MG enthusiast unearths photos from Abingdon factory’s final days

After the end: John’s B roadster and BGT V8 at Gate 3, Abingdon on October 26th, 1980. The earlier car was ordered from University Motors, London, on the day the MG BGT V8 was announced on August 15th, 1973. Courtesy John Dupont

October 24, 1980, was a dark day in MG history: It was the day the storied “Pavlova” works in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, U.K. was shuttered, killing off the marque.

MG, then producers of the MGB and BGT, wasn’t reorganized into British Leyland’s Specialist Cars Division, which protected the likes of Land Rover, Jaguar, and Triumph from money-saving programs. Initiatives like these made the conglomerate over £30 million.

To the chagrin of sports car enthusiasts worldwide, the writing had been on the wall since September 10, 1979, and Midget production had ended that year as activities were wound down. MG was losing money on every Midget built, and BL’s corporate pockets were too shallow for the constant modifications needed to keep up with emissions standards.

The MGB soldiered on until the bitter end; late plans to convert the car to use the new O-Series engine came to nothing. The last MGB, a white roadster, left the line on October 22, 1980. The works themselves stood until 1997, when they were demolished. Today you’ll find houses in its place.

Arch MG enthusiast, John Dupont, of London, whose love of the marque began 55 years ago when he bought a new 1275 Midget, toured Abingdon two weeks before the shutters came down for good, taking his then-new MGB roadster back to its birthplace. He kept the images in his private collection until this year, when he had the means to scan the 35mm transparencies.

1980 mg factory visit inside assembly wide
Courtesy John Dupont

Forty-two years later, he decided to share his 26 previously unpublished shots, rights free, on the MG Factory Abingdon remembered Facebook page—before extending the invitation to enthusiasts worldwide. John’s images are now available, and can be saved via this WeTransfer link.

“I’m honoured that so many people want them,” John said, whose photos have been downloaded by more than 200 people.

1980 mg factory visit crash test car
Keeping up with safety legislation was vital for the likes of the MGB, which developed in the late Fifties and released in 1962. This rubber-bumper car was stored at the factory after crash testing. Courtesy John Dupont

On October 12, 1980, John’s then-new B roadster posed with the last batch of B and B GT shells ever to arrive at Abingdon from Pressed Steel Fisher (now MINI Plant Swindon)—an event that can never be repeated.

John’s tour that day took in the works, where we see Bs and B GTs in various stages of calm, orderly assembly. A second visit, on October 16, 1980, shows his MGB and MGB GT V8 outside the now-closed factory gates. Cine footage from the time shows the ex-leather works emptied of cars.

“It’s been over 40 years, and the factory needs to be remembered,” John said.

Via Hagerty UK

1980 mg factory visit view from street
After the end: John’s MGB roadster and MGB GT V8 at Gate 3, Abingdon on October 26, 1980. The earlier car was ordered from University Motors, London, on the day the MGB GT V8 was announced on August 15, 1973 Courtesy John Dupont
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