MG's Montlhery Midget

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There is that saying, now becoming dated, that “there’s no substitute for litres”, another that “small is beautiful”. In the latter respect a notable car was the 1931 Mk II MG Montlhery Midget sports two-seater. Not for the non-adventurous perhaps, but for enthusiasts a wonderful possession as the vintage years almost ran out.

The four-cylinder 57x72mm (746cc) oh-camshaft engine of the C-type MG was developed from the 847cc M-type, but the stroke was reduced by 12mm to put it in Class H for racing. With its revised valve timing and a Powerplus supercharger driven from the nose of the crankshaft, power was increased to 52bhp with 121bs boost, a useful jump of 25bhp over the unblown M-type in Double-12′ race trim.

This gave astonishing performance for a 750cc car, which with its twin scuttle cowls, fold-flat wire-gauze screen, faired front dumb-irons enshrouding the blower and a well instrumented fascia, was a sporting proposition anyway. Maximum power was developed at 6500rpm and, limiting this to a prudent 5500rpm, you got 20, 40 and 60mph in the lower gears. The engine would pull 6200rpm on the 5.37:1 top gear, which on 27x4in tyres proved equal to 87.8mph over the Brooklands ‘4-mile. On the road 90 could be achieved on a favourable stretch. There was excellent acceleration to match — 10-50 mph in 12.5sec, to 60 in 17sec, good figures for sportscars in the 1.1/2-litre category. 0-60 took 20.8sec, the standing-start quarter-mile 19.8sec. So lots of urge, even for circumspect owners not exceeding 5500rpm.

Here was a 13cwt, 6ft 9in wheelbase car which was eminently suitable for those prepared to accept about 27mpg from an 80/20 benzole-petrol brew and do without a speedometer, although a hood was provided. Champion R1 plugs did not oil up, but carburettor flooding was needed for a prompt start. For £575 this MG was suitable for racing and trials (it had a 21.5:1 bottom gear) and gave lively road enjoyment.

Those who sampled it described the exhaust note as sounding “like tearing calico” or just ” a satisfactory crackle”, the blower scream coming in only at high revs. The gearchange was a delight, roadholding good with 32/301bs tyre pressure front/rear, and the ride comfortable. The 1931 price was £575, with Rudge ‘knock-on’ wire wheels, racing tyres and duplicated ignition and fuel systems, while a 15-gallon tank gave a touring range of some 400 miles. One of the great little cars of the 1930s. The press demo car, RX 8306, was later raced by Kenneth Evans.

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