Introducing both Midget and 18/80 at the 1928 motor show was a turning point for MG. Cecil Kimber insisted on some firm orders at Olympia before committing to a big 2½litre 6-cylinder as the Edmund Road factory was made ready. A prototype 18/80 went on show with encouraging results, and the while the new car was not quite in the soon-to-be-vacated sporting territory of Bentley, it was more grown-up than most MGs. First to have the distinctive upright MG radiator shape that did so much to establish the identity of classic MGs, it was also the first 6-cylinder even though it continued using lots of Morris Motors’ components. Morris-derived engines in MGs had tended to be basic and side-valve, until the acquisition of Wolseley, along with Frank Woollard a former colleague of Kimber’s, who was made works manager. Woollard encouraged adventurous designs with an overhead camshaft, regarded by William Morris as a needless extravagance. Parsimonious Morris disapproved of the expense and the engine was never a success in Morrises. The 18/80 was treasury rated at 17.9hp but never attained anything like the 80bhp (60kW) implied in the title. About 60bhp (44.7kW) was its best ever. Advertisements claimed it had the sports performance and luxurious ease of a Two Thousand Guinea creation, “truly a competitor for the contemporary Alvis and Lagonda”. It was certainly a notable MG of the Vintage period, commendably smooth with strong torque and a surprisingly compliant ride. MG designed the chassis with 6in deep channel section side members and box-section cross-bracing, together with the axles although the torque tube transmission was pure Morris. One curiosity was the “MG” cast into the bulkhead uprights. It was neither octagonal nor could it ever be seen, except when the bodywork was entirely removed. Classic MG digital edition £7.56BODY Saloon 4-door 4-seat; Sports 2-door 2-seats; Salonette 2-door 4-seats; Open Tourer 4-door 4-seats; chassis weight 19cwt (965.2kg), 2-seater 23cwt (1168.4kg), saloon 25.75cwt (1308.1kg) ENGINE 6-cylinders; in-line; 69mm x 110mm, 2468cc; compr 5.75: 1; 60bhp (44.7kW) @ 3200rpm; 24.3bhp (18.1kW)/ l. ENGINE STRUCTURE Duplex gear and chain-driven overhead camshaft; cast iron block, detachable cylinder head with pent-roof machined combustion chambers; two horizontal SU carburettors; chain drive to distributor, water pump, and dynamo , skew drive to oil pump and distributor; coil ignition; 4-bearing counterbalanced crankshaft. TRANSMISSION Rear wheel drive; five-plate cork insert clutch; 3-speed non -synchromesh manual gearbox; torque tube drive; spiral bevel final drive 4.25: 1. CHASSIS DETAILS Steel channel-section cross-braced upswept front and rear; upward-inclined half-elliptic leaf springs front-shackled 34in (86cm) front, 50in (127cm) rear; single arm Hartford Duplex shock absorbers; Perrot-shaft 12in (30cm ) finned drum brakes early cars, later cable brakes, some with servos; Marles steering; 10gal (45.5l) fuel tank; 2gal (9.1l) reserve; 19 x 5 Dunlop Fort tyres; Rudge-Whitworth centre lock wire wheels. DIMENSIONS Wheelbase 114in (289.6cm ); track 48in (121.9cm); turning circle 43ft (13m); ground clearance 8in (20.3cm); length 156in (396.2cm); width 60in (152.4cm); eight 62.5in (158.7cm) 2-seater, 67in (170.2cm). PERFORMANCE Max speed 80mph (128.7kph); 20.5mph (33kph)/ 1000rpm; 0-60mph 30sec; fuel consumption 18mpg (15.7l/ 100km). PRICE chassis only £ 420, 2-seater £ 480, Tourer £ 485, Salonette £ 545, Saloon £ 555 PRODUCTION 500
(Above right)The late Roger Stanbury’s Mk I speed model, black and red, chassis 6737, engine JC10532 first registered 10 June 1931 as a University Motors demonstrator. The other is my Twin-Cam 2.0 M-16 engined MGB.