Simanaitis Says

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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.”

This particular M.G. Midget M-Type was one of the cars earning the Team Prize in the 1930 Brooklands Double-Twelve. This and other images from Classic Cars in Profile, Vol. 2: Profiles Nos. 25 – 48, Anthony Harding general editor, Doubleday and Company, 1967.

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.

The M.G. Midget was based on the Morris Minor, sharing its chassis, overhead-camshaft four-cylinder engine displacing 847 cc, and non-synchro three-speed gearbox.

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.’ ”

“The hood stowed neatly in the boot lid,” McComb noted, “leaving a surprising amount of luggage space in the pointed tail of the Midget body.

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.

“The rear-view mirror,” McComb noted, “is a non-standard addition. As a friend used to say, “What’s past is past….”

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.

M.G. Midgets on the Brooklands banking in 1930.

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.”

A pair of M-Types ran in the 1930 Le Mans 24-hour race.

“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,, 2019

2 comments on “THE M.G. MIDGET M-TYPE

  1. Eli Solomon
    October 1, 2019

    Dear Dennis, interesting that you pointed out Wilson McComb’s reference to a second place finish for an M-Type Midget in a Singapore hillclimb. McComb was referring to the Singapore Volunteer Corp’s Motorcycle Platoon 3rd Gap Hill Climb held on 8 September 1929, the third year this hillclimb was run and the last time it was organised by the SVC. That year a class of cars was included in the event for the first time, though limited to cars under 1-litre. There were six entries and the winning car was a 990cc overhead cam-engined Fiat 509 (Track Model), driven by P. Bird of FIAT agents Italasia in Singapore. S.W.G. Edlin was second, in an MG M-Type Midget. Bird’s Fiat 509 time was 1min 33 2/5 sec vs Edlin’s Midget at 1 min 34 1/5 sec.

    The entries included A. Saltmarsh in a Morris Minor, F.A. Jones in a Singer Junior Sports, A.J. Goddard in a Triumph Super-Seven, J. Robson in an Austin Seven, S.W.G. Edlin in the MG M-Type Midget and P. Bird in the Fiat 509 Sports.

    In the first run Bird set 1min 34 1/10sec. Edlin was second with a 1 min 34 1-10 sec run as well with Jones in the Singer in at 1 min 41 7/10sec. Bird set his best time in the second run – a 1min 33 2/5sec run versus Edlin’s 1 min 34 1/5sec run. Robson was third in the Austin Seven at 1 min 41 1-5sec.
    Source: Volume I, LOST CIRCUITS – Motor Racing Tales From The Far East (unpublished).

  2. simanaitissays
    October 2, 2019

    Thanks for this interesting expansion of McComb’s comment. I’m fascinated by the global aspects of it all.

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