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I am converting a number of archive documents into web pages for the MG Car Club. One article that has just caught my attention is about engine colours. What I found interesting was the comment by John Thornley who was General Manager at Abingdon from 1952, through MGA production and beyond. The following quotation, although made in answer to questions about engine colours throughout MG production, perhaps sums up MGs general approach to detail. In other words, what can be considered 'original'? ..and I am not just talking engine colour.

"......I knew that the early engines were grey and could only remember the Triple M units being red, but to be quite honest we did not take a tremendous interest in such details."

Steve Gyles

In the same article, written by Mike Allison, is this bit of information, although the source is not identified:

"Oh yes, in the same piece of sleuth work, I found that cream was the undercoat used for all chassis parts, which were painted black at the Factory......."

I wonder if this applied to the MGA?

Steve Gyles

Steve, thanks for posting this. Having found the antics and intensity of some who displayed at our recent annual concourse amusing (no, come to think of it, laughable), I've just forwarded John Thornley's comments to our own concourse committee.
While I do love to see a display of these cars,I just want to get in and drive my MG's; that's where the fun lies for me.
Today's decision: Do I take the MGA or the MGB to work?
T Aczel


The whole article on MG engine colours was most interesting. A rumour abounded in the late 40s early 50s that Triple M car engines were painted green for touring cars, red for sports models and blue for racing cars. This was all put in a book 'MG Companion' and so the rumour became fact. The article editor investigated these 'facts' by interviewing employees from the Triple M period and found all the facts totally unfounded.

I have already mentioned that John Thornley said that the company did not take much interest in such detail. Another point was that in those days the regular engines came into Abingdon ready painted. Abingdon only stored and used cellulose paint and was, therefore, unlikely to repaint any of the engines with that type of paint. The employees common memories were that the special racing engines were left in their original 'as supplied' colour or even unpainted as there was deemed no thermal benefit in painting them.

Steve Gyles

This thread was discussed on 27/10/2010

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This thread is from the archive. The Live MG MGA BBS is active now.