1960 MG Convertible

This MG convertible will be on offer at our upcoming Salem sale. With its sleek lines, low-to-the-ground profile and muscular engine, Road & Track magazine estimated in 1961 a top speed of 105 mph and a 0-60 mph acceleration of 12.8 seconds; not bad for a car made over 60 years ago. Aclosely-related descendant, the RHD MGB Roadster was featured in the 1974 James Bond film “Man with the Golden Gun”, so you too could zoom around like a suave international spy. MGs are so popular that more than half a million were built and there are too many iterations of it and its descendants to list here but it is one of the more affordable classics.

The original MG’s iconic, octagonal logo stands for Morris Garages which was founded in 1909 as one of the many interrelated automobile and automotive parts companies started or acquired by English manufacturer William Richard Morris, 1st Viscount Nuffield (1877 – 1963). 

Although he contributed greatly to the production of this awesome little car, the Viscount’s legacy is tarnished by the substandard working conditions in his factories which triggered a wildcat strike in 1934. His response was aristocratically heavy-handed and the resulting blowback from disgruntled workers led to unionization of the automotive and transportation industries throughout England and a great increase in Labor Party voters. Oops. During World War II the Viscount was given the contract to build a factory to quickly produce Spitfire planes, however the building of the factory itself went so long and so far over budget that not a single fighter plane was produced. And, he was a vocal supporter of fascism, not a good look in wartime England. But on the plus side, the Viscount later put enough of his wealth toward charity that he was awarded the Order of the British Empire and the Order of the Companions of Honour. He was also given a Fellowship of the Royal Society, an honor granted only to those who made a “substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics, engineering science, and medical science”, which in his case included cool cars.

The other key figure in the birth of the MG was Cecil Kimber (1888 – 1945). Expected to go into the family print engineering business, he instead started designing motorcycles and then, after a catastrophic motorcycle accident, cars, working first at Sheffield-Simplex, then AC Cars, and then for component supplier EG Wrigley. In 1921 he got a job working for Morris Garages, not as a designer but as an unexciting sales manager. However, Cecil had both the talent and raw ambition necessary to design top of the line sports cars, and by the 1930s his little MGs were winning races across Europe. At its peak, MG produced sedans, coupés, and open two-seaters with engines up to 3 L in size and 3.5 L in the case of the MGB GT V8.

The MG brand went through multiple sales, divisions, re-brandings and mergers as Morris Garages, William Morris’s WRM Motors Limited, Morris Motors Limited, Morris Oxford and The M.G. Car Company. Taken over in 1952, the brand name ‘Morris’ was used by British Leyland’s Austin Rover Group until 1984, while ‘Morris Oxford’ vehicles were made in India by Hindustan Motors until 2014. Morris’s manufacturing complex at Cowley, Oxford is now BMW Group’s Plant Oxford. The name ‘Morris’ (TM) was bought by the Chinese company Nanjing Automotive but after a bankruptcy, is now owned by Chinese automotive company SAIC, while ‘Morris Commercial Cars Ltd’ was re-launched in England in 2017 to manufacture electric commercial vans. But, if you want to see where all the excitement started, check out this peppy red classic!