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A 1930s MG J2.

As far as I can ascertain, the sporting number shown below is an MG J2, a 2 seater sportscar produced at Abingdon from 1932 to 1934. The example shown is an early J2 I believe, later examples came with full length front wings, rather than the cycle wings fitted to this particular MG. It has been suggested that this could be a Police car, or perhaps a car being evaluated for Police duties, hence the extra lamp fitted above the spare wheel, which could well present an illuminated 'Police' message to following motorists. MGs were used by various Police forces during the 1930s, with models such as the PA and Magna seeing duty. After the war, models such as the TC (and later the MGA) would feature in a number of Police force's line-ups.
MG Sportscar
Was the J2 ever used by a Police force though? I'm sure someone out there will know the answer. The MG J2, or MG J2 Midget as it was also known, replaced the earlier M-Type and was road tested by The Autocar in August 1932. In all there were four 'J' models - the J1 which was a four seater, the J2 shown here, and with competition in mind, the J3 and J4. The roadtesters seemed very impressed with the new car, a cycle-winged J2 sporting the registration number RX 9980*. Speed tests were performed at the Brooklands motor racing circuit, with a top speed of 80mph being attained, not bad for a car propelled by an engine of just 847cc. Reports later suggest that this may have been a tweaked car prepared specially for The Autocar's writers, as the two-bearing crank was/is notorious for not putting up with protracted high revving, the car's achilles' heel in many ways.
At it's launch the J2 cost 199 GBP and 10s, and appealed to the raffish type of chap to whom speed was an important criteria. The car bore all the expected hallmarks of a machine honed for brisk motoring - a quick action fuel filler cap behind the driver's shoulder, cycle wings in the style of those seen on the earlier M-Type, a slab tank at the back with a spare wheel strapped to it, fold flat windscreen (which could always be replaced by a pair of Brookland's Aero-screens should the mood take one), a short-throw remote control gearshift, and mesh over the headlamp lenses, all contributing to the sporting nature of this new motor-car.
In 1934 the magazine re-visited the J2, by now sporting full-length flowing wings. The new wings were designed to minimise dirt being thrown up along the MG's side panels, but the cycle wings looked much more sporting I think. The mildly revised MG J2 still cost 199 10s. The J2 came as standard fitted with Rudge wheels, and Dunlop tyres. The car shown above is wearing the same tyres as those shown in contemporary road-tests, which again makes me wonder if it was either being evaluated for some specific duty, or else photographed shortly after being built.
MG J2 as featured in a road test
Photo: The Autocar. This MG was later owned by Tony Costello, as recounted here.
*Update on road test car RX 9980.
Tony Costello dropped me a line after having found this page on the web: "Found your address whilst browsing and thought that you might like to know that I once owned RX9980 [the road test car mentioned above]. It was in very bad nick engine-wise, and my mates and I never were able to get it to perform with any sort of reliability. This was around 1955. I saw it mentioned in Jonathan Woods' MG from A to Z book many years later. It was the first intimation I had that it was anything special, but it explained why we had so much trouble with it. I wrote to Jonathan and got a nice letter back. Unfortunately I can't lay my hands on the letter but I do still have his book. Eventually I got fed up with it and sold it at Queensferry Auctions near Chester on a "caveat emptor" (no come-back) basis, for peanuts. I later saw it running around near Bromborough on the Wirral. I remember that the old log book had about five or six previous owners in it who had probably done the same as me. When I had it it had been painted (badly) in Cambridge Blue. I'm in my Eighties now, and tootle around in a much more comfortable VW Polo. Best Wishes, Tony Costello".
Thanks for the extra information Tony, much appreciated!

Another example of the J2 Midget (YY 4316).

Peter Baxter emailed over the following photograph, in it his father is shown stood alongside his J2 Midget prior to WW2. The car was registered YY 4316. Intriguingly, this registration shows up as still being current on DVLA, assigned to a red MG first registered in 1932, this tallies with this London series as it only ran for three months in that year. It does however show the engine size as being 1172cc - the conversion of pre-war MG sportscars to Ford 10 1172cc sidevalve engines was not uncommon in the 1950s, and it would appear that such a fate befell this example, in a bid to keep it on the road. But where is the car now? The DVLA site shows it as last being taxed way back in December 1985, with the last logbook issued in October 1984. Does the J2 lurk in a garage somewhere, awaiting a rebuild perhaps? Or was it exported in the 1980s, and DVLA never advised of this? If anyone can update us on the current whereabouts of YY4316, I'd be interested to hear. Thanks to Peter for the photograph.
(Please click the thumbnail to view full-size image.)
Another MG J2
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