Cecil Kimber was the founder of MG Motors and was famous for driving the first MG sports car to victory in the Land’s End Trial.
Born on 12 April 1888, Cecil Kimber was educated at Stockport Grammar School. He left with a School Certificate and this, along with the atmosphere of invention, enterprise and making a new start that he had become used to, proved enough to set him on the road to success.
Cecil’s enthusiasm for the auto industry was born when he bought a motorbike shortly after leaving Stockport Grammar. An accident that caused severe injuries to his right leg meant he soon swapped two wheels for four and bought his first car.
After leaving his role at the family’s printing business Cecil went to work for the chief designer at Sheffield-Simplex. During the First World War he moved to AC Cars and then to EG Wrigley, a major supplier to Morris Motors. In 1921, he was hired by William Morris as sales manager at Morris Garages where he began to develop a range of special cars based on Morris bodies.
The MG Marque was born in 1924 and the MG Car Company was formally established four years later to give it a separate identity to Morris Garages. Knowing that success in competitions would boost the success of the MG Marque, Cecil entered and won the London to Lands End trial in ‘Old Number One’, a purpose built competition car that can now be found at the Heritage Motor Centre in Gaydon.
As demand increased, production of the cars moved from a workshop in Oxford to four larger workshops and in 1930, Cecil became managing director of MG. The company moved to a new factory in Abingdon where the cars were made until 1980. During the Second World War, production stopped and the factory was used to make basic parts for the armed forces. Reports suggest Mr Kimber was sacked when he failed to gain the company’s approval in his bid to win the firm an aircraft contract.
Mr Kimber went on to work for coachbuilder Charlesworth before moving to piston maker Specialloid.
On Sunday, February 4, 1945, he boarded a train at Kings Cross bound for Leeds. He was killed when the carriage he was travelling in was derailed.
In 2014 Blue Plaques were installed at the Boundary House in Abingdon and on Cecil’s childhood home in Stockport to honour his contribution to the motor industry.
Read our feature on Cecil Kimber in the following edition of the Old Stops’ Review: