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The Automotive Chronicles

Monthly newsletter published by McLellan's Automotive History. Dedicated to literature collectors, restorers, museums, publishers, manufacturers and investors who collect and preserve automotive literature
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December 2007 Issue
 
ARTICLE
 
MG in America
By Robert McLellan
 

While the British enjoyed MGs prior to World War II, and sports cars were common throughout England and Europe, the newly discovered MG was a novelty in the United States when introduced just after the war. Even as popularity of the MG grew, so grew the dissimilarity between American cars. As MGs became more modern and tasteful looking, Detroit iron sprouted fins and chrome and got larger each year. A comparison makes the point.

Literature      Specifications
1958 MGA 1500 Roadster
Engine size: 68 h.p., 1489cc 4-cylinder
Maximum top speed: 97 m.p.h.
Weight: 1,997 pounds
Price: $2,462
1958 Buick Roadmaster Convertible
Engine size: 300 h.p., 4966cc v-8
Maximum top speed: 99 m.p.h.
Weight: 4,676 pounds
Price: $4,680

The only similar statistic is the top speeds. But to go that fast Buick has an engine four times as large and four times as powerful because it weighs twice as much — but it also costs twice as much. On the other hand, the MGA has superior handling and gets much better gas mileage. The high points of the Buick are luxury and plenty of interior and storage room.

But what were MGs like to drive when they arrived in America? Tom McCahill, who was known for his road tests of American cars for Mechanix Illustrated, praised American cars but, after his "race" against an MG in 1948 he began road testing sports cars, too. His fondness for sports cars becomes obvious in his 1954 book The Modern Sports Car:

"Back in 1948 I had a private, unofficial race with an MG from Los Angeles to San Francisco, nearly 500 miles. I was driving a particularly hot 1948 Mercury and the guy in the MG almost made me rip the skin from my bones, trying to stay with him. When I arrived in San Francisco I was completely exhausted from pulling every trick in the book, time and again, just to keep the little egg crate in sight. What annoyed me was that the driver displayed no effort whatsoever, and I was working so hard."

So, is the 1958 MGA more collectible than the 1958 Buick? This is one collector who has had a love affair with both. An odd combination? Or just two great cars? That is what makes this hobby so interesting.

     

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MG did not stop with sports cars. They built family transportation, too. Although more scarce than the sports cars, they did find homes with those who wanted a car that was smaller, sportier and more economical than a Buick.

     

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The Automotive Chronicles, December 2007
 
 
 
 
 
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