Wish Longbridge luck, as it hands to the Chinese...

Published: 30 May 2007

NAC's reopening of MG's Longbridge production plant won't fool buyers, argues Ben Oliver

I once heard of a man so keen to support the British car industry that he bought not one but two Rover 800s - one for him, one for his wife – despite freely admitting that it was a terrible car. He wasn't in denial that it would suffer sickening depreciation, either. He merely felt he had to ‘do his bit’.

Please don’t make the same mistake with the MG TF, which new Chinese owner Nanjing put back into small-scale production at Longbridge today. I’d love to see every one of the 6000 workers laid off two years ago back making cars again. But given that a car is the second-largest purchase most of us make, it would be a staggering act of selflessness to deliberately buy a bad car - and lose thousands more on it than you would on an MX-5 - to support West Midlands workers. And it will be a bad car; the MGF was okay when it was launched in ’95, but antiquated when it died the first time in 2005. It doesn’t deserve resurrection.

And the gesture would be futile anyway. The TF is going back into production here to attempt to keep the European market open for later MG models which will be imported from China. At best, Longbridge will press some panels, do some assembly of Chinese-made kits and do some of the design and engineering work. Better than nothing, and we congratulate those back at work today. But don’t be tempted to show your support by opening your chequebook.

By Ben Oliver

Contributing editor, watch connoisseur, purveyor of fine features