by Frank Ochal
Welcome to the new members that have joined since the last issue.
We would like to thank Dan & Beth Falcone, Karen Border of TRF Publications, Tom Schrader, Kevin Rooney, Ron Raymond, Jim Winning and all the other contributors to this issue.
Also thanks to Art Isaacs for his continued work in answering members' technical questions and answers and to John Twist who is now contributing advice to members. Be sure to send in photos and stories so we can include them in future issues of the Octagon.
A decision on Meet 2021 both where and if it will be held will be made in the near future depending on the status Coronavirus pandemic. We will keep you informed of any decisions on our website and in the Octagon.
Moss Motors Ltd. has acquired Victoria British Ltd. I know that Moss Motors will carry on their more that 30 year legacy!
I am pleased to announce that Tech Sections Volumes I & II are now available on CD for the first time. This means that all 4 Tech Section volumes are now available in print, CD or emailed formats. We have now published AMGBA Technical Sections Volume IV which contains sections, topics, questions and answers published in the Octagon from 2008 to current. Various tech section combos are also available in the club store. All of the tech sections are indexed by category such as electrical, suspension, etc. for easy reference and accessibility.We have now published AMGBA Technical Sections Volume IV which contains sections, topics, questions and answers published in the Octagon from 2008 to current. It is available in printed and CD formats and can also be emailed. Various tech section combos are also available in the club store. All of the tech sections are indexed by category such as electrical, suspension, etc. for easy reference and accessibility.
We have expanded our list of free items that members can receive with 3 year membership or renewal. You can now receive either a free t-shirt, a tech CD (or emailed) or past issues of the Octagon in pdf format on CD (or emailed). We offer a 3 year membership or renewal rate for $95 or $125 for members outside the USA. We also have a 3 year eMembership for $65 which also includes the free items. Save money and get a t-shirt or tech sections on CD (or emailed) or Octagons on CD (emailed)!
A result of the full color Octagon magazine is that we are now able to offer free classified ads to members that now include one color photo and contain 50 words. This is because we no longer have a restriction on the pages that ad photos can be placed on.
We have now issued plastic membership cards to all members. All current members should have already received the new plastic membership card. As the new membership card is plastic it is meant to be permanent and will no longer include your membership expiration date. Your membership expiration date and your number can always found on the label on each issue of the printed OCTAGON and other club mailings. You can always call, email or text us if you ever need a replacement card, your membership number or your expiration date..We now have a supply of grille badges back in stock We have gone back to the earlier style. See more information in the Club Store and on the New Products and Services Page.
Join us on Facebook at American MGB Association or follow us on Twitter at amgba. Our Facebook group now has over 1500 members!
We now have an Instagram page. Find us at americanmgbassociation.
Classified ads appear on our Facebook Page and Facebook Group, Instagram and on Twitter as well as the club's website, message board, Octagon and eOctagon.
AMGBA members receive the Octagon, now published in March, June, September and December and the eOctagon, published in February, May, August and November. Send us your email address so that we can send you the eOctagon. The eOctagon is sent via bulk email so if you are blocking this type of email you will not get it.
The club has a Message Board at http://board.mgclub.org, a Blog located at http://blog.mgclub.org . American MGB Association members are able to place ads and access more tech info. The AMGBA Photo Gallery is located at http://photos.mgclub.org .
Please send in your stories and photos to be used in the Octagon. You need an ID and password to access the "members only" section of our website at www.mgclub.org. You will find the ID and password on page 3 of the OCTAGON. These change with each issue so be sure to use only the ones listed in the latest issue. Also now you can to create your own id and password for the members only section. Submit the form on the members only page to do this.
I hope you are able to enjoy the upcoming driving season and stay safe!
(Top Photo:'77 B of Kevin Rooney from Las Vegas, Nevada)
Background to the MG - Part 1
I have promised our MGB customers some stories about the origins of the MG marque and so I began researching them. The one thing I learned about the development of the MG was that it seemed to just sort of grow out of one man’s desire to make a better car than his employer made! Today it would be odd indeed if, for instance, Ford or GM would allow their Sales Manager at one of their car dealerships to purchase a factory-made chassis and then put a body that he or she had designed on the chassis, and then sell the remodeled car. I was not able to determine whether or not Morris got the profit from these cars, or if Cecil Kimber made the profit from them, or if they split the profit. Another thing I learned during my research was that there were some differences in versions of how the development of the MG marque came about, and there is no clear timeline. But here is my effort to explain how the MG was developed. Because it is such a complicated story, I am going to have to do it in installments. I have also included a list of books and web links that I used for research, so you can read more about the subject
Installment 1. Background to the MG
The history of MG cars began in the early 1920s as a sideline sales promotion business of Morris Garages. William Richard Morris (later 1st Viscount Nuffield) started a garage in Oxford in the early 1900s and by 1910 the name was known as Morris Garages, Limited. At that time, Morris Garages began to produce the Morris Oxford, a series of models which included the 1913 Bullnose Oxford, and continued through 1935 with the Farina Oxfords V and VI.
The Oxford Bullnose was designed in 1912, and produced in March 1913. It was a small car with a White and Poppe 1018 cc four-cylinder, side-valve engine with fixed cylinder head. It had a distinctive radiator with a bullet-nose rounded top, sort of like the front of many farm tractors. It was an open-tourer, two-seat car, but they also made a van version. No four-seat versions were made as the chassis was too short and not strong enough. The Bullnose de luxe had a longer chassis with different body versions and it became available in November 1913. The body versions included limousines, sporting cars, and vans.
In 1915, Morris developed the Continental Cowley, and it included an engine from the United States made by the Continental Motor Manufacturing Company of Detroit. This 1495 cc engine was 50 percent larger than the 1018 cc engines previously used, and the car was also longer, wider and featured other components from the United States. Some of the other parts from America included the clutch and three-speed gearbox from Detroit Gear & Machine Co. The front and back axles and steering gear also came from America. The car design still had the Bullnose radiator, and because it had a larger and stronger chassis, it was available in a two-seater body with occasional seats at the rear, which I believe in America we might have called "Rumble Seats", but in England they were called "Dickie Seats". Dickie seats were sometimes called "mother-in-law seats" and they originated from horse-drawn carriages. Their purpose was as a place for servants or guards to ride. Or children would ride in the Dickie seat.
The Cowley was also the first Morris car that included electric lighting as a standard feature on the cars, but lighting was not provided as standard on Cowley delivery vans. Lucas was, of course, the lighting supplier. Production halted during WWI because it became difficult to get the parts from America, and the factory was used to make munitions. Several Continental engines were lost at sea during the war. The last Continental Cowley was made in 1920, and used the last of the American engines.
After the war, in 1919, the Morris Cowley was updated and called the Cowley Bullnose. The engine was switched to a Hotchkiss & Cie French engine, that was manufactured at the Hotchkiss branch factory in Coventry, England. Morris would end up buying the Hotchkiss works around May of 1923, and it became known as the Morris engine branch. From 1919 on, the Cowley was what we would call the "Economy Model", and was only available in a two-seater model with smaller, lighter tires. You can read more about the Cowley on this wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morris_Cowley. This article gives detailed specifications for the cars and the engines.
In addition to the Cowley Bullnose, Morris continued development of the Oxford Bullnose. It was modified to have a longer wheelbase and stronger construction, and could carry up to five passengers. It featured a self-starter and had a better electrical system than the Cowley. It was what we would call, the "Deluxe Model". It featured the Hotchkiss 11.9 fiscal horsepower 1548 cc engine. The Oxford Bullnose was admired because the transmission and everything that revolved, except the fan belt, was fully enclosed in an oil bath.
One notable thing about William Morris was that he introduced the techniques of mass production to England by using the assembly line processes that Henry Ford had been successful with in America. Prior to this, most automobiles had been built one-at-a-time. The Cowley and the Oxford became mass produced cars. From 1919–1925 Morris expanded his production from Oxford into factories at Abingdon, Birmingham, and Swindon.
We will leave the development of the Morris Cowley and Oxford cars, and for the next installment, I hope to be able to cover the beginnings of the MG, Cecil Kimber, and Old Number One. In my research, I came across an English group of pre-1930 Morris car owners called the Morris Bullnose Club. Here is a link to their web page: http://www.bullnose.org.uk/. They have several photo galleries on the website which you might like to view. At the end of this letter is a list of the sources that I used and I am including this installment of the story and some photos on our Photos of the Week page. I welcome any comments or corrections to this series on the MG. Please send your comments and edits to firstname.lastname@example.org.
INSTALLMENT 2. THE EVOLUTION OF THE MG AND OLD NUMBER ONE
Cecil Kimber (1888 - 1945) was born in Dulwich, South London, and he is credited with being the driving force behind the creation of the MG sports car. In 1921, he became the Sales Manager for Morris Garages in Queen Street in Oxford. Morris Garages was a sales and service center for Morris Motors, Limited, and included the main sales facility in Queen Street, a repair garage at Longwall Street and Holywell, and workshops in Cornmarket Street. William Morris also owned a manufacturing facility in Cowley where the Morris Oxford and Cowley cars were made. In 1922, Kimber became the general manager of Morris Motors after the resignation of Edward Armstead, and was then responsible for managing the sales office, the repair garage, and the workshops.
Kimber was aware that many people wanted cars that looked and performed more like sports cars than the cars that Morris offered, and he knew that people would pay a premium for them, thus increasing the profit for the business. He began promoting sales by producing his own special versions of Morris cars to appeal to people who wanted a custom or sporting car. In addition to being a sales manager and general manager, Kimber was also a visionary, and he and his wife, Irene, drew and designed custom body coaches. To build the cars that would eventually become the MG, Kimber first used the Morris Bullnose Cowley chassis and running gear from the Morris factory, and then he added his custom coachwork which he had produced by Carbodies of Coventry. The suspension was lowered and the high steering components were modified and lowered (raked). The car colours were pastel and they were two-seaters with leather seats and with the "Dicky Seat" (occasional seat) behind. The hood was unique because it covered the front seats as well as the occasional seat at the back. The car was nicknamed a "Chummy" which might have been because the hood covered all of the passengers and not just the two in front. One source called these cars "Kimber Specials".
he cars were originally assembled at the Longwall Street repair garage, but in 1923, they needed more room. They moved to an old stabling yard in Alfred Lane which Morris had used to store used vehicles. The assembly staff consisted of Cecil Cousins and his assistant, Stan Saunders, Jack Lowndes and George Morris.
Eager to prove that his cars were true sport cars, Kimber entered a Chummy with a race-tuned engine in a road race. In March 1923, Kimber won a gold medal in the London-to-Land’s End-Trial. He celebrated his win by designing and ordering six two-seater coaches from Raworth of Oxford. These bodies featured yacht-like scuttle ventilators and rakishly slanted windscreens braced on the sides by triangular glass supports. These 11.9 hp Raworth Chummies were probably the first cars to be referred to as an M.G. However, sales were slow because the cars were twice as expensive as a Morris Cowley.
William Morris, seeing an opportunity for profit, created his own version of a "Chummy," called the "Occasional Four", and priced it lower than Kimber’s Chummies. Knowing that he had to make a distinction between his Chummies and the Occasional Four, Kimber next tried the Chummy coach on the Morris Oxford chassis and added a more powerful 14 hp engine later in 1923. Sales of this car were not too successful, so in 1924, Kimber tried a more elegant saloon body, designed by G.S. (Jack) Gardiner who was one of Kimber’s sales team, on the Morris 14/28 Bullnose radiator, Oxford chassis. This car body was of polished aluminum and may have been fabricated by Clary Hughes of Birmingham. Gardiner’s car was so distinctive that Kimber created a similar one with a coach from Carbodies for Billy Cooper who was a timekeeper at the Brooklands track. His car attracted a lot of attention when drivers and spectators saw it parked at the track entrance.
Morris Motors made some changes to the Oxford chassis in September 1924, which included a nine-foot long wheelbase. Kimber took the longer chassis and designed an all aluminum, four-seater open tourer with optional two colour paint on the bonnet, boot, and wings to go with the polished aluminium side panels. He dropped the Morris Motor name and advertised them as the M.G. 14/28 Super Sports, "our popular M.G. Saloon". At least four different versions of the 14/28 Super Sport were offered at the 1924 Motor Show, including an open two-seater, open 4-seater tourer, and a vee-front saloon. The car badge was still the Morris Oxford badge that was used on all of the Morris cars, but a separate MG octagon badge, "MG Super Sports", was added to the last of the 14/28 cars built. The cars featured artillery-style wheels in 1924-1925, and then in 1925-1926 they had bolt on wire wheels. Some experts feel that the 1924 Morris 14/28 was the first car to be called the M.G. instead of the 11.9 hp Raworth Chummy. Here is a YouTube video link about the 14/28 Super Sports: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8TCxKrr-gw
In 1925, Morris Garages moved from Alfred Lane, Oxford to a larger place on Bainton Road, which shared space with the Morris radiator works. Also in 1925, Hubert Charles, a Morris engineer, began working in his spare time fitting the MG bodies to the new Bullnose Morris Oxford chassis, and he also worked with Kimber on engine tuning and experimental work. He officially joined MG in 1928 as Chief Draughtsman. Continuing expansion meant another move in 1927 to a separate factory in Edmund Road, Cowley, Oxford, near the main Morris factory and for the first time it was possible to include a production line.
There are several points of view about the MG octagon badge and the official registration date of the M.G. Car Company. The logo appeared in Oxford newspaper ads as early as November 1923, and some sources say it was registered as a Morris Garages trademark on May 1, 1924. Other sources say that it was not a registered trademark until 1925. The exact date when the M.G. Car Company was officially formed also varies between sources. Most sources say it formed in March 1928, and they had their very own stand at the London Motor Show in October 1928.
Old Number One.
Kimber was still interested in garnering racing credentials for his cars. In 1924, he had a special racing car built on a modified Bullnose Cowley chassis and fitted with the Hotchkiss (now owned by Morris) 11.9 hp, 1548cc overhead valve engine. The lightweight, two-seater body was built by Carbodies of Coventry, and had a boat-shaped tail. The rear was modified by cutting the chassis frame and welding new rails which curved up and over the rear axle to secure the rear springs. The engine was tuned and it had a standard Morris 3-speed gearbox. As with all the Kimber Chummies, the high Cowley steering column was lowered. The dash was fitted with a tachometer, fuel and oil gauges, in addition to the standard speedometer and ammeter. Lighting was provided by two small sidelights on each side of the scuttle and a single headlight. The headlight was removed at some unspecified time and is not on the car at the present time. The car was originally painted in plain grey primer, but its current color is red. It was originally registered FC 7900 on March 27, 1925. In March 1950, it was registered under a new number—FMO 842 after a restoration, however in 1959 the car was given back its original registration number.
Kimber drove this car and won a gold medal in the Light Car Class in the 1925 London-to-Land’s End-Trial. The car was then sold to one of Cecil Kimber’s friends. It was offered back to Kimber but he did not purchase it at the time. It was used to haul food for pigs for a while, and then it was purchased in 1932 by a MG employee after he recognized it in a scrap yard in Manchester. He bought the car for £15. The car was restored in the Abingdon factory in 1933 and was used for sales promotions. The Nuffield Organization (formerly Morris Motors) officially christened the car "Old Number One". It was described as being, "The First M.G., Built in 1923," even though it was built in 1924. Many people feel it was not the very first MG car as that honor should go to either one of the 11.9 hp Raworth Chummies or one of the 1924 Morris 14/28 cars. It has been exhibited at many events and shows in England and it was sent to the United States for the 50th anniversary celebration of the MG. Old Number One is currently on permanent display in the Historic Vehicle Collection at the British Motor Museum at Gaydon and is still kept drivable. Here is a link to the British Motor Museum: https://www.britishmotormuseum.co.uk/. You can view a video about Old Number One at this YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tfZKfbfMviw .
Sources Used: The websites listed here provide more
in-depth information and are worth the time to read!
INSTALLMENT 3. ALL ABOUT WILLIAM R. MORRIS, VISCOUNT NUFFIELD
William Richard Morris, 1st Viscount Nuffield, GBE, CH, FRS was born on October 10, 1877 in Worcester, and he was the founder of Morris Motors Limited. He was also a philanthropist and founded the charitable institutions of the Nuffield Foundation, the Nuffield Trust, and Nuffield College, Oxford. Morris married Elizabeth Anstey on April 9, 1903, and they did not have any children.
In his teens, Morris worked as an apprentice to a local bicycle dealer who sold and repaired bicycles. When he turned 16, he began his own repair business in a shed behind his parents’ house in Oxford. He was successful and opened a shop to assemble and repair bicycles at 48 High Street, Oxford. He had his own badge, a gold cycle wheel with "The Morris" words. He was a bicycle racer, and raced his own bicycles in races that varied in distance between one and fifty miles.
He began to build motorcycles in 1901 in a partnership as Morris-Cooper which produced the Morris Motor Cycle. In 1902, after dissolving the partnership, he bought a disused horse stable in Longwall Street, Oxford where he operated several businesses under the name of The Oxford Garage. He still repaired bicycles and sold, repaired, and hired cars, and operated a taxi service there. He demolished the stables in 1909, and built a new building with a Neo-Georgian facade. It was so fancy it was called "Oxford’s New Motor Palace." The car dealership sold several different makes of cars including Arrol-Johnston, Belsize, Humber, Hupmobile, Singer, Standard, and Wolseley cars. By 1910 he found that he needed more room, so he built new buildings on Longwall Street and acquired more space on Queen Street. He officially changed the name of his business to Morris Garages.
In 1912, Morris designed the Morris "Bullnose" Oxford car and built them in a factory in Cowley, Oxford. To read more about the cars he designed and built, please scroll to the top of this article and read, "Background to the MG".
During World War I the factory stopped producing cars and produced munitions, which included over 50,000 mines for the North Sea Minefields and hand grenades. Automobile production began again in 1919 after the war. Morris brought the mass production techniques of Henry Ford from America to England and production soared from 400 cars in 1919 to 56,000 by 1925. Morris expanded by buying competitors and suppliers. He purchased Wolseley Motors Limited, Hotchkiss Engines, E. G. Wrigley and Company who made rear axles, and the bankrupt Riley (Coventry) and Autovia car companies.
Problems set in during World War II. Morris offered to build a large factory in Castle Bromwich to build the Supermarine Spitfire aircraft. He claimed that this custom-designed, modern factory would be able to build four times as many planes as any other existing factory in Great Britain. This project, The Nuffield Project, was approved, although with misgivings by the Treasury Department, and construction of the factory began in 1939. However one year later, construction was still not finished because the design and site layout of the factory kept changing, and this put it over budget. The factory building also began to have structural problems that caused cracks in the brick walls because different kinds of bricks had been used in the construction. By May 1940, no aircraft had been completed. All of this was happening while the British government was going through a crisis with the fall of the government of Neville Chamberlain and the rise of the new Prime Minister, Winston Churchill. Churchill appointed press tycoon Lord Beaverbrook as the Minister of Aircraft Production, and Beaverbrook promptly fired William Morris. The contract was awarded to Vickers-Armstrong, the Supermarine aircraft’s parent company. After Vickers took over, production began and by June 1940, ten Spitfire Mk IIs were made. Castle Bromwich became the largest and most successful plant, and by the time production ended in June 1945, it had built over 23,000 Spitfire airplanes.
Morris Motors merged with the Austin Motor Company in 1952 and formed a new holding company named the British Motor Corporation (BMC). Morris was the chairman for a short while and retired on December 17, 1952 at the age of 75. He was named an Honorary President and he continued to be involved in the company’s progress. After British Motor Corporation, the company changed names several times to British Leyland and Austin Rover. The factory at Cowley is now owned by BMW, and they make the new Mini there.
We know about famous industrialists in America such as Henry Clay Frick, Andrew Carnegie, and John D. Rockefeller, but we may not realize that Morris was considered the most famous industrialist in England. He was awarded several titles and honors over the years. He was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1918. In 1929, he was created a Baronet of Nuffield in the County of Oxford. He took his title from the village of Nuffield in Oxfordshire, where he lived. He was raised to the peerage as Baron Nuffield in 1934 and made Viscount Nuffield, of Nuffield in 1938.
In case you were wondering what all the acronyms after his name were in the opening paragraph, they are honors that he was awarded over the years. He became a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1939, a Knight Grand Cross (GBE) of the Order of the British Empire in 1941, and a Companion of Honour (CH) in 1958. He was appointed Honorary Colonel of 52nd (London) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery on June 4, 1937 and continued that role with its postwar successor, 452 HAA Regiment.
As a philanthropist, Morris donated to the Sea Cadet Corps, and he built a building at Birmingham University to house a cyclotron, which was an early type of particle accelerator invented in 1929-1930. He also founded the Nuffield Foundation in 1943 and founded Nuffield College in Oxford. The donation that most impressed me the most was that Morris offered to give an iron lung made in his factory to any hospital in England and the British Empire that requested one. Over 1,700 were made and distributed. Morris died on August 22, 1963. He lived through both World Wars and it is amazing to dwell on the things he saw changing in the world around him and the contributions he made to those very changes.
I hope you take the time to click on the links for the sources I used in creating this installment. There is a video at the top of the list that is interesting and which I had never seen before.
INSTALLMENT 4. THE MG 14/40 and 14/80 MODELS
The MG 14/40 or MG 14/40 Mark IV was launched in 1927 and was produced until 1929 with approximately 700 cars manufactured. It had its origins in the MG 14/28 and was similar to the Morris Oxford flatnose. The flatnose term was used to describe the new radiator/grille fronts of the cars. Morris had redesigned his cars to incorporate the flat radiator design of American cars. If you recall, the MG 14/28 and earlier cars all had the rounded bullnose radiators which gave them a tractor-like appearance at the grille. In 1926 the bullnose was dropped and the flat radiators were used, and the radiator cooling surface was increased. The 14/40 was manufactured at the Edmund Road works in Cowley, Oxford where MG manufacturing had moved in September of 1927. It was the first model to feature the MG Octagon badge on the radiator. Apart from the flatnose, the 14/40 did not look very different from the 14/28. The chassis of the 14/40 was heavier and wider to allow more room in the body. The chassis was also stiffer which made the car easier to handle. The engine was updated to 35 bph (brake horsepower) and the brakes were changed to eliminate the servo. The name 14/40 promoted the additional horsepower, which while improved, was 37 bph and not 40 bph. The designation of Mark IV is not clear, and some think that it was named for the fourth year of production of the 14/40.
The car bodies offered included a Featherweight Fabric Saloon and a fixed head (hardtop) and drophead (convertible top) coupé. The MG works continued to distinguish themselves from the Morris Motors brand, and led to the creation of the M.G. Car Company in 1928. The new M.G. Car Company and Morris Motors were owned personally by William Morris.
A new 18 hp overhead camshaft six-cylinder engine had been developed by Hochkiss and Kimber realized that this engine could be used to build a bigger sports car to compete with the Bentley. To design the 14/80 M.G. Six, Kimber modified a Morris Six, and designed a new chassis and a cylinder block that took twin carburettors and incorporated them into his new car. The car was powered with a six-cylinder, inline engine with chain-driven overhead camshafts. They produced about 60 bph and could achieve a top speed of 80 mph—which is where the 80 in the name originated. He also designed a beautiful new radiator grille for the 14/80, and this grille design was so popular that it was used on M.G. cars for more than 25 years. The grille featured vertical standing slats and a vertical center bar and the headlights were set higher.
The 14/80 Mark I and Mark II models were available in a variety of styles such as two- and four-door models, two- and four-seater cars, and both closed and touring cars. The Mark I was built from 1928 to 1931 and about 501 were built. The Mark II was built from 1929 and about 236 were built. Kimber also built a racing version in 1930 which was referred to as the Mark III, the 18/80 Tigress, or the 18/100. The engine was rated at 80 hp and only five were produced.
In case you were wondering what bph stands for, it is a measure of horsepower and here is a link to explain the difference between hp and bph. http://www.differencebetween.net/technology/difference-between-hp-and-bhp/ .
INSTALLMENT 5. THE M-TYPE MG MIDGET, THE C-TYPE and D-TYPE
This installment continues the History of the MG today with the MG M-type, which was also known as the MG Midget. Midgets were manufactured from 1929 to 1932, and over 3,235 models were produced. The M-type shared factory production with the MG 14/40 and 18/80. In 1927, William Morris had purchased the Wolseley car manufacturer when they went bankrupt. Wolseley had developed an 847 cc engine and Kimber realized that it could be used to make a smaller sports car. The Midget was displayed at the 1928 London Motor Show and it was a success because at a cost of £175, it was one of the first sports cars to be affordable. The Midget was half the price of the 14/40 and the 18/80 was more expensive than the 14/40. At least fifty percent of MG sales were Midgets. The 18/80 made up one third of the sales, and it was decided to discontinue the 14/40.
The Midget was first manufactured at the Edmund Road works in Cowley, Oxford, and after January, 1930 production was moved to a factory in Abingdon. It was at Abingdon that the "Safety Fast" motto was adopted. The staff included Hubert Charles for design, Cecil Cousins and Reg Jackson, and with Gordon Phillips and Syd Enever in development. John Thornley, their accountant, began the M.G. Car Club, which is still a club today.
The Midget was a 2-door car with the updated four-cylinder, overhead camshaft Wolseley engine. It had a single SU carburettor and was rated at 20 bph and had a three-speed non-synchromesh gearbox. Kimber started with the 1928 Morris Minor chassis and modified it with a lowered suspension that included half-elliptic springs and Hartford friction disk shock absorbers. The car was a rear wheel drive, and had rigid front and rear axles. Bolt-on wire wheels completed the drive train.
The brake system was updated in 1930 by using a cable system for the handbrake, which replaced the rod brake system. A modified camshaft gave the engine 27 bph. A four-speed gearbox was an option. In 1932, a longer wheelbase enabled the car to have two additional seats, and a supercharged version was available which could reach a top speed of 80 mph.
The first Midgets had fabric covered plywood bodies on an ash frame with a boat shaped stern. The hood and the cowl were steel, and it featured the distinctive MG radiator. By 1931, the cars had metal bodies which were mostly manufactured by Carbodies, although a few were manufactured by Jarvis. The Midget was available in open two-seat or closed two-door "Sportsmans" coupés. A commercial van was also available.
In addition to building cars, Kimber created a small competition department to offer tuning services to race customers. Kimber modified the M-type to compete in races and it proved to be a successful race car. Private and factory-backed race teams drove the Midget in races. A Midget won a gold medal in the 1929 Land’s End Trial, and in 1930, five cars entered in the Brooklands "Double Twelve" endurance race took the team prize. Two Midgets were entered in the 1930 LeMans but they did not finish.
The success of the Brooklands race allowed Kimber to build a limited run of Double-Twelve race cars which were bought by race drivers. The win also enabled Kimber to develop the C-type Midget. The C-type was derived from the record speed-breaking prototype EX 120. From 1931 to 1932, MG produced 44 C-type Midgets. In 1931, the C-type won both the race and the team prize in the Brooklands Double Twelve race. A supercharged C-type won the Tourist Trophy race also in 1931.
MG also produced 250 four-seater, MG D-type Midgets from 1931-32. It had the same engine as the M-type and the chassis of the C-type. The D-type was only capable of a top speed of 60 mph as the body was too heavy for the small 847cc Wolseley engine. The D-type was sometimes referred to as the 8/33 but that designation was not accurate as the car did not achieve 8 hp or 33 power output. The design changes included rear springs which were mounted in sliding trunnions instead of shackles, the radiator was mounted on the front engine mounts rather than the chassis, and it had 8-inch brake drums which were cable operated.
—Editor's Note: Neville Wardle gave me some more information about the horsepower rating on the D-type. Thank you Neville for your wonderful edit!
Regarding the remark about the horsepower rating for the D type MG. The 8 horsepower rating was for tax purposes and is established by using a formula devised by the Royal Automobile Club (RAC). The RAC formula simply takes the cylinder bore (in inches), square, times the number of cylinders and then divided by a constant, 2.5
The constant reflected common engine characteristics of the day such as the maximum piston speed that engines achieved.
The D type rating is (2.244 x 2.244) x 4/2.5 which comes out to 8.056, so 8hp for tax purposes.
McComb lists the actual horsepower as 27.5 bhp at 4,500 rpm. A bit shy of 33, but it wouldn’t have been the first or last time that horsepower ratings were embellished a bit.
So the 8/33 designation was at least half-right!
At the same time, MG offered a 6-cylinder 1271 cc F-type model, the Magna, that was identical outwardly to the D-type, but it outsold the D-type because it had more power.
For the next installment, I will write about the "Magic Midget", EX120 and EX127 and the speed trials. To see a couple of photos of the M-type Midget, please visit our History of the MG Marque page on our website. This page includes the full story from the beginning and will be continued as time permits. In addition, if you want more in-depth reading, please use the links I have included as my sources for information. They are all great to read and feature many photographs.
Chinese-owned British carmaker MG will make its India foray this year. And its first product for India will be the Hector SUV. The MG Hector launch is scheduled for June 2019.
Measuring 4,655mm in length, 1,835mm in width and 1,760mm in height, the MG Hector is larger than its rivals like the Jeep Compass and the Tata Harrier. The monocoque-bodied Hector has the much-sought-after SUV stance, though the large rear overhang looks a bit ungainly. And the 17-inch diamond cut alloys are also a size too small. What grabs your attention right away is the chrome-studded grille up front that’s flanked by high-set LED running lights. The actual headlights sit within C-shaped brackets lower down on the front bumper. Scuff plates at the front and rear add to the design, and a ‘floating roof’ has also been neatly incorporated.
The MG Hector interior will offer seating for five and feature lots of soft touch materials for a premium experience. Another area where the SUV promises much is equipment. The MG Hector’s features list will include a 10.4-inch portrait-oriented touchscreen infotainment system, a 360-degree surround view camera, a panoramic sunroof, tyre pressure monitoring system and power adjustable driver’s and co-driver's seats. The Hector will also feature class-leading connectivity technology.
MG Hector engine and gearbox options will include a 170hp, 2.0-litre diesel from Fiat with a 6-speed manual and a 143hp, 1.5-litre turbo-petrol unit that will be available with 6-speed manual and dual-clutch auto transmissions. The petrol-manual powertrain will also be offered with an optional 48V mild-hybrid system.
MG will start its India operations with heavy localisation and this will reflect in a competitive price tag.
MG Classics: Book 1, 2 and 3
Some cars became classics because there were so few. MGs became classics even though there were so many. The world’s best known sports car, MGs were already an institution by the 1930s, founder Cecil Kimber having set an industry example of niche marketing followed for the rest of the 20th century and beyond. Rarely expensive or fast, MGs exemplified the sports two-seater in its purest form. An open MG became an aspiration of the young at heart throughout the world; the brand bolstered by a sporting reputation that transcended outright victories. MGs were class winners, as in the 1933 Mille Miglia, or won epic events on handicap like the 1934 TT when the great Tazio Nuvolari drove the splendid K3. MG’s survival in the rough and tumble of the motor industry was testament to a status forged when the charismatic Midget of 1929 lit a spark of enthusiasm throughout an era of MG classics never really extinguished. Absorbed into conglomorates and out again, MG’s industrial history was at best diverse. Its survival for the best part of a century was a testament to the affection it earned among keen skilled drivers who believed in Safety Fast.
MG Classics Book 1 (1922-1939): covers 1922-1939 with a detailed history of MG’s foundation by Cecil Kimber and WR Morris, through its struggles in the aftermath of the first world war to its triumphs before the outbreak of the second.
MG Classics Book 2 (1945-1965): Following the Second World War in which MG at Abingdon-on-Thames made the centre section of the Armstrong Whitworth Albemarle aircraft and overhauled battle tanks, getting back to sports cars was a priority.
MG Classics Book 3 (1965-2001): Follows the closure of the traditional factory at Abingdon-on-Thames in 1980 after the turbulence of the British Leyland years and the transition to MG-Rover.
Visit to Johnson Press
On our way back from Meet 2017 in Alabama we stopped in Pontiac, Illinois to visit out printer, Johnson Press.
This was our first opportunity to meet with the people we have been communicating by phone and email with and to see where our magazine has been printed since 2012.
Bruce Magers and I were led on an informative tour of the plant with our Customer Service Rep, Teresa Masching. It was interesting to see the care that they take in printing each magazine. It was amazing how technology has improved the printing process since the last time I took a tour of a printing plant. The reduced size of the machines is the first thing you notice.
The visit concluded with a light lunch with Teresa and plant manager, Steve "Buzz" Zeller.
Thanks again to everyone at Johnson Press of America for the welcome and the continued fine job done with our magazines!
British Sports Car Hall of Fame
The British Sports Car Hall of Fame was established as an independent entity in 2016 to preserve and perpetuate the legacy and impact of these legendary vehicles and to honor the men and women responsible for their success. Induction into the Hall of Fame is reserved for those who have made a significant and lasting impact on the British sports car industry and hobby, making it a singular honor for a lifetime of achievement. By celebrating the memory of the dedicated individuals that played key roles, the Hall can serve as a touchstone for British sports car enthusiasts of all ages and interests, furthered by its various preservation and education initiatives. The Hall is supported by individual and corporate contributions.
More info at www.britishsportscarhall.org .
Book Review: Making Cars at Longbridge
by Gillian Bards and Colin Corke
This book charts over 100 years of car making at Longbridge, near Birmingham. The Austin Motor Co. was founded here by Herbert Austin in 1906, opening its doors in early 1906, and it has been home to the British Motor Corp, British Leyland, Rover Group, and MG Rover. Its products include some of the most famous British models ever produced: the pioneering Austin Seven of the 1920s, the classic Mini, the Austin Metro, and in later years the MG TF and Rover 75. The factory was a major employer and integral part of the community since its foundation and its demise saddened many, but the areas will never forget its long and proud tradition of manufacturing.
For 99 years, cars were made at Longbridge. Less than a year off its century, the factory closed and 6,000 people lost their jobs. The first cars to roll off the production plant were Austins, and the site has been a center of car manufacturing ever since. From the original Austin 7 of the 1920s to Rovers and MGs, there is a rich history of Longbridge that has been offset by the recent misfortune.
Gillian Bardsley is a social historian with a special interest in the rise and fall of the motor industry in Britain. She has been Archivist for the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust since 1990 and has contributed to many TV, radio, and magazine features. Colin Corke is the vicar of Longbridge.
Paperback: 192 pages
The History Press (February 1, 2016)
MG GS SUV
I am in China and was reading a new posting in "Just British", the on-line enthusiast magazine, about the MG GS SUV undergoing cold-weather testing in Detroit when one passes me in traffic on the streets of Huizhou, China. It's a poor shot, but you can see in the attached picture the big Octagon on the center back and there's a matching one on the front. This MG was even the same color as the car in the article.
Unique in its grille and tail lamp treatments, with large MG Octagons center at each end, from the outside it's an otherwise generic SUV roughly the size and shape of a Chevy Equinox/Cadillac SRX, though the scalable AWD platform it's on is supposed to be a new development. It's nice enough looking, in a Nissan Murano sort of way, but it is reportedly under-powered, with only a 1.5L power plant available. The article notes the UK market is looking to get a 2.0L motor, presumably the one they're testing and what might come to the US, if that's in the cards.
The article also goes on to say the test car was spotted on the street in Detroit undisguised and wearing manufacturer's tags. Considering the strong partnership of MG's parent company, Shanghai Automotive Industries Company (SAIC), with GM (they build all the GM products sold in China, as well as own MG/Rover) and that the Europe-bound GS will use a GM sourced driveline, it is not unreasonable to expect them to help test the cars here, but why? China has more than it's share of cold weather climates and if traffic is the concern, you need only see what goes on rush hour in any major Chinese city to know that they have that covered as well. So it is from that the speculation is born that they are considering a launch of the marque in the US again with this as a first foray. It would be the first to wear the Octagon since MGB departed in 1980. And with SAIC building and distributing Buick, Chevy and Cadillac in China, GM returning the favor here has some plausibility.
Those of us hoping the first MG back on these shores would be a new sports car may be disappointed, but a second article in the same magazine, even more speculatively, sees a new MG and Opel sports car being jointly developed with Opel based on an Opel GT concept model. Opel is quoted they have no plans for production, needing scale to support European sales. China and US distribution of modern MG (dare we say B) roadster and coupe models based on the same platform could certainly afford that scale. And GM does have that Kappa platform gathering dust that had underpinned the recent Saturn Sky, Pontiac Solstice and Opel GT (as well as an RHD Vauxhall version in the UK), the rumor mill does have fuel....
We can all dream, can't we.
Lane Museum and Donation
On the way back from Meet 2015 in Myrtle Beach which was postponed due to the weather. Bruce Magers and I stopped at the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, Tennessee. The collection consist of numerous micro/mini cars produced in France, Czechoslovakia and other countries. The smallest vehicle on display was a 1965 Peel Trident made on the Isle of Man (Britain). I would urge any of you "Car Guys" to put this on your "Bucket List" as you will see the most complete collection of micro/mini cars ever assemble under one roof. There are over 45 different marques representing Asia, Europe, North and South American. Many of the cars are a one-of-a-kind.
While visiting the museum, we noticed that they had posters in the art gallery area entitled "The Magnificent MG - The Early Years" and "The Magnificent MG - The Middle Years". We happened to have in our vehicle "The Magnificent MG - The Later Years" which we were going to auction off at AMGBA Meet 2015. We weren't able to auction it because of the cancellation. We decided to donate our poster to make the collection complete and Jeff Lane, the Museum Director and owner personally thanked us for the addition to his gallery.
If you get a chance, please stop by the museum and check out the Art Gallery Room to see the complete set. Take a picture of the 3 posters and send it to us so we could see how it is displayed.
The Lane Motor Museum Story
In 2002, Jeff Lane established Lane Motor Museum. Jeff has been an automotive enthusiast since an early age. He began restoring his first car — a 1955 MG TF — when he was a teen. His personal collection was the donation that began the foundation. Lane Motor Museum unveiled its collection to the public in October of 2003. As director, Jeff Lane continues to search out cars for the collection that are technically significant or uniquely different. The goal of Lane Motor Museum is to share in the mission of collection and preserving automotive history for future generations. The Museum is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. The Lane Motor Museum is one of the few museums in the U.S. to specialize in European cars. It is a working museum with the goal of maintaining all vehicles in running order. Some cars are in showroom condition, while others represent typical aging. Efforts are made to restore each vehicle to near-original specifications.
The Museum has been developed in a well-known Nashville landmark, the former Sunbeam Bakery at 702 Murfreesboro Pike. Home to the bread company beginning in 1951, the 132,000 square-foot facility was the largest and most modern bakery in the area at the time of its opening. The bakery building, outfitted for the museum’s needs but left with many of its original characteristics, has a high ceiling, natural light, and hand-crafted brick and maple wood flooring. The architectural style complements the age of the cars represented. The main floor has approximately 40,000 square feet of open space, ideal for displaying the collection.
440 Rutherford Street
Get everything you need to tune-up your classic car with this high quality Ignition Tune-Up Kit! Put together for your convenience, this tune up kit saves your time and money, while boosting your engine's performance and efficiency. Upgrade with a standard kit or give your ignition a boost with a premium tune-up kit. Both of them have all the parts you need to check and replace while doing a tune-up. $32.99.
The Standard kit includes:
- OE Style Distributor Cap
- Premium Rotor
- Points & Condenser(where applicable)
- Wire set
- Champion Spark Plugs
- Moss part nos. 225-941, 225-942,
225-943-225-944, $32.99 - $77.99
The Premium kit includes:
- Distributor Cap
- Premium Rotor
- Premium Points & Condenser (where applicable)
- Cobalt Performance Wire Set
- NGK Plugs
- Moss part nos.: 225-951, 225-
952, 225-953, $58.99 - $86.99
Victoria British Ltd.
14600 W 107th Street
New electrical parts for your classic car. These are NEW units, not rebuilt. No extra core charges and no hassle to return a dirty old core.
Victoria part number: 8-153. $99.95.
Little British Car Co.
LED Bulbs at Affordable Prices for your LBC's
Our LED bulbs will usually give you longer life than standard incandescent tungsten or halogen bulbs and will draw a fraction of the current a standard bulb uses and they burn much cooler. How can you lose? There is an LED bulb for most applications and we carry both 12v and 6v as well as LED's in both Negative Ground (Earth -ve) and Positive Ground (Earth +ve) or dual polarity (-ve/+ve).
Numerous bulbs and part numbers. Prices $4.25 and up.
American MGB Association Technical Sections Volume IV
It is also available on CD-ROM for PC or Mac (can also be emailed with no shipping charges) in combination with Technical Section Volume III. It is indexed by category and contains over 450 pages. $20 plus $5 S&H for the CD which contains both Tech Sections Volume III and Volume IV (emailed $20).
Available from the AMGBA by ordering on the website at www.mgclub.org/mgreg.htm or by using the order form in each issue of the Octagon..
It can be purchased as part of a 4 volume combo that contains Tech Sections Volume I, II, III and IV all printed (over 1000 pages) for $95 plus $15 S&H or a CD combo which contains Volume I & II printed and Volumes III & IV on CD for $70 plus $15 S&H. Other options available on the club website at www.mgclub.org/mgreg.htm and in the club magazine.
American MGB Association Grille Badge
American MGB Association grille badge, 3 color with chrome background, with mounting brackets. $45 plus $10 S&H. Available from the AMGBA by ordering on the website at https://orders.amgba.com or on the order form contained in each issue of the Octagon.
AMGBA key ring with logo. $5 includes shipping. Available from the AMGBA by ordering on the website at https://orders.amgba.com or on the order form contained in each issue of the Octagon.
You can have the last years of the Octagon since 1998 easily accessible on your computer. Indexed by issue. These publications, which are no longer in print contain numerous and diverse articles and photos. Enjoy all the entertaining and informative stories that you can no longer get anywhere else and at a reasonable price. Over 3000 pages.
Available from the AMGBA by ordering on the website https://orders.amgba.com or by using the order form contained in each issue of the Octagon. $15 plus $5 S& H.
The Roadster Factory Will Pay Your Dues
The Roadster Factory will pay your American MGB Association Dues. Spend $850.00 at The Roadster Factory during the current year, retroactive to January 1st, and TRF will pay your dues or your next renewal. Sales amount is determined on a calendar year basis from January 1st through December 31st of the current year.
When your purchases reach $850.00 during the current year, call our sales line and speak to our salespeople. They will take your information and communicate your renewal to the AMGBA.
You must request a membership or a renewal when you are eligible based on your purchases.