Wednesday November 20, 2019
THE MG 1100 – A CELEBRATION
1962 was the year of two crucial new MGs – the B and the marque’s first FWD car.
The 1100 made its bow in October of that year, introducing motorists to the delights of the ‘Most Advanced MG of All Time’.
The MG was the second version of BMC’s ADO16 range debuting on 2nd October, just weeks after the launch of the original Morris 1100 on 15th August.
Production took place in Cowley, and at one stage there were plans to badge it as “MGC”.
At £713 9s 7d it was £90 more expensive than the Morris 1100 De Luxe, but the Octagon-badged version boasted twin SU carburettors, a heater, leathercloth trim (hide upholstery was another £13 15s) and an illuminated ashtray for your Senior Service.
The fascia was clad in a distinctive yellow veneer on the fascia, although on early models this was actually Formica.
You could also specify duotone paint for an additional £15 2s 1d, the better to impress the neighbours with your new Connaught Green and Old English White MG while the top speed was 85 mph – 7 mph faster than the Morris.
Motor Sport thought the 1100 was ‘like some people, very smooth but lacking in character’ and also ‘the rear-view mirror vibrates and this, and slow-to-function screen washers and a poor blade in the driver's wipers were not in the best traditions of" Safety First”’.
We can only presume the writer was having an off-day.
Fortunately, Autocar was a major supporter of the latest MG - ‘in addition to being a roomy four-seater it performs with such enthusiasm that every minute spent behind the wheel becomes a pleasure’.
Better still, “road holding and ride comfort are in a class of their own – the car never putting a foot wrong’.
The test concluded with the endorsement ‘Even the most ardent, dyed-in-the-wool, MG enthusiast would deem this 1100 a very worthy bearer of the octagon’.
This was music to the ears of BMC’s marketing department, as was the fact that the MG had comparatively few rivals.
The potential customer might have considered a Herald, but the Triumph lacked a four-door option while Ford, Rootes and Vauxhall did not offer a comparable model - the Anglia 123E Super appealed to a rather different customer base.
Perhaps the closest alternatives to the 1100 were its Riley One Point Five stablemate, the Fiat 1100R or even a Lancia Fulvia Berlina, although the last-named would have been very expensive in the UK.
BMC offered the MG 1100 in four and two-door forms, but the latter was for export only – namely the USA as the “MG Sport Sedan”.
There was also the exceedingly rare and short-lived “MG Princess 1100”, which was a re-badged Vanden Plas for the well-heeled Connecticut lawyer.
By June 1967, the MG, Riley, Vanden Plas and Wolseley versions of the ADO16 were available with a single-carburettor 1,275cc engine.
The 1100 Mk. II followed a few months later, and the four-door MG 1100 was discontinued in March 1968.
It may not have hailed from Abingdon, but as a pioneer FWD sports saloon, it more than deserves its place among the great MGs.
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