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THE M.G. MARQUE evolved from Kimber Specials built by Morris Garages’ Cecil Kimber as early as 1923. The M.G. Octagon was registered as a trademark in 1924, and specials from Kimber were increasingly known by the M.G. name. At Britain’s Motor Show in 1928, Autocar predicted, “The M.G. Midget will make small sports car history.”
The car was described in the catalog as an 8/33, in the traditional English taxable horsepower/real horsepower manner. On the other hand, as F. Wilson McComb noted in his Classic Cars in Profile No. 45, “There was precious little justification for the type designation ‘8/33’ quoted in the catalog, and it has been suggested that this 8 h.p. car normally shows a 33 p.s.i. pressure on the oil gauge! A happy thought, but more probably Kimber was aware that [rival] Austin Motor Co. claimed 33 b.h.p. for their supercharged Sports Model.”
The original M.G. Midget had only 20 hp.
McComb wrote, “A set of M.G. hub-centres for the wheels, four cycle-type mudguards, a neat little vee-shaped windscreen with a highly elementary hood for wet weather, a cleverly scaled-down version of the new M.G. Six radiator—and the job was done. No wonder Motor Sport hailed it as ‘A little gem of a car, fit to take two people and their luggage anywhere, happy as can be.’ ”
McComb commented that the early M-Types “had rear-hinged doors, no fins on the brake-drums, a rather dreadful transmission handbrake, a not altogether satisfactory arrangement of rod-and-cable in which the front brake cables ran through 180 degrees to operate pendant cam-levers, and (possibly because of the brakes) white-faced instruments.”
I like this subtle suggestion as to efficacy of the car’s braking.
A July 1929 Motor road test reported a top speed of 65 mph, not bad for the era, and 42 mph in second with “only the vaguest suspicion of valve bounce.” In another evaluation typical of the era, it was found “the ‘M’ would trickle along at 5 mph” in top gear.
Motor continued, “… steering is finger-light and dead accurate, so that one can place the car exactly where required…. The M.G. is an absolute revelation on hills, and the Brooklands test hill, with its maximum gradient of 1 in 4, was taken as though it did not exist….
I’ve driven that Brooklands test hill in a Mercedes-Benz 300SL, and indeed it is steep.
In May 1930, M.G. Midgets garnered the Team Prize at the Brooklands Double-Twelve. By the way, this event was Britain’s counterpart to France’s Le Mans. It was split into two twelve-hour stints to quell Brooklands residents who objected to racing at night, even though cars were fitted with regulatory Brooklands silencers.
Several weeks later, a pair of Midgets ran at the 1930 Le Mans. McComb noted, “The first M.G.s to race in France had fabric bodies with steeply flared scuttle, the spare wheel mounted on the nearside, and an 18-gallon tank in the tail.”
“The venture was not a howling success,” McComb wrote. One car “ran its big-ends after fracturing an oil-pipe at dusk…” The other “damaged its steering in a crash, then over-revved because of clutch-slip and finally broke the crankshaft early the following morning.”
On the other hand, McComb noted other Midget presence in events around the world: “… several class wins in a South African hillclimb, a class win in a Czechoslovakian hillclimb, and second overall in a similar event in Singapore.”
Production of more than 3000 M-Type Midgets continued through June 1932. In the model’s last two years, M.G. also built 44 C-Types, competition models based on the M-Type.
I’ve had the pleasure of driving an M.G. C-Type. “It’s a genuine racing car,” I noted, “all of its elements resonating gently on startup… All in all, the MG C-Type is a delight.” I can see why the M.G. M-Type was so successful. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2019