The Story Behind the MG Slogan, ‘Safety Fast!’
by Bob Vitrikas
The MG slogan ‘Safety Fast!’ has been associated with the MG marque for 94 years and the MG Car Club for 64 years. Where did the idea come from?
In fact this story comes to us courtesy of Pat Ewing, my South African MG friend Norm Ewing’s wife. In 1975 Norm and Pat were visiting George and Susan Tuck, MG Publicity Manager who settled in South Africa during his retirement.
Pat asked George that same question, “Where did ‘Safety Fast!’ come from?” George replied, “That’s an interesting story.” And so it was! In Norm’s words, here’s how George told the story....
“He told us how one rainy day in 1929, his boss Ted Colegrove was driving behind one of the new Oxford busses. To warn those behind that it was fitted with brakes all round, and not just at the front so it could stop much quicker, painted on the back was a large Dewandre Triangle with ‘Safety First!’ emblazoned on it.
Ted thought if it was altered to read ‘Safety Fast!’ it would be a wonderful slogan. When he went back to Kimber with his idea, he (Kimber) was at his desk steaming about a newspaper ad someone had sent him of the present MG ad, “Faster than most!” to which was added “bicycles”.
Seeing it could not be messed with, Colegrove was immediately instructed to use ‘Safety Fast!’. If Pat had not asked that question, none of us, no matter how long we researched, would ever have found the answer.
During an interview in 1979, MG General Manager in the ‘50s and ‘60s, John Thornley told me his interpretation of ‘Safety Fast!’
“I have always done my best to persuade people that if they want a motor car to go faster, the first thing they look at is its stability, the second is the ability to stop it and the third to increase its power. In that order.”
I believe most race car designers would agree with that statement.
As it has been since April 1959, the slogan ‘Safety Fast!’ continues to be used to this day as the name of the MG Car Club’s magazine.
Ah but there’s more to the story. For reasons unknown to me, initially the Club magazine’s masthead was ‘Safety Fast’ without the exclamation mark. That omission was corrected in 1982 at the first MG Car Club European “summit” at Hausach, Germany.
The late and then MG Car Club Chairman Bill Wallis was fielding comments and suggestions from MG Car Club European delegates. After going ‘round the room, Bill asked the South African delegate, my South African friend, Norm Ewing, if he had any complaints. Norm pointed out that years earlier George Tuck, MG Publicity Manager, told Norm that the Club masthead should have an exclamation point after Safety Fast. Norm added that the correct logo type should be used as well. Wallis said, “I’ll see to it.’ And so he did. Shortly thereafter the mast head had the exclamation mark and the correct type face and so it remains to this day.
Before and After