MG cars are back via China

28 January 2013
, CarsGuide

The British sports car brand MG has snuck back into Australia after an absence of seven years by setting up shop in one of Australia's most prominent showrooms, the former Rick Damelian site on Parramatta Road at Leichhardt.

But anyone expecting an imminent revival of the sports-cars that made the brand famous in the 1960s and ’70s may be in for a shock. The new-age MG line-up is a pair of rather sedate small cars: a four-door sedan and a five-door hatch similar in size to a Toyota Corolla and powered by a modest four-cylinder engine.

News Limited approached two Chinese workers at the site today who were preparing the cars, and asked when the dealership would open, but representatives from the iconic British brand indicated they did not speak English.

There were about 50 newly-delivered MG cars at the former Rick Damelian site – once famous for its giant neon love heart to highlight the car of the week – and there were four cars in the showroom, but no information about when the doors would open.

The latest MG model was designed and engineered in England but made in China. The MG brand was last sold in Australia in 2005 but all remaining MGs and Rovers were sold in a distress sale before the company was bought by a Chinese firm.

MG has had a pot-holed history over the past two decades and has never returned to its halcyon days. It was bought by German car maker BMW in 1994 (along with Rover cars and Land Rover four-wheel-drives) who tried to revive the brand.

But BMW sold the business just six years later, in 2000, to the new former MG Rover Group. The new owners again tried to reverse the brand’s fortunes and expand its range with a small hatch and sedan to get economies of scale that would make sports-car operations more viable.

But that plan failed as well and the MG Rover brand was bought in 2005 by China’s Nanjing Automobile Group, which was later bought by the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation in 2007.

This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling