How the American craze for British sports cars began

When the first car came into being, people were probably glad that they no longer had to rely on a mode of transport powered by animals or humans. However, as with everything that has been invented, the need to exceed expectations soon kicked in. From steam-engine cars to those powered by fuel, from more horsepower and speed to features of comfort and convenience, cars have become more than just a mode of transport.

This is essentially how the sports car was born – a two-seater whose sole aim was to offer its passengers an adrenaline rush with speeds that automobiles had never touched before. While many are aware that sports cars originated in Europe, what exactly made it one of the most coveted car types around the world? Buckle up for a story on the journey of the modern sports car. 

Where It All Started

The First World War had given a number of young American men from the military a taste for the British sports car. Unfortunately, the American market had no product that could satisfy this taste once they were back home, and this gave rise to the massive demand for British sports cars in the USA. MG Motor came up at the forefront of this movement and increased American demand exponentially. 

MG As A Pioneer For Sports Cars

MG Motor’s role in the automobile industry can be aptly defined by two words- extensive and innovative. MG, also known for its open, two-seater “midget” cars, began to produce saloons and coupes as well.

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So, how did MG Motor contribute to boosting the craze for sports cars?

  • While at the forefront of the sports car movement, post-WWI, Cecil Kimber – a designer at MG – started making special bodies for the Morris cars. So, while they were Morris Oxford under the skin, on the outside, they were sleeker and were given the ‘MG Super Sports’ badge.
  • In 1928, these modified cars became a brand by themselves and were sold under the MG Motor name. This came at a time when motor racing was getting big in the UK, and the ‘Red Flag’ act had limited the speed to 4 mph in 1866.
  • After the Second World War, a large number of young American men in the military had sampled the joys of the British sports car and found nothing similar available in the US market. That’s when MG Motor went back to building the TC, which truly was the car that gave rise to the sports car revolution in America. 
  • MG went on to win the Mille Miglia – an open-road endurance race – with the K3 Magnette in 1933, thus, starting its long and illustrious history with motor racing which the brand continues to embrace as part of its legacy. 

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Aftermath Of The Craze

Of course, with time, other car manufacturers joined the bandwagon with worthy models of their own. It was then that MG decided to come out with the MGA, which can still hold its own in the fun-to-drive department with cars of today. This was followed by the MGB, which was built on the strengths of the MGA but with more power, better looks, and superior handling (shared by MGA).

The MG MGB went on to become the biggest success story for the brand, at a half-million units sold over an eighteen-year production run. However, soon America had a new love: the muscle car; a version of the sports car that was quintessentially American. The exchange rate also made it difficult for the inexpensive British sports car to remain inexpensive, and pony cars and muscle cars gradually took over the affordable, fun-to-drive segment in the US automotive market. 

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Yet, vintage sports cars clearly left an impact, as it still has a dedicated following which has remained over the decades and is led by the owners of MGs.