Yesterday I took the opportunity to take part in a tour of Longbridge which are hosted by MG every Thursday, and thought I would share a few of the photos and experiences from my afternoon there.
The tour began in the Elephant House, or the 'MG Sales Centre' where we were greeted by Doug Wallace, MG's PR
and Events Manager and given a brew while we watched a short film in the auditorium. The film gave a brief background to the site's history and MG itself with the majority of it about MG's present and future as part of SAIC. It was nothing I hadn't seen before, but informative nonetheless.
From the Sales Centre we made out way across to the Conference Centre.
In the foyer to be greeted by one of the oldest ever Rovers.
Pretty amazing given it's over 100 years old and apparently still runs!
From the foyer you can then visit Herbert Austin's office. While not in its original location, it has been faithfully reconstructed to exactly how it was. Another short film accompanied. (Apologies for image quality - pics were taken through a window as we weren't allowed access inside.)
Back from the foyer we went through to the large conference auditorium to watch a short footage reel of car body building from Austin's 1930's heyday. The room itself is huge and draped with large red banners displaying the MG logo in a rather imperialistic fashion.
From there we stepped through to a small museum housing a pair of vintage Rover P4 and some special Minis
As well as the 5,000,000th Rover (a beauliful 75 2.5 Connoisseur SE) and MG (a lovely TF 160)
From the Conference Centre, we braved the winds to cross over to the Assembly plant. We saw an MG3 endurance test vehicle whizzing past on the way over. The car has covered over 60k miles so far (not bad for a 13-plate!) and is so far proving durable.
Doug revealed that the cars are assembled in batches, with the assembly staff then working on quality assurance once the cars had been assembled. When I quizzed him about the MG3, he said they were assembled as the MG6 was, with the drivetrain and front end attached to the car there. This is contrary to recent reports that the cars are currently arriving fully assembled.
We weren't allowed into the assembly area unfortunately, with health and safety cited as the reason. A great shame but I was able to capture the activity below.
Plenty of MG6 GTs ungoing final checks for anyone in doubt that production had halted.
A view between the Conference Centre and Assembly block showing just how vast the site still is.
The final stop on the tour was the Technical Centre. I was particularly excited about this as it's the nerve centre of SAIC's UK operation. Due the potentially sensitive nature of the work being done, no photography was allowed within.
Inside the Centre is a vast open plan office flanked with a series of smaller offices and meeting rooms. At a guess there was at least 70 people on there from what I could see and most likely considerably more.
As you enter the main office there are displays showing the NSE engine from the MG3, a hybrid transmission as fiutted to several Chinese Roewe models, a manual gearbox and another larger engine. We were then givena brief outline of the work down in the centre and shown the MG5 concept which is proudly displayed.
(Image c/o AROnline)
It's a stunning looking car - it's just a shame the production version didn't translate well.
Back outside the SMTC, an attractice late ZT (identical to my old one) is surrounded by various MG6s
The SMTC was the final part of the tour before returning to the Sales Centre to paw over the single MG3 and numerous MG6s on display.
There was only 1 MG3 on display such is the demand for the car; the other 2 outside including this striking example were awaiting collection
According to Doug, MG has taken over 600 orders for the MG which I find very encouraging given how long the car has been officially on sale.
Overall, a very enjoyable 2 hours spent and I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in the site's past but more so to those more interested in it's future.