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Watch: F1 driver Stirling Moss break the land speed record in an MG

By Mathilda Bartholomew | June 10, 2024

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Back in the 1950s, MG Motor hit 246mph with Stirling Moss behind the wheel of the Ex181, defying expectations of what was possible at the time.

Imagine hitting hypercar speeds back in the 50s—MG Motor did just that with Stirling Moss and the Ex181.

While today’s MG Motor cars are all about passenger comfort, there was a time when they aimed for the title of the world’s fastest car. Enter the MG Ex181, which smashed land speed records in 1957.

MG Motor saw the marketing potential of creating one of the fastest cars in the world and developed the Ex181 in 1956 to break the Class F land-speed record for cars with engines between 1.1 and 1.5 litres.

The Ex181's standout feature was its teardrop-shaped aluminium body, designed to minimise aerodynamic drag and earning it the nickname 'Roaring Raindrop.' Underneath was a mid-mounted 1.5-liter twin-cam supercharged engine, delivering an impressive 290PS of power.

The final piece of the puzzle was the driver. Joining Phil Hill was Sir Stirling Moss, already a top F1 driver with six wins.

On August 23, 1957, at Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats, Moss and the Ex181 hit a top speed of 245.64 mph (395.31 km/h), breaking the previous record by over 42 mph (67.59 km/h). This record was soon surpassed again by MG in 1959 with Phil Hill reaching 254.91 mph (410.23 km/h) at Bonneville.

The Ex181 was MG’s last land speed record car and now resides at the British Motor Heritage Centre Museum in Warwickshire, England. Today, MG continues to innovate with fuel-efficient engines and hybrid technology.

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