MG Car Company
By James Groth for The English Car Company
MG is the abbreviation for Morris Garages and started as a subsidiary of Morris Motors in 1925 in Oxford, U.K.
It was not until 1929 that its founder Cecil Kimber moved production to its long-term home of Abingdon where it remained until production ceased with the 1980 MGB. During those fifty-five years the Octagon logo MG’s created a legacy of winning races and setting international speed records while finding a place in the hearts of owners and fans around the world.
The First MG – ‘The Old Number One’
The first MG is know as “Old Number One”. With Cecil Kimber as driver and Wilfred Matthew navigator they piloted “Old Number One” to a gold medal in the London to Land’s End Trial just days after the car was registered. The car started out with a Morris Crowley chassis, Kimber modified the suspension and added a 1547c.c motor. The company slogan was “Safety Fast”. For the 75th Anniversary of MG in 1975 “Old Number One” went on tour and was displayed at the Los Angeles auto show.
Perhaps the Octagon logo of MG is best known in racing for holding numerous land speed records. In May 1939, with the clouds of World War ll hanging over them, MG went to Dessau, German because there resided the recently built autobahn. The autobahn surface was made of hand-finished concrete, ideally suited for breaking international light car speed records. Major “Goldie” Gardner in the Magic Midget (EX-135) set the international Class G world record for 1100 cc (76 cubic inches) at 203.5 mph on May 31,1939.
Two days later the team bored out the cylinders of the same six cylinder motor from 1086 cc to 1106 cc, and fit larger pistons in order to make a run at the speed record in the 1500 cc (91 cubic inches) class. Major Gardner best run was 206 mph as he set a new international Class F world record for the 1101cc and under 1500 cc group.
In 1962 the MGB was introduced with a unit construction body, thus no frame, along with roll up windows. Both were firsts for an MG. Engine capacity was also increased by 11% from the MGA to 1798 cc (110 c.i.) This was to be the longest production model for MG running from 1962 to 1980 and a great sales success with nearly a half million units sold.
The race-bred MGB proved successful on the track too. MGB won its class at Sebring in 1966 and it 1967 the MGB/GT won its class. 1968 saw an aluminum bodied MGB/GT not only win its class at Sebring but finish 10th overall. MGB won three National SCCA E Production titles in 1971,1972 and 1973.
The 1973 title was won by Virginia based Group 44 who would form a long term relationship with British Leyland and Jaguar Rover Triumph. They successfully campaigned the Triumph TR8 and Jaguar GTP cars in the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) Series from 1980 to 1987.
44 SCCA Class E winning car.
On the west coast Joe Huffaker Engineering, San Rafael, CA campaigned winning MGB’s and has contributed more than any one to the competition development work on the MGB motor. If you want to race an MGB search for his manual entitled “MGB Competition Preparation”.
- 4-cyclinder, in-line overhead valve.
- 5-bearing counter-balanced crankshaft.
- Exhaust and evaporative emission-control.
- Compression ratio: 8.8:1
- Bore: 3.16 in.
- Stroke: 3.5 in.
- Displacement: 1798 c.c. (109.8 cu. in.)
- Horsepower: 92 b.h.p. @ 5,400 r.p.m.
- Torque: 110lb./ft @3,000 r.p.m. (max.)
- Carburetion: Twin 1.5 in. S.U. semi-drowndraught
- Fuel Pump: High-pressure S.U. electric.
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 14 Gallons.
- Four-speed all synchromesh with optional electrically controlled overdrive for third and fourth gears.
- Clutch: Diaphragm type Borg & Beck 8 in. with hydraulic actuation.
- Rear Axle: Three-quarter floating with hypoid final reduction gears.
- Ratio: 3.909:1
Overall Gear Ratios
- Reverse: 12.09:1 (Standard)
- First: 13.45:1 (Standard)
- Second: 8.47:1 (Standard)
- Third: 5:40:1 (Standard) 3.43:1 (Overdrive)
- Fourth: 3.91:1 (Standard) 3.20:1 (Overdrive)
- Direct rackand pinion
- Steering Wheel: Leather-covered 16in. diameter alloy spoke.
- Turns – lock to lock: 2.9