Book Reviews: Winter 2007


Those Were The Days…MG’s Abingdon Factory by Brian Moylan

Reviewed by Robert Rushing, MG Club of St. Louis

I was trying to determine what this little gem reminded me of when I sat down to write this review.

It’s not really like Ken Smith’s excellent book, Aspects of Abingdon, despite the fact that it covers the same subject. Ken’s book is centered more on describing the A-to-Z of production at Abingdon with a focus on the MGB years. Those Were The Days…MG’s Abingdon Factory is much more driven by pictures-many of which are published for the first time in this volume.

The book compares more to looking through the family album with your favorite uncle telling you what was happening in each shot. Yes, that’s what the book is like, and that’s exactly what makes it so good. The focus is more on what it was like to work there, and the sense of community that was uniquely MG Abingdon, than about the “how” and “why” of things.

Even the layout of the book adds to this photo album feeling. Each page has several pictures on it along with a paragraph describing the scene. The descriptions aren’t just bland comments of what’s in the pictures, they’re little vignettes that really bring the pictures to life in only the way that someone who actually lived that life can do, which is in fact what the author did.

Brian Moylan worked for MG at Abingdon from 1950 to 1980. He knew the people about whom he wrote, for he was right there with them, producing the cars we love. That is what makes this book special. If you want to know a little more intimate history of the MG Car Company then you need this book on your shelf. 


Aspects of Abingdon by Ken Smith

Reviewed by Mark J McCourt, Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car

Much has been written about the cars sporting the octagonal badge. Among aficionados the place where they were built was just as important as the cars themselves. The works at Abingdon on Thames, England, maintained a special magic from its early days through the last MG’s production in October of 1980, and the story is best told by the people who lived it, the people who worked at the “Gee.”

Ken Smith, who currently edits Classic MG Magazine and is Executive Editor of British Motoring, is very knowledgeable about the history of the last 20 years of MG production. His history with the make, as well as his firsthand access to key people who made Abingdon run, make this second edition of his compilation, Aspects of Abingdon, The Building of the MGB and Midget – How it Was Done and the Men Who Did It, an excellent resource.

Fans of Britain’s best-selling sports car will enjoy this 112 page volume for its collection of rare photographs. The majority of the black and white images were taken in the post-1975 era to document the daily workings of the production lines, so most aspects of assembly are covered from body shells arriving by truck, to the engine and transmission installation to rectification. Special photos include the build car for the last production MGB, and a view into the main drawing office where the blueprints were created.  But this book does not impress by the photos alone, as Smith has solicited chapters from luminaries such as Don Hayter, former MG Chief Engineer, Plant engineer, John Seager and rectification fitter, Geoff Allen, as well as stories from MG public relations veterans, the shop steward, inspector and electrician.

These personal recollections, interspersed with a step-by-step explanation of production, make the book a pleasing read that is impossible to put down! 

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