Apart from the “modern” MG saloons known as Metro, Maestro and Montego, the MG saloons based on the BMC 1100 were the best-selling car in Britain for many years. Over 3 million 1100/1300 variants were produced between 1962 and 1973, with the MG versions being among the most popular. The 1100 was quite revolutionary and was described throughout the advertising literature as “the most advanced MG ever made”. This statement undoubtedly caused head-scratching among the ranks of die-hard enthusiasts, and the car was a highly undesirable piece of brand architecture at the time. The 1100 was launched at the same time as the new MGB and was somewhat overshadowed by its long-awaited MGA successor.
Despite the lukewarm reception, the car was a great success from its launch in September 1962. The MG version was far better equipped, had a twin carburettor engine and a distinctive MG front grille. It could carry 4 adults comfortably, whereas the Mini proved cramped. The advanced hydrolastic fluid suspension provided exceptional handling characteristics and it was the first time this system had been used on an MG.
The 1098 cc A-series engine was mounted transversely in the front subframe and had an integrated gearbox modelled on the Mini with drive via the front wheels. The engine produced 55 hp at 5,500 rpm and with its good acceleration was as fast as any of its predecessors. The 1100 was initially available as a two-door model, followed later by four-door versions, as it was felt that two-doors suited MG’s sporty image better! The two-door version was to spearhead the attack on the American small car market, which was dominated by Volkswagen in 1962. The MG Sports Sedan, as it was called, cost £949, but there was a problem in identifying the market MG was aiming at, with literature and advertising films showing it as an ideal shopping car and at the other extreme as a car for club racing, either way the car sold slowly at nearly 28,000 over a 5 year period.