Memories of a MG J2

Memories of a MG J2
Geoff Wheatley shares his Memories of an MG J2
Published by: All Car Central Publishing
Date published: 05/22/2015

1932 MG J2 Midget
Submitted by Rick Feibusch

 1932 MG  J2 Midget

A few years ago I purchased a J2 that needed some love and lots of attention. Why? I have no idea as the car was just a touch larger than the model pedal car I had as a child. If you were much over the standard five foot eight in stocking feet you would never get into or out of this car. I am average so I could squeeze in but after that it was, to say the least, an intermit relationship. If you took a passenger you stood every chance of being sued by a female for indecent activity whilst driving the vehicle simply in the process of changing gear. If it was a male friend there was a good chance that the relationship would come to a brisk end when you tried to get into reverse. All the publicity I have seen on the J2 indicates that this is a fast and roadworthy vehicle designed in order that poor mortals like me could purchase a real sports car with a performance equivalent to much larger and of course expensive vehicle. In reality this may have been true but I never managed to get my J2 past the fifty MPH setting, not the cars fault just my wish to remain alive and draw my senior citizen pension. The J2 was presented to the would be buyers in 1932 featuring a baby 850 cc engine and a promised performance of over seventy MPH. My only comment to this publicity statement was great, but how do you stop the thing at that speed?

1932 MG J2

 1932 MG J2

No fancy hydraulic breaks, the General Manager of Abingdon, Cecil Kimber did not trust such things, much like his boss William Morris who would not allow independent suspension on his cars until the competition forced him to repent and that was about 15 years after the independent wishbone unit was invented at the Morris factory.

A few versions of the J2 were fitted with a supercharger, which had a tendency to blow the head off of the engine including the OHC equipment! Superchargers were all the rage in the 1930s although most, outside the race track, did little to enhance performance unless you were driving a straight six.

Fitting such things to a baby power unit may, and I use that word with caution, have pushed your top speed to an extra ten mph but they certainly looked good.

1952 MG TD

 1952 MG  TD

After WWII when Abingdon built its first real post war sports car the MGTD there was a craze to fit expensive blowers to these cars which was not an easy task.

The eventual result was about the same as the prewar performance, about an extra ten percent increase in performance and the risk of a damaged engine if you pushed the car too hard. By the time the MGA appeared the number of blowers sold had dramatically reduced and the situation remained the same from that point onwards.

Returning to the J2, one of the real attractions was the price off the showroom floor at less than two hundred pounds the least expensive sports car in its class.

Throughout its short life of just three years a few modifications were made to the engine and the design. The most obvious was the introduction of swept wings, (Fenders) in 1933 because female passengers objected to being sprayed with dust or mud on every trip. The actual swept fenders were taken from a small commercial delivery van produced by the Morris Company and set the ongoing style for MG sports cars through to the MGTF in the mid 1950s. The J2 also featured the now famous slab tank at the rear end that continued in company with the swept fenders through to the MGTF.

Working on a J2 was no easy matter simply because the passenger compartment virtually becomes the engine bay where the average driver's feet should end.

Everything tends to be small and difficult to reach unless you are fortunate enough to have three hands all different in size and length. There is no water pump so the cooling system is like the bathroom water in the average house with a first floor boiler. As it gets hot it rises to the radiator and when it cools down it returns. On a cold day this may not be the complete operation of the system while on a warm day you can easily boil over. (Note: I said warm rather than hot!)

Another interesting feature is the tire size, virtually equal to the average motor cycle rubber. Traction can be good but not on a wet road. Whilst on the subject of wet roads the so called convertible hood is about as successful in keeping out the rain as a tin roof with a hole in it! My car was the deluxe version which meant that it had a clock set in the machine turned alloy dash in company with a speedometer and a light switch. Comfort was not a requirement with these cars in fact quite the reverse, if you wanted to impress a girl friend this was not the car to achieve this objective except that as previously stated in was very intimate which might be an advantage in certain circumstances. Another feature that was missing was luggage space.

I can only assume that people did not visit hotels or go on vacation driving a J2.

You might get away with a small shopping bag on the passengers lap but that was about the limit. I owned my J2 for about three interesting years then decided that the need for a modest amount of comfort exceeded the pleasure of driving the car.

As for performance as indicated I never pushed my luck in that direction but a road report by "Motor Sport" in 1933 claimed a performance above 70 miles per hour.

The people who tested cars for such publications were usually part time journalists who were given a car for a weekend to drive and review. Pick the car up on a Saturday morning, go for a spin in the afternoon, visit a local pub to get public reaction and return the vehicle Sunday when it was out of fuel. Somewhere within this time frame the reporter would find a stretch of open road and put his foot down for a few miles, usually after that visit to the local pub!

If you want attention at any motoring event the J2 is your best choice next to a gold plated Roller of course. Do I miss my baby? Not often but I do get a twinge when I see one of its brothers at a car show. Ownership was an experience that I recall with fond memories but not enough to purchase another!
Geoff Wheatley

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