When It Happens Panel Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting 'OXFORD NEWS' to 80360 or email
Special birthday party at palace for MGB car
5:00pm Saturday 22nd September 2012 in News
CLASSIC car enthusiasts from around the world will race to Blenheim Palace tomorrow, for the 50th birthday party of the Abingdon-built MGB.
The iconic car, with its lightweight body and acceleration of 0 to 60 in 11 seconds, became the most popular sports car that MG ever produced.
Retired workers from the Kimber Road factory will join with hundreds of MG enthusiasts to celebrate their part in motoring history.
John Sheppard, from Drayton, worked at the factory from 1962 until it closed. And as a safety engineer he supervised the deconstruction of the machinery.
Mr Sheppard, 69, said: “I started just after the first day they produced the MGB, and I had to drill holes for badges in these new cars, I was horrified.
“I probably know almost every job on that car,” he added.
“The MGB is just a wonderful car to drive, they really don’t make them like that any more.
“Being on the management team we used to buy them at a discount, I owned four of five.”
The Abingdon factory produced 512,243 MGBs between 1962 and 1980 and at the height of production employed 1,400 people.
Although it was known at the time as the “poor man’s sports car”, the MGB was highly popular, and around 75 per cent were exported to America by boat, for which journey the entire car had to be covered in wax, to prevent sea water getting to the coating.
Tomorrow, the Abingdon-based automotive coating company Zircotec and the MG Car Club in Abingdon, both housed in the same buildings at the former MG factory, are paying for Mr Sheppard and his co-workers’ return journey to Blenheim on a coach.
Chris Seaward, from the MG Car Club, said: “MG is locked into the DNA of Abingdon.
“It is one of the world’s greatest sports cars, and over half of them were made here.
“There are so many fans for MG even though the factory closed in 1970, it is still tangible.”
The last MGB ever produced in the Abingdon factory was returned to the Abingdon County Hall Museum in December last year, with help from British Motor Heritage.