MOWOG – A Mystery Solved

If you have owned a British car and most of you that visit this page have owned several, then the term MOWOG has likely been a part of your life for years. What does it mean, however, and how did the word find its way onto countless cars from Austin, Morris, Wolseley, MG and Healey? There are many explanations for what MOWOG means – some credible and others less so – but we’re here to set the record straight.

maxresdefaultFound on engine blocks, transmissions, cylinder heads, and pistons, it dates back to the very origins of the British car industry. Before the merger with Morris Motors in 1935, Wolseley and MG were owned as the personal property of Lord Nuffield. After the merger with the bulk of design work carried out at Cowley, the identification number for chassis and engines on Wolseley was assigned a “W” and the letter “G” was assigned to MG (M was already assigned to Morris). Hence the use of Mo (Morris), Wo (Wolseley) and MG to mark the various components with MOWOG as the result. Although there are competing points of view, even the BMIHT has chimed in (with an answer that we believe to be incorrect) with a statement that the last G stands for Group. The fact that there never was a Morris-Wolseley Group tends to undermine that particular answer and since M could not be repeated for MG, the letter G makes the most plausible sense in the deconstruction of the word.

mowog1Now you know. MOWOG. Kinda catchy.

'MOWOG – A Mystery Solved' have 16 comments

  1. September 18, 2015 @ 10:09 pm Chris H

    I have no idea why I recall this, but when I was a kid in in the UK back in the 60’s (70’s?) there was a 4 wheel drive rallycross special that was made by combining two engines and transmissions with 2-wheel drives into a single ‘Frankenstein’ 4WD machine. It was known as the ‘Bufi-Mowog’, which at the time I understood was derived from the two power plant/transmission names. So now I know the ‘Mowog’ part, but what was ‘Bufi’?


    • August 14, 2021 @ 4:01 am Robert Hitchcock

      This was made by a chap from Barnt Green, I think he ran the Post Office there. I was nearly run over by it when the rear engine throttle stuck open and he lost control when I was a marshal at a rally cross event in Wychbold, probably in the 1970s


  2. January 17, 2016 @ 3:52 pm John Callin

    40 years ago, when I worked at Hollywood Sport Cars, I was told by Ernie Healy (No “E”, no relation to Donald) that MOWOG stood for Morris Wolseley Garages. He was one of the most knowledgeable BMC men that I ever met, a walking parts book. I trust his explanation.


    • May 25, 2020 @ 4:29 am Robert

      I’ve always known it as Morris and Wolseley Garages.
      I worked for a BMC garage in the 70’s


  3. April 26, 2016 @ 11:20 am Anthony Bedford

    Sure, John, because MG stands for Morris Garages, so MOWOG is the amalgamation of MOrris, WOlseley and mG.


  4. November 2, 2016 @ 10:11 am Brian Dent

    I have a Lawn Tractor sitting in my yard , I’m not sure what the motor is the Tractor looks to be hand built . The motor has stamp on it MOWOG with a SN#2G 9370 . It has a Zenith Carb. The tractor is complete . Can you help?


  5. September 12, 2017 @ 6:19 pm Alexander Morris

    I have two engines which I believe are from a 1275 cooper s but the block casting numbers don’t match and there is no information available on the web.Could you guys help?


  6. October 17, 2017 @ 8:12 am Mehdi hashemi

    i have mowog engine inline 6 with 17d226 cod and a11j9
    can anybody help me about powe and engine capacity?


  7. May 4, 2018 @ 3:15 pm Phill Slattery

    I am not convinced about the above explanation.
    Early Austin’s had ‘Britmo’ on castings. Around the time of the BMC merger this changed to ‘Mowog. I think there might be a simpler and more plausible explanation. Britmo clearly stands for British Motors. At the time of the BMC merger Austin was a much bigger entity of the merger than to be left out of the abbreviation, especially to rival Morris. This has always puzzled me. Austin at the time was much larger than Morris and the other companies even smaller, why would they have greater standing. The A series engine developed by Austin started with Britmo then changed to Mowog.
    I doubt that Austin engineers would have allowed their new baby engine to be branded Morris without reference to Austin.
    My interpretation is Mowog simply stands for Motor Works Group.


    • June 20, 2018 @ 12:37 pm Gareth Davis

      When I started working in the Longbridge Design Office in the late 1970s, I found myself issuing new drawings incorporating the MOWOG logo, even though company policy called for the Leyland “Flying Swastika” Logo on all parts by then; this was because we were still adapting parts from older castings or forgings which already had MOWOG on the tools. I asked my older colleagues what it stood for. A small cadre had previously worked at the Drews Lane plant in Washwood Heath (originally a Wolseley factory, latterly BMC Transmissions and Tractors) and indeed, one had been there since before the BMC merger. They were all agreed that MOWOG stood for MOrris WOlseley Grange (or Grainge?). They explained that that was the name of a specialised tractor/agricultural machinery business which Nuffield Motors had taken over just before the decision on the MOWOG logo; the name Grange soon disappeared from the Nuffield portfolio – Morris tractors were branded Nuffield. MOWOG was used on all BMC products after the merger.
      I have searched in vain to find any info on vintage “Grange” tractors, but my old colleagues were adamant at the time; interestingly, one of them did say they were not like the Nuffield product – “more of a lawn mower, sort of thing”. Sadly, none of them are around now to consult.
      I am beginning to doubt myself: such is the power of internet search engines, that “Group” or “mG” are becoming the standard answers to the question. I do find Mr Dents comment on his lawn tractor intriguing, though.


  8. August 17, 2018 @ 7:53 am Bob

    I’m trying to identify a rack and pinion steering assembly installed on my Model A Ford. It is stamped MOWOG CH with numbers 332703 on the pinion box.. I need to replace the right inner tie rod.


  9. February 21, 2019 @ 4:16 am Chris Watts

    Does anyone recognise what car/motor 12H 2453 P1 MOWOG belong to?


  10. February 5, 2020 @ 1:09 pm Brian

    Brits…first they don’t record their automotive history, and MG ( maybe others) apparently not record MGA engine, tranny, body, or rear end numbers then they argue about it after decades pass. It’s so hard to guarantee numbers match.


  11. June 21, 2020 @ 5:24 pm Doug Lyon

    The only explanation I have ever heard:
    MOWOG =
    MO – MO rris
    WO – WO lseley
    G – G arages


    • July 9, 2020 @ 1:22 pm Chris Dixon

      This is the closest to what i have always believed since being a teenager in the 70s or even younger. I believed it stood for Morris Works Garages.


  12. January 30, 2022 @ 2:53 pm Russ Denyer

    MOWOG with the Australia around it was probably made at the Toowoomba Foundry in Queensland Australia.
    My neighbour worked there and when I was working on my Mini he would point out the parts made at the foundry.
    It was the largest foundry in the Southern Hemisphere at the time.
    They made Aston Martin parts, all of the specialist racing heads for Ford worldwide and much more.


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