This article originally reviewed the Austin A55 and Magnette Mk III togehter in the same article, but the parts were distinctive enough that I could omit the Austin part.
A LITTLE more than two weeks after the announcement of the new Austin A55 came the Press presentation of the B.M.C.'s so far most powerful derivative of the 1 ½-litre "Farina line", the Series III M.G. Magnette. Using the same body chassis structure as the Austin and the Wolseley 15/60 the new Magnette has a new radiator grille, trim, and modified power unit.
In contrast to the Austin the M.G. grille is set vertically in the traditional British manner, and is raked slightly forward giving the new model a keen to go appearance. Internal trim is in soft leather with pile carpets affording the type of luxurious travel that has become synonymous with the M.G. Magnette. The new facia has a "binnacle" set in front of the driver containing a half-octagon speedometer (100 m.p.h.) ammeter, fuel gauge, oil pressure gauge, and water temperature gauge. The instruments appear to be the same as those fitted to the obsolete ZA and ZB models, but the binnacle is new and leather padded, although positioned much the same as the older models.
Major differences between the Magnette and other B.M.C. 1 ½-litre in the "Farina range" is the B-series engine which although possessing the same basic design and compression ratio as the Wolseley and Austin is fitted with twin S. U. HD4 1 ½-in. carburetters (Austin and Wolseley have one each), a modified exhaust system. At 68 b.h.p. the Magnette engine has 24 per cent more power than the single carburetter engine, the extra power being transmitted through a higher axle ratio of 4.3 : 1 (Wolseley and Austin have 4.55 : 1 ratios). Maximum speed is a claimed 85 m.p.h., and this does not seem to be in any sort of doubt although the new model is wider, broader and heavier than the model which it replaces.
Distinguishing features at the rear of the Magnette is the modified fin treatment. In comparison to the Wolseley and Austin these have been shortened and "cut back" giving the car a more compact, sporting appearance, but still retaining large enough dimensions to assist materially in backing operations.
A new car was tried briefly at the Press demonstration and was found to handle well with little roll when cornering at speed. Steering is accurate although the cam and peg steering box gives a much more remote feel than the rack and pinion arrangement of the older models. The dished steering wheel is steeply raked in contrast to the "near upright" column of the ZA and ZB types. Seats were comfortable, and the gear-change delightful. The floor-mounted lever is identical to other 1 ½-litre B.M.C. model in the new range and has identical internal ratios. With only a little more than 1,000 miles on the speedometer trip it was obviously unfair to press the car but its general performance and handling suggested a new model which would uphold the M.G. traditions.
Suspension and brakes of the Magnette are identical to the Wolseley and Austin and both seem will up to their job. A break with tradition is that the new Magnette will be entirely assembled at the Morris works, the Abingdon factory these days being fully occupied with the production of B.M.C. sports cars, i.e., Austin-Healey Sprite, and 100/6, M.G.A., and "Twin Cam".
The M.G. Magnette Series III is priced at 1,072 7s. including Purchase Tax (basic price 714), same price as its predecessor. Duo-tone finishes are available at extra cost, in very attractive shades.-D.A.