The BBC had reported late last night that the venerable automobile manufacturer MG Rover is going into receivership. All of the morning newspapers are featuring this as their lead story, as well. After 100 years, the last remaining British-owned automaker it is to be no more.
Unlike many other members of the male gender, I never considered myself a testosterone-driven car dude. Automobiles have always served a practical purpose to me; a means of transportation to effectively get from Point A to Point B. However, as far back as I can remember, I have always dreamt about driving upon that winding ribbon of highway that stretches from Point A to Point B, and beyond to the exotic destination known as Wanderlust, from behind the steering wheel of a 1947 MG TD.
Vauxhall has long been a subsidiary of General Motors. Jaguar and Land Rover are both owned by the Ford Motor Company, and Rolls Royce was acquired not long ago by BMW (Germany’s final revenge for losing two wars to Great Britain, I suppose). And now, with the Chinese-owned Shanghai Automotive Company backing out of a proposed Hail Mary merger, the bells of doom are already tolling throughout Birmingham and the rest of the UK.
Why were the Chinese approached, and not a U.S. automaker, to “save” MG Rover? More importantly, why didn’t MG Rover export its product to the very profitable U.S. automotive market? American car enthusiasts love the MG and would have queued up to purchase the very zippy, yet affordable, MG TF as quickly as it could roll off the assembly line. The MGB and MG Midget were both very popular in America during the 1970s. Has the British government properly handled this situation? Should it not have stepped in long ago, in the national interest, when MG Rover’s financial situation was first becoming apparent?
Many more questions will be asked in the coming days and weeks, not only by the soon-to-be jobless autoworkers and parts manufacturers in and around the Longbridge assembly plant in Birmingham, but also by the British populace at large as Tony Blair and the Labour Party seek re-election and a referendum on their domestic economic policy on May 5th. I’m going to sadly miss you very much, MG.