THE P TYPE M.G. MIDGET
THERE can be no dispute that in the smaller sports car classes the British vehicle reigns supreme, and the M.G. Car Company has played a large part in this achievement. In producing the P Type Midget, the successor to the famous ” j,” another step forward has been made, not so much in all-out speed, for the limit must nearly be reached in that direction, but in good manners and general pleasantness of handling.
An 850 c.c. engine must needs run fast to produce its power, but by using a three-bearing crankshaft the full speed range is utilised on the car under review without a trace of vibration, and by the use of two silencers the exhaust note has been reduced to nothing more than a quiet hum. Consequently the car under review could be kept at between 55 and 60 m.p.h. hours on end without fuss, a most valuable characteristic for those who use their cars for long journeys in addition to the mere week-end breather, where a certain amount of noise and roughness is of minor importance.
The springing, too, reached a high standard of comfort for a small car. Hydraulic shock-absorbers have replaced the friction-type at the rear, with increased comfort at low speeds, while the car can be taken round bends fast enough to make the tyres scream without tending to roll. One setting sufficed for smooth main roads, rough lanes and for all-out running on the track. On main roads corrugated by bus traffic, the Midget pitches rather more than a big car would do, but such behaviour is inevitable with a short wheel-base vehicle.
Lessons doubtless gained from racing experience have been applied to the steering, the ratio has been raised without making it heavy, and altogether it gave confidence up to the highest speeds of which the car is capable. A useful amount of self-centering is provided.
The size of the brake drums has been increased to 12 inches, and the brakes are powerful without any vices. The car can be controlled for any ordinary purpose with the foot-pedal, but in case of emergency stops, the hand-brake lever, which also applies the four brakes, is used. On several occasions the remarkable figure of 48 feet was achieved on dry concrete with only the slightest deviation from the straight. The brake lever is fitted with a racing-type ratchet which only engages when a thimble on the top is pressed and flies off again when the lever is pulled, so there is no possibility of its getting jammed on during the hectic moments of a stop-and-restart test.
The driving position has been as well thought out as the other details, and the spring-spoke steering wheel comes into the lap, the short remote-control gearlever and the hand brake are readily worked by the left hand, while the pedals are light in operation and set at exactly the right angle. The only criticism one can make is that there is no room for the left foot alongside the clutch pedal, so that it must either rest against it, which is not too good for the clutch race, or be planted high up on the dash. In spite of a long and wide bonnet both wings are clearly seen, and the windscreen affords ample protection for the tallest driver. As is usual with an unsupercharged engine of small capacity, the power output drops rapidly below 2,500 r.p.m., and to get good acceleration from low speeds it is necessary to drop down to third or even second gear. The changedown to third is a quick one, and as this is a silent ratio and permits a speed of 60 m.p.h. at 5,500 r.p.m., it is particularly useful for fast running on winding roads. Bottom gear is very low, intended primarily for trials use, and second is therefore wider from third than would usually be the case. This wide spacing coupled with apparently a rather heavy
driven clutch-plate made the second-third change slow, but the timing is not critical, and can be speeded up considerably at the expense of a little noise. On the level the car was usually started on second gear, which gives a maximum speed of 35 m.p.h., while it is interesting to note that at 60 m.p h. on top the engine is running at 4,000 m.p.h. Engine speeds such as these appear rather high to the big car enthusiast, but with the smooth-running and silent engine the needle of the rev-counter is the only thing which draws attention to the fact. The chassis layout and roadholding, as has been pointed out, give the driver every confidence, and in fact the P Type Midget is the first small car of its type that suggests itself equally for fast touring and all-out performance. The
car runs smoothly down to 15 m.p.h. on top, though as has been stated, for a quick getaway the gears must then be used.
Economy in operation is an important matter nowadays, and it was found that in spite of long spells of flat-out running tests on the track, the petrol consumption worked out at approximately 40 Miles to the gallon, and the car ran on benzol mixture or Pratt’s Ethyl without any sign of pinking.
On the road, as has been stated, the car can maintain 55 to 60 m.p.h., aided by its good brakes, easy gear-change, and fast cornering. The maximum speed with the screen raised is about 65 m.p.h. On the track we achieved a timed speed of 72 m.p.h. over the halfmile with lowered screen, and top gear is high enough to allow a speed of some 80 m.p.h. down a • long slope without overrevving. This relatively high ratio reduces to some extent the acceleration on top, but saves both fuel and engine wear, while a characteristic of the Midget is that once it has reached, say, 65 miles an hour, it hangs on to it well even on an undulating road. During the past year, J Type Midgets have had numerous successes in reliability trials, and the new car, with its low bottom gear, seemed particularly suited for this job. The car was taken up High Ruse, Shillingridge, Maiden’s Grove, and Crowell,
all well-known hills in the Chilterns, and climbed them all on half-throttle or less. The surfaces were of course dry after the prolonged spell of fine weather, but under winter conditions, particularly if the car were fitted with competition tyres, the result would have been equally certain. The track is comparatively narrow, which allows the best path to be chosen even on a narrow lane, and the steering was definite enough to allow the car to be placed exactly where required, and it has a good lock and a useful groundclearance. The brakes are powerful, as
has already been stated, and by using the hand lever the car can be checked instantly on a downhill grade of 1 in 4 or placed neatly between the lines of a stop-andrestart. The engine and chassis specification were fully described in the March issue Of MOTOR SPORT, but a brief summary will be of interest. The four-cylinder engine, which is mounted on rubber at three points, has an overhead camshaft, driven by shaft and bevels at the front end, and the dynamo is carried on this vertical shaft. The valves are operated by fingers, the inlet ports are on one side
of the cylinder block and the exhaust ports on the other side. 14 mm. plugs are used, and automatic advance and retard is provided for the coil ignition.
The two S.U. carburetters are supplied by an electric pump made by the same firm, and the rear tank holds 12 gallons. The cylinder-block and the top half of the crank-case are in one, and the crankshaft is carried in three plain bearings ; the big ends are also plain.
The clutch has been strengthened, the gear box has a silent third ratio, and a four-star differential is used in the beveldriven back axle. The chassis is upswept in front and passes under the rear axle, with flat semi-elliptic springs all round. The 12-inch brakes are operated by enclosed cables, and grouped nipples are used for the chassis lubrication.
M.G.s have always been noted for their attractive lines, and the latest bodywork is particularly neat and well appointed. The finish of the cellulose was outstanding and the front view of the car, which has been made more neat by doing away with the outside crossbar, is well set-off by the new chromiumplated lamps.
The engine oil is replenished through a large filler on the cam-case, and the lubricant in circulation is forced through a Tecalemit pressure filter mounted beside the engine.
The long swept wings afford good protection, and all wingstays are mounted on rubber bushes which can never come loose or rattle. The seats are adjustable and well padded, and the cushions are fitted with Float-on-Air interiors, which are yielding and yet provide support against side-sway. The hood folds neatly into the back of the car, which also provides space for a pair of small suitcases. The rear of the car is set ‘off by a neat spare wheel carrier supported on tubes from the chassis, and capable of taking two wheels if required. In refinement of running and pleasing lines the P Type Midget reaches a high standard, and will appeal to an even wider section of the motoring public than its predecessors similar type. The address of the makers is the M.G. Car
who issue an attractive coloured catalogue dealing fully with the salient points of the new car.