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MGF in America

Director's Notes

The time since March 16th will be remembered as the greatest period of ups and downs in the MG enthusiasts world since the terrible news that Abingdon factory would close was announced in September 1979. While the Alchemy Partners bid to buy Rover Group did not succeed it did offer the tantalizing vision on a new MG coming to North America in the short term. The Phoenix Consortium, the MG marques' latest owners, have said nothing about the future of MG beyond the fact that they will continue to produce the MGF. Any return of MG to North America, in the near future, will have to be by the type of campaign launched by Roche Bentley and detailed in this "Log Book". Please read the article and follow Roche's advice. If a fire is not built under the Phoenix Group many of us may well be on Social Security before an MG is sold on these shores again (if ever)! Congratulations are in order for Drivers Club member and 1999 Kimber Award recipient John Twist who was featured in the New York Times "Automobiles" section on March 24th. The article was called, "MG's Faithful Get Hopes Up Again". John forcefully made the case for MG's new owner bringing the MGF to North America and reviewed the history of MG on this side of the Atlantic. Well done, John!

It is less than two months to "Drive-In #4", if you have not gotten The Roadster Factory's publication on their Summer Party please call 1-800-234-1104 and ask for one. You'll have a wonderful three days of British sportscar fun, make your reservations now. Remember, the Club's reception from 11:30am - 1:00pm on Sunday, Aug.13 at the Coventry Inn. The Club's UK "MG Heritage Tour", from November 2-11, is also fast approaching. Contact Lord Addison Travel at 1-800-326-0170 and send in your deposit. Rob Medynski's "Ask Rob!" column is on a temporary break while he attends to his MG workshop and the building of a vacation home in New Hampshire.


Bring us the MGF Campaign

The club received a letter from Roche Bentley, Secretary of the MG Owners Club-UK on the subject of their newly launched campaign to get the MGF imported into North America. Roche's letter was sent to all overseas affiliates of the MG Owners Club in North America, of which the Drivers Club is one. The Owners Club's campaign to re launch MG in North America got off to a great start with a press conference covered by the Times of London, Daily Telegraph and the major TV and radio outlets in the UK. Roche explained that the Owners Club welcomed MG's independence from BMW and urged new owners of the MG marque to once again sell MG's in the vital North American market.

The Owners Club feels that the Phoenix Group would have a fairly easy time getting the MGF certified for North American sales. The K-series engine in the "F" would, of course, have to be "Federalized" for emissions. According to Dick Fritz president of the Ridgefield, CT firm Amerispec, which specialises in making non-conforming autos street legal, the K series is an old engine that lacks the on-board pollution diagnostic system required by the EPA. Mr Fritz estimates it would cost between $2 and $5 million dollars to get an on-board pollution diagnostic system approved by the Feds, for the "F". MG's new owner, if they have a real desire to sell the vehicle in North America, should be able to make this happen. That leaves the MGF's body shell. It will need to be upgraded to meet impact standards and other National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regulations. If the "F" were to come to North America it would have to be produced in greater volume. Currently around 15,000 MGF's are sold each year in the UK, Europe and Japan. The best year of MG sales, in north America, was calendar year 1976 with 22,554 MGB's sold. Figure conservatively 10-12,000 MGF's needed for North America plus about 15,000 for the rest of the world. That would force total annual production up to around 27,000 cars. Mayflower body Panels, which produce the "F's" body shell would have to automate the basically hand made MGF body shell process to get up to this volume. The MGF would no loner be a "niche" vehicle. The higher production volume would result in lower unit costs and the "F's" price could conceivably drop from the mid 30's for a fully equipped, top of the line "F" to the mid 20's -placing it nose to nose with the Mazda Miata MX-5. What of the fact that the MGF has been on the market for five years already? The Owners Club feels the "F" would be a "brand new" MG in North America, the first new one in over 20 years, and would sell very well indeed.

OK, but how is this to happen you ask? The MG Owners Club wants Drivers Club members to e-mail, fax or write them, in the UK, with the information on whether or not you would personally consider buying an "F" and if you know an Import Car dealership that might be interested in handling them! If you don't know anyone at an Import Car dealership pass their name, address and phone number along to the Owners Club and they will contact the dealership directly. The owners Club's wants to amass hard facts and figures that they can then present to MG's new owners as part of a detailed proposal for re introducing MG to North America.

Please do your part in this very worthwhile effort. Take a few minutes to contact Roche Bentley with the vital information he needs to make the Owners Club's campaign a success. In the long run it will surely benefit us all! Email Fax 01144-1954-232106, phone 01144-1954-231125 and by letter at: Octagon House, Swavesey, Cambridge CB4 5QZ United Kingdom.

Other articles from this issue:

The Log Book is a regular publication from the MG Drivers Club, serving all North American MG Drivers.

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