MGB - the car that changed automobile history

John Thornley OBE
John Thornley’s first MG was an M-Type he bought in 1930, and soon after he met with two other enthusiasts and they formed the MG Car Club. At the time he was an accountant in London, but he then persuaded Cecil Kimber to give him an office at the MG Factory to run the fledgling Club and he moved to Abingdon. But another part of the job at MG was assistant to the service manager, John Temple, who was shortly afterwards appointed competitions manager following which John inherited the Service Manager’s position. During the war John served the army and attained the rank of Lt. Colonel and on returning to Abingdon in 1945 he became Sales and Service Manager for MG.
In 1952 he was appointed General Manager He was clearly a plain speaking enthusiast who battled against the corporate hierarchy of BMC and later BL. He handpicked his staff and encouraged them them with his sense of humour and as a team they achieved so much at Abingdon that no other small auto factory could ever have dreamed of. Known as "Mr MG" he envisaged the MGB and saw into production. Subsequently the MGB GT was designed and built, a car John calle the “poor man’s E-Type”.

During his time as head of the company, the MG Factory became the World’s largest producer of sports cars with 80% of MGB production heading for the USA.
In retirement, Thornley retained a great interest in MG and the MG Car Club. His book "Maintaining The Breed: The Saga of MG Racing Cars" is well worth tracking down a copy so you can read it. The book focuses mainly on MG competition history but also covers how competition developments fed back into the production cars. There is also a biography of John Thornley, written by his son Peter Thornley, titled simply "Mr. MG"
John Thornley passed away in 1994 and has been much missed. At that time the RV8 production run at Cowley was well underway.
See an interview with John Thornley

MGB - the car that changed automobile history
The video runs for 54 minutes and is a wonderful look back at the time when the MGB was in production with fascinating comments from John Thornley and Don Hayter, the sad closure of the MG Plant and then the emergence of the Heritage Body Plant at Faringdon with details of how David Bishop tracked down the moulds and equipment to enable the plant to make MGB bodies and then play a major part, with John Yea, in the development of the RV8 and the production of the RV8 bodies and parts.
See the video on Abingdon

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John Thornley - his first MG was an M-Type in 1930 and soon after he formed the MG Car Club with two other members. As General Manager of MG, the company became the World’s largest producer of sports cars.

MGB Roadster - the British sports car which changed automobile history in both production numbers and popularity with enthusiasts around the World, with some 80% of production going to the USA.

Don Hayter joined the design office at MG in 1956 at a time when the MG Factory was producing MGAs. He was closely involved in the MGB as Design Engineer, and later the MGBGTV8, until August 1979 when the plant finally closed.

MGB Roadster was developed by the MG team - a design which has a timeless quality and attraction for sports car enthusiasts.

MGB Roadster - Don Hayter mentions in the video how the rear end had to be extended to enable the spare wheel to lie flat in the boot which involved him in considerable reprofiling work - but the result was good.

MGBGT followed the MGB Roadster and was the car John Thornley called the "poor man's E-Type". It is still today a very attractive car.

MGBGTV8 - following BL approval to develop and produce a V8 powered MGBGT in Autumn 1972, the MG Plant moved rapidly so the model was launched at the Earls Court motor show in August 1973. With BL supplying only 48 V8 engines a week it was a constraint on production.

British Motor Heritage body plant was originally at Faringdon but was later moved from Faringdon to Witney where it continues to provide good quality bodyshells, panels and parts for MGB restorations and rebuilds.

David Bishop, former Executive Director of British Motor Heritage who tracked down the moulds and equipment to enable the plant to make MGB bodies and panels.

RV8 seen at a motor show in 1992 and launched in 1993 which has become a very popular V8 powered MG with a luxury trim and driver comforts.