MG Montego Turbo

The closure of the MG factory in Abingdon also meant the end of production of the two-seater sports cars that had been the company’s trademark for many years. Although the future of MG was completely uncertain at this point, there were rumours that the MG name would appear on BL’s new car, the Metro, which was to be announced on 8 October 1980. The Metro initially appeared in standard form and it was not until May 1982, some 18 months after the closure of Abingdon, that the MG Metro was announced in the words of Sir Michael Edwardes: “The MG name now stands proudly again on a BL product, and happily the MG Metro has been accepted by loyal MG enthusiasts as part of the MG tradition.”

The MG version of the Metro was praised by the motoring press and public alike, and this car led the way for all MG saloons to follow. Soon there was speculation about a car codenamed LM 10, which was to be the long-awaited 5-door hatchback in the Maestro range.

This was the first car series to make full use of Computer Aided Design (CAD for short) and Computer Aided Manufacture (CAM for short). All exterior parts of the vehicle were defined on the computer during the design phase and then transferred to the computer-controlled production of the pressed steel parts. Crash tests were also simulated on the computer to determine, for example, the strength of the body panels and the attachment points of the seat belts.

One innovation of the MG Maestro was the introduction of LCD instruments, which were considered by some to be gimmicky and distracting. This was further developed and introduced on the MG version of the LM 11, launched in April 1984 as the Montego. It is interesting to note that the electronic dashboards and voice-activated warning system were short-lived.

The Montego used the existing floorpan of the Maestro, but was 2″ wider in wheelbase, giving rear-seat passengers more legroom. More than 60% of the body panels were identical to those of the Maestro, but the Montego was a four-door saloon that was almost 40 cm longer than the Maestro. The MG Montego was fitted with a version of the O-series engine that was originally intended for the MGB but was only used in a few prototype models. This 2-litre engine featured a new aluminium cylinder head with the intake ports arranged together rather than alternating with the exhaust ports.

Drive was through an all-new Honda 5-speed gearbox to the front wheels. An electronic ignition and Lucas L electronic fuel injection provided 115 bhp at 5500 rpm, as opposed to 102 bhp for the normally aspirated engine. The electronic dashboard was standard equipment and was even more complicated and intrusive than that of the Maestro. Many potential buyers of the Montego were glad to see a return to conventional analogue instruments at the end of 1984.

In early April 1985, the MG Montego Turbo was announced as the “fastest production MG ever” with a top speed of 200 km/h and a 0 to 100 km/h time of 7.3 seconds – an astonishing performance for a 2-litre saloon. The turbo engine of the “O” series produced 150 hp at 5,100 rpm.

As a top-of-the-range car and considering its exhilarating performance, the Montego Turbo was very competitively priced.

© MG Owners Club – www.mgownersclub.co.uk