Early last month the Nuffield Organisation announced the new Mark lll Pinin Farina-styled M.G. Magnette, fourth of the new Italian-styled B.M.C. saloons—the others are the Austin A40, Wolseley 15/60 and Austin A55. The ZB M.G. Magnette which the new car replaces was a sporting saloon of charming individuality, with its own appealing handling characteristics, a snug high-set driving seat and a sense of real luxury imparted by quality leather upholstery and walnut veneer facia and window cappings. It offered no mean performance and looked every inch an M.G. except from the rear, when it could easily be mistaken for a 15/50 Wolseley,
The new M.G. Magnette is very different. From the front it recalls the short-lived Standard Vanguard Sportsman, at the back there are tail fins. Inside this Mark III Magnette the leather upholstery, walnut facia with lidded cubby-hole, throne-like driving seat and long, cranked central floor gear lever recall the much-loved former Magnettes but somehow in its manner of going, and certainly in its exterior styling, this is a different car.
The driver has the instruments — 100 m.p.h. speedometer, fuel contents and oil-pressure gauges, water thermometer and ammeter — grouped before him in a hooded nacelle. There is a clock in the centre of the facia, flanked by the new heater control. The dished steering wheel carries a horn-ring. The 19 cu. ft luggage boot has torsion bars to raise its lid and the spare wheel is sensibly accommodated underneath. Practical items are the dimming of the direction-flashers warning light when the side and tail lamps are on, to reduce dazzle after dark, safety catches for the doors, and screen-washers and heater included as standard in the home price.
The 1-1/2 -litre B-series B.M.C. twin-carburetter engine has a compression-ratio of 8.3 to 1 and develops 68 gross bhp. It pulls gear ratios of 15.64, 9.52, 5.91 and 4.3 to 1 in conjunction with 5.90 by 14 tyres. The new Magnette is longer and lower than its predecessors, the wheelbase being 8 ft. 3-3/16 in. Girling 9 in. 2LS brakes are used. No horse-power figures were quoted when the car was released to the Press, but the makers claim a speed of “about 85 m.p.h” and a petrol thirst of 25.1 m.p.g. cruising at a steady 70 m.p.h., representing a range of 251 miles. The price remains at £1,072 7s. inclusive, as for the earlier model.
We took a short drive in the new M.G. Magnette and formed the impression that it handles well with a minimum of roll on corners, is rather too high geared and cannot quite hold the former Magnette in respect of third gear acceleration, a chance meeting with a fast-driven earlier version proving the last point. Change is inevitable but the Mark lll M.G. Magnette does not seem to fill the individualistic niche which caused enthusiasts to regard the now-obsolete model with such warm affection. It remains to road-test the current version before deciding whether one might not just as well order a 15/60 Wolseley or an Austin A55.