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Document of the Month - September 2022

This month, we're celebrating the 60th birthday of the MGB. For the document of the month, I'm focussing on a selection of six MGB sales brochures from our collection.

These brochures date from 1968 to 1979, and they all have something very striking in common: they all feature air- or wind-related sporting activities!

MGB Sales Brochure 1979 - Japanese - PlaneMGB Sales Brochure 1976 - USA - Hang gliderMGB Mk II Sales Brochure 1968 - USA edition - Sailboats

From hot air balloons to windsurfers, via aeroplane, sailboats, seaplane and even a hang glider, these brochures seem determined to highlight the "sporty" side of this classic sports car. Interestingly, all of these brochures were designed for an international audience: most were for North America and the USA, but one (the aeroplane) was for the Japanese market.

One possible reason for these lavish backgrounds could be that in the 1960s and 1970s, car sales brochures were only just moving away from the hand-drawn illustrations of the 1950's and before. This new use of technology opened up the scope for more outlandish and detailed settings than would previously have been the case.

The sporty emphasis continues through the language used in the brochures. The MGB was habitually described as "the wide-open sports car", a concept which may have been taken a bit too far in the 1976 USA brochure, which encourages readers to "just open wide, and say: 'Ah!'". There were other recurring themes through the brochures as well, from highlighting the "race-proven suspension" to repeated use of words like "adventure", "soar", "ready for action", "agile", "eager" and "lively".

MGB Sales Brochure 1978 - WindsurfersMGB Sales Brochure 1976 - North America - SeaplaneMGB Sales Brochure 1978 - North America - Hot Air Balloon

One of my personal favourites is the 1977 brochure which features a seaplane on its front cover. This brochure absolutely ran with the airborne connection, describing the MGB as "as close as you're likely to come, without wings, to the exhilaration of flying", and inviting customers to "test-fly" the car. This concept was revisited the following year in the hot air balloon brochure, which tells readers to "rev-up the engine. And fly!", describes the car as a "flying machine" and even boasts that it can "carry extra baggage for long-distance flights".

If you'd like to see this selection of brochures in person, they're all on view in our Archive Display Cabinet in the Museum this month. Or to see them in more detail, you can book an appointment to consult the records in our Reading Room by emailing: history@britishmotormuseum.co.uk