This road test comes from "Motor Sport" of 1963. There was also a Wolseley review but it was completely
separate from the MG review, so I chose not to retype it. The author is listed
only as "W.B." His poor grammar has been preserved in this internet-version. Some spelling is
obviously "British", like favouring versus favoring, and stabiliser versus stabilizer.
In any event, run on sentances and misused colons mark this as a true gearhead's writing.
This roadtest comes from a photocopy so I have no pictures to provide
A GREAT many Continental cars are tested by MOTOR SPORT because our readers are interested in individual cares but we have no desire to ignore British products and I was glad when two improved B.M.C. cars came along for appraisal. These were the Wolseley 6/110 with manual gear-change and the M.G. Magnette Mk. IV.
The M.G. Magnette Mk. IV is one of five basic Pininfarina-styled models that use the B-series B.M.C. 4-cylinder engine, in single-carburetter form for the Austin A60, Morris Oxford Series VI, and Wolseley 16/60, and in twin-carburetter for this M.G. and the Riley 4/72. To recap, the engine in all cases is now of 1,622 c.c., the capacity increase favouring the Borg-Warner Model 35 torque converter, with a 4-speed gearbox as an alternative. The engine has been made more durable than ever and the wheelbase and track have been increased to provide more interior accommodation. Road-handling has been improved by adding stabiliser bars front and back in conjunction with softer springing and lower-geared cam-and-lever steering is used. The M.G. has twin 1 ½-in, HS2 S.U. carburetters and develops 68 b.h.p. at 5,000 r.p.m., and increase of some 8 h.p. over the single 1 ¼-in carburetter engine. The Morris-Oxford and Austin use a higher axle ratio than the others when endowed with the manual gearbox, the M.G. and Riley gain in performance by having the more powerful engine with this axle ratio, and the Wolseley achieves effortless running by retaining the 4.3 axle with either transmission. The Farina-fins have been considerably reduced on all except the M.G. and Riley , which I prefer; if I were committed to one of these cars, I think the Wolseley 16/60 would suit me the best.
The first impression on driving this latest M.G. Magnette is the high seating position, redolent of the old ZB Magnette, with which the leather-cum-leathercloth upholstery and wood facia and fillets are in keeping, and this is followed by the realisation that the enlarged engine is just what the Magnette needed. Previously it was too staid for the "quick" model of the range but now it goes easily to an indicated 60 m.p.h. in 3rd gear and is noticeably more accelerative in this gear and the 4.3 to 1 top ratio. The absolute speedometer readings in the gears are 30, 50 and 75 m.p.h.
The steering wheel is thick-rimmed and too high, so that the otherwise good forward visibility is impaired, while it is a pity that the plating on the half horn-ring reflects in the glass of the neat rigidly-hooded speedometer, especially as this instrument is mounted in a new matt-finish anti-dazzle panel, also accommodating separate oil-pressure gauge, temperature indicator, ammeter and fuel gauge. A separate Smiths clock (which gains) is located centrally, there is an under-facia shelf and a compact but commendably deep lockable cubby-hole, and flick switches look after wipers, lamps, and panel lighting, the last two switches difficult to identify after dark. The heater/demister rotary controls are as on the Wolseley but the panel lighting fails to illuminate them. I like the two-position panel lighting, for speedometer only, for all gauges and the clock and mileage indicators also, augmented by luminous figures on the speedometer dial.
The engine makes a good deal of noise at its task, tended to run-on, and was irritatingly slow to start on cold mornings, seeming to prefer no choke-which is cruel to the battery. The suspension is comfortable without being outstanding and road-handling has improved, with an understeer tendency but roll held in check on fast corners. The stubby central gear-lever is a delight to use, controlling a gear-change that is an outstanding feature of this car, the r.h. brake-lever of the Wolseley is fitted, and the brakes are adequate, although it would be nice to have at least a pair of discs on this fast model of the B.M.C. 1.6-litre range. The steering could well be lighter, pulling as it does against castor action, there is little lost motion, but some sponge about the straight-ahead position detracts from accuracy of control. Vibration rather than reaction is transmitted, and with the new gearing just under three turns, lock-to-lock, are required.
I found the separate bucket front seat satisfactory, for it hold the driver securely and has a firm but not uncomfortable cushion, but passengers were less enthusiastic. The rear seat has separate squabs divided by a wide folding arm-rest, and there are arm-rests on the back doors. There are openable quarter-windows front and back (the drivers's prone to air leaks when shut), the interior door handles move upward to open the doors in contrast to those on the big Wolseley, and if the huge tail-fins with their enormous rear lamps are ugly they provide useful "markers" when reversing. A reversing light is fitted. The screen-washers are of the delay-action sort and the wiper blades proved inefficient.
The absolute full range was 226 miles, suggesting that the maker's tank capacity figure of 10 gallons is optimistic. I do not enthuse over the filler flap that has to be unlocked for refuelling. Fuel consumption, checked over a considerable mileage, embracing a great deal of local running and cold starting but probably aided by the return of winter which kept the speed down on longer journeys, come out at 25 m.p.g., so this engine is thirsty for its size. No oil was consumed in 685 miles and no troubles of any kind were experienced. The spare wheel is carried under the roomy luggage boot. The heater gave sufficient warmth but would seem insipid in colder climes or to chilly mortals; heat is reflected away from the driver's feet, which made me feel that perhaps the family in the advertisement, the members of which all want to drive the M.G., might not be so competitive had they to take it out on a winter day! The throttle linkage and clutch pedal travel made negotiation of slippery surfaces difficult and wheel spin was very easily provoked on snow and ice.
This MG Magnette Mk. IV is a nicely finished family car that feels durable, the test-car being finished in a nice shade of red and having front-seat, safety-belts and a Radiomobile 5-push button radio. At 1,058 10s. 7d. inclusive of p.t., I rate it an attractive purchase for "sporting" family motorists. -W.B.