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Homepage. This page: A photo from the 1960s, showing an overhead cam MG Midget sportscar of the 1930s, & others.

1930s MG Midget sports.

See an MG Midget on the road now, and most of the time it'll either be a chrome-bumpered Mk1/2/3 Midget (commonly referred to in their day as the Spridget, with A-Series power), or else the later rubber-bumper BL-ised two seater, propelled by a Triumph engine. The original MG Midget though dates to 1929-1932, and like MG models of the 50s and 60s, was based on contemporary Morris running gear, tuned, and fitted with sporting coachwork.
A 1930s MG M-Type Midget
Dane, who in fact owned an overhead cam Morris Minor 2 seater on which the Midget was based, kindly sent in this MG M-Type photo. He adds: "One day I had a visit from a Wellington-based enthusiast who owned an 'M' Type MG. It was interesting comparing the vehicles because they had basically the same OHC engine. The generator was mounted vertically at the front of the engine providing the connection from crankshaft to camshaft".
As Dane says, the M-Type used running gear based on the contemporary 847cc Morris Minor, before the latter switched to a simpler sidevalve engine. Early Midgets, breathing through an SU carburettor, produced 20bhp. Although this doesn't sound particularly high, it did allow this sporting two seater to cruise comfortably at 50mph. The engine's output increased to 27 in 1930, and in 1932 the real speed fiend could opt for a supercharger, endowing the Midget with a top speed of 80mph. Six volt electrics were fitted, as was a fuel tank of 4.5 gallons.
Early cars featured a fabric covered body over a wooden frame, this switched to all-metal construction in 1931. Cycle wings were fitted throughout production, and access to the rear boot area was via a hinged lid in the tail.
The Autocar magazine roadtested the MG Midget in 1929, and were suitably impressed - "An Extraordinarily Fascinating Little Car" they christened it, and enthused about it's performance:
"Not only has the M.G. Midget a fascinating appearance, but it goes so exceedingly well. Sixty to sixty-five miles an hour with it are not adventure but delight. It sits down on the road like a thoroughbred and at high speeds feels more like a big car than a tiny one."
In 1932, the new J2 Midget would take over from the earlier M-Type and supercharged Montlhery types.

2. An M-Type Midget-based special.

This next sporty two-seater is a bit of an oddball machine. Registered as UW 2007, I'm told the car's chassis number is #694 and is in fact still around. The origins appear to be M-Type Midget, but there are many many differences, hence this being more of a "special" than a factory MG. Non-original items include the huge, American headlamps, the windscreen assembly, the long bonnet and short scuttle, and the rear-hinged doors. My best guess is that it's an M-Type rolling chassis (and radiator), to which a one-off body has been fitted. The photograph dates to the 1950's, as confirmed by a collection of S-Type Bedfords parked in the background. Perhaps someone out there recognises the chaps stood with the car, or knows where the car is now (and whether it has resorted to being a standard M-Type, rather than a special)?
(Please click the thumbnail to view full-size image.)
A one-off MG sportscar

3. An M-Type with ladies on board.

Two ladies are seen in this next shot, snuggled on board their standard-bodied M-Type MG, headgear in place, and ready for the open road. Unlike other M-Types I've seen photos of, this car doesn't have the MG script on the knock-on wheel spinners, and it also has the spare wheel mounted at the rear. Look closely and two air inlets have been fitted to the top of the scuttle, identical to those seen on fixed-head Austin Swallows.
Another MG M-Type Midget sports car

4. Another much-modified M-Type, swapped for a Dellow.

Nigel sent over a number of photographs of cars, and a van, that he's owned over the years. Shown below is the much-modified M-Type MG that he owned in the 1960s, later swapped for an unusual Dellow - of which more anon. Of the MG, he recalls the following:
"1929 M-type MG called Quasimodo. Like many M-types, this car had fallen on hard times. At some stage the boat-tail had been damaged and a slab-tank rear had been fitted, possibly from a 'P-type'. Also, the original engine had been changed for a Ford Eight, which bolted directly onto the bellhousing of its four-speed box (with remote change). The central throttle pedal was changed to a hand-throttle, and the huge steering wheel (necessary for the direct steering) was from an Armstrong Siddeley. The car was breathed-upon by Wil J Riley (of the Riley Car family), he of TVR racing fame. The engine was replaced with an A-Series MG unit fitted with twin SUs, and the rear wheels were taken from a Morris Eight. Hydraulic brakes were fitted to assist with slowing the thing down. It was successfully raced by WJR a couple of times, and eventually found its way to the Police Barracks in Hong Kong where it was used as a 'covert' vehicle by the drugs squad. Should Q-modo appear, the Tong would tremble. The last I heard of it, the MG had twice done the Hong Kong to Peking (Bejing) Classic; but that was before the HK handover to China. Where it is now, I have no idea."
M-Type MG special
"Ever since I had owned the MG in the 1960s, a friend of mine, Mark, had coveted it and let it be known that he would like to have it as his own. The car was, at the time, looked after by WJ Riley (aforementioned) who raced it in its A-series engine form at the odd MG Car Club event. Mark had taken his career in the Hong Kong Police Force and occasionally returned to England on leave, each time making his number with WJ and asking if I wanted to sell the car yet. In 1979 I was stationed on the remote Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia, where I was Chief of Police for the Royal Navy, and had the opportunity to go to Hong Kong for my leave. I searched for Mark in vain, as I discovered he was also on leave - but in UK."
"Of all the cars that I loved but had never owned, the Dellow was my fierce favourite and one I dearly wanted. So, when Mark turned up at WJ's garage, the conversation went something like this:
"Does he want to sell the MG yet?"
"No, but he says that you can have it - for a small consideration."
"And what would that be?"
"He says that he'll swap it for a Dellow."
"A Dellow! Where on earth will I find one of those? Thay're rare as rocking-horse teeth."
"Well, that's what he wants."
"OK. Leave it to me. I'll see you in a fortnight at the end of my leave."
Two weeks later, Mark turned up with a Dellow, in pieces but complete, on a trailer; and some time after that the MG was shipped to Hong Kong."
"Legend has it that Mark used to turn up at whichever dodgy night club that interested the narcotics division at the time, in Quasimodo, wearing a white dinner jacket and with a couple of dolly birds on his arm, have a pleasant evening and then, just before the bill was presented, blow his whistle to initiate a Police raid. Hence the expression at the time: 'When Quasimodo appears, the Tong trembles.' How true this legend is, I have no idea but it makes a nice story and I am certain has its basis in truth."
"The Dellow was to be rebuilt by WJ as the Riley Dellow England Special, using a Rover 3,500cc V-8 engine and Jaguar running gear. Sadly financial constraints, a burglary and subsequent police action prevented this grand scheme from reaching fruition, and the Dellow was eventually returned to me in 1998 in the form shown in the photos. Not having the wherewithall nor financial means to do the work myself, I sold it as a rolling chassis and heard no more of it; until I happened to discover that it was in fact a very rare, if not unique, four seater car produced by Dellow England as an experiment from its two seater. I hope that it has since been restored to its original spec and see no reason why it should not have done."
Thanks for the interesting story of the MG, and its replacement. The four-seat Dellow is shown below, in kit form as it was in the 1990s. Where is it now?

The four-seater Dellow.

Four-seat Dellow car

5. M-Type UW 5990 on a VSCC trial in 1950.

I've corresponded with Ray on many occasions over the last couple of years, as we both own mid-twenties' Dodges. Here though is a photograph of his father, Ted White, competing behind the wheel of an M-Type MG (reg. UW5990) in 1950. The event is a trial, organised by the VSCC (note the armband worn by the chap on the right). Ray remembers the car well, and is keen to know the MG's current whereabouts. Since publishing the photo, the location has been identified (below).
Competing in a VSCC trial
"You may be able to help me with something that has been bugging me for many years. Do you know anyone in the VSCC who might know where this photo was taken or even of the car's whereabouts? The photo was taken in 1950 at a VSCC event (note the marshal's arm band) and shows UW 5990, an MG M-Type Midget, in competition. It was owned by my late father, Ted White, in the 1950s and was Dad's first car. It was also the first car I ever travelled in! Chassis No. 2M 0715 was a red 2-seat open sports and has a build date of 17 September 1929.
"In 1980, UW 5990 was featured in the Feb edition of 'Thoroughbred and Classic Cars' magazine as having represented the model in the golden jubilee of MG at Abingdon. At that time, the MG appeared to have been restored. According to the MMM register, the car was last registered to a John Butt (MMM register No.1265), but despite writing to him on my behalf (the Register keeps addresses confidential) there has been no response. It would be a step forward to get that address but how?
"I put the photo on the MMM register forum but no one there recognises the location. I have many fond memories and anecdotes involving the M-Type, and would love to find out more about the photo, or where the car is now. The DVLA say it's not licensed, so I suppose it could have gone abroad. Do you think you could help at all?
Does anyone recognise the car? Surely it still exists, if it made it to 1980 in good order. Equally, it'd be interesting to know more about the location of this photo. There would only have been a limited number of VSCC-organised trials taking place in 1950, either early in the year or nearing the end. A queue of larger cars can be seen in the background, awaiting their turn at the hill. The MG looks to be in good order at the time, although the headlamps are not a matched pair, neither in design nor diameter. Thanks for sending the photo over Ray.
Update. The VSCC's librarian did a spot of research, and states that the M-Type was photographed competing in the Bisley rally, on the 26th February 1950. So part of the mystery has been solved, but the question of the car's current whereabouts remains.
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