MG J2 & F1

In the early 1930s, the M.G. Car Company  was still brand new. As we discussed in BMCE Issue 12, the first M.G.s began to appear on the market in England in late 1923 and were special-bodied Morrises based on the bullnose products of the day. 

By the late 1920s they were definitely their own brand and starting to notch up some serious motorsport wins against their more traditional opposition.

By the mid-1930s, an M.G. was the car to own, with a wide range of products on offer: out and out racing cars for the well-heeled amateur driver; trials models for the fun-lovers; sharp but spartan two-seater sports cars; to more comfortable tourers and salonettes for the family man. The choice was yours, but the motto, epitomised in the styling and the underlying mechanical design, was always Safety Fast!

By 1929 the company had outgrown its third premises and moved to its new home, where it would remain for 50 years, at Abingdon on Thames. 

With sporting success, capped by winning the prestigious Ulster T.T. in 1931, ’33 and ’34 and class speed records, M.G. became so well-known that it was virtually the by-word for British Sports Cars. 

Up to this time, though, sales were measured in dozens or hundreds of cars for each model – with some models remaining in single figures.

The first Midget, the overhead-cam 847cc-engined M-type, changed that and became a sales phenomenon of the time. Built between 1928 and 1932, some 3,235 were sold and Midgets would for many years be the backbone of the company: allowing it to produce other larger and more luxurious models, as well as the competition and record-breaking specials, in much lower numbers.

It was the Midget that helped M.G. survive the economic Depression of the early 1930s, by offering an affordable sports car (for those who could still afford any sort of car) but by 1932 was beginning to look rather dated.

Its replacement was the fabulous little J-type Midget, featuring the same 847cc engine but now with a cross-flow head sporting twin carburettors. It was available as the two-seater J2, or the four-seater J1 tourer and salonette. (There had also been C-type, specifically for racing, and D-type Midgets built concurrently with the M-type.)

The J2, revealed in August 1932, prior to that year’s motor show, introduced stylish new coachwork. The styling and instrumentation was so successful that it set the scene for M.G. sports cars for the next twenty years: they all had cut away doors, a fold-flat windscreen, a slab petrol tank “strapped” on the back of the car with a spare wheel attached, two seats, a fly-off handbrake and a tachometer to supplement the speedo. 

It wasn’t until the MGA was introduced in 1955 that the overall “square-rigger” styling as it is known, was superseded.

Meanwhile, in late 1931 a slightly larger car than the Midget arrived, known as the F-type Magna. It had a new six-cylinder engine derived from the M-type Midget’s four-cylinder, before the cross-flow head, of 1271cc and was available as a four-seater tourer or salonette. From late 1932 the F-type received larger brakes and better cooling. The Midget’s two-seater body was available on the Magna chassis, becoming the F2, while the four-seaters were renamed the F3.

Popularity of the two models was similar. Built only for the 1931-’32 year, there were 1,250 F-type Magnas made. The J-type Midget was produced between mid-1932 and early 1934, with 2,494 made: of which 2,083 were the J2.

The Comparison

One man who is able to give an unbiased comparison between the F1 and the J2 is Brian Oxley from Canberra, as he has restored one of each of these cars from rusty relics to the perfection you see in these photographs.

If you would like to read the rest of this story, grab a copy of the magazine from your local newsagent (in Australia), subscribe today or grab the digital issue from http://pocketmags.com/viewmagazine.aspx?titleid=2423&title=BMC+Experience


The BMC Experience Issue 14. Jul-Sep 2015 Magazine

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