The History of MG cars and the Club
The year 2023 marks 100 years of MG, Cecil Kimber who was the general manager of Morris Garages in Oxford when he began modifying Morris bodies together with Cecil Cousins (of course with the approval of William Morris) to offer something different, they did this in a little mud floor shop around the corner from the garage in Oxford.
In 1923 or thereabouts, six Morris Cowley “Chummy” modified chassis were bodied by Charles Raworth of Oxford, the cars were distinctive with their butter yellow two-seater bodies and were advertised as
THE MG SUPER SPORTS MORRIS
The advertised price was £350.
The first of these cars was sold to an Oliver Arkell, he gave Kimber a cheque for the deposit on 14 August and collected the car on 16 August 1923.
None of these cars survived, they were superseded by the MG SUPER SPORTS (14-28), built on the larger Morris Oxford chassis in late 1924.
The MG logo is instantly recognizable and has remained true to its original form since 1923. It first appeared in an advertisement in 2 March 1923 Oxford Times. The octogen was used in advertisements for the MG car to distinguish it from the Morris line from which it was derived. An accountant working for Cecil Kimber at the Morris garages, Ted Lee, is credited with the design. Simple, easily recognized and timeless.
The MG logo was only registered a month after the factory moved to Abington in April 1928.
“SAFETY FAST”, this story comes from Norman Ewing so I must thank him for the article, the information he received was through George Tuck.
“He told us how one rainy day in 1929, his boss Ted Colegrove was driving behind one of the new Oxford buses. To warn those behind that it was fitted with brakes all round, and not just at the front so it could stop much quicker, painted on the back was a large Dewandre Triangle with “Safety First!” emblazoned on it. Ted thought if it was altered to read “Safety Fast!” it would be a wonderful slogan.
When he returned to the MG factory, Kimber was sitting at his desk steaming about a newspaper advertisement that someone had sent him of the present MG advertisement which stated “FASTER THAN MOST” to which someone had added “BICYCLES”, Kimber was fuming.
Ted Colegrove suggested to Kimber that they use “SAFETY FAST” as seen on the bus, Kimber immediately instructed him to use this slogan and nothing else in the future.
MG CAR CLUB (UK)
It appears that a motorcar rally took place in the Hertfordshire area in October 1930 and ended up at the Roebuck Hotel near Stevenage. The car park looked rather like an MG dispatch area at the MG works with over 30 MG’s parked in this area.
It was reported that the idea of the meeting in the hotel was to form a motoring club, as history suggests, it would probably be in the form of a MG club with all the MG’s that had entered the rally.
Inside the pub everyone looked a little awkward, not much was said until co-conspirators, John Thornley and Roy March stepped into the breach and soon enough the meeting was in full swing, this was considered to be the inaugural meeting of the MG Car Club as we know it today.
It is reported that Harold Hastings had earlier that year suggested in a magazine called “The Light Car” of which he was editor, that owners of then popular MG should form a club hence the inaugural meeting at the Roebuck Hotel on 12 October 1930. Once the club was formed Harold Hastings became General Secretary of the MG Car Club and Editor of the MG magazine named “The Sports Car”.
John Thornley is well known in MG folklore and was on the design team of a number of MG’s.
Roy Marsh disappeared from Club activities in the mid 1930’s. The Club tried to find him, hunting references in London, pouring over street directories and phone books in London and the Midlands, his old London address having disappeared in the blitz. Eventually the Club gave up in despair until a member of the Natal Centre sent to a small snapshot to the MGCC magazine, “Safety Fast”of an MG motor car bearing a curious MGCC badge of a type that he had not seen before. This car, he said, was owned by a gentleman in Johannesburg who claimed to be founder member; the badge was the original type and the gentleman’s name was Roy Marsh! He went to South Africa in 1933 and had been there ever since but he had not forgotten the fun he had with MG’s back in Britian. He was elected an Honorary Life Member of the MGCC as a small gesture of appreciation of all the pleasure that many thousands of people had derived from the Club that he founded.