Export or Die - Post-WWII British Car Exportation

At the end of the Second World War, Great Britain had a problem. They and their allies had won the war, but the country was financially destitute. The government had spent all their money (and then some) defeating the enemy. To bring cash back into the island nation, the English government ordered all manufacturers to sell their product to other countries. "Export or Die" became the slogan of those hard times.

Many American soldiers had enjoyed the quirky little English sports cars that they had driven while stationed overseas and they had brought these cars back to the States when they returned. The English automobile companies recognized that the United States was a rich nation and that these soldiers were a ready-made sales force.

MG is probably the best recognized of these manufacturers. The popular MG-TC was a car that the company manufactured and sold as the MG-TA and TB before the war. Production was halted in 1939 and the factory produced munitions until 1945. With only minor changes from it's pre-war design the company had sold 10,000 examples of the car by 1949. The TC was only available with right-hand drive since it had not been originally conceived for the American market. It had spindly 19-inch wheels, leaked oil when it ran, leaked water when it rained, and was an absolute blast to drive!

By the mid-fifties thousands of British cars were being imported into the United States and this number continued to grow into the 60's. But, by the time the 70's rolled around people began to become disillusioned with the English auto manufacturers. The English car companies had never made a big effort to establish a comprehensive service or parts network in the US. The English motorists did not consider this same lack of service in the home country to be a big problem; the Brit's "stiff upper lip" and all that rot. But, here in America, the English car's bad reputation began to affect sales.

The American cars of the day were becoming fast, comfortable and reliable and people were less willing to put up with the troublesome British cars. Some people continued to use their cars on a limited basis, while their American sedan became the everyday family driver. Others were sold off to younger people who could enjoy the cars despite the shortcomings. But, the cars were expensive to maintain, and these new owners also put the cars to limited use. Nobody wanted to get rid of their sports car, and so, many were hidden in barns and garages because, if not practical, they were and still are, a lot of fun.

By the eighties and nineties, with the surging American economy, owners could justify the cost of a "fun" car again. Many of these cars have been brought out of storage, repaired or restored and the owners are again learning the joys of "motoring".

At Ragtops & Roadsters we are enthusiasts who have been repairing and restoring British cars since 1990. Customers come to us from all over the northeastern United States to have their "fun" car brought back to life. We work with them, as we will work with you, to bring back the fun you had when your British car was new, the sun was shining and the open road beckoned.