Double Twelve

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Extract from September's Octagon Car Club Bulletin


In late 1930 the MG Car Company Publicity Department wrote in a brochure that "at 8am on Friday, the 9th of May 1930, five "Double-Twelve" Model MG Midgets started on a gruelling race with about sixty other cars of many makes and countries. They were taking the track for the first time against doughty opponents of long experience and established racing reputations - and the weather was, to say the least, very mixed. Before many hours had gone by it was apparent to all who watched that the MG Midgets were lapping with amazing regularity --- but there was no monotony in their consistency, for every now and again the little cars would have a "dust-up" with one of the bigger fellows, showing a wonderful turn of speed. During one of these "Scraps" MG Midget No 80 actually lapped at 72.45 mph and a lap, of course includes the famous corner. And so till 8pm on the same day the Midgets ran on with unparalleled consistency, in spite of the weather, which showed the rain-soaked drivers and watchers alike that the Midgets had the field beaten when it came to road holding. According to The Autocar the MG Midgets were found to be as fast round the bend as any cars except one make. The wet track made the big fellows slacken their speed a little, but the Midgets still held their revs. During the whole day they stopped at the pits only to replenish the tanks and change drivers.

Considerable difficulty was experienced by many cars with the restart at 8am on Saturday, but the MG Midgets were among the first away to repeat their trouble-free performance of the previous day. Of the twenty-seven cars that qualified, the five MG Midgets were 14th, 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th - this, in itself, is proof of their consistent running. The car that finished 14th covered 1445.63 miles at an average speed of 60.23 mph. Three of these Midgets were entered privately, as a team, by Mr CJ Randall and driven by amateurs in the strictest sense of the word. The others were also private entries, one being driven by Miss Victoria Worsley and Mr D G Foster, and the other by Messrs H H Stisted and N Black. As a testimony to the comfort of the little car at such high speeds, it must be placed on record that, owing to an accident to Mr Stistedís knee, Mr Black drove, on the second day, from 1pm to 8pm without a break - a very fine effort on the part of the driver. The team of MG Midgets was awarded the Team Prize and was, in fact, the only team to qualify.

The Double Twelve Model is identical in all respects with the standard specification of the MG Midget Sports Two-seater with the following exceptions: An attractive body with both sided cut away, conforming to International Road Racing regulations, is fitted, the general lines being similar to our standard production. There is a special windscreen fitted with Triplex glass, or gauze if necessary, which can be folded flat forward. The upholstery is real leather, whilst the wings and general finish are a pleasing combination of cream and brown. The engine, which is very carefully prepared by hand, is fitted with a special camshaft, stronger and has a special exhaust and induction manifold, and a special Solex carburettor. The Brooklands silencer can be fitted, if ordered beforehand, instead of the Vortex, which we recommend for road use.

The clutch is fitted with special springs and linings, whilst the chassis has special headlamps brackets, and front wing cross bar. An extra large petrol tank to carry nine gallons is fitted in the dash, with quick-action filler-cap, whilst extra strong road wheels, and a strap to the bonnet, complete the chassis specification. The electrical equipment includes a dynamo specially wound to give an output at high speeds, and the same applies to the coil, whilst the distributor is one made capable of functioning continuously at the highest speed of which the engine is capable. In addition to the standard speedometer, ammeter and oil gauge, oil and water thermometers are fitted, coupled respectively to the sump and radiator header tank. The whole car is very carefully prepared, freed off, and run in. If required, an undershield can be fitted, whilst the chassis can also be prepared for long-distance racing events by wiring and split pinning all nuts and bolts, and for these two items an additional charge would be made according to requirements".

Double Twelve 2B/M2273 is a part of this MG racing history as it is the last Double Twelve manufactured on 1 December, 1930. Due to the overwhelming acceptance of the original six cars built for the famous Brooklands race, the MG factory built an additional nineteen replicas and offered them for sale to the general public. Most of the nineteen cars were purchased by enthusiasts and were raced in many races at Brooklands and other tracks in the early 1930s. Double Twelve 2B/M2273 is one of four factory-built cars known to exist today.

It was an incredible experience of discovering, researching and purchasing Double Twelve 2B/M2273. The car was in the estate of Victor Fowler of Englewood, Maryland. Victor passed away some ten years ago and his wife had become quite ill in 1996. Both of the Fowlers were very active in the old car hobby most of their adult lives. They had 20 very fine automobiles, all garaged at their home in Englewood. The family sold 12 of the 20 cars and the remaining eight cars were auctioned with the estate on 9 November, 1996. Terry Saunders and Bill Tantau of the MMM Register knew of my desire for a Double Twelve and e-mailed me of the auction announcement in the Baltimore Sun newspaper. This started the ball rolling and I quickly contacted Mike Allison/Chairman of the MMM Register in England. Mike immediately informed me that this was an authentic factory-built Double Twelve car, and the rest is history. I purchased the car at auction and have spent the last 15 months restoring this piece of MG history as original. I have had hours of unselfish help from Mike Allison, Mike Dowley and many other MG enthusiasts in England including the other three Double Twelve owners. My MG friends in the USA have been most gracious with their time and efforts to ensure that Double Twelve 2B/M2273 be restored as close as possible to the factory specs.

Jack Kahler/Littleton, Colorado USA

Photograph by Bill Bollendonk/Littleton, Colorado USA

The MG Octagon Car Club