THE M.G. MIDGET (rT Series)
The M.G. is deservedly the most popular
small Fotglish sports-car, and we confess to a weakness for the marque. which.
prod need on semi-mass-production methods, offers exCeptiOtlal value for money, yet is full of ” life ” and possessed of those thoroughbred qualities that the enthusiastic sportsman deems essential in his personal motor-car. Consequently it was with a feeling of elation that we collected a Series ” ” M.G. -from Abingdon last month, with the request that we were to keep it for three days and do anything that we liked with it by way of thorough testing. Our test, as is usual when MOTOR SPORT investigates a maker’s claims, was distinctly varied, and a total mileage of 672 was completed with this Midget.
It is now generally known that the new model has a 1,292 c.c. push-rod oh. V.
engine in a frame that can he little heavier than that of the old 850 c.c. cars, and consequently we anticipated a brisk performance of the kind that in earlier models would be associated with supercharging and its attendant shortcomings. Far from being disappointed, we were distinctly surprised with the manner of going of Abingdon’s latest baby, which possesses perforniance capabilities and liveliness unlooked for in a normally designed quantity production job selling at a very attractive figure. When we left Abingdon in heavy rain we glanced at once at the trip reading of the speedometer and set off over not very familiar roads towards. London, where we had an appointment to keep. Firstimpressionswere the “life” of the car so that from the very commencement one experienced the fascination of being behind the wheel of a real sports-car. the
very good gear-change, and the willing. manner in which the smooth and silent engine picked up on the higher ratios when the derestriction signs greeted the driver. In spite of being unfamiliar with the car thirty-eight miles were comfortably disposed of during our . first hour in the driving-seat. In the worst of London’s traffic we felt completely happy in the M.G., because one can see both front wings, the engine, in town, bectgites just a docile touring unit, running down to low speeds in top or third gears and accelerating smoothly, while the hand-brake lever is excellently placed and the new wet-plate clutch, with a little practice, takes up the drive
very smoothly. Vet this same motor had been held at 70 m.p.h. on the 11.11.1 down. with no effort, the engine emitting a pleasant power-hum which vanishes. entirely at below 30 m.p.h. There is no carburetter noise. A 30 m.p.h. warning light is an interesting fitment, but as. positioned at present it shines into the driver’s eyes, and is better extinguished. In any case, the Jaeger speedometer on the far side of the facia board is easily read, if one cannot memorise the corresponding r.p.m. reading. On the following day we tried the model ” ” over a trials course in Surrey and were very favourably impressed. Tackling Begley Farm with care, a slippery patch stopped us just short of the summit, but with a little marwuvring the M.G. got away without help. Cosford was merely an easy ascent in bottom gear,
without exceeding 3,000 r.p.m. Blind Lane was in nasty condition and we got. stuck in a slimy patch, but have every confidence that with competition rear covers, or by rushing the gradient regardless of damaging the wings, we could havemade a very good showing. In the afternoon, itt cidentally, ta Iii ug a chance reading, we again put thirty-eight miles. into the hour, passing through Farnham and Guildford included, and with much traffic on the roads. This Was bettered on the Sunday morning, when we recorded fifty-one miles in the sixty minutes, along the Great North Road, without exceptionally favourable conditions, and observing the 30 m.p.h. limits.
From 20 m.p.h. in top gear, or 13 m.p.h. in third, the engine of this new Midget really begins to ” bite,” which speeds correspond to 1,000 r.p.m. in each instance. On bottom a Comfortable speed at which to change into second is 15 m.p.h. (2,500 r.p.m.), and reaching . the same crankshaft speed on second gear equals 22 m.p.h., when it is convenient to go into third. The acceleration on third is truly brisk and when rapid passing is the order of the day 55 m.p.h is not THE M.G. MIDGET—continued an uncomfortable maximum on this ratio, though in more leisurely driving we changed into top at about 43 m.p.h. (3,200 r.p.m.). So far as cruising speed is concerned, sixty is a very merry gait, the engine humming round without anxiety and a pleasant low whine mingling with a subdued power-roar. On the other hand, when in a hurry, or feeling more than usually pleased with existence, 4,000 r.p.m. (70 m.p.h.) was held without anxiety, with 4,900 r.p.m. (80-82 m.p.h.) maintained without respite
on any safe stretch. At the opposite end of the scale it is possible to run down to 400-500 r.p.m. (10-11 m.p.h.) in top, and to a crawl on third. At the higher cruising speed the M.G. gives a thoroughly satisfactory feeling of ” life,” the bumps and undulations lifting the car freely and the steering requiring a good deal of attention, which is a source of joy to a keen driver.
But it must not be thought thatthe M.G. is in any way uncomfortable or unstable. The suspension gives the old-school taut feeling at low speeds, characteristic of the genuine sports-car, but it smooths out at higher speeds, and pitching is only pronounced on really severe surfaces.
There is no tendency to float on corners, the road-holding is of a high order, even when the car momentarily leaves the road over had surfaces on fast bends, and it was well nigh impossible to provoke A skid or tail slide, while only excessively rapid cornering resulted in tyre squeals. The wider track and longer wheelbase of the latest chassis must materially assist in this direction. It seems probable that the front shock-absorbers on the car tested were on the slack side, giving the driver a good deal of work to do at really high speeds on rough going, but this M.G. felt as safe as any car we have driven, and could be steered down into the gutter at speed with no heart-stopping or misgiving. The steering is really high-geared, is light to handle except at a crawl on full lock, and possesses adequate castor action. It is essentially accurate, and no return action .is felt through the wheel, though on bad roads the column vibrates to a considerable extent, which, personally, we rather enjoyed, as adding to the general joie de vive of this model ” The wheel rake is adjustable, and as set
was absolutely right, and 1 turns take the wheels from lock to lock. The lock is moderate.
The clutch is light, very positive, and smooth with a little care, necessary because there was some lost motion in the pedal range. Racing starts and restarts on trials gradients brought out no trace of slips.
lowest ratio to be effected without revving up. The changes can be classed as satisfactorily rapid, without, perhaps, reaching quite the ” racing ” standard, and the synchro-mesh is really good. There is some gear-noise on first and second that is in no way unpleasant and on third there is only a low-pitch whine or hum on the overrun. The
The gearbox is entirely in keeping with the car. The rigid remote lever is well placed, and has the gear positions, which are conventional, marked on the knob. First to second is a fast change with double-declutching to obviate crunching, and an equally fast change is possible into third without double movement of the clutch pedal. Third into top can be quick either making use of the synchromesh or not, and this .aid to easy manipulation is a very good example of its kind, so that rapid changes from top into third are possible without doubledeclutching if the driver is so disposed. The other downward changes are straightforward, and aided by the responsiveness of the engine. When coasting slowly in neutral the mere raising of the clutch would enable a silent engagement of the
transmission generally is satisfactorily taut and the axle silent. The hand-brake lever, though appearing to be set rather far to the left, is actually in an excellent position. It is Of the usual M.G. rod-pattern, absolutely rigid and havin.g the racing catch which operates only when pressed down. The lever releases by merely pulling it back and always does so easily, though without jumping forward vigorously. The foot brakes, as one expects of the Lockheed hydraulic system, are of a very high
standard. They are really powerful, absolutely even in action, dead silent and light to apply. From high speed the pedal action felt a trifle ” dead,” but nevertheless the retardation is truly progressive. A fast week-end’s motoring failed to weaken the stopping power noticeably.
The driving position is excellent and the pedals are closely spaced, yet in exactly the desired manner. The small righthand accelerator was prone to excessive judder, when the engine was idling, a minor shortcoming of no material consequence. There was no room to rest the clutch-foot, but, probably due to the angle of the ramp, we contrived to keep it away from the pedal without suffering from cramp or fatigue after long spells at the wheel. The door might interfere with certain drivers’ elbows to a small extent. No direction indicators are fitted, but the side-curtains have buttondown signalling flaps, and we never felt the need for mechanical aid. Reverse gear has no safety catch, nor did we deem this necessary. Incidentally, all the gears engaged easily. At first we were troubled by repeated stalling in traffic, but this was completely cured by adjustment of the slow-running control, so that the engine idled at 800900 r.p.m. The bodywork feels reasonably taut and gave forth only minor rattles and squeaks. With hood and all side pieces erect the interior is really snug, Without being stuffy, and completely waterproof. The hood will stow away invisibly and the screen .folds flat. The main side screens are of a special type, metal edged, which plug in and are also held by wing-clamps. They are absurdly easy to erect or detach. The front-seat cushions adjust, but the wide squab remains Set and it might be a trifle more upright. Both doors possess ample pockets, and the upholstery is in leather. Although there are no clibby holes in the facia the top of the scuttle behind the screen and between the ” humps ” constitutes a useful ” platform.The door-locks are of Silent Travel pattern and the pedals have fume-excluding gaiters. With the exception of the steering-wheel spoke tending to mask the oil gauge, all the instruments are nicely placed. Reading from left to right the facia appointments are as follows :—J aeger 100 m.p.h. speedometer; dash-lamp ; starter switch; ammeter ; mixture control below it : switches ; fog-lamp switch below ; plug for route-card or interior lamp ; horn push and incorporated dimmer switch ; dynamo ” window ” light below ; panel’ • lighting switch ; oil gauge ; Slow-running control below ; 30 m.p.h. lamp ; rev counter to match speedometer, with inset
clock ; reserve fuel control. The instruments are indirectly lit, very effectively.
The radiator cap tended to stick due to a rubber washer, but the fuel tank fillercap has a simple and effective quickaction. The horn push and lamp dimmer switch are easily reached with the Tight thumb, with one’s hand on the wheel. The licence-holder is obscured if the screen is lowered, but this is -a universal failing, of course. Behind the seats, which give ample leg-room, is a very roomy luggage compartment, under cover of the hood. Entry and exit is a matter of some care, as is usual in small sporting cars, but once installed both driver and passenger are thoroughly comfortable. The tools are accommodated in a sorbo-lined -tray beneath the bonnet.
Reverting to performance, on bad going the scuttle is subject to sonic float and vibration, but the ” frontworks ” stay very steady, excepting a very slight tendency to radiator movement. As is our usual practice we took the M.G. to Brooklands Track on the last day of the test. Owing to the presence of workmen and very hard-looking rock spread about in haphazard piles, we reluctantly decided to make no timed speed tests, having ascertained several times on the road that the model ” T ” does a genuine 80 m.p.h. with screen and hood erect, which in some ways is a more valuable guide. The acceleration figures were taken in this guise, with two persons in the car, and they are shown in graph form. A standing start to 50 m.p.h. occupies 16 secs., against a stiff breeze, incidentally. 10 to 60 m.p.h. took 22t secs. The engine has no trace of a flat-Spot from the twin S.U. carburetters. On first gear we recorded a maximum of 30 m.p.h.. equivalent to 6,000 r.p.m.. which shows that the new push-rod unit is a very willing motor, on, second we
reached 5,850 r.p.m. (49 m.p.h.). On third the maximum was 4,900 to 5,000 r.p.m. (65 m.p.h.). Naturally the engine sermda–streSsed beyond its normal maximum speed of 3,000 r.p.m. First gear is intentionally low to Cope with trials conditions, but not so low as previously, and therefore it is not necessary to go into second immediately in traffic, as was desirable with the’ P “type. The speedometer read accurately
at 00 m.p.h. The oil-pressure varies with engine speed, but remains at 45 to 50 lb. per square inch at cruising speeds, and was unaffected by Brooklands. No thermometer is fitted, hut the pump cooling with fan assistance seems to have the temperature well in hand. We boiled only on the trials hills, and added very little water. No oil was added in the duration of the test, On Benzoic or Ethyl fuel the engine picks up from a crawl without pinking. The fuel consumption worked out at a shade better than 27 m.p.g., throughout, which is very good indeed, and is proof that 30 m.p.g. or more would be the normal figure in mum-road motoring. The range is approximately 450 miles, as the big rear tank holds fifteen gallons, of which three can be trapped in reserve. The engine started easily at all times, and hardly required the rich mixture, and a couple of minutes’ warming up at 2,000 r.p.m. was all it asked before idling normally. The dynamo balanced the charge with all lights in use at 43 to 50 m.p.h. The ” T” Midget has the wide sweeping wings that give good protection. A badge-bar is provided, The chromium plating on lamps and radiator, etc., is of excellent quality and polishing could not be easier. The screen-wipers were entirely satisfactory, though to ” park ” called for strong fingers, as on nearly every car we have tried. (Accessory folk, please note !) The head-lamps were entirely adequate and the dimming arrangements commanded respect from other travellers by night. The side and rear lamps were likewise very effective, and the horn note penetrating without , being ohjectionable. The car generally
THE M.G. MIDGET—continued
kept very clean, but in trials work the front number plate is likely to suffer.
Turning to matters mechanical, the new engine is a four-cylinder push-rod o.h.v. unit of 63.5 x 102 mm., giving a capacity Of 1,292 c.c., a rating of 10 li.p., and a tax of L7 10s. The crankshaft runs in three bearings. The connecting-rods are H-section steel and aluminium alloy pistons are used. Coil ignition is employed, with 14 mm. plugs and automatic advance. A Tecalemit filler is embodied in the lubrication system and the ribbed aluminium sump holds approximately 11 gallons of oil. The filler is accessibly placed overhead and there is a neat valve cover held down by two large thumb nuts. Oil Led is from a floating suction pump. The camshaft is driven by Duplex roller-chain. Two semi-downdraught S.U. carburetters arz located on the off side, and they have a drum-type air cleaner attached to a common feed-pipe. Pump Cooling is fan assisted, the drive being by belt combined with that for the dynamo, which is located on the near side, and from which is taken the drive for the rev. counter. A thermostat is located in the top water connection. The radiator has dummy shutters. Transmission is via a single-plate clutch running in oil, with cork insets. The fourspeed gearbox has remote control and synchro-mesh on third and top gears. Final drive is by a balanced HardySpicer propeller-shaft to a semi-floating rear axle. The chassis frame has boxsection side members and tubular cross members and the clash and other sections are metal pressings. Suspension is by half-elliptic springs controlled by Luvax hydraulic shock-absorbers. The springs are mounted on swivel pins at the forward ends and sliding trunnion bearings at the rear, th2 rear springs have Silent bloc forward mountings. The frame
members are mainly straight, passing below the rear axle, but sweeping up over the front axle. Chassis lubrication is looked after by the Tecalemit nipple and gun layout. The silencer is a straightthrough perforated tube Burgess. The brakes are Ferodo lined Lockheed, with cable actuation of the lever system. The Dunlop ” knock-off “centre-lock wire wheels carry 19″ x 4.50” Dunlop covers. The steering-wheel is of spring type and the reduction is of cam pattern. The electrical equipment is 12-volt, the two 6-volt batteries now being mounted ahead of the rear axle, where they are well protected and with their weight M the right place. C. P. lamps and a Lucas Altette horn are standard equipment and all circuits are wired and fused separately. The dimensions are : Track 3 ft. 9 in. ; Wheelbase 7 ft. 10 in. The exhaust system is of the three branch type, on the off side. An external driving mirror is fitted, quite well positioned, if of rather limited vision and apt to dazzle at night or in sun. The following finishes are available : Saxe blue, racing green or carmine red with leather upholstery to tone ; cream with red upholstery ; or black with blue, green, biscuit or red upholstery ; silver wheels. Triplex glass
is fitted. The series ” ” is offered in two-seater form only and the price is £222. By the way, the rather overdone ” hexagon motif ” which was found on early M.G.s is no longer in evidence in the “T.” In conclusion, we thoroughly enjoyed trying this new Midget and at the end of the test felt that a place should be made for it in the home garage, which is a sentiment experienced only occasionally in the course of trying many modern ears. The larger engine has given the ” ” model a performance that renders it superior to most of its rivals, and it has made it a docile, silent and extremely
simple car to handle in town traffic But it must not be imagined that the whole performance range has been rendered “woolly ” and devoid of punch. Looking back on our test week-end we have pleasant memories Of devouring long straight roads at 70 to 80 m.p.h., when the engine was really turning over and emitting a truly intriguing roar. And with these memories in mind we find it truly difficult to appreciate that the latest Midget sells at £222 and has beneath its lengthy bonnet quite an ordinary push-rod engine, easy to maintain, for which spares are readily procurable and which gives over 30 m.p.g. on normal fast runs. The reason for the appeal of the ” T ” type is largely bound up with the lessons handed on to Abingdon from racing and trials participation and to the patient develcpment of the Midget, since the introduction of the original model ” M ” eight years ago. The M.G. Midget has long been possessed of those characteristics that distinguished the genuine sports-car and. the latest example is every bit as much typical of the Abingdon. marque as previous Midgets, while its more generous allowance of swept-volume has placed it in an unassailable position so far as measurable performance is concerned, without resort to forced-induction or drastic modifications that would have been necessary to obtain like results from a ” P ” or a ” PB.” We hope that we have made it clear that the ” T “is not just a polite and gentlemanly edition_ ot former Midgets. In any case, a brief run will completely dispel any such suggestion, and the series ” T,” together with the 1 Hitre and 2-litre models, will certainly ensure the continued
popularity of the M.G. marque. And Abingdon is full ready to cope with the present and anticipated demand.
DIRT TRACK RACING IN /131ERICA
axle is drilled to receive them. It has
also been found a goodish wheeze to strengthen the ends of the tubular axle by inserting short tubes in the end, the tubes, of course, being machined to a shrink fit. The perches, incidentally, are now carried as near the ends of the axle as possible, using a long spring. Rear axles are generally Ford, with Chevrolet axles as a possible second choice. The Ford rear has proved light, strong, and admirably suitable, with the exception that the stronger driving axles from the truck rear end are usually fitted, as with this type of rear end a broken axle means a lost wheel. The differential is usually solid or “locked,’ as an ” open rear,” as the usual type is called, resulting inssnaking during acceler
ation down the short straights. The locked rear also has the advantage of enabling the car to run on three wheels (with two in front, that is). This may seem a bit on the useless side, but every so often somebody runs the last few laps to finish that way. Wheels must te wire, by AAA re gulation. Rudge wheels ate preferred, though there seems to be little to choose between them and the American Dayton wheel. A recent AAA ruling permits the use of the welded-type wire wheel, as used on some stock cars, but though laboratory tests prove otherwise, they have not proved to be quite strong enough. Lots of them are used anyway, though, because they only cost about $5 apiece. It is almost universal practice on the dirt tracks to use small section tyres in front
and large section ones in back. The average size for the former is 18 x 4.50 and for the latter 18 x 6.50. This makes the frame slope downward in front, which seems to contribute to better steering. The front tyres have a normal tread, while different types of rear tyres are used, depending on the track surface. The steering gears are usually taken from stock cars, but modified in various ways to give a central position. for the steering column. The AAA requires that the steering wheel be built around a steel frame, which is cut out, in most cases, from a blank of Spring steel. This does not result in anything like a spring spoke wheel, however, as the metal employed is about 4 in. thick. Real
spring spoke wheels, of the Ashby or Blumel variety, are rarely seen. The body, sometimes made of aluminium but more often of steel, is in three sections, cowl, tail, and underpan. All three are quickly removable, as they are provided with flanges which rest directly on the top (in the case of the underpan, the
bottom) of the frame, and are held by acorn nuts or studs which project from the frame through holes in the flanges.
As the races are for the most part fifteen or twenty miles, a large gasoline’ capacity is unnecessary. About five gallons are carried in a tank which fits inside the tail. Instruments comprise in most cases a rev-counter, known as the ” tach,” oil pressure and air pressure gauges, and,. in a very few cases, water and oil ther mometers. Windscreens are never of the Aero type, as on road racing-cars, but usually made of about * inch celluloid, bent around the cowl and held to it by
small bolts. Occasionally wire sereens are used, to repel the rocks, which really do fly all over Cracked goggles are normally expected.