The day broke cool and overcast. We were off to the MG factory and later to an MG Dealer to get the cars serviced. The factory was supposedly a 1.5 hour drive, so we left early to miss the traffic.
After 3 hours of non stop bumper to bumper crawling we found ourselvesat a modern factory surrounded by cabbage patches and solar panels, 70 miles from the hotel. Way out past the airport. The previous day’s experience of a trouble free drive in to town had faded into distant memory.
SAIC make 6.5m cars a year, mainly for the domestic market. They are the owner of the MG brand, and the 2nd biggest car manufacturer in China after VW, By contrast, the total Australian market is around 1.0m units a year.
After a quick presentation we toured the robotised assembly plant. SUV body shells enter at one end and completed cars exit the other. Off to a quick hour and a half lunch and we were on our way back to the dealer for the car service. You guessed it, it took 3 hours to get back, despite the fact that this was not peak hour traffic. The MG Car Club of Shanghai greeted us on arrival, although we were now running 2 hours late. None of them had seen old English MGs before, so there was lots of pawing over and peering under. Roof off and all they all wanted their photo’s taken in the drivers seat and the girls demanded that I sat in the passenger seat for their selfies. As the Navigator had jumped out on the way and headed back to the hotel (she did not feel she could add much to the car service), I had to deal with the admiring throngs by myself.
We thought that the MG Dealer was going let us use their hoists and work on the cars ourselves. They had kept the whole service team back to assist. The mechanics had never seen cars like these before. Most of them had never wielded a grease gun (modern cars use sealed units that do not have grease nipples). The wire wheels and the knock off system of retaining them was a fascination as were the oil filters. They were most surprised that when they undid these all the contained oil drained out the open bottom over the engine and the floor. Niggly problems were fixed on some of the cars. I found that the rear exhaust bracket had broken, so they rebuilt it for me.
A final presentation, speeches and thanks to all and we were on our way back to the hotel a little after 7.00pm.