MG at centre of Alchemy plans

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The Independent Online

Alchemy intends to call the new business the MG Car Company and develop a new range "worthy of the sporting heritage of the MG name".

Whenever enthusiasts the world over think of the definitive British sports car, they think of MG's classic octagon badge.

The marque dates back to 1922 when Morris Garages began customising four-seater Morris Cowley saloons into nifty two-seaters.

Offered in pastel colours it made a lively alternative to the "any colour you want so long as it's black" attitude of the time.

By the 1930s MG had won itself a reputation in sporting circles.

Typified by its long bonnet and two-seater style, the company really scored a hit with its MG TC - the first sports car launched in the post-war market.

The agile machine won instant appeal with its wire wheels, chrome radiator and slab petrol tank, particularly with American GIs. Ten thousand were sold in four years - a remarkable achievement for the time.

In 1955 there was the distinctive MGA, and the Sixties produced the sluggish but cute MG Midget.

But the MGB, in 1962, really set the marque apart for its must-have design. It seems that anyone who's anyone has owned an MGB at one time, from Sting to Angela Rippon, and more than half a million were built at the company's Abingdon plant.

One of the Prince of Wales' first cars was an MGC GT, and it earned him a parking ticket three months after he took ownership in 1968.

Merged into British Leyland, MG executives and 100 American car dealers gathered at a special dinner in 1980 to mark the company's anniversary only to hear the brand was being killed off.

The name remained, but in an emasculated form. With no respect for MG's racing heritage, its badge was attached to souped-up special editions of the Metro and Montego.

Then the marque was properly revived under BMW's ownership in 1995 with the launch of the MGF.

But if a new dawn awaits MG, the disappearance of the Rover marque will mean that yet another great name from Britain's motoring history will drive off into the sunset.

Car enthusiasts can lovingly recall those great names from the past - Austin, Morris, Healey, Riley and Wolseley.

They reflected a golden age of British production when different models were instantly recognised rather than the predominantly look-alike cars of today.

Rover itself was merely part of a company which underwent a few name changes of its own.

What we now know as Rover was, variously, the British Motor Corporation, British Leyland and BL, with the foundations for the company being formed by pioneering motor industry giants Herbert Austin and William Morris who later became Lord Nuffield.

It was Austin who introduced the legendary Austin 7, while Morris not only built cars bearing his own name but accumulated others like Riley and Wolseley as well.

The Healey name came from Donald Healey, an enthusiast who managed to run the Healey 100 into the hugely-successful Austin-Healey 3000. His name also went into the Austin-Healey Sprite sports car.

The formation of British Leyland meant the merger of the Austins and Morrises with another great name from the past - Triumph, or Standard-Triumph as it had been.

The Standard Motor Company had been saved during the 1930s by the efforts of Sir John Black who helped produce the Standard Vanguard in the 1940s. The Standard company became, first, Standard-Triumph and then Triumph.

Two other legendary motoring figures - brothers William and Reginald Rootes - produced other long-gone, but proud, names such as Hillman, Humber, Singer and Sunbeam.

Ford gave to the world not only the Cortina but two other much-loved, but now sadly departed, models - the Ford Anglia and the Ford Prefect. The latter model even turned up in Douglas Adams's Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy as a name for one of the characters.

While many of the founding fathers of the UK motor industry no longer have their names on cars, some of the great names survive.

Henry Royce and Charles Rolls, for example, joined forces in 1904 and have remained inextricably linked ever since.