MG's Icon crossover concept.Enlarge Photo
The old MG car company is best known for its lightweight, open-topped sports cars of the 1950s and 1960s, but since 2006 the brand has been owned by Chinese firm SAIC. Now, SAIC has plans to return MG to its sports car heyday—and could even bring cars to the U.S., if conditions are right.
American drivers of a certain age have fond memories of the MG car brand. Its popularity exploded—along with other British sports car brands—in the years after World War II. As thousands of G.I.s returned home after the war, they brought with them memories of driving Britain's lightweight roadsters—and a desire to drive them on America's sunny highways. But under British Leyland in the 1970s, economic conditions and internal politics saw the company falter. Austin Rover and its subsequent BMW and independent owners never really turned the brand around, and it folded in 2005.
SAIC has since held the rights to the MG name, producing vehicles for China and more recently, reviving production (of a sort) at MG's old Birmingham home in the UK. The firm has also unveiled a smattering of concept vehicles, including a brace of sporty crossovers. But, as Edmunds reports, a new sports car is under consideration too, with exploratory work already scheduled at SAIC's design center in Shanghai.
It isn't clear what form the car may take. A traditional MX-5 Miata-style roadster—itself partly influenced by MG's B sports car from the 1960s—may already have been dismissed, on account of Mazda's domination of the market. It's likely styling will be influenced by 2012's Icon crossover, or 2013's MG CS concept. Re-entry into the U.S. market is considered a long-term goal right now, and SAIC is keen to establish a competitive range of mainstream models before it starts on a sports car project. But its start on design work is promising—and perhaps one day, MG can make as big a splash in the U.S. market as it did back in the 1950s.