The British Motor Museum: Longbridge legacies

The British Motor Museum based in Gaydon, Warwickshire held an evening event where visitors could see the unveiling of three prototypes, which were acquired from MG Motor Company in 2023.
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The Longbridge plant that these prototypes as well as earlier models such as the Mini and Austin Seven were designed and built, was opened by Herbert Austin in 1906. It had been a derelict printing works and with some financial support he was able to buy the site.

Over the years through the two world wars the site increased in size dramatically and it went through nationalisation as British Leyland before going back into private hands in the 1980s firstly to British Aerospace, who renamed it Rover Group. That was followed by purchase by BMW, but to not much success before a management buyout from the Phoenix Consortium, who renamed it MG Rover Group.

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The last model with the Austin name was the Austin Metro which was produced for over ten years, from 1980, and became the most successful product to be launched from Longbridge in the final quarter of the 20th century.

The Three MG Prototypes Unvieled (photo by Chris Roberts/Widerview Visual Media)The Three MG Prototypes Unvieled (photo by Chris Roberts/Widerview Visual Media)
The Three MG Prototypes Unvieled (photo by Chris Roberts/Widerview Visual Media)

The factory was finally closed as a manufacturing car plant in 2016, though technical and design work for SAIC UK still takes place for their Chinese owners and the MG brand they now own.

The three MG Motor prototypes unveiled by the team of curators at the museum were the MG RDX60 (2002), MG TF GT (2005) and the Mini Hot Rod (1997). After which the large crowds at the evening event gathered around the prototypes, looking at the engines, interiors and general design.

The three models are in the late stage of renovation and should be on public display with the next 3-6 months.

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Also available to view was the newly opened Herbert Austin office (which had been relocated from the MG facility at Longbridge) and the office of William Morris (acquired in 1993) which are now co-located next to each other.