In 1921, a young engineer named Cecil Kimber joined Oxford-based Morris Garages, a retail dealer founded by William Morris some ten years earlier. As Kimber grew more familiar with the products in his role as Sales Manager, his engineer’s eye realized the great potential in Morris’ motorcars. Kimber soon began to experiment with high-performance modifications, the first of which were based on the humble Morris Cowley. Customers responded positively to Kimber’s efforts and modified cars were soon leaving the Oxford works to meet customer demand. In approximately 1925, the first “official” MG was built, affectionately known as “Old Number One”, which was based on a heavily reworked Morris chassis, and powered by a Hotchkiss engine with an overhead valve cylinder head of Kimber’s design.
Old Number One proved quite successful and soon comprehensively modified customer cars would follow. The cars from Morris Garages would soon feature unique chassis and bodywork with heavily reworked Morris engines. By the 1930s, business was booming for MG and they had a bustling works competition department as well as strong demand for privateer racing cars and road going sports cars. In short order, MGs were battling for superiority in the hotly contested Voiturette racing classes throughout Europe and Great Britain. Massively competitive, the series were for cars with engines displacing 750 cc, 1100 cc and 1500 cc respectively, and were a hotbed of creative engineering. Along with MG, other storied marques such as Bugatti, Delage, E.R.A. and even Mercedes Benz contested these championships. One of MG’s greatest victories came in 1933 when a supercharged six-cylinder K3 won the 1100 cc class of the grueling Mille Miglia. Their successes would have surely continued into the next decade, but MG had merged completely with Morris in 1935, and with it the Works racing department was shuttered, effectively ending MGs world-class racing efforts for good.
Enthusiasts around the globe have kept spirit of early MG racing cars alive in the form of numerous “specials”. Given the scarcity and value of the factory racers, individual enthusiasts have built their own tributes using similar road car chassis, often modified with larger, supercharged engines and lightweight bodies to mimic that of the giant-slaying works cars. Well-built MG specials are very much a part of the culture of the marque, and are widely accepted and welcomed by enthusiasts.
Our featured 1933 MG L-Type special is a fabulous example of the breed and a fine tribute to the famous Works racing cars from Longwall Street, Oxford. Recently out of a large private collection, this particular car was once part of the famous Gene Ponder collection of significant MG sports cars.
In period, the L-Type was a proven competitor on rallies such as the Monte Carlo and the Tulip, while the J and K-types did duty on high-speed circuits. Starting with L-Type chassis, axles, and steering this car was suitably upgraded with J-Type inspired coachwork that features cycle wings, cut down cockpit sides and a specially made cowling for the front mounted supercharger. It is finished in a handsome two-tone black and green livery, and presents beautifully with very fine quality paintwork and detailing. A host of period-style accessories highlight the bodywork, including the high-mount exhaust with Brooklands silencer, Brooklands aeroscreens, black leather bonnet straps and proper painted wire wheels (with rear mounted spare) wrapped in fresh Blockley tires.
The two-place cockpit is trimmed in high-quality green leather, with seats piped in black to mimic the paint scheme. A black and green canvas boot covers the rear of the body, while a matching black tonneau cover (also piped in green) can be fitted for overnight stops or solo driving in cool weather. As with any proper MG special, the E.N.V preselect gearbox is fully exposed, with the signature chrome gated gear selector falling easily to hand. Instrumentation includes a large combination Tachometer/Speedometer sitting directly in line of the driver’s sight and behind the signature four-spoke Brooklands Bluemels steering wheel.
The purposeful road presence is backed up by a powerful 1,086 c.c. overhead cam six-cylinder engine. With its front-mounted Roots-type Magnacharger blower, the ‘six can punch well above its weight, with an evocative soundtrack that melds the whine of the blower, the meshing of gears and a sharp bark from the semi-flow-through Brooklands exhaust. This MG Special is an absolute delight to drive; feeling light on its feet, with direct steering and tremendous power, particularly for a pre-war automobile displacing under 1,100 cc!
Upon its completion in the late 1980s, the L-Type special was raced in the MG Car Club event at the storied Silverstone circuit in the UK, and many years later while in the hands of Mr. Ponder, completed the California Mille. Thanks to recent attention, it remains a fabulous MG special that captures the essence of MG’s storied competition history in a captivating well detailed and finely crafted package.