May 27th, 2016

Records are meant to be broken and history books meant to be rewritten. This is something the world throughout its history, has taken pretty seriously and why would it not, for nothing can substitute the thrill and experience of speed and being in control of everything as you sit behind the wheel. Thus, setting land speed records comes naturally to true blue racers and engineers alike and when backed by relentless pursuit by car companies to achieve immortality through record books, legends are made. One such legend is MG Car Company, which in the late 1950’s kept setting and then kept breaking its own land speed records at will. In this feature, we will discuss how MG Broke the World Speed Record.

It was the year 1957 when the MG Car Company decided to attempt the land speed record with the legendary racer Stirling Moss behind the wheel of the legendary MG EX181 at the Bonneville Salt Flats. The MG EX181 was an unusually shaped but highly aerodynamic in nature and it had entered in Class F of Land Speed records which consisted of cars with engines in the range of 1.1 to 1.5 litres. History knows this MG EX181 as the car in which how MG Broke the World Speed Record for the first time in 1957. The car had a twin cam 1500cc, supercharged MGA engine that produced a maximum power output of 290bhp at 7000rpm and was designed to run on 86% methanol laced with nitrobenzene, acetone and sulphuric ether.

MG EX181 with Stirling Moss

The day when MG Broke the World Speed Record for the first time was on the 23rd of August 1957 when Stirling Moss took this highly aerodynamic MG EX181 car to the highest attained speed of 245.64mph or 395.31 kmph, in turn decimating the previous land speed record in the category that was 203 mph. However, this did not stop MG to stop with the design and development of the MG EX181, when two years later in 1959 MG again took the EX181 back to the Bonneville, that year too, MG Broke the World Speed Record. In 1959 record breaking attempt, the MG EX181 was driven by race car driver Phil Hill and the car used and upgraded engine that now produced a staggering 300bhp for a tiny little 1500cc engine, a feat that is extraordinary even by today’s standards. In 1959 when MG Broke the World Speed Record, the driver Phil Hill took the MG EX181 to a top speed of 254.91 mph or 410.23 kmph, thereby easily setting a time much better than that set by the same car driven by Stirling Moss just 2 years previously.

We recently got our hands on a video that talks about and showcases how the idea of the legendary MG EX181 was conceived in 1957 when the car was driven by Stirling Moss and MG broke the world speed record for the first time. The video shows how the draughtsman worked on the drawing board designing the “fastest 1.5 Lt car in the world” along with how the various parts of the prototype such as the chassis, tank, wheels, while a man sits in the driver seat a steering wheel is mounted, after which an airofoil dynamic outer body shell is installed over the chassis.

MG EX181 Front-Left Three Quart

The video also showcases how Stirling Moss along with the designers tested the sitting position of the car throughout the design process, and so does the pedals and other operating controls on the MG EX181. The tiny little engine with massive firepower was placed at the rear of the car when MG broke the world speed record. Further, in the video you can also see how the car was disassembled and sent to Utah for the land speed record attempt. The Video also features Captain George Eyston who brought MG Car Company its first ever world record in 1930.

In this video, you can see how the Stirling Moss and his MG EX181 was pushed to start by seven men which then set the staggering top speed numbers for those times (and even in today’s time as well). In the final moments of this 14-minute long video, you can see the gathered crowd of MG personnel and Land Speed record officials congratulate a visibly happy Stirling Moss on his achievement and quite fittingly, the video ends with a caption that reads; “MG Proudly Maintains the Breed”.

Even though this is a slightly longer video for today’s fast times, this video showcases the times and the men when things were above corporate gains, they were all about passion and organizations striving for greatness. it is an absolute worthy of a watch to keep your passion and adrenaline pumping. Do let us know what you think about this story of how MG broke the world speed record in the comments section below.


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