History of the MG Marque – the 14/40 and 14/80 Models

by Karen Border, TRF Publications

I have promised our MGB customers some stories about the origins of the MG marque and so I began researching them. 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. All of the installments can be found at https://the-roadster-factory.com/Images/POTW/MG-Origins/MG-history.html .

Karen Border, TRF Publications

The Roadster Factory
www.the-roadster-factory.com

Sales Dept. Phone: 800-234-1104

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!

Neville Wardle
Branford, CT

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.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MG_M-type
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MG_D-type
https://www.mgownersclub.co.uk/mg-guides/pre-war/mg-ctype-midget
https://www.mgownersclub.co.uk/mg-guides/pre-war/mg-dtype-midget
Great Marques M.G., by Chris Harvey, 1983
MG Past & Present, by Rivers Fletcher, 1985
MG by McComb, by F. Wilson McComb, Revised Edition by Jonathan Wood, 2004
https://www.hemmings.com/blog/article/the-car-with-the-racing-pedigree-mg-midget/

’69 B-GT of Bob and Anita Dortenzo

An American MGB Assocation Queen B is the ’69 Primrose yellow B-GT of Bob and Anita Dortenzo from Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. Here is the story:

Looking for the Next Valuable Classic

I have been buying, fixing and selling classic imports as a hobby for many years. A ’67 Volvo 122S, ’67 Volvo 1800S, ’74 Triumph TR-6, ’80 Fiat Spider, ’80 Mercedes 450SL just to name a few. The TR6 was an anniversary gift to my wife and remains in our possession. The others, especially the 1800S, sadly to say were all sold. After the Mercedes went at auction, I began looking for the next up and coming classic import and my attention soon went to the MGB-GT. This unique little GT with its flowing design and very useful configuration was designated as our next project. If something unexpected just happened on the road and you need emergency car assistance, you’ll want to use services from towingless.com.

After looking on Craigslist, Hemmings, and other classic car sites I was fortunate to find one listed on the MG Experience website. This 1969 Primrose yellow MGB-GT looked interesting and the price was in our budget so I started conversations with the owner. The car was in New Jersey and had a documented history which the owner was very willing to share. He also kindly listed all the things that the car may need. I live in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania and the drive to Jersey was worth the traffic and the tolls once I saw and drove this car. It didn’t take long for me to make an offer that the owner accepted and the shipping arrangements were made before I departed for home.

In a few days the GT was delivered and the work started with the intention of entering it in to the Spring Carlisle Auction. This car has many interesting options: wire wheels, overdrive, wood steering wheel and air conditioning. The AC was removed long ago but the switch and vents still exist as installed by the dealer in 1969. Cleaning, polishing, new tires, fuel pump, heater valve, water pump, minor paint refinishing, window repair from Autoglassguru, and a few other odds and ends brought this sports car classic to local show quality and ready for auction.

Well as we all know the Coronavirus hit and the shows and auctions were postponed. All I could do was drive the GT and enjoy the ride. My wife kept saying that she really loved the car and was happy it didn’t go to auction. I also became more attached to it as time went by and decided to keep it from the auctioneer’s gavel. More improvements are made each day as the GT shares the garage with its cousin the TR6.

I believe that the MGB-GT will continue to increase in value and become a valuable classic import in the future. Its style, function, dependability, and fun to drive spirit will all contribute to future collector desirability.

This one is not for sale.

’77 B of Myron Wood from Warwick, Rhode Island

This was my dad’s car. He bought it new in 1977. He parked it in 1983 on blocks in the back yard. I have been restoring it for 20 years and just finished it this past year. I wanted it to look just like it was the day he bought it. Lots of blood sweat and tears on this little car, but it was worth it.

'77 B of Myron Wood from Warwick, Rhode Island

Origins of the MG – THE MG 14/40 and 14/80 MODELS, Part 4

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/

Article sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MG_Cars

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MG_14/40

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MG_18/80

Great Marques M.G., by Chris Harvey, 1983

MG Past & Present, by Rivers Fletcher, 1985

MG by McComb, by F. Wilson McComb, Revised Edition by Jonathan Wood, 2004

Great videos about the MG cars and history on the MG Cars Channel by Shelburne Films https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFApx5pUaAkNam6U1pn_ZEQ

’78 B of Barry Barnes


An American MGB Association Queen B is the ’78 B of Barry Barnes. Here is his story with photos:

Someone recently asked me about my “journey” on my 1978 MGB. I answered: Long. Slow. Perfectionistic. Expensive. LOTS of fun! I love working on my MG daily drivers as much as driving them… and I’ve been doing both for 50 years.

Then I added that a more serious reply would be:

▪ Design your project for your car to be DRIVEN – these are tough little cars that are way too much fun to be trailered around

▪ Set a budget… realizing you’ll go 2x or 3x over it before you’re done

▪ Do it in phases, getting it drivable between each sub-project so you can reward yourself

▪ Match your project to your style – if you’re easily bored or impatient, do a simple project; if you’re perfectionistic and love form equally as function, take on something more like mine

▪ Focus on benefits to YOU – I like driving hard, tight handling on steep & winding mountain roads, loud music while I drive, a feeling of automotive excellence, and reliability

▪ Be a member of lots of groups on Facebook and the internet (I’m a member of about 20); ask lots of questions on them and on MG Experience (MGExp.com)

▪ You’ll learn by how others answer whether they know what they’re talking about

▪ When people say “I think” or “I would think” or “it makes sense that” ignore the post

▪ When people write “IMHO” (webspeak for “in my humble opinion), you’re about to read a highly opinionated post that’s anything but humble

▪ Most importantly, don’t listen to anybody else’s opinions about what you’re planning on doing – there are way too many people who will tell you what you should and shouldn’t do with YOUR car!

'78 B of Barry Barnes
'78 B of Barry Barnes
'78 B of Barry Barnes
'78 B of Barry Barnes

’65 Midget of Steve Strublic from Peoria, Arizona

I have had my Midget Mk II since I was three years old (well, my dad owned her) in 1975. He bought the car on a trailer and in boxes. After some mild threats to “get that thing out of the garage,” he put her together and my parents drove round trip from Milwaukee to Atlanta. At one point, it was our only running vehicle and we used it to make grocery runs in the middle of the Wisconsin winter in the Midget.

My dad and I restored her for the first time in 1990 after sitting for almost 10 years due to rust and a cracked head, and I got the keys for my 18th birthday. My wife and I moved to Arizona in 2000, and I drove her until 2004 when she was literally coming apart. I started what became a 14 year bare metal restoration then and finished in October 2018. I did all the work myself aside from engine machine work and some on-car painting lessons, since this is a great car, if you’re interested in this model you can find useful the information found here.

 '65 Midget MK II of Steve Strublic from Peoria, Arizona '65 Midget MK II of Steve Strublic from Peoria, Arizona

Origins of the MG – All About William R. Morris, Viscount Nuffield, Part 3


by Karen Border, TRF Publications

I have promised our MGB customers some stories about the origins of the MG marque and so I began researching them. 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. This is the second installment. All of the installments can be found at https://the-roadster-factory.com/Images/POTW/MG-Origins/MG-history.html .

Karen Border, TRF Publications

The Roadster Factory
www.the-roadster-factory.com

Sales Dept. Phone: 800-234-1104

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.

Sources:

https://www.britishpathe.com/video/the-british-motor-car-aka-william-morris . This is a interesting video about the Morris car production and it is worth watching in spite of the music in the background .
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Morris,_1st_Viscount_Nuffield
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supermarine_Spitfire#Manufacturing_at_Castle_Bromwich,_Birmingham
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_Bromwich_Assembly
http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/oxford/hi/people_and_places/history/newsid_8354000/8354459.stm

American MGB Association – for MGB, MGB-GT and MG Midget owners

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