To be honest, most of us here had clean forgotten all about the plans to bring the MG TF back from the dead.
That’s odd, because it was less than a year ago that I drove up to Longbridge to see Nanjing roll a handful of the new TF2s off the still-idle production line. It was meant to be an indication that the MG TF project was well on the way. Now the withdrawal of a major supplier means that production at Longbridge seems to be off the cards.
The project started to get wobbly late last year, when Nanjing was ‘encouraged’ into a merger with the much bigger SAIC. The deal was simple. Nanjing had the K-series engine production line and the established MG brand. SAIC had developed two new cars based on never-completed MG Rover blueprints for a re-engineered 75.
But SAIC needed the engines and it also needed a western brand to help it meet its ambition of selling abroad. So the Chinese authorities stepped in to sort the situation out and in doing so, probably killed the last hope of manufacturing in the UK.
What we might see appearing in the next 18 months is a medium size saloon called the MG 550 and a big saloon called the MG 750. These two UK-engineered vehicles are probably the best ‘Chinese’ cars on the planet. And they just might get a foothold in the European market. What we almost certainly won’t see is either car being built in Longbridge, or a revival of the MG TF.