The MG P-Type, first introduced in 1934, superseded the J-Type Midget and formed the foundation on which the marque’s famous T-Series would be built. The P-Type was powered by an 847cc four cylinder engine - adapted from the Morris Minor and Wolseley Ten - that was the last road going MG to feature Cecil Kimber’s advanced overhead cam cylinder head. For the P-Type, an additional main bearing was added to address J-Type’s unfortunate tendency to suffer catastrophic failures at high RPM due to crank deflection. The addition of the third main bearing now made the engine more than strong enough to handle the rigors of competition and forced induction, as MG was still very much a company that built road cars to support its sporting exploits.
In the face of increasing competition, the MG replaced the PA with the PB in 1935. The updated PB featured a 939 cc version of the same OHC four-cylinder engine, now producing a very useful 43 horsepower in standard tune. Similar versions of the engine was also used in the very rapid Q-Type (fewer than 10 built), sleeved down to 750cc for racing in the Voiturette classes, and supercharged with a Zoller or Marshall blower to produce upwards of 146 horsepower in “Sprint” specification. Of course, the exotic Q-Type was strictly a competition machine, but it inspired many owners to upgrade their P-Types accordingly as many were bought by sporting enthusiasts who used their road going MGs in casual motorsport events such as rallies, hillclimbs and road racing. In the never-ending quest for speed, a number of P-Type owners modified their cars by shedding accessories and trim, fitting superchargers and even fitting lightweight bodywork. A number of wonderfully creative and beautiful pre-war MG Specials still exist and compete today in vintage hillclimbs and road racing events.
This fantastic 1936 MG PB is a wonderful example of the MG Special concept taken to the extreme. Its fabulous bodywork is hand made in aluminum, taking many styling cues from the works Q-Type racing cars. The body, which was built in Argentina during the car’s time there, has been left in bare alloy for maximum effect, a period touch that would have been used to save weight (consider the weight of a gallon of paint!), allowing one to fully appreciate the craftsmanship through the visible welds, tool marks and exposed rivets. The traditional MG radiator grille sweeps into a louvered bonnet and to the scuttle which is faired to accommodate the steering wheel. The cockpit then flows into a tapered tail, de rigueur for the day. 19-inch wheels are correct for the car, and finished in an attractive shade of dark red that complements the interior and provides some color against the bare polished body. Cycle wings are held in place with simple steel brackets, and the rear section of the tail is hinged for access to the battery and fuel cell. The body is adorned with myriad period details including correct P-type headlamps, twin quick-release fuel fillers, a single side-mount spare with leather straps, leather bonnet hold-down straps, a correct-style faired-in rear view mirror, Brooklands Aeroscreen, mesh radiator stone guard, and a fabulous period-correct styled supercharger fairing with the MG octagon logo proudly presented.
This PB is indeed supercharged, fitted with a period appropriate blower. While the unit is unmarked, it is likely a typical surplus aircraft cockpit pressurizer that was commonly fitted in the early post-war years. The 939cc engine is very well detailed with a polished cam cover, correctly presented ancillaries, and a proper finned alloy inlet manifold with the MG crest. The engine breathes through an exhaust system that travels below the car, then up and over the rear axle, exiting through a Brooklands-type exhaust tip. An upgraded water pump ensures cool operation and a modern-type S.U. fuel pump keeps the eager little engine fed. The PB runs very well, emitting a magnificent bark through the exhaust. The chassis is painted black as correct for a PB, and it is very well detailed with items such as correct 9-inch brake drums. The original mechanical brakes have been upgraded to hydraulic actuation to account for the additional horsepower and lightened bodywork.
The simple cockpit is trimmed in red leather which appears just broken-in and rather inviting. A rare period Bluemels steering wheel features a quick-release hub, and the polished alloy dash is adorned with an array of period English instruments, a mix of Jaeger and Smith dials. Red carpets are in excellent condition, and there’s just enough room for a driver and co-driver; so long as the two have a good working relationship!
This fabulous MG PB special is a high quality car, having been completed in the early 2000s and remaining in a private collection since. In addition to its rarity (one of just 526 produced) it has loads of fine period detailing and beautiful craftsmanship that is sure to turn heads. This would be a fabulous machine for a hardcore vintage rally enthusiast, for use in hillclimbs and sprints, or to simply savor on the road, enjoying the positively addicting experience that only a gutsy pre-war MG can provide.
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