Tag Archives: Featured

My Fantasy Class Garage – MrRod

Next up is our poison dwarf. Let’s see if our tax-dodging twitter-blocker has the nounce to put together a good list. I have every confidence in him to do just that.

Early MG Metro

They say you should never go back but sod that. I had one of these as my first car and it was bloody great. So if the NNMF would like to bang one out for me, I’ll take a black one please.




SD1 Vitesse Twin Plenum

Well just look at it. . The SD1. Bloody beautiful cars, and the twin plenum 3500 Vitesse has got to be up there. I know some people prefer the early s1 with its skeleton badge and single bootlid strap and all, and fair enough, but I prefer the later cars. So with those looks plus the V8 in the finest iteration that the SD1 got, its the one for me. So if the lads at the Hypothetical Factory of Class wouldn’t mind not going on strike for a day, and would build me one of these properly I’d be very grateful.


Leyland P76 Force 7

Because big Australian white elephant. Brilliant. What’s not to like? The Firm’s Aussie offshoot took the fight to the big boys and ruined it, naturally, but one of the big “what ifs” – WHAT IF they had put them together properly and WHAT IF they’d not released them when they did? Sure they’d have had to go some to beat Holden and Ford at their own game but just maybe… So, please, add one of these to the garage.

Rover 216 GTi Twin Cam 3 door

Well the R8 – what can we say. Obviously we shall ignore Mark Mastropotato’s sacrilegious witterings about whether it was just the shite competition that made the R8 seem good. Of course not. It WAS that good, and driving one now, over a quarter of a century later, it still holds it own. The pinnacle of the firm’s affair with Honda the R8 platform, under the Firm, spawned multiple bodystyles and received many engines – from the excellent early K series, the best-not-mention Pug soot chuckers to Honda’s sweet D series, amongst others. For me, the best engine was the screaming D series twin cam, and the 3-door bodystyle was a rare treat, so i’ll take one in GTi flavour ta. And it’s money no object so i’ll also take a fuel tanker to follow me around.

Innocenti DeTomaso

I was going to pick an MG6… LIKE HELL I WAS. A great looking, sharp Italian suit draped over those classic Mini mechanicals and famous rubber-coned suspension make for one very appealing package, to my mind. So one of those, thoroughly waxoyled from the factory, delivered to my garage. I’ll change my name to Roberto and drive around early 80’s Milan, shouting highly inappropriate things to young signoritas, whilst nursing a semi and harbouring feelings of deep-seated catholic guilt. Whens-a your Dolmio day, indeed.

My Fantasy Class Garage – MarinaST

Next up is marinast. A man of class for many years with plenty of Special Tuning and Motorsport P.K on hand. Here’s his 5.

Leyland Force 7R

The daddy of Leyland Australia’s capability and so close to being a reality.  The Force 7 was canned just before launch (‘just’ as in hours before) and all but a handful were crushed. The 7R was to have been a true Aussie Muscle car, developed by Repco and with at least 250-300bhp on tap, it would have been a serious contender against the V8 Ford and Holdens at the time. With petrol injection and a stretch to 5 litres the 7R could have developed into a serious bit of kit, and knowing the Australians love of lairy paint and trim schemes at the time, certainly memorable in appearance.

Leyland Marina GT/6

Aha! Again I’ve picked a ‘what if’ you say, but at least one GT/6 prototype was made and it’s in a Australian Muscle Car Museum.
The GT/6 used the 2600cc E6, mated to triple Webber carbs, along with a free flowing exhaust and four speed gearbox.(the standard 2600/Red Six had an ancient three speeder) Power outputs for this beast are only estimates but at least 150bhp.
Development engineers claimed it was quicker than the then current 201 cu. in six cylinder Holden Torana LH, a car far from lacking in the power department (@135bhp) and could have been the second quickest production Marina after the MG V8 version, but that’s another story…

Rover 75 V8

Yes, the power plant is an ancient 2 valve Ford lump and mated to an old style automatic gearbox so no hypermiling here, but what a swansong. There is no other Rover which combined sheer classy looks, smooth ride and lazy but brutal performance in one place.  These are a car which are currently highly undervalued, so I guess now is the time to buy.

Triumph 2000 MD

Back in the ’60s the 2000 and P6 led the charge in mid sized 2 litre executive saloons.  Just 49 MD (Managing Director) versions were produced, they featured wire wheels, triple Stromberg Carburettors and overdrive along with a gorgeous (Nadi?) wood rimmed steering wheel and chromed scuttle trim. They oozed CLASS then and they ooze CLASS now.

Douglas Bader’s Austin Allegro Equipe

How do you make an Equipe even better? Douglas Bader asked BL to produce a car specifically for him (it turned out to be the last car he would own) so in went a one off factory fit automatic gearbox along with a special Spitfire bonnet mascot.
A special car and owned by one of our nations most famous fighter pilots. Sadly it was last seen in a scrapyard around 25 years ago but as a fantasy Class garage motor they don’t get much more special than that.

And that’s that for now.

My Fantasy Class Garage – Barry

Next up is the Ireland’s answer to Bobby Ball. He’s been very specific in terms of his class garage, even specifying the colour. Fair play.

Rover SD1 2600S

I had one of these in Midas Gold and loved it. I’ve regretted selling it
ever since. I love the torque of the engine, yes, I know it’s fatally flawed but it sounds good due to it being a straight six. The series 1 cars have cleaner lines in my opinion and with a very rare leather interior they’re extremely comfortable. Even the dashboard is lovely to use and is very interesting when compared to modern cars.


Rover R8 214SEi

In Nightfire red, I love the last of line cars of the R8 shape. Very clean lines, very well finished and what was Rovers high point in terms of quality fit and finish. It was all down-hill from here. The only fly in the ointment for me is the ride height is a bit high.


Austin Maxi Mk 2 1750HLS in Tara Green

I’m lucky that I’ve actually owned 2 of my dream class cars. Comfortable, practical and usable as a daily were what sold it to me. The Tara Green paintwork match with chrome really stands out to this day. My mates even nick named it the slug………cunts come to think of it. It’s a real pity the suspension had a tendency to let it down.


Rover 75 KV6 2.5

I’ve owned a lovely Rover 75 and while it was the pick of the range in diesel form it’s the sound of the 2.5 that really makes it stand out for me. I’m sorry I haven’t owned a good one, although there is still time but good clean ones are becoming hard to find, especially as so many owners like to stick tat on and ruin the interior.



Again, I’ve had an MGF but not a VVC, which stands for Very Very Complicated or so everyone whose owned one that went wrong tells me. Great handling, interesting design and some nice touches mean this is a great every man car.


Whilst his choices aren’t pushing the boundaries of what is out there, there is a reason they’d all be in his dream garage. Every last one of them could be driven and enjoyed daily.

My Fantasy Class Garage – MarkM

Well I suppose it’s my turn to put my own list of 5 into print.

Not an easy task given the fact I’ve seen so many great lists already but here goes.

Rover 214 SEi:

There has to be a place for this in my fantasy garage, a touch of sentimentality, but also because I believe it was one of the best run-out models the firm ever made. The R8 was such a capable car, but the little 214 SEi gave an insurance-friendly, nippy, comfortable, sporty package that still felt quality.


Montego 2.0 GTi:

Another one that’d be kind of sentimental. I learned to drive in a post 88 Montego DSL, my old man also worked at a Rover main dealer between 89-91. I remember him bringing home a Montego GTi and I thought it was fantastic. Probably one of the most inappropriate uses of the GTi badge ever applied to a car and for that reason it’s a winner.


Austin Allegro Equipe:

That paint scheme, that front chin-spoiler and those wheels somehow turned a car I thought was a frumpy-looking, laughable blob into a hot-hatch chaser. Sexier than an Alfasud or Golf put-together, this was the only time they got it right with the Allegro as a Euro-star. Then the Series 3 came along and bollocksed things up. Dickheads.


Rover 3500 V8S:

I was torn between an SD1 and a P6. I’ve always told myself I wanted a P6 yet when it’s come to the crunch, a Series 1 SD1 with those Gold Alloys just ticks more boxes. It’d have to be in Triton Green too for that full ‘i wish the car in the brochure was mine’ effect, Just glorious.



Jaguar XKR-S Sportbrake:

A very difficult last choice, again, I always thought a 75 V8 would make it into my list and likewise a Discovery 3, but I cannot ignore the XF. It’s fantastic in 3.0d S guise, but it’d have to be the V8 Supercharged monster for me in this scenario. They’re a fabulous car to drive, incredibly nimble and supremely comfortable. The only reason I am picking the Sportbrake is that I could not put up with the ironing board spoiler on the saloon.

That’s yer lot… More to come.

My Fantasy Class Garage – Tim (Gordon Bennett)

Next up it’s Tim. It can only be assumed all of these cars are fitted with a 1980s-spec car-phone, just in case Sward wants to give him a call.

Range Rover L405 SDV8:

Aside from its size there don’t appear to be many compromises or drawbacks to these things. Nevermind that you probably need two for when one is inevitably being mended.



Defender 90 TD5:

It does little of use outside of a farmer’s field that a Raj Rover doesn’t do better but there is a certain something about these things, even more so with the TD5 soundtrack. It still manages to be class without a hint of vulgarity too.



Rover 216 GTi:

I’m torn between one of the Twin-Cam Honda models (the better car) and the 220 Turbo Coupe (the halo model) here. 216 GTi 5-door with the two tone flame red over tempest grey if I have to pick one.



MG ZT-T 260

Ever since seeing Clarkson going sideways in a firefrost saloon model I’ve fancied one of these things. I appreciate they’re utterly compromised but they’re proof that even at the fag-end of car production at Longbridge they genuinely could produce something really quite special.



Rolls-Royce Wraith:

Am I allowed a BMW Rolls-Royce? If so put me down for the Wraith please. Never driven one but have been a passenger in a Ghost and a Phantom, both of which were utterly sublime. I’d opt for a Phantom, but prefer the idea of driving myself to being driven.


What a batch! Clearly a man with expensive taste is our Tim. Class will out!

Stay tuned for another list soon.

My Fantasy Class Garage – Scott Armstrong (Derek)

Today we turn upside down and find out what our Kiwi radio-spakka has in his fantasy class garage.

Rover P5B:

The car that started it all with THAT engine. A step in a such a positive direction for Rover with that light-weight, burbling power-plant wrapped up in an elegant wood n’ leather gentleman’s tank. It worked better than anyone could ever have hoped. Delightful.



Jaguar XJ6 SIII:

In my opinion the XJ6 is England’s best saloon. The Series III model was enhanced by Pininfarina and turned into the World’s best saloon. Supreme.




Range Rover Vogue:

The original and best. Inventor of the luxury SUV – 5 doors, leather chairs, V8 power. Proper and right.




Triumph Stag: 

Elegant beyond belief. A beautiful touring 4 seater that looks absolutely stunning from bumper to bumper. Only mechanical problems stopped it from being a hit. Cruelly robbed.



Rover 200 R8:

The most perfectly formed 5-door car of that decade. Beautiful, well engineered, and ideally suited to The Rover Treatment. Spot on.






And there we have it, Derek’s five of the best, no real surprises but clearly he’s a man of class.

More to come soon.

My Fantasy Class Garage – Chucky de Hammer (Chucky)

Next up is regular contributor Chucky.

Becoming increasingly verbose of late, his list of 5 is to follow. There’s definitely a theme for some MacDroitwich favourites emerging within these lists…

Choosing five starts giving you options and ideas and reasons, and of course you end up changing your mind ten minutes later. So here is my list of the cars of class I would most desire in my garage, until tomorrow anyway when I will want at least one change.

Rover Metro 1.1 S:

First up is an obvious choice for the daily hack. A mini is a crude, crashing lashup stuffed full of half-baked ideas that only got signed off by Issigonis as he came up with them. I did flirt with an 1100 but I don’t think Machine Mart hold enough stock of welding wire to keep one roadworthy. Far better to go for the Metro 1.1S. The K Series in its smallest size and least number of valves is a gem, it had the best version of Moulton’s hydragas suspension and inside was nicely fitted out. Too many so-called city cars suffer from choppy ride, dismal handling, harsh engines and cheap, low-rent interiors. The Metro, even today, feels nimble, smooth, quiet and comfy.

Jaguar XJ-C:

There are of course times when you need the perfect car to whisk away Shiralee Coleman to the breathtaking sights of exotic faraway places. For example, Porthmadog. Such a task can only be accomplished by a grand touring car, and a touring car is only truly grand when it has twelve pistons, which thankfully removes the need to consider a Triumph Stag. Instead, I would have a black Jaguar XJ-C. Sir William’s, lithe, pillarless swansong is achingly gorgeous and the whispering punch from the big twelve-pot is one of the most addictive engines to drive that I know of. It would be the perfect car to whisk away a lady of such stature to see a narrow gauge railway followed by a visit to a hostel which charges by the hour for a swift how’s your father.

MG Maestro 2.0i:

What would be ideal for those moments when you need to get somewhere very quick and preferably without being too noticed? Another easy choice really; the MG Maestro 2.0, a car that nicked VW’s rear beam suspension and then, with a far superior chassis and suspension setup, rubbed their faces right in it. The Maestro goes, handles and stops so much better than Wolfsburg’s effort only the most myopic would drive one and still settle for the VW. It’s so good you should buy one before they become too expensive, otherwise you will be left with no choice but to buy its third rate competitor instead. And you will then hate yourself every single day.

Leyland P76 Force 7:

Choosing a sports car starts with turfing out what I don’t like. The Austin Healey 3000 is for old men coming to terms with impotence and from Triumph only the TR8 convertible remotely appeals, but then you have to deal with the dickheads who automatically assume that it’s a converted TR7.The MGA Twin Cam would in theory be lovely, a nimble sporty thing with an eager motor and Dunlop steelies for added porn, but they do tend to blow up. Instead I would go for a P76 Force 7 V. Here is a coupe that shouted Australian style (did I just put those two words next to each other?) while also being perfectly practical – they are an easy 5-seater and the rear hatch is absolutely huge – and with the Rover V8 in 4.4 litre guise under the bonnet it will barrel along just dandy. There is no nicer car of class to cruise along the seafront of Weston-Super-Mare in the tropical July heat, a gentle breeze tumbling round your Wayfarers on your way to get some chips, the windscreen wipers struggling under the weight of ladies knickers being flung at your motor while you cruise.

Range Rover Vogue SE 3.9 EFi:

I forgot to add the Range Rover to the list so it fits nicely here at the end, an original shape in four-door format. I will never forget driving over 300 miles in a 3.9 Vogue SE one wintry, blizzard-riddled day to Cumbria and back and how it treated the treacherous blacktop with calm, aloof contempt. It was almost mocking other motorists as they slipped and slid and struggled to make headway. The Range Rover was an inspired piece of work by Spen King and it’s an automatic choice in the five-car garage. But in my eyes it’s also the first choice for the one-car garage. Really, it’s the only car you ever need.

So, after that brief summary from Chucky, we await with baited-baited breath for our next instalment.

My Fantasy Class Garage – Adrian J Clark (Mr Calrk)

To show that we are an equal-opportunities community, next up is Mr Calrk aka Randle.

The MG 6-owning, self-confessed chubby-chaser and SAAB enthusiast has put together his famous-five for your delectation.

Rover P6:

It really has to be in beige. My decision is purely because it’s still such a sexy looking thing and it is a car that personifies what Rover was about once. I don’t care what engine, I’d have it for the looks and experience alone.


Austin Allegro:

It really has to be beige, so I’d have it
in harvest gold. I think they’ve aged rather well and it is the car that defined BL (some would say everything that was WRONG with BL)



Morris Ital:

My sentimental choice, so doesn’t necessarily have to be beige, my dad had one. It was the first car I’d have travelled in. I think the marina is a better looking car, mind.




Leyland Sherpa:

Everybody needs a van. I’d probably want a beige one. I don’t want a Freight-Rover, I don’t want a Leyland Daf and I don’t want an LDV. I want a proper Sherpa.




Unfortunately not available in beige, but because it was one last ‘fuck you’ from Longbridge. I love the looks, love the fact that it’s got an ancient big American V8 in it, and it’s the last true new design from the firm (not counting the MG Motor UK stuff, as that’s basically a new company trading on a mixture of a dead badge and Barton engineering).

And that’s that, more from the MacDroitwich team later.

The Firm in Rallying – Disappointing at Best

From the Potato’s Sack

I was having a chat with a colleague at work a few days ago when the subject of the World Rally Championships arose.  It prompted me to think about the firm’s involvement and success (or lack of) throughout the fore-runners of WRC and the WRC itself.

Because of the Mini’s 1965 success in the RAC and Monte Carlo rallies, 1965 & 1966 European rallies  and then the again in 1968 at Monte Carlo, we have this legendary halo in our minds of the firm being a big-hitter in the sport.

Prior to the Mini’s successes, there were 4 victories in the 1950s (2 for Jaguar XK120s, a Standard Ten and a Triumph TR2), however these were figuring in competitions where the fields were made up of predominantly firm-related cars anyway, so the chances were incredibly high that a winner would be from ‘our’ stable.

The London-Sydney Marathon of 1968 saw Paddy Hopkirk gain a very credible 2nd place to Andrew Cowan’s Hillman Hunter. Whether this performance spurred BL to enter a combination of Triumph 2.5PIs, Austin/Morris 1800s, Austin Maxis and a Mini Clubman into the 1970 World Cup Rally, it is unclear, however, again, 2nd place was the best the firm could manage, but once again it was a very credible results table which showed that in the top 11 finishers, there were 5 x Escort GTs, 1 Citroen DS and the rest were a combination of the Triumphs, Landcrabs and Maxis.


The 1974 event which followed saw a somewhat strange set of firm entrants, with a Range Rover, Rover P6 and Leyland P76 being utilised, unsurprisingly to many, finishes of 12th, 13th and 14th respectively did little to stir the senses.  One wonders what decisions led to these vehicles being selected over seemingly more competent cars such as the Marina TC, Maxi (again as in 1970) or even the Landcrab which had proved itself very useful in the previous two events.  Lets go even madder; why not the Mini?That said, the Range Rover went on to win 2 Dakar rallies in 1979 and 1981 and remains the last time a firm car took one of these major honours.  While Ford, Vauxhall and Rootes were creating the Escort RS1800, Chevette HS/HSR and Lotus Sunbeam where the hell was the firm? With such a diverse range to go at it’s a real joke no rival was brought from BL, was it a case of not being arsed, not knowing what to concentrate on, being on strike or simply being incompetent?

Then there’s the Metro 6R4. A weapon created for a short-lived class of rallying, finishing 3rd behind 2 Delta S4s in it’s debut season in 1985, a disappointing run in 1986 and the abolition of the class the same year due to the life-ending nature of the sport lead to Austin-Rover’s withdrawal from rallying at the end of the season. Even in private hands it was behind the rest.

Was the lack of development in 4×4 mainstream vehicle technology to blame this time for the firms absence from history after this point? I fear it has to be, amazing really when Land Rover was within group.

Then nothing….. until the MG ZR, which was over before it started.

I can’t help feeling this area could’ve done something along the way, I can’t help feeling the firm SHOULD’VE been more prominent, yet again, it’s another chapter of stupid missed chances in our favourite historical soap-opera.



Longbridge – What’s the point anymore?

By J.P.M Sandie

As much as those at MG Motor UK will deny it, the biggest story to come from them last year was the decision to end final assembly at Longbridge. Many words have been scribbled on the rights and wrongs of the decision so I’m not going to dwell on that here. My question for today is what is the point of their lingering presence at Longbridge?

The end of “production” meant MG no longer needed some of the buildings and consequently another parcel of the site has been returned to developer and landlord St. Modwen for redevelopment. However, MG will continue to inhabit a corner of the site which is subject to a 33 year lease (with a 6 month break clause), signed in 2006.
Although, as last year’s news shows, more of the site can easily be returned following negotiation. Still based there are the company owned Sales Centre, offices for MG Motor UK personnel and the SAIC Motor UK Technical Centre (SMTC).

SMTC is perhaps the most significant part of the lingering presence so we shall start there.

In some quarters SMTC is hyped up in terms of both involvement and size. The number of engineers is frequently exaggerated with 500 being an oft-quoted figure. However, the most recent set of accounts states the average headcount (including administrative support) for 2015 was actually 263. This number is inclusive of short-term contractors and in another part of the accounts average monthly staff numbers were stated as 153 (excluding contractors?). The 263 total was a drop of 24 from the 2014 accounts with SMTC citing difficulty in recruiting new engineers with the right skills as an explanation. One might suggest that falling staff numbers also indicates staff retention issues.

Since March 2009 SMTC has been based in one of the old admin blocks at Longbridge. As part of this they (SMTC is a separate entity to MG Motor UK) make a payment to MG to cover half the site costs. In the 2015 accounts this payment was £8million. Due to the size of even the remaining site Longbridge proves quite expensive in terms of costs. Moreover, St Modwen aren’t a charity and have no sentimental interest in automotive business being continued on the site so one can assume that the lease is at least at market value. Better value may be found with a new home.

The present base of the studio/engineering building is less than optimal in a number of ways. First of all, the building is fairly old and has merely been re-purposed rather than something tailored to the needs of the engineering and design teams. Secondly, the Midlands location sees SMTC having to compete with the success story that is Jaguar Land-Rover for staff. Tatuar have large facilities for design and engineering near Coventry at Gaydon and Whitley. This is probably a huge factor in the issues SMTC have had in recruiting and retaining staff. Suggestions have floated around that engineers have gone to SMTC to build experience before getting a job with Jaguar.

Moving to a new site holds advantages. First of all a new building could be tailored to the needs of the team more directly and have room for expansion as necessary. It would also allow SAIC to make a statement about their involvement in Britain. As things stand, their site is only subject to a lease which can be terminated at any time. In contrast, developing their own site would have a greater degree of permanence and be a vote of confidence in Britain. In turn, this will create more of a feel good factor about the business and that might just make recruiting easier. What investment there has been at SMTC is mostly on equipment that can easily move to new facilities.

Whilst moving to a new area may be too deep an uprooting for current staff there are plenty of new developments of business parks across the West Midlands. Indeed, due to the pollution on the site, the greatest likelihood is that the latest part of Longbridge to be handed over to the developers will probably become one itself. As an example, leading Chinese firm Changan have a small R&D facility at a recently built business park in Solihull.

As for MG Motor UK, there isn’t a strong case for them staying at Longbridge either. Management staff could be housed in office space elsewhere. Indeed, SAIC’s £30million investment on a building on Piccadilly bought six floors of it.

Currently the Piccadilly showroom is another part of the MG empire that, on the surface, makes little rational sense. It houses a showroom which doesn’t actually operate as a dealership. The real purpose seems to be advertising MG to passing Chinese tourists and make them believe the firm is big business in Britain. An idea no doubt dispelled by the lack of SAIC MGs on the roads within the M25 due to the non-existent dealer network in the area.

If this office space isn’t suitable or relocation is an issue for existing MG Motor UK staff there is no shortage of office space around Birmingham. Any economies MG Motor could make would generate a surplus that could be better spent bringing in new professionals to add fresh impetus or add to the pot for marketing important new products.

The Sales Centre may present fat worth trimming. Back in the early days of the MG re-launch the Elephant House could be seen as a pilgrimage for prospective customers as purchasing a car from the factory was attractive to the most enthusiastic enthusiasts. Now that there isn’t a factory and MG have one of their strongest geographic concentration of dealers in the Midlands region is there really a point? The location has also never been conducive to passing trade whilst there’s been a move towards “Motor Miles” where franchise sites cluster together and punters can easily kick tyres on a number of marques.

One now has to ponder the point of MG Motor UK still renting parts of the Longbridge site. At numerous times, MG UK has sought to distance itself from the products of ancestors who once occupied the site making any sentimental talk of a “historic home” seem hollow. Meanwhile, recent announcements have seen enthusiasts of legacy products become ever more hostile towards the new firm and their occupation of the site. Maybe a clean break and the chance to move on is required? Right now we have an engineering facility that could and perhaps better – considering facilities and staffing issues – be accommodated elsewhere. Any investment and move to owning rather than leasing land and premises could also be seen and spun as a vote of faith in and a strong link to the UK which might just improve the shaky view many have of the brand. That is of course assuming the almost temporary nature of the status quo doesn’t suit SAIC.