The MG Story: Before Nuffield

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MG M-Type Midget
by Jo Patterson

Before Nuffield

In the halcyon days "before Nuffield", the blood lines of racing and touring MG's ran inseparably together. Back then you could have won your class in the Mille-Miglia with a K-series straight off the production line, or even have a go at the Brooklands handicapper with a touring four­seater Magna.

At Abingdon new combinations were always being concocted and most results had merit, they would usually build a few for the “peasants” who had a yen for the latest in small­engined racing and touring equipment.

As a result, the range of catalogued MG models from No. 1 in 1923 to the 1939 TB probably encompassed more gross and subtle variations than that of any firm with the possible exception of Bugatti. At one extreme were tense, wiry, louvered single-seaters, super­charged to the verge of their reliability.

These were the weapons which the talented young rich of the day, drivers such as Seamans, Straights, and Biras, would hurl to victory in curtain-raisers all across the British Continent.

Through the same doors at MG rolled cars which today might be mistaken for Rileys, Jaguars, and even Bentleys of that period. Sedate, yet sleek and sporting, with close-coupled four-seater sedan or convertible bodies towed by a long hood covering up to 2561cc, these MG's were as far from the original concept of the make as the racing cars mentioned above. Naturally, however, they displayed the fine breeding and good road manners characteristic of every car that carried the brown and yellow octagon.

What lay between these two poles? A wide range of sports and touring cars made to a magic formula: fast and cheap for their specification. Probably no MG combined this quality with a split sports/racing personality any more than old FC 7900, Cecil Kimber's original Morris Oxford special.

After some trial successes, the demand for duplicates of this "bitsa" were so great that William R. Morris' Morris Garages picked up the tab for production, the initials giving the newborn MG Sports its name. A similar later decision was Austin Motors' tooling up to build Donald Healey's "Hundred," originally an Austin A90 special.

The 1925 production "Super Sports" version of FE 7900, with such luxuries as a windshield, sold in England for AU$2,500 - not cut rate but reasonable for the day. Kimber worked variations on this theme for awhile, and then hit on the concept that eventually made the MG the best-known sports car in the world.

At that time there were many English enthusiasts who liked machinery that would step out and run but who couldn't finance anything more formal than a motorcycle. To cater for this group in addition to their regular clientele, Kimber and Morns saw the possibilities of building a very small low-priced sports car through extensive use of production parts. From this seed the first MG Midget grew.

Also see:
MG Heritage
MG Performance Chart
Unique Cars and Parts USA - The Ultimate Classic Car Resource