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Homepage. This page: Examples of the Farina-designed MG Magnette four-door saloon car.

MG Magnette.

Prior to WW2 the Magnette name lent itself to a number of desirable two-seat MG sportscars. In the 1950s the Magnette name found itself transferred to MG's range of sporting (ZA/ZB) saloons, at a time when harmonisation across the Nuffield/BMC brands was beginning to take effect. By 1959 badge-engineering behind the doors at BMC was in full swing, and every opportunity to extract the maximum potential from Farina's design for a new, sharp-suited four-door saloon car range, was being expoited.
Buyers of the Austin and Morris versions were the steady-driving, middle-of-the-road type of driver typically, while those wanting to associate themselves with a more upmarket image, yet remaining loyal to BMC products, may well have opted for a Wolseley 15/60 (later 16/60). Press-on drivers, the type more likely to drink from a pint pot rather than a thermos flask, would probably eschew the dependable image of the Cambridge or Oxford, and instead opt for the MG version. Not that the MG was significantly different or better than its lower-powered stablemates, simply that the name MG at the time conjured up images of dashing types in two-seater sportscars, rather than middle managers commuting to and from the office.
The be-finned MkIII MG Magnette arrived in 1959, alongside the other "new" Farinas which included a Riley 4/68 variant, that happened to share the Magnette's sporty twin-carburettor specification. The 1959-year Farinas referred to here were fitted with the 1489cc inline-four, known as the B-Series. In 1961 the Farinas underwent a number of useful improvements, including a slight increase in rear track, and the enlargement of the engine to 1622cc, which endowed each model, including the MkIV Magnette, with improved handling, and some very welcome extra urge over their respective pre-decessors. The tailfins were also trimmed back at this stage.
(Please click the thumbnail to view full-size image.)
MG Magnette car
The Mark IV Magnette continued in production until 1968, and wasn't directly replaced. The Chinese owners of the current MG brand have applied the Magnette name to a new range of saloon cars.
The car in the photograph above was undergoing some set-up work at a BMC/Nuffield facility. A tricky bit of Laycock kit (Optilite, Optilight or Optilign perhaps?) is checking the MG's front suspension and steering, measuring the toe-in/toe-out, camber and castor against published BMC limits. The Dunlop Gold Seal tyres bear evidence of use, suggesting that the car was not quite brand new at the time of this photograph. Wing mirrors are fitted, as is a radio aerial.

A 1961 MG Magnette MkIV.

Next, two photographs of a Leicester-registered MkIV Magnette, registered 366 BRY in 1961. This makes it an early example of the MkIV variant. The first image (one of two very similar photographs that turned up), sees the shiny MG saloon parked in an unidentified roadside location. Behind it lurks a Ford 100E Prefect, registered (in Kent) XKP 603. The people posed alongside the Magnette are clearly dressed up for a special occasion, most likely a wedding. Where this is I'm not sure. One possible clue is the sign on the distant building, which reads "The Steam and Mining Equipment Co. Ltd." - does anyone know of this company?
Other than the AA badge affixed to its upright grille, the two-tone MG Magnette looks to be in standard specification.
Front view if a MkIV Magnette
In the same set of images was found this shot, again of 366 BRY. Here it's parked outside an ultra-modern (for the 1960s) detached residence. It would be interesting to know if the building survives to this day or not. As for the MG, unsurprisingly, it no longer shows on a search of the DVLA's site. Like most cars of the 1960s, these old Farinas were rot-boxes unless regularly doused with oily anti-corrosion treatments. Most were scrapped, plus a significant number breathed their final gasps being destroyed in the name of b*nger racing. Those that do survive, offer roomy and relatively lively performance to their keepers.
Rear 3/4 view of the MG Magnette
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