Bonneville Salt Flats and MG
Three times per year automotive experts gather at the most iconic speed track in the world: the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. The 30,000 acres of the salt flats are near the Nevada and Utah border. The space is so large that the curves of the earth are visible. When the salt is completely dry (which it is for the majority of the year), it is so hard that cars barely even leave tracks. It is such an inhospitable environment that nothing lives there. Despite the harsh conditions, it has become the perfect place to test cars, especially when looking to achieve land-speed records.
Why Use the Salt Flats
During the heyday of the automobile, from 1935 to 1970, the salt flats were used regularly so drivers could set Land Speed Records, from short 10 mile speed trials to endurance races that lasted for two full days. People recognize the salt flats as an area that commands speed. In the world of car, speed sells, which is why the salt flats were also used as a backdrop for advertising campaigns.
MG and Land Speed Records
One of the earliest and most profitable advertising campaigns involved the MG brand. The British car brand was an early favorite for Americans who loved seeing the speedy coupes on the salt flats. At the close of the second World War, MG sent several cars to the salt flats to draw attention to their technology and speed. The MG EX179 (with an EXperimental engine) hit 120 miles per hour during a test drive on the flats. The engine that powered the experimental model later filled the popular MG TF in the 1950s. The time at the salt flats was responsible for the increase in sales of the classic little MG TF, despite the fact that the car still had the look of a car that was 20 years old.
World Records that Last
The wooden body tub style of the MG TF was not the last MG to see success due to the power of the salt flats. There were several other MG models that set lasting records at Bonneville. In the 1990s, the MG/Rover set a record of 217 miles per hour with a car they called Project EXF. Then, in 2003, the MG Rover with the MG- ZZT set a new record of 225 miles per hour – in a station wagon. The record still exists.