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Period Reports

Autocar Road Tests No. 1396 - M.G. Midget Series TD Two-Seater

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Three pages of road test material from The Autocar. January 20th, 1950.

Autocar Road Test

autocar road test data
autocar road test 2


No car has done more than the M.G. Midget to bring within the reach of people of all ages, and often of comparatively slender means, the pleasures and benefits of the specialized form of motoring which can be enjoyed only in an open car, and preferably one of what is known as sports type. It would warrely be going toofar to describe this car as unique when it is remembered that there has been a Midget for more than twenty years, that it has always given a rather exceptional performance in return for quite economical running costs, and that it has been priced modestly in relation to values ruling through the years.
Drivers who have known the Midget since its inception and in all its variations, through the M series to the J, and then the P series, followed by the Ts, can say in all sincerity after sampling the new TD that the famous "Midge" has really gone ahead by a large stride as a result of the changes in design now made, which are described in detail on pages 2-5. Chief of these is the adoption of independent front suspension by coil springs and light but btill high-geared rack and pinion steering of the same general pattern as used on the 1¼-litre M.G., both of which components have proved very satisfactory on that model, as can be said from extended experience.
Most striking about the latest Midget on the road is the transformation effected in the comfort of riding by the new suspension. The half-elliptics formerly were remarkably good in terms of lateral stability, but were undeniably harsh over some surfaces, and more particularly at low speeds. The i.f.s. now fitted irons out, for instance, a stone sett surface, and provides comfort to the point where those who may previously not have enjoyed, or may even have been activly opposed to, the kind of ride which the Midget gave, can now be enthusiastic about its comfort.
Yet the new suspension does not tend at all towards over-softness, and for the fastest cornering the car has lost little, if anything, in the lateral sense. In extreme circumstances it is apt to show a little more tyre squeal than formerly, this latest model taking considerably fatter tyres than before and run at a good deal lower pressure. Overall, on journeys from point to point, the Midget has gained enormously for use in the hands of those who have no wish to endure any degree of Suspension discomfort for the sake of their open car motoring.
One of the current phenomena of post-war export sales of British cars being the maintained success of the Midget overseas, and in the U.S.A. in particular, the TD should be destined for even greater success. It has all the good points of its forerunners in the driving and handling sense and shows in addition the important improvements already indicated. It is, when required, almost as fast as any car from point to point over an average British route, not by any means

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because of maximum speed alone, good as that is at over the genuine 80 m.p.h. mark where there is room to get it full out, but because it is so quick around the bends and sharper comers, and can with safety make use of traffic openings denied to a bigger or more sluggish car. Plus-50 miles can be put into one hour over a route that provides a good mixture of straightaway unrestricted sections as well as built-up areas, plenty of corners and the other average handicaps of a journey on typical British roads. A handier car for town driving or in country lanes is difficult to imagine.
Driving vision is excellent even with the hood and effective side screens in position. The bonnet is not over-long

and yet is not stubby from the appearance point of view. One can see the left wing and the Midget has just the snappiness that, coupled with its handy dimensions, makes it ideal in close traffic. There is that facility in handling it which causes even a journey which perhaps, from over-familiarity and nature of the route, has become tedious, to take on a new interest. Also it can usually knock minutes off the times achieved in a variety of cars over a particular journey of 50 miles and more.

Fast Cruising

There is, no one speed which the engine or the car as a whole obviously likes more than another. A cruising 60 m.p.h. by corrected reading is thoroughly happy, and there is no feeling that a maintained 70 is worrying the engine, although it is obviously revving fast. Only for sustained really high speed would some drivers like a higher top gear ratio, but on reflection it is realized that probably this is the best compromise for general purposes, considering the Midget not only as a sports car, but also shopping and general purpose car which it so readily becomes. The ratio adopted gives it a flexibility on top gear down to below io m.p.h., as an indication of possibilities.
Average gradients on a main road can be tackled without necessarily having to change down, even when the climb is approached slowly, and, by contrast, the engine revs very freely indeed up, to a reading slightly above 6,000 r.p.m., as indicated by the rev counter which is a standard fitting. Even when the engine was allowed to pull hard on top gear there was no more than a trace of pinging on the standard British Pool petrol. Control is delightfully light, in which connection the

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new steering gear has already been mentioned. A thin-rimmed spring-spoked wheel of new pattern for the Midget is set almost vertically and is adjustable telescopically on the column when a nut has been freed by means of a spanner, The rim has finger holds on the under side which are specially comfortable. There is just the right degree of castor action in the steering, which is light for lock-to-lock turning round in a restricted space, or for taking a right-angle corner, whilst at speed it is definite and one has hardly to steer the car consciously. A really accurate course can be followed on a fast bend, a round- about can be "swept" in the style which is amusing at times in a car of this character, the Midget feeling absolutely safe. There is a marked feeling of increased solidity about the car, resulting from the new and more

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Measurements in these scale body diagrams are taken with the driving seat in the central position of fore and aft adjust- ment and with the seat cushions uncompressed.

rigid frame, yet it has gained enormously in comfort of riding over the types of surfaces such as a car of this kind is likely to be asked to tackle.
In spite of the car being strictly a two-seater with a centrally placed remote-control gear lever retained, the back rest of the seat is in one section stmight across and not shaped to the shoulders. It is necessary to set the fore and aft adjustment and also the separate sliding adjustments for the angle of the back rest with some care In the first place to obtain the required driving position, and then it is practically perfect, with plenty of Ieg room under the facia and ample width to give the

driver free elbow room. For the fore-and-aft adjustment there is a release catch at each side and it is a two-man job to make the adjustment owing to the reach involved.
The hydraulically operated brakes are light in operation, and to judge by the specimen tested there is greater braking power available than may be suggested at first experience. This is not a veiled criticism of the brakes, but rather to point to a hidden virtue, for they are never fierce, although always potent to the required degree.
The gear change has synchromesh for second, third and top, but there is always an inclination with the Midget on the part of any driver whose experience goes back to " plain " boxes to use the double-declutching technique downwards, although it is strictly superfluous. A restrained exhaust burble, never amounting to real noise, but reminiscent of other days, somehow fits in with this method. Upwards the changes can be sliced as quickly as most sporting drivers ever want without clashing the gears by overriding the synchromesh.
The hand-brake lever is perfectly placed in a cutaway at the centre of the one-piece seat cushion, and it is still of that best type of all hand brakes, the fly-off pattern, released by an upward pull of the lever itself and not by depression of the pawl, which has the opposite effect of normal and secures the brake.
Horn and head lamp dipping switches remain as a combined unit on the facia board, a little unfamiliarly out of their normal position, but an arrangement to which the driver becomes accustomed, though less easily to the position of the dip switch. This might be more convenient if foot operated in the region of the clutch pedal, where. there is room for the left foot off the pedal.

All-weather Protection

It is comfortable to drive with the right elbow inside the body, which also means that with the side screens raised there is no marked sense of interference with the driver's freedom. He feels very much that he is sitting in the cap and not on it. The all-weather equipment is good. Illumination of the instruments at night is effective and not dazzling, by a pale green lighting effect. As in the past, a petrol gauge is not provided for the big tank, which gives a range in the region of 300 miles, but a green light on the facia, flashes a warning when about 2½ gallons remain. There is now the good point of a cubby hole with a lid in the left of the facia board, in addition to map pockets in the doors. A useful enclosed luggage space is formed behind the seats, and the side screens are stowed in a separate vertical compartment within this space.
The head-lamp beam is equal to the speed of the car, and the Midget can now make itself heard when roquired, twin horns being fitted under the bonnet. For several nights during a prolonged test the car stood in the open. Frost point was reached only once during this part of the test. On every occasion the engine fired at once from cold and it did not need the mixture-enriching control for the S.U.s to be kept in use for more than a few seconds after driving away.

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