Not everyone could afford a Bentley or Mercedes, but a little MG would fit the pocketbook, perform as a commuting car, and with a quick change of sparkplugs make a hero of its owner on the weekend. This concept fits practically every production MG from the first midget to the modern streamlined MGA.
In 1923 Cecil Kimber constructed the first MG. He started with a Morris Oxford chassis and mounted a reworked Hotchkiss engine in it. Around this skeleton he wrapped just enough sheet metal to enclose the working parts, squeezed two bucket seats inside, and finished off the rear with a flashy tapered boat tail. The fenders were a gesture, square cut and mounted away from the body on outriggers. Strangely enough this Model 1, with its rounded Cowley, bull nose and no windshield, presented a sleek, functional appearance.
It still does. The first MG is still in fine running order and is shipped periodically around the world for the adoration of MG fans everywhere. Although the first model had no more than a 4- cylinder 750-cubic centimeter engine, it managed to do about 82 miles per hour, and in 1925 Kimber won a Gold Medal at the Lands End competition.
This early shakedown trial proved the worth of the little car, and the year 1928 saw the first of the Midgets, the Mark IV which was rapidly developed into the Type M. It was phenomenally successful. Cecil Kimber's intuition was well founded: the desire of the public for a small high performance car did exist, and the car he designed went far beyond his expectations.
William Morris, who now sported the title of Lord Nuffield, put the financial power of his organization behind the project and a new factory at Abingdon became the home of MG. The new company, officially named the MG Car Company, approached the business of building a production sports car with a direct ness of purpose that was almost frightening.
The plan was simple. A design feature or a piece of equipment that could stand the stress of high speed and brutal punishment during hours of competitive racing was good enough to be incorporated into the sports model for the general public. This led to a pattern of operation. A prototype car was built first, then a record- breaking machine, which was run at official speed trials, followed by a racing version, and finally the so-called sedate road model. However, the road
model always carried the genes of its fierce ancestry. Sedate was hardly the word!