A NEW 80 M.P.H. M.G. MIDGET
PROBABLY the most remarkable progress in automobile practice in recent years has been in the small car field, and to this development a considerable contribution has been made by the M.G. concern. Taking full advantage of the lessons to be learnt from competitions, they have continually entered their cars in races of every description, both at home and abroad, using the data obtained in this way to bring their models to an ever increasing pitch of efficiency.
Now they have surpassed their previous efforts by producing a new M.G. Midget, with an engine capacity of 850 c.c., which, unsupercharged, is capable of a genuine 80 m.p.h.
We recently accepted the kind invitation of the M.G. concern to put the car through its paces for the benefit of our readers, but before going on to an account of our experiences on the road, let us consider the mechanical aspects of this remarkable little machine.
The principal alteration in the engine is the new cylinder head, having the inlet ports on the offside, 4and the exhaust, with four separate ports, on the nearside. The great advantage of this new design is that the gases have a straight through passage, enabling them to be drawn into and expelled from the combustion chamber with the minimum of delay. Mixture is supplied by two S.U. horizontal carburettors. The stiff crankshaft, as before, is carried in a ball-race at the front
end, and a large white metal bearing at the rear. The connecting rods are steel, and the pistons are made of aluminium, with three rings. The ribbed sump, cunningly shaped to offer the maximum cooling area, is made of Elektron, and holds approximately one gallon of oil. Lubrication is, of course, pressure throughout by a geared pump. Another improvement lies in the new water manifold, which, in conjunction with bigger water passages, considerably improves the cooling of the head, an important point in
an engine capable of a very high speed.
The overhead valves are operated by the usual M.G. overhead camshaft, driven by a vertical shaft, around which is incorporated the dynamo. Although the cylinder head is of different design it has not affected the position of the plugs, which, however, are of 14 mm. diameter instead of the usual 18 mm. pattern. Ignition is by a 12 volt. Rotax coil and battery system, and the distributor is driven from the timing gear.
A single plate dry clutch is used, and a great improvement has been made in the fitting of a 4-speed gear box, giving the following ratios, 1st, 19.2 to 1; 2nd, 11.5 to 1; 3rd, 7.32 to 1 ; top, 5.37 to 1. Third and top are of the constant mesh twin-top type, while the gear change is by remote control with a short stiff lever situated right beside the driver.
A Hardy-Spicer propellor shaft, with metal universal joints takes the drive to the normal three-quarter floating type back axle. The chassis is a very rigid piece of work, with tubular cross members, while the side members pass under the rear axle, but are upswept over the front axle. It is interesting to note that the loading line of the chassis is only 11 inches from the ground, thereby ensuring extraordinarily good road holding qualities. The springs are flat underslung semi-elliptics, swivelling at the front ends, and mounted in phosphor
bronze slides at the rear. Andre shock absorbers are fitted as standard. The brakes have 9in. drums, with aluminium cooling ribs, and are cable operated. Racing practice
A near side view of the engine.
is again apparent in the unusual hand-brake ratchet, which only works when the button at the top of the lever is depressed. A main, as well as individual, adjustment is provided, while the chafing of cables is eliminated by a special provision of greasing within their casings.
Steering is of the Marks type, and a large rear petrol tank, holding 12 gallons, from which the fuel is delivered by an electric pump, completes the specification.
When we took over the car from the luxurious showrooms of University Motors Ltd., the London Distributors of M.G. cars, we were immediately struck by the genuinely racing appearance of this new Midget. The car is really low, and beautifully proportioned, and possesses that sturdy, workmanlike appearance which can only result from actual participation in racing events. Wire grilles over the headlamps, a folding windscreen, a combined speedometer and rev, counter, two raised fairings above the dash for driver and passenger, racing type Rudge-Whitworth wheels, a really practicable disappearing hood, the exterior rear tank, with a quickacting filler cap, and a strong spare wheel mounting behind the tank are all details which in the case of the new Midget are not merely ornaments. Incidentally, there is ample room for luggage in the rear compartment, and we noticed the useful feature of the tool kit being strapped securely to the floor.
The driving position makes one feel completely at home, the placing of the steering wheel, gear lever and hand brake being ideal, while our only criticism was that the ignition lever, which is mounted some way down the steering column, might with advantage be placed on the steering wheel boss.
Leaving Town for Brooklands, we were greatly impressed by the liveliness of the wonderful little engine. This, coupled with the small overall size of the car, and light steering, make the new Midget the fastest possible car in traffic.
On the Kingston by pass, with the windscreen folded flat, we settled down to an easy cruising speed of 60 m.p.h., at which speed the car conveyed the feel of working well within its capacity. After a check at a cross-roads, we found the acceleration of the car all that could be desired, the engine displaying an almost uncanny willingness to rev. up to an unlimited maximum. Actually, we reached 5,800 r.p.m. on several occasions, while 60 m.p.h. can be reached with ease on third gear. Second gear we found to be rather low, necessitating a distinct pause on the change up, but we are informed that on production models this ratio will be raised. Beyond Esher the winding road gave us plenty of opportunities of testing the cornering qualities of the car, and no matter how fast we took the Midget round sharp corners and fast bends, the driver maintained a sense of complete security. On one occasion this procedure provided us with a vital proof of the efficiency of the brakes, for we were suddenly confronted with the spectacle of a
large and heavy lorry slowly passing an equally large farm wagon. Thanks to the powerful M.G. brakes, we need only say that we are alive to tell the tale. And so to the Track, where we proceeded to put in a few laps at high speed. We were informed by some attendants that there would be a strong headwind blowing against us down the Railway Straight, mitigating our chances of attaining the ultimate maximum of the car over the mile, but in spite of this the little Midget recorded the excellent speed of 75 m.p.h. at which speed the speedometer, guaranteed by the makers to have not more than a 2% error, gave a reading of 74 m.p.h. Continuing under the lee of
the Byfleet Banking, the car gained speed, going up to 80 on every lap, a speed which we also attained on the road on our journey back to Town.
Altogether, the new M.G. Midget is a fascinating little car, of infinite possibilities, being genuinely fast but at the same time tractable and quiet in traffic. The comfort provided is that only usually found in cars of much greater overall dimensions, and at the selling price of £199 10s. should prove a complete success.
It is a comforting thought in these critical days to feel that so long as British manufacturers can turn out such cars as this new Midget, we have nothing to fear from competition from the rest of the world. 80 m.p.h. in comfort for under 2200 is motoring history indeed