Some of the most wonderful cars ever created
Towards the end of the 1920s MG Cars was in trouble. The economic climate was not good and sales of their cars were falling. A new and successful product was needed, and quickly!
Racing car, and sports car ownership were the provinces of the wealthy. The market was wide open for a cheap but reliable car which could bring the joys of sports motoring to the masses and in 1928 MG launched precisely that at the London motor show. The press loved it and predicted that it would make sports car history. They were right.
Cheap it certainly was. One way of cutting costs when building a new car is to reuse components from an existing one, and Cecil Kimber, the co-founder of MG, started with a Morris Minor chassis, lowered the suspension, and fitted a V shaped windshield. Perhaps economy was taken a little too far as far as the bodywork was concerned; the initial models had ash frames, under plywood sheeting which was covered with fabric! Happily by 1931 this was replaced by metal. Most of the cars were fitted with bodies manufactured by a company called Carbodies of Coventry although some were supplied as rolling chassis only, with the owner free to have an individually designed one fitted by a specialist coachbuilder.
There was a folding fabric roof; two seats and two doors. Comfort and instrumentation were minimal but then the car was unashamedly built down to a price; and as marketing projects go this was very successful and the M type was on target to become Britain's fastest selling sports car.
By 1930 engine improvements had increased the power output to 27 brake horsepower and by 1932 a supercharged version, capable of 80 mph, was available.
The car was raced successfully by both the company's team and private owners, although an attempt at Le Mans in 1930 ended in failure since both the cars that were entered failed to finish. The success of this car however quite possibly saved MG from bankruptcy and it was so popular that even Edsel Ford, Henry Ford's son, bought one. Despite relatively modest performance it set the template for generations of sports cars to come.