classic car to own. If you look carefully at the photographs here you will see many MGBs. Most have the traditionally-preferred chrome bumpers, but in 1975 these were replaced by the notorious black ‘rubber bumpers’ to comply with American safety standards. Can you spot one? Even harder to see are the V8 models. These look identical to a standard MGB but for the small V8 badge front and back.

After 1980 the MG badge was placed on a series of saloon and hatchback models, but in 1995 the all-new MGF sports car was launched. This mid-engined, rear wheel drive roadster quickly became the best-selling sports car in Britain. The popularity of the MGF and its variants can be seen by its presence in many of the photos here! The car continued in production until 2011 and is now prized by many MG Club members throughout the world as a modern classic.
The MG badge is found today only on Nanjing Automobile Group saloon cars. This Chinese manufacturer acquired the rights to the marque in 2005, but sadly has no current plans to produce another MG sports car.
MG cars, Zug, Switzerland MG cars  car show visitors  MG cars show in Zug 
A trio of MG Midgets sporting a range of luggage solutions MG cars, people  MG TD with luggage rack and tonneau cover A nose-on view of a Dutch MGF waving a pair of Union Jacks
Row of modern MGFs and TFs An MGF with roof down and umbrella up  Good examples of the variety of MG Midget radiator grill decoration  Visitors MG show
MG Cars, Zug, Switzerland view of a row of MG TDs and TF  Rear view of 1950s MG TF and TDs Interesting use of a 1600cc rocker cover to create a model car 
A fine view of the twin-cam MGA’s power plant Two MG T-types with bonnets open to reveal a glimpse of the engine  Close-up view of rear of an MG TD  A line of MG Midget rear ends 
Good view of a red MGA engine compartment Mg cars  A closer view of the interiors of MG Midgets showing steering wheels and instrument panels A line of interiors of MG Midgets 
Close-up view of the MG TD engine MG T-types with a row of MGAs behind them  Front view of green T type, also blue example with bonnet open  Beautiful white MG TA with both bonnet panels raised, making a striking image 
A white MG TF at the head of a row of other beautiful classic cars An extensive collection of car club badges graces this fine old MG A fine red example of the MG TC, open-top motoring at its best  Beautiful MG TF 1500 with white side-walled tyres takes its place in a line of classic cars 
A magisterial MG SA Saloon Impressive view of a highly-polished black SA Saloon  Close-up view of steering arm and drum brake casing  Bright blue MG TA just itching for the open road 
A close-up view of the radiator catch mechanism on a classic MG racing car Small model of MG racer on the bonnet of full-sized car  An MG Midget with bonnet open  A fine view of the MG RV-8 power plant 
A green MGB GTv8 with bonnet open and a yellow MGB v8 Rear view of MG TC with good view of dashboard A closer view of the MGBv8 under the bonnet  A strikingly-yellow MGBv8 sporting many modifications 
A late-model standard specification MGBv8 in black MG cars exhibition  MG car show visitors  Car Show, City of Zug
MG car exhibition A sparkling silver MG TC with good view of instrument panel  Excellent accessory to add extra growl to your engine note!  An impressive array of MG T series Midget bonnets 
Classic and stylish storage solution for trips away Front-on view of a shiny red MG TD  Beautiful cream Midget with green upholstery and striking checkerboard radiator grill  Temperature gauge mounted on top of the grill of this MG 
Iconic octagon badge on radiator MG octagon badge on both grill and temperature gauge  Close-up photograph of a pair of car club badges, mounted on a badge bar Three badges on a badge bar of this white MG 
MG cars MG cars  A variety of MG T Midgets with bonnets open  MG cars 
MG cars, Zug, Switzerland A smart cream MG TD heads a row of similar classics  MG TF and MGF lids open for inspection  Interior view with space for spare wheel 
A fine striped MG TF together with a range of shirts A blue MG TF heads a line of Fs and TFs  Rear view showing interior and exterior  Rear view of a green MG TD giving a clear view of the dashboard instrumentation 
MG TC with appropriately-labelled suitcase These stately vehicles remind us that MG made more than compact sports cars A beautiful cream MGA shows off its sleek lines  The open bonnet of this MGA reveals its power plant 
This MGA is ready to rally This green MG TC is complete with Union Jack cushion  Sky blue Q-type racing body on the MG TA A line of Midgets ready to make a big impression upon visitors 
Close-up of walnut interior of white MG TD Good view of the instruments on the dashboard of an MG TC  The central switch panel of the MG TD  A clear view of the instrumentation on the MG TD 
Octagonal instrumentation bezels appropriate for the MG marque, as found on the MG PB Sporty sky-blue interior of this classic early MG Midget  Clear view of instrument panels of a grey MG TC  Speedometer calibrated to 170 kph in keeping with the MG slogan “Safety Fast!” 
A cream-and-green MG Magnette saloon heads a row of these post-war family saloon cars Boat-tailed racing car based on the Midget  A striking yellow and black hard-top MG Midget 1954 Harewood MG hill-climbing race car 
A stately Y Type saloon recalls the golden age of motoring A fine MG TF in British Racing Green showing the headlights integrated with the wings  A varied line of MGs admired by enthusiasts  1930s MG specially-prepared racing car 
A white roadster drives past the line of its fellow MGBs, whilst one MGA turns its back! A bronze example heads a row of ever-popular MGBs Rows of MGBs ready for action, reminiscent of basking sharks  A row of MGs, the nearest draped with the British flag 
An open-top MGB takes advantage of a little sun protection Tinkering with the engine of a beautiful red MGA  Rear view of a pre-1974 MGB roadster with later modifications  Close-up rear view of an MG PB 
Everything you may need for your classic car can be found – eventually! A red MGB showing a fully-deployed tonneau cover  A red MG TF leaves the showground, the hats almost as stylish as the car!  Spectacular silver example of the MG SV, the last attempt at a new MG sports car. Blisteringly fast!