by Frank Ochal
Welcome to the new members that have joined since the last issue.
We would like to thankKaren Border of TRF (The Roadster Factory), Dale Schiller, Andrew Choppe, Bruce Rose, Craig VanHevelingen, Tony Thomas and all the other contributors to this issue.
Also thanks to Art Isaacs for his continued work in answering members' technical questions and answers and to John Twist who is now contributing advice to members. Be sure to send in photos and stories so we can include them in future issues of the Octagon.
AMGBA Meet 2019 was held in conjunction with the Myrtle Beach Britfest 2019 Car Show on Saturday, October 5, 2019, at The Market Common, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. A full report with photoscan be found in the shows section of this website.
Thanks to John Twist for sending tech items which we have used in this issue and will be using in future issues.I am pleased to announce that we have now published AMGBA Technical Sections Volume IV which contains sections, topics, questions and answers published in the Octagon from 2008 to current. It is available in printed and CD formats and can also be emailed. Various tech section combos are also available in the club store. All of the tech sections are indexed by category such as electrical, suspension, etc. for easy reference and accessibility.
We have expanded our list of free items that members can receive with 3 year membership or renewal. You can now receive either a free t-shirt, a tech CD (or emailed) or past issues of the Octagon in pdf format on CD (or emailed). We offer a 3 year membership or renewal rate for $95 or $125 for members outside the USA. We also have a 3 year eMembership for $65 which also includes the free items. Save money and get a t-shirt or tech sections on CD (or emailed) or Octagons on CD (emailed)!
A result of the full color Octagon magazine is that we are now able to offer free classified ads to members that now include one color photo and contain 50 words. This is because we no longer have a restriction on the pages that ad photos can be placed on.
We have now issued plastic membership cards to all members. All current members should have already received the new plastic membership card. As the new membership card is plastic it is meant to be permanent and will no longer include your membership expiration date. Your membership expiration date and your number can always found on the label on each issue of the printed OCTAGON and other club mailings. You can always call, email or text us if you ever need a replacement card, your membership number or your expiration date..We now have a supply of grille badges back in stock We have gone back to the earlier style. See more information in the Club Store and on the New Products and Services Page.
Join us on Facebook at American MGB Association or follow us on Twitter at amgba.
Classified ads will now also appear on our Facebook Page and Facebook Group and on Twitter as well as the club's website, message board, Octagon and eOctagon.
AMGBA members receive the Octagon, now published in March, June, September and December and the eOctagon, published in February, May, August and November. Send us your email address so that we can send you the eOctagon. The eOctagon is sent via bulk email so if you are blocking this type of email you will not get it.
The club has a Message Board at https://mgclub.org/smf/,a Blog located at https://mgclub.org/wordpress/ . American MGB Association members are able to place ads and access more tech info. The AMGBA Photo Gallery is located at https://mgclub.org/coppermine/ .
Please send in your stories and photos to be used in the Octagon. You will receive a credit toward renewal or regalia.
You need an ID and password to access the "members only" section of our website at www.mgclub.org. You will find the ID and password on page 3 of the OCTAGON. These change with each issue so be sure to use only the ones listed in the latest issue. Also now you can to create your own id and password for the members only section. Submit the form on the members only page to do this.
I hope you had a great driving and show season! Have a greatstart to the new year!
(Top Photo: AMGBA Meet 2019 - 2nd Place Chrome Bumper MGB - 63 MGB of Susan Beck from Spartanburg, South Carolina)
Background to the MG - Part 1
I have promised our MGB customers some stories about the origins of the MG marque and so I began researching them. The one thing I learned about the development of the MG was that it seemed to just sort of grow out of one man’s desire to make a better car than his employer made! Today it would be odd indeed if, for instance, Ford or GM would allow their Sales Manager at one of their car dealerships to purchase a factory-made chassis and then put a body that he or she had designed on the chassis, and then sell the remodeled car. I was not able to determine whether or not Morris got the profit from these cars, or if Cecil Kimber made the profit from them, or if they split the profit. Another thing I learned during my research was that there were some differences in versions of how the development of the MG marque came about, and there is no clear timeline. But here is my effort to explain how the MG was developed. Because it is such a complicated story, I am going to have to do it in installments. I have also included a list of books and web links that I used for research, so you can read more about the subject
Installment 1. Background to the MG
The history of MG cars began in the early 1920s as a sideline sales promotion business of Morris Garages. William Richard Morris (later 1st Viscount Nuffield) started a garage in Oxford in the early 1900s and by 1910 the name was known as Morris Garages, Limited. At that time, Morris Garages began to produce the Morris Oxford, a series of models which included the 1913 Bullnose Oxford, and continued through 1935 with the Farina Oxfords V and VI.
The Oxford Bullnose was designed in 1912, and produced in March 1913. It was a small car with a White and Poppe 1018 cc four-cylinder, side-valve engine with fixed cylinder head. It had a distinctive radiator with a bullet-nose rounded top, sort of like the front of many farm tractors. It was an open-tourer, two-seat car, but they also made a van version. No four-seat versions were made as the chassis was too short and not strong enough. The Bullnose de luxe had a longer chassis with different body versions and it became available in November 1913. The body versions included limousines, sporting cars, and vans.
In 1915, Morris developed the Continental Cowley, and it included an engine from the United States made by the Continental Motor Manufacturing Company of Detroit. This 1495 cc engine was 50 percent larger than the 1018 cc engines previously used, and the car was also longer, wider and featured other components from the United States. Some of the other parts from America included the clutch and three-speed gearbox from Detroit Gear & Machine Co. The front and back axles and steering gear also came from America. The car design still had the Bullnose radiator, and because it had a larger and stronger chassis, it was available in a two-seater body with occasional seats at the rear, which I believe in America we might have called "Rumble Seats", but in England they were called "Dickie Seats". Dickie seats were sometimes called "mother-in-law seats" and they originated from horse-drawn carriages. Their purpose was as a place for servants or guards to ride. Or children would ride in the Dickie seat.
The Cowley was also the first Morris car that included electric lighting as a standard feature on the cars, but lighting was not provided as standard on Cowley delivery vans. Lucas was, of course, the lighting supplier. Production halted during WWI because it became difficult to get the parts from America, and the factory was used to make munitions. Several Continental engines were lost at sea during the war. The last Continental Cowley was made in 1920, and used the last of the American engines.
After the war, in 1919, the Morris Cowley was updated and called the Cowley Bullnose. The engine was switched to a Hotchkiss & Cie French engine, that was manufactured at the Hotchkiss branch factory in Coventry, England. Morris would end up buying the Hotchkiss works around May of 1923, and it became known as the Morris engine branch. From 1919 on, the Cowley was what we would call the "Economy Model", and was only available in a two-seater model with smaller, lighter tires. You can read more about the Cowley on this wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morris_Cowley. This article gives detailed specifications for the cars and the engines.
In addition to the Cowley Bullnose, Morris continued development of the Oxford Bullnose. It was modified to have a longer wheelbase and stronger construction, and could carry up to five passengers. It featured a self-starter and had a better electrical system than the Cowley. It was what we would call, the "Deluxe Model". It featured the Hotchkiss 11.9 fiscal horsepower 1548 cc engine. The Oxford Bullnose was admired because the transmission and everything that revolved, except the fan belt, was fully enclosed in an oil bath.
One notable thing about William Morris was that he introduced the techniques of mass production to England by using the assembly line processes that Henry Ford had been successful with in America. Prior to this, most automobiles had been built one-at-a-time. The Cowley and the Oxford became mass produced cars. From 1919–1925 Morris expanded his production from Oxford into factories at Abingdon, Birmingham, and Swindon.
We will leave the development of the Morris Cowley and Oxford cars, and for the next installment, I hope to be able to cover the beginnings of the MG, Cecil Kimber, and Old Number One. In my research, I came across an English group of pre-1930 Morris car owners called the Morris Bullnose Club. Here is a link to their web page: http://www.bullnose.org.uk/. They have several photo galleries on the website which you might like to view. At the end of this letter is a list of the sources that I used and I am including this installment of the story and some photos on our Photos of the Week page. I welcome any comments or corrections to this series on the MG. Please send your comments and edits to email@example.com.
Until next time,
Chinese-owned British carmaker MG will make its India foray this year. And its first product for India will be the Hector SUV. The MG Hector launch is scheduled for June 2019.
Measuring 4,655mm in length, 1,835mm in width and 1,760mm in height, the MG Hector is larger than its rivals like the Jeep Compass and the Tata Harrier. The monocoque-bodied Hector has the much-sought-after SUV stance, though the large rear overhang looks a bit ungainly. And the 17-inch diamond cut alloys are also a size too small. What grabs your attention right away is the chrome-studded grille up front that’s flanked by high-set LED running lights. The actual headlights sit within C-shaped brackets lower down on the front bumper. Scuff plates at the front and rear add to the design, and a ‘floating roof’ has also been neatly incorporated.
The MG Hector interior will offer seating for five and feature lots of soft touch materials for a premium experience. Another area where the SUV promises much is equipment. The MG Hector’s features list will include a 10.4-inch portrait-oriented touchscreen infotainment system, a 360-degree surround view camera, a panoramic sunroof, tyre pressure monitoring system and power adjustable driver’s and co-driver's seats. The Hector will also feature class-leading connectivity technology.
MG Hector engine and gearbox options will include a 170hp, 2.0-litre diesel from Fiat with a 6-speed manual and a 143hp, 1.5-litre turbo-petrol unit that will be available with 6-speed manual and dual-clutch auto transmissions. The petrol-manual powertrain will also be offered with an optional 48V mild-hybrid system.
MG will start its India operations with heavy localisation and this will reflect in a competitive price tag.
MG Classics: Book 1, 2 and 3
Some cars became classics because there were so few. MGs became classics even though there were so many. The world’s best known sports car, MGs were already an institution by the 1930s, founder Cecil Kimber having set an industry example of niche marketing followed for the rest of the 20th century and beyond. Rarely expensive or fast, MGs exemplified the sports two-seater in its purest form. An open MG became an aspiration of the young at heart throughout the world; the brand bolstered by a sporting reputation that transcended outright victories. MGs were class winners, as in the 1933 Mille Miglia, or won epic events on handicap like the 1934 TT when the great Tazio Nuvolari drove the splendid K3. MG’s survival in the rough and tumble of the motor industry was testament to a status forged when the charismatic Midget of 1929 lit a spark of enthusiasm throughout an era of MG classics never really extinguished. Absorbed into conglomorates and out again, MG’s industrial history was at best diverse. Its survival for the best part of a century was a testament to the affection it earned among keen skilled drivers who believed in Safety Fast.
MG Classics Book 1 (1922-1939): covers 1922-1939 with a detailed history of MG’s foundation by Cecil Kimber and WR Morris, through its struggles in the aftermath of the first world war to its triumphs before the outbreak of the second.
MG Classics Book 2 (1945-1965): Following the Second World War in which MG at Abingdon-on-Thames made the centre section of the Armstrong Whitworth Albemarle aircraft and overhauled battle tanks, getting back to sports cars was a priority.
MG Classics Book 3 (1965-2001): Follows the closure of the traditional factory at Abingdon-on-Thames in 1980 after the turbulence of the British Leyland years and the transition to MG-Rover.
Visit to Johnson Press
On our way back from Meet 2017 in Alabama we stopped in Pontiac, Illinois to visit out printer, Johnson Press.
This was our first opportunity to meet with the people we have been communicating by phone and email with and to see where our magazine has been printed since 2012.
Bruce Magers and I were led on an informative tour of the plant with our Customer Service Rep, Teresa Masching. It was interesting to see the care that they take in printing each magazine. It was amazing how technology has improved the printing process since the last time I took a tour of a printing plant. The reduced size of the machines is the first thing you notice.
The visit concluded with a light lunch with Teresa and plant manager, Steve "Buzz" Zeller.
Thanks again to everyone at Johnson Press of America for the welcome and the continued fine job done with our magazines!
Wheaton, Illinois Autojumble
The Wheaton, Illinois Autojumble & Swap Meet was held March 19, 2017 and is organized and conducted by the Chicagoland MG Club alone although it has the enthusiastic support of all the other British car clubs in the Chicago area. The event now includes all marques of European sports cars and motorcycles and is conducted with the goal of providing a meeting place of buyers and sellers of used parts, new parts, accessory items, tools, memorabilia and just about anything else of interest to the European sports car and motorcycle enthusiast.
The 13,200 sq. ft. facility had 65 vendors occupying 85 spaces displaying their wares. Over 550 shoppers participated. The American MGB Association participated with a table where it welcomed members with club information and club regalia for sale.
British Sports Car Hall of Fame
The British Sports Car Hall of Fame was established as an independent entity in 2016 to preserve and perpetuate the legacy and impact of these legendary vehicles and to honor the men and women responsible for their success. Induction into the Hall of Fame is reserved for those who have made a significant and lasting impact on the British sports car industry and hobby, making it a singular honor for a lifetime of achievement. By celebrating the memory of the dedicated individuals that played key roles, the Hall can serve as a touchstone for British sports car enthusiasts of all ages and interests, furthered by its various preservation and education initiatives. The Hall is supported by individual and corporate contributions.
More info at www.britishsportscarhall.org .
Book Review: Making Cars at Longbridge
by Gillian Bards and Colin Corke
This book charts over 100 years of car making at Longbridge, near Birmingham. The Austin Motor Co. was founded here by Herbert Austin in 1906, opening its doors in early 1906, and it has been home to the British Motor Corp, British Leyland, Rover Group, and MG Rover. Its products include some of the most famous British models ever produced: the pioneering Austin Seven of the 1920s, the classic Mini, the Austin Metro, and in later years the MG TF and Rover 75. The factory was a major employer and integral part of the community since its foundation and its demise saddened many, but the areas will never forget its long and proud tradition of manufacturing.
For 99 years, cars were made at Longbridge. Less than a year off its century, the factory closed and 6,000 people lost their jobs. The first cars to roll off the production plant were Austins, and the site has been a center of car manufacturing ever since. From the original Austin 7 of the 1920s to Rovers and MGs, there is a rich history of Longbridge that has been offset by the recent misfortune.
Gillian Bardsley is a social historian with a special interest in the rise and fall of the motor industry in Britain. She has been Archivist for the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust since 1990 and has contributed to many TV, radio, and magazine features. Colin Corke is the vicar of Longbridge.
Paperback: 192 pages
The History Press (February 1, 2016)
Book Review: British Leyland Motor Corporation 1968 - 2005
By Mike Carver, Nick Seale and Anne Youngson
This book tells the story of the constituent parts of British Leyland, later Rover Group, from the merger in 1968 to the end of production of the last MG Rover in 2005. The story has been told before, but this account is different. It is told by three people who were part of it, in senior roles, with the opportunity to observe and understand what happened and why. It is not another neat analysis by journalists or academics, using facts in the public domain and fitting them to a theory. The story is a complex one and the authors' views are not necessarily those held by academics and previous commentators. There is still much that is relevant in a re-telling of the path leading up to this, for economy and society today.
Mike Carver, the author became Group Executive Director in charge of strategic planning. He was responsible for setting up the relationship with Honda and was awarded the OBE for services to the motor industry in 1986. Nick Seale joined Ford as an engineer, moving into finance. Later he returned to engineering, heading up the Rover Power Train under BMW. At Land Rover he ran concept engineering of future products. Anne Youngson started in sales and marketing at Longbridge, moving to Pirelli Tyres, but returned to work on Honda. She moved to project management for Land Rover and Rover and was the only woman at this level. Her final position was head of Land Rover Special Vehicles Operation.
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: The History Press (June 1, 2015)
MG GS SUV
I am in China and was reading a new posting in "Just British", the on-line enthusiast magazine, about the MG GS SUV undergoing cold-weather testing in Detroit when one passes me in traffic on the streets of Huizhou, China. It's a poor shot, but you can see in the attached picture the big Octagon on the center back and there's a matching one on the front. This MG was even the same color as the car in the article.
Unique in its grille and tail lamp treatments, with large MG Octagons center at each end, from the outside it's an otherwise generic SUV roughly the size and shape of a Chevy Equinox/Cadillac SRX, though the scalable AWD platform it's on is supposed to be a new development. It's nice enough looking, in a Nissan Murano sort of way, but it is reportedly under-powered, with only a 1.5L power plant available. The article notes the UK market is looking to get a 2.0L motor, presumably the one they're testing and what might come to the US, if that's in the cards.
The article also goes on to say the test car was spotted on the street in Detroit undisguised and wearing manufacturer's tags. Considering the strong partnership of MG's parent company, Shanghai Automotive Industries Company (SAIC), with GM (they build all the GM products sold in China, as well as own MG/Rover) and that the Europe-bound GS will use a GM sourced driveline, it is not unreasonable to expect them to help test the cars here, but why? China has more than it's share of cold weather climates and if traffic is the concern, you need only see what goes on rush hour in any major Chinese city to know that they have that covered as well. So it is from that the speculation is born that they are considering a launch of the marque in the US again with this as a first foray. It would be the first to wear the Octagon since MGB departed in 1980. And with SAIC building and distributing Buick, Chevy and Cadillac in China, GM returning the favor here has some plausibility.
Those of us hoping the first MG back on these shores would be a new sports car may be disappointed, but a second article in the same magazine, even more speculatively, sees a new MG and Opel sports car being jointly developed with Opel based on an Opel GT concept model. Opel is quoted they have no plans for production, needing scale to support European sales. China and US distribution of modern MG (dare we say B) roadster and coupe models based on the same platform could certainly afford that scale. And GM does have that Kappa platform gathering dust that had underpinned the recent Saturn Sky, Pontiac Solstice and Opel GT (as well as an RHD Vauxhall version in the UK), the rumor mill does have fuel....
We can all dream, can't we.
Lane Museum and Donation
On the way back from Meet 2015 in Myrtle Beach which was postponed due to the weather. Bruce Magers and I stopped at the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, Tennessee. The collection consist of numerous micro/mini cars produced in France, Czechoslovakia and other countries. The smallest vehicle on display was a 1965 Peel Trident made on the Isle of Man (Britain). I would urge any of you "Car Guys" to put this on your "Bucket List" as you will see the most complete collection of micro/mini cars ever assemble under one roof. There are over 45 different marques representing Asia, Europe, North and South American. Many of the cars are a one-of-a-kind.
While visiting the museum, we noticed that they had posters in the art gallery area entitled "The Magnificent MG - The Early Years" and "The Magnificent MG - The Middle Years". We happened to have in our vehicle "The Magnificent MG - The Later Years" which we were going to auction off at AMGBA Meet 2015. We weren't able to auction it because of the cancellation. We decided to donate our poster to make the collection complete and Jeff Lane, the Museum Director and owner personally thanked us for the addition to his gallery.
If you get a chance, please stop by the museum and check out the Art Gallery Room to see the complete set. Take a picture of the 3 posters and send it to us so we could see how it is displayed.
The Lane Motor Museum Story
In 2002, Jeff Lane established Lane Motor Museum. Jeff has been an automotive enthusiast since an early age. He began restoring his first car — a 1955 MG TF — when he was a teen. His personal collection was the donation that began the foundation. Lane Motor Museum unveiled its collection to the public in October of 2003. As director, Jeff Lane continues to search out cars for the collection that are technically significant or uniquely different. The goal of Lane Motor Museum is to share in the mission of collection and preserving automotive history for future generations. The Museum is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. The Lane Motor Museum is one of the few museums in the U.S. to specialize in European cars. It is a working museum with the goal of maintaining all vehicles in running order. Some cars are in showroom condition, while others represent typical aging. Efforts are made to restore each vehicle to near-original specifications.
The Museum has been developed in a well-known Nashville landmark, the former Sunbeam Bakery at 702 Murfreesboro Pike. Home to the bread company beginning in 1951, the 132,000 square-foot facility was the largest and most modern bakery in the area at the time of its opening. The bakery building, outfitted for the museum’s needs but left with many of its original characteristics, has a high ceiling, natural light, and hand-crafted brick and maple wood flooring. The architectural style complements the age of the cars represented. The main floor has approximately 40,000 square feet of open space, ideal for displaying the collection.
American MGB Association Technical Sections Volume IV
It is also available on CD-ROM for PC or Mac (can also be emailed with no shipping charges) in combination with Technical Section Volume III. It is indexed by category and contains over 450 pages. $20 plus $5 S&H for the CD which contains both Tech Sections Volume III and Volume IV (emailed $20).
Available from the AMGBA by ordering on the website at www.mgclub.org/mgreg.htm or by using the order form in each issue of the Octagon..
It can be purchased as part of a 4 volume combo that contains Tech Sections Volume I, II, III and IV all printed (over 1000 pages) for $95 plus $15 S&H or a CD combo which contains Volume I & II printed and Volumes III & IV on CD for $70 plus $15 S&H. Other options available on the club website at www.mgclub.org/mgreg.htm and in the club magazine.
American MGB Association Grille Badge
American MGB Association grille badge, 3 color with chrome background, with mounting brackets. $45 plus $10 S&H. Available from the AMGBA by ordering on the website at https://orders.amgba.com or on the order form contained in each issue of the Octagon.
AMGBA key ring with logo. $5 includes shipping. Available from the AMGBA by ordering on the website at https://orders.amgba.com or on the order form contained in each issue of the Octagon.
You can have the last years of the Octagon since 1998 easily accessible on your computer. Indexed by issue. These publications, which are no longer in print contain numerous and diverse articles and photos. Enjoy all the entertaining and informative stories that you can no longer get anywhere else and at a reasonable price. Over 3000 pages.
Available from the AMGBA by ordering on the website https://orders.amgba.com or by using the order form contained in each issue of the Octagon. $15 plus $5 S& H.
The Roadster Factory Will Pay Your Dues
The Roadster Factory will pay your American MGB Association Dues. Spend $850.00 at The Roadster Factory during the current year, retroactive to January 1st, and TRF will pay your dues or your next renewal. Sales amount is determined on a calendar year basis from January 1st through December 31st of the current year.
When your purchases reach $850.00 during the current year, call our sales line and speak to our salespeople. They will take your information and communicate your renewal to the AMGBA.
You must request a membership or a renewal when you are eligible based on your purchases.