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North American Articles: The LogBook

           THE LOGBOOK, Spring 2016, Vol.19. no.1.                                      

                                                MG Bits & Pieces : Richard Miller

            Don Hayter, who led the design team that created the MGB, celebrated his 90th birthday on Sunday January 24th. The MGB Register of the MG Car Club-UK staged a special birthday party in his honor for this icon of MG history. Don began work at the MG Car Company as their Chief Body Draughtsman (British spelling) in 1956 after working for Aston Martin. Following his work in developing the MGA Twin Cam he was assigned the MGB project when he was barely in his 30’s. It was his task to make the proposed new MG sports car buildable. His styling ideas for the car still seem as fresh today as they were in the early 1960’s. In 1973 he was appointed MG’s Chief Engineer. He was named an honorary Vice President of the MGCC-UK for his work in designing the best selling MG sports car of all time. At the reception that included family, former colleagues and guests Hayter was presented with a framed collection of photos taken thru the years (see photo page 6). Mr Hayter said, “The important thing about life is the people in it. Seeing friends from my department at MG has made my day, and without the MG Car Club this would not have happened. For that I say thank you.”

The MG Vintage Racer organization has announced it Focus Event or rather Events for 2016. Now in its 35th year this organization founded in 1981 to support MG vintage racing in North America will have two of its Focus Events (first held in 1996). The first will be on the weekend of July 29-31st at the Waterford Hills Racetrack in Clarkson, MI. The second will be held on September 30-October 2nd at the Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, CA. You can visit the groups website www.MGVR.org for all of the details.

Overseas Drivers Club member and UK resident Jan de Haldevang had the unique honor of being invited to bring his 1954 MG TF to Regents Park in London on July 2, 2015 to be part of US Ambassador Matthew Barzum’s American Independence Day party. In a wonderful e-mail to the Drivers Club Jan tells of his adventure with the diplomatic set. Jan had recently purchased the TF from its British owner of 30 years. The car was built in January 1954 and immediately shipped to Colorado by a returning US service member. It next resided in Arizona and California for 30 years before being rescued by its previous British owner and shipped back to the UK. After arriving at Regents Park the little MG got a through security inspection and then was given a place of honor. Ambassador and Mrs. Barzum, both keen motoring enthusiasts, were generous with the interest and thanks. Ambassador Barzum has been the US representative in the UK since 2013 and previously had served as US ambassador to Sweden. Some 3500 guests were invited to the evening reception; which featured a live performance by Duran Duran. The MG TF and a 1960 red Ford Mustang were given a place of honor flanking the impressive porch of Winfield House; the US Ambassadors official residence. The TF had a staring role in countless mobile phone pictures during the evening. The only downside was a vexing carburetor issue on arrival in London. Shortly after its big day the TF was taken into the expert hands of Rally Preparation Services in Oxfordshire near Jan’s home, for an overdue engine and gearbox overhaul.

MG Motor UK had a record breaking sales year in 2015 in Great Britain. The firm reached a milestone of 3,000 cars sold just before the end of the year. This number was 1,000 more cars than the company sold in the UK during 2013 and 2014 combined. The great news in the UK continued into January 2016 when 313 MG’s were sold up from 135 in January 2015, a huge 132% increase. MG Motor UK also announced that its dealership network had expanded to 63 locations. Already in 2016 several more dealer sites have been announced. Sales also went very well in China with totals up 34.8% on 2014. A total of 70,400 MG brand models were sold in China in 2015 as opposed to 52, 217 in 2014. Now that Volvo has started importing its China made S60 to North America and Buick will introduce its Chinese made Envision mid-size SUV here later in 2016 isn’t it about time for SAIC to reintroduce the MG brand in North America?? The answer is of course an obvious YES!

Following four years of participation in Britain’s most popular racing series the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) MG Motor UK has decided to renew its contract with Triple Eight Racing to run its cars for three more seasons. Matthew Cheyne Head of Sales and Marketing commented, “The BTCC has given us the opportunity to give our brand some fantastic exposure, so we are thrilled to be continuing the relationship with Triple Eight Racing for three more years.” The 2016 BTCC season starts on April 2-3 with a race weekend at the Brands Hatch circuit in the English county of Kent.

It has now been 11 years since MG Rover Group fell into bankruptcy. Still elements of that sad story continue to appear in the British press. The accounting firm of Delotte had a record fine of US$21,000,000 reduced to US$4,500,000 over its conflict of interest while advising MG Rover and the group’s owners simultaneously. Thirteen charges of professional misconduct were reduced to five and a three year ban against a former senior partner was reduced to a “severe reprimand”.

Unlike the US with major military hospitals like Walter Reed and Bethesda plus many others around the US the UK uses established medical centers to care for its military and naval personnel. In the Birmingham UK area the Queen Elizabeth Hospital serves as a Royal Centre for Defense Medicine (RCDM). To house the staff for this unit a new six story residential facility for 180 people is being built on the grounds of what was the former MG Rover facility at Longbridge. Currently MG Motor UK uses only 69 acres of the former 330 acre auto production site for the design and assembly of its MG cars. The rest of the legendary auto plant has been redeveloped for housing and commercial use and to create a town centre for the Longbridge area.