Selling Morris and MG Cars at Victoria Super Service Ltd.
Octagon Newsletter … February 1993
By Robin Yellowlees
It was in September 1949, that I began an exciting second period of my career selling British cars, the month when the first large shipment of Morris cars arrived in Victoria - fourteen to be exact. Up until this time John Scruton had been the sole person selling Morris Series E8 and series M10 saloons and the very occasional MG TC. The new Morris Minor and Oxford models that arrived were to appeal to a much larger number of people, however, and Morris and MG dealerships were to spring up all over British Columbia.
Many members of the MG Club of Victoria would find it hard to realize that, back in those days, the MG was a make of car understood only by a bare handful of people, and misunderstood by the local police force, who saw it as a dangerous menace on the road driven by a handful of undesirables with little or no respect for the laws of the road! For our part, we felt that, to sell MGs, it was necessary for us to meet with and try to educate the police and the public to the joys of driving these very different types of cars and to demonstrate the safety factors incorporated in the design so that, they at least, realized that we were offering a safe product to the public. To this end we invited the highway patrol officers to drive the cars themselves and I remember being invited, as an after dinner speaker, at the Chamber of Commerce to talk to the members about sports cars and their place in the world of motoring at that time.
During these early days, it might be fair to say that the MG was a misfit or an outsider on the roads of Victoria. Only those of us who owned them and loved them, and a small but growing number of young people who longed to be able to drive one, ensured that the MG was here to stay, but I venture to say that none of us could have foreseen the day where the MG would outsell Austins and Morrises, and, for a good few years, would be the top selling English car in the Province.
But to go back to 1949, 1950 and 1951. The reason the MG started its uphill fight for acceptance and respectability was because of a small number of enthusiasts like you, who knew that they were driving an altogether different, more stimulating car, a car that as we all know only too well, makes going from A to B far more fun. The Spirit of Abingdon had arrived! We sold hundreds and hundreds of Morris Minors and Oxfords during the three years and perhaps twenty-five to thirty MGs, but many of the MGs were destined for a kind of immortality and are treasured as true classics today. Doesn't it seem strange that in those days a new MG TC sold for $1895.00, a TD about $50.00 more with virtually no takers! One of the Series MO (overstuffed Minors) Oxfords sold quite well for approximately $2400.00. The four of us salesmen owned MGs until the end of 1950 when three of us turned to Rileys, which didn't catch on at all as only six were sold, but then they were expensive at over $3000.00 (Doesn't sound much today for a car that oozed class!).
You must realize that people back in those days were not used to small cars, four cylinders, four gears on the floor that needed to be used, steering on the wrong side (in the case of the TC) and I could go on. But by 1951 English cars had truly arrived and were widely accepted and MG firmly established itself with the more comfortable, less exciting TD.
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