AN AMBLE ROUND ABINGDON
T. G. Moore.
/ALWAYS get a lot of pleasure in going round a motor factory, especially when I have the run of the experimental department and can poke my nose into the odd recesses in which the latest pride of the works is reposing. The M.G. works at Abingdon particularly takes my fancy since it is the largest factory in the world devoted solely to the manufacture of sports cars, and there is always something new to see. After a none too pleasant run down from London, I was glad to take refuge in the warm office of Mr. Cecil Kimber, the managing director. What I needed, he
said, was some of his hundred-year old sherry, a present from George Eyston, so off we went to his house nearby.
The sherry went down with enjoyment, we found, and a Tauber record on Mr. Kimber’s radiogramophone completely disperse the gloom. Lunch finished, we returned to the factory. “What would you like to see first,” I was asked. The racing workshop was the obvious place to go, and there we found Lord Howe’s Magnettes, spotless and polished in their coats of green paint, being prepared for the Mille Miglia. It was found last year that the straight-through exhaust pipes, opening near the spare driver’s car inflicted a considerable mental strain, and the cars have therefore been fitted with Burgess silencers of rectangu lar section running from behind the engine almost to the back-axle. Another interesting point is a chassis-oiling system which feeds the king pins and other points in the steering mechanism. The system is automatically fed by a pendulum pump in a small oil tank on the dash. Comfortable two-seater bodies similar to those used last year are again fitted, as it was felt that for a distance of a thousand miles over indifferent roads the well-being of the drivers is more important than the last word in acceleration. In the same way the increased power
developed this year has made it possible to lower the engine compression slightly without detracting from the performance. Hamilton’s famous Midget was also in the racing shop, and was being prepared for a famous German racing
driver. The Germans have always been keen on smallcapacity cars, and a fast ” baby-car ” can bring in a very fair income from the numerous speed events held over there. “The Midgets have become so fast,” continued Mr. Kimber, “that ‘ Hammy ‘ was about the only driver who could drive them flat out, so we have affected a further alteration in chassis lay-out. We have mounted
the petrol tank in front of the rear axle, so that the steering will not be affected on a corner by the weight of the fuel in the tank.” We examined the experimental chassis with its dummy tank neatly fitted behind the driver’s seat, and then left the racing department for the experimental body shop, high above the activity of the assembly lines. There we came across one of the new bodies for the racing Magnettes, an aluminium shell built down to the minimum dimensions of the AIACR, with the scuttle upswept in front of the driver. Here again the petrol tank will be carried in front of the back axle and forms the outside of the body. The back end is faired off by a blunt tail. The first batch will be fitted to the cars of Kaye Don’s team.
“Now you’d like to see George’s car,” so we dived between piles of experimental wings, templates of facia boards and the like to what was apparently a blank wall, only decorated with a notice in Italian “Keep Out.” In the best traditions of the detective novels, however, a narrow passage revealed itself, and we were shown the Magic Magna in its lair.
The car gave an extraordinary impression of lowness and stability, partly due to the unusual shape of the radiator block. The chassis is substantially the same as that of the new Magna series, while the engine is a blown 1,100 c.c. unit, but one of the chassis members has of course been out-swept at the back to clear the bevel casing. The offset transmission allows of a very low seating position, and the lower part of the steering wheel is cut away so as to clear the driver’s legs. On the track only a small movement of the wheel is required. Hydraulic and friction shock absorbers are used on each axle, and the latter type on the rear have long arms like radius rods. The body follows closely the lines and dimensions of the original one fitted to the Magic Midget and is being painted with horizontal lines of brown and orange, the M.G. colours. “I expect it will be christened the Flying Banana’ or something like that,” said Mr. Kimber dryly, “but we can bear that.” The new car should be capable of something like 150 m.p.h., and might well attack the World’s Hour Record, as tyres at least will cause no trouble. But fancy with an 1,100 c.c. engine Before we left the upper regions I had a look at the Magic Midget with the tiny single-seater body fitted to it when Denby drove it. From the outside it looked quite safe and harmless, but when I looked down into the cavern where the driver has to sit confronted with a
steering wheel the size of a cheese-plate, I mentally raised my hat to the brave little man who sits behind it.
The assembly-lines on the ground floor were not quite so busy as usual. “We have sent off the first batch of ` P ‘ type Midgets,” said ` C.K.’, “and now we are preparing for the new season’s Magnas.” The new cars provide comfortable accommodation for two or four passengers and the extra weight is off-set by the 1,250 c.c. engine.
As we walked back to his office I asked ` C.K.’ his opinion of the next line of progress in sports cars. “I am certain that supercharged cars will be widely used for fast touring,” was the reply, ” the J.3. Midget was a case in point, the only disadvantage in that case being that an unskillful driver might oil a plug in traffic. The new. blowers get over that difficulty.” Kimber practises what he preaches, and he showed me a Magna coupe being constructed for his own use, which was fitted as an experiment with a Roots-type supercharger and two carburetters,
The M.G. people are nothing if. not abreast of the times, and I expect in a year’s time we shall see some examples of the new supercharged touring cars. However, sufficient to the time is the success thereof, so after seeing Mr. Kimber firmly entrenched behind a pile of letters bearing stamps and post-marks from all sorts of outlandish places, I took my leave.
There seemed no doubt that the Sign of the Octagon would be in the ascendant for 1934.