Iconic Cars Of The Past

Some of the most beautiful machines ever built

No. 7 - The MG TC midget

MG TC midget image

Was it powerful? No. The 1250 cc engine could just about push it to 80 mph and it had a problem holding that speed for very long. Did it have good acceleration? Hardly. 0 to 60 took, officially, 22.6 seconds which would have been reasonable for a staid family car but laughable for a sports car. Was it comfortable? No. The cabin was cramped and noisy. What protection was there from the weather? None whatsoever. So why was it successful?

Simple. It became fashionable in America.

After World War II was over, hundreds of thousands of American soldiers were still stationed in Britain. Many of them looked upon the British as a tough and resourceful race; and the gung ho, who-needs-comfort image of the TC Midget fairly summed up the British character to many of these young men. Large numbers of them actually bought MGs and took them home to the United States with them; and they very soon attracted a cult following.

Around 10,000 of them were built, the majority ending up on the other side of the Atlantic. This was doubly surprising since they were all built with the steering wheel on the right, whilst Americans normally drive left-hand drive cars! However by some design quirk the speedometer was on the left-hand side, instead of in front of the driver; perhaps it was more important for the passenger (just one, there were only two seats) to know how fast the car was going!

However, the roadholding was second to none. This was a nippy little car, perfect for tearing around country lanes, ideally with a young man at the wheel and a young lady in the passenger seat. It was also pretty frugal; petrol consumption was reckoned to be 28 mpg, and this was in an era when American models were still fuel guzzling monsters. Fuel economy was a very important factor after the war, when petrol was expensive and still, often, difficult to obtain.

In an era when most people were far hardier than we are now, over 10,000 people bought an MG TC Midget, making it the ultimate example of a British sports car of the late 1940s. Sadly, Cecil Kimber, the founder of MG Motors, died in a train accident in early 1945 so didn't live to witness the success that his company achieved with this so – unlikely, macho, and very British creation.


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