BGT Concept 2016
The MG BGT Concept is a concept car designed to fill (in a fictional
world) the void left by MG's discontinuation of the MG TF in 2011.
The TF's demise left MG without a sports car in their lineup, and
for a company which built much of its reputation on small sports cars,
that was a bittter pill to swallow.
Step forward Ian Webster, the man who took it upon himself to design
a sports car which evoked the best of the brand's past, while providing
some much needed expansion to the limited MG range.
Webster invested significant time and effort in researching the history
of MG's sports cars, including talking to the designer of the marque's
best known sports car model, the MGB. In addition he investigated
what current MG enthusiasts would like to see in a new sports car.
Add to that a healthy dose of artistic license and influence from
a range of other vehicles, including the iconic WW2 fighter aircraft
the Spitfire, and one of MG's vintage concept vehicles, the Ex 181
and the result is something rather special.
Below is the designer's own information on the 2016 MG BGT Concept:
Some automotive marques need a sports car in their range as a matter of necessity rather than luxury and it's usually because of a wonderful sporting heritage and reflection of halcyon days gone by when the company was at its pinnacle of its achievements. MG is one such company and an MG range without a sports car could be compared to an actor without a voice, a cat without claws, or a boat without a rudder.
My aim was to create a design that would be able to go head-to-head
with current roadster designs such as the MX5, Z4 and Fiat 124 etc.
I'm an optimist and I wanted to create an MG that would be pointing
to the future as well as referencing the past - so a retro design
was out of the question. In my opinion you also need to create a design
that looks as if it could trace it's design DNA back to those original
designs, but with 30-50+ years of evolution (Look at say a DB5 compared
to a DB7, or DB9 for example).
I sought to create a design that would be appropriate for production in the near future and that would establish a current design language that could be evolved itself to produce some more radical conceptual designs for the future, in a similar way to say the Rolls-Royce Vision, Mini Vision, Porsche Mission E etc have been created building on the established design language of those marques.
I decided from the outset that creating a contemporary design for
a motoring marque with such a large and devoted following as MG required
respect and some thorough research. Obviously if you ask 100 MG enthusiasts
what makes an MG special then you are likely to hear 100 different
answers - but if you chat and listen to what entices people to the
marque you start to get a sense of why it's so cherished and then
you can aim to instil your design with this spirit.
Cecil Kimber clearly felt that way and was looking for performance and beauty in MG cars right from the time he created the company. I discovered that MG has a rich and enviable racing history that includes being the first non-Italian winners of the Mille Miglia in 1931 and a whole collection of record land-speed breaking designs. The more I investigated, the more I was impressed by this appealing little British company and the more I felt compelled to provide a car that was right for the marque.
Once my research was complete I was ready to ask myself about how
to create an MG sports car for this millennium. So where do you start
with such an open ended question? For me, it was important that the
design should reference MG's past but not be a retro design - i.e.
contain the inherent MG spirit but with a modern and individual character.
I consider the MGB to be a design that is synonymous with the glory
days of the British sports car - back in 1962 this was a design that
was leading rather than following the competition and you can see
why it became Britain's best-selling sports car of all time. It was
affordable, fun to drive, impressively engineered and I consider it
to be the most attractive of its contemporaries. You can see why the
Americans adored these cars too and with 50% of the cars being shipped
to the US you realise the potential for the MG marque at that time
- So this is where I decided to put my line in the sand - A modern
MGB. In essence the car would be front-engined, rear wheel drive and
a whole barrel of fun to drive.
Thanks to the efforts of Andy Harris from the local MGOC I was fortunate enough to make contact with the designer of the original MGB, Don Hayter and it was interesting to hear his comments from that time.
I've always found that the MGB has an almost timeless quality due
to a simplicity of line and elegance of form. There's an almost aeronautical
feel to the basic form and I thought this was due to Don's time in
the aviation world, but found out that it was actually due to development
boss Syd Enever telling Don to use the MG EX181 land speed car as
reference when creating the new MGB.
From this point the rest of the brief was easy to extrapolate - I
wanted the design to be distinctive and clearly an MG. The incorporation
of a similar aesthetic echo from the Ex 181 provided the first key
component of the new design language for the MGB concept. I decided
early on that the echo would be provided by incorporating a highlight
running through the side profile of the car that reflects the original
MGB and MG aerodynamic record breaker cars - i.e. The wing profile.
Research also revealed that many Spitfire pilots drove MG's and programs
such as Guy Martin's Spitfire uncovered historical nuggets such as
pilots strapping their MG rear view mirrors to their planes to assist
in dog fights during the Battle of Britain - It seemed only right
that the new MG should celebrate the best of British design past and
present and therefore I decided to adopt some traits of the those
great fighter planes into the design.
The idea of a metal grill and a reference to the round headlights
of the past proved to be very popular when talking to MG enthusiasts
and were points that I agreed with, so it was no hardship to adopt
them into the design. The MG BGT is my favourite of the MGB's and
this is where I wanted to begin with the design. However, it was important
to me that the design language could easily evolve from the coupe
to a convertible format.
I decided that the rear of the car should be open to a larger degree of migration from the original MGB look and right from the outset had an idea that a duck-tail aesthetic might provide the ideal balance to work with a tapering wing side profile.
With all that in mind I set to work and the design practically flew
onto the paper. I adopted a decent sized wheelbase to provide seating
for youngsters in the rear - A must for anyone who's sat on the bench
seat of an original MG BGT. I avoided the current leaning for bulges
and scallops and kept the design as clean and simple as possible.
You can clearly see the side highlight referencing the tapering wing
of the Ex 181 and the door handles fit flush, as you would expect
on such a clean form. Those chrome bezelled headlights reference the
past and look circular if you view the car head-on and the grill integrates
nicely into the nose.
Living close to Goodwood race circuit and aerodrome we are lucky enough to see Spitfires quite regularly and the references to those MG associated planes can be felt beyond the clean lines, just look at the side vents, the air intakes and those wheels that were inspired by a rotating propeller.
The interior has been kept clean and simple, which I believe is appropriate
for such a car. Good quality materials and some quality detailing
make the driver feel cocooned in the very modern British environment.
This may sound strange but I enjoyed creating this design so much
that I even know how it should sound and even how it should handle
- A rather rorty four cylinder engine and nimble handling that will
make you smile at any speed, if you're interested.
It's understandable that MG have not been interested in sports cars
of late. The Chinese market is not very sports car biased and one
of MG's weaknesses has always been an on-going dependency on its corporate
parent. However, the massive interest in the affordable sports car
market with cars such as the new MX5, the Fiat 124 Spider and the
Vauxhall GT concept for example show that there is a global market
available for such a car. As the automotive world moves more towards
autonomous driving then the world of fun-time weekend driving should
begin to open up again.
With MG's enviable history and potential to reignite sales in the
US market once more then I would say that the time has never been
better to look at the sports car market again - and just look at the
design language on this concept, it could so easily evolve into a
stunning crossover design.
|Engine / Drivetrain