The Motto bodied MG was the idea of Dave Ash, a prominent MG racer in the early 50s and Inskip Motors, the East Coast importer of T Series MGs. This idea was to prove the MGTD engine, transmission and brakes could be competitive with the Osca MT4 and Porsche 550 Spyders, if those components were clothed in a lightweight aluminum body. In the 1950s, those bodies came from Italy. Enter Rocco Motto and his Carrozzeria Motto Coachworks who produced racing bodies for Ferrari and others; he produced three bodies for the MGTD. Chassis master Gilberto Colombo (aka Gilco) provided the chassis for two of the three Motto MGs made and the third placed on the TD chassis. Syd Envener, of MG's racing department of England, provided the water-cooled, overhead-valve, 1.25 liter, 54 hp, 4-cylinder engine, 4-speed transmission and suspension packages to Gilco.
The Carrozzeria Motto Coachworks made the aluminum body and Gilberto Columbo supplied the tubular chassis. Syd Envener of MG's racing department was responsible for supplying the engine, transmission and suspension package.
Fred Allen and Martin Block raced these Motto MGs extensively throughout the Midwest and East Coast. The driving team of Fred Allen and Gus Ehrman finished 11th overall and 5th in class at the 1954 12-hours of Sebring. This race was won by Stirling Moss and Bill Lloyd in an Osca MT4 which was in the same class as the Motto. The Motto finished ahead of two other Oscas, two Porsche 550 Spyders and two Kieft MGs which was exactly what Dave Ash, MG and Inskip Motors set out to prove.
This exquisite Rocco Motto bodied MG is one of 3 made and was designed to make the brick-like MG more competitive with the OSCA's and Porsche's in its class. This Motto, campaigned by Fred Allen & Gus Ehrman, finished 5th in class at the 1954 Sebring Race. This car has had the benefit of a full restoration.
Since the standard MG TD body was about as aerodynamic as a brick, even when stripped for competition in F-modified class, OSCA and Porsche began taking dead aim at this class. The MG TD became more of a moving chicane than a competitor, so racer Dave Ash and MG TD East Coast importer Inskip Motors set out to prove that the MG TD engine, transmission and brakes could be competitive if clad in a lightweight aluminum body. In the 1950s, those bodies inevitably came from Italy. Enter Rocco Motto and his Carrozzeria Motto used by specials of the era, and his workmanship was remarkable. The chassis maker Gilberto Colombo provided the chassis for two of the three Motto MGs made; the first body was placed on Dave Ash's well-used TD chassis. Motto MGs were raced extensively throughout the Midwest and East Coast, often as a team at places like Watkins Glen, Elkhart Lake, and Marlboro. Two of the MG TD Sport Speciales still survive.
The MG TA Midget appeared in the spring of 1936 as a replacement for the MG PB. It featured many components borrowed from Morris. Channel sections replaced the tubular cross-members making the vehicles ride more comfortable. The suspension was provided by leaf springs and beam-axle in the front and rear. The brakes were hydraulically operated drums, a first for MG. The body shell was assembled around the MG traditional way of using a wooden frame. All this added up to a total weight of 1,765 pounds. A 1292 cc, overhead-valve, pushrod, four-cylinder engine was placed in the front and powered the rear wheels. Outfitted with dual horizontal SU carburetors, the engine produced 50 horsepower. The four-speed manual gearbox was synchromesh, another first for MG.
When first introduced, the two-seater vehicle could be purchased in open and closed configuration. Later, the open coupe, referred to as an Airline Coupe, was replaced with a Drophead style. The Drophead used a soft-top that could open and close depending on the driver and the weather conditions.
In 1939 World War II was beginning. MG was introducing its latest vehicle, the TB Midget. It was basically the same as the TA, but was equipped with a larger, 1250cc, engine. The four-cylinder over-head valve, XPAG power plant was borrowed from the new Morris 10. It produced 45 horsepower and was much more reliable than its predecessor. When the war began, production ceased. MG shifted its focus to creating equipment for military purposes.
At the end of the War, MG introduced the TC Midget. This was essentially a TB with very few modifications. The chassis was modified with rubber bush shackles in place of the sliding trunnion spring mountings. The transmission was the single-plate dry clutch and four-speed synchromesh unit. The engine was the XPAG 1250 cc pushrod engine. It was essential a TB offered in one body style, an open two-seater.
Even though the TC was a rebirth of an old model and used outdated mechanical equipments but modern interior, the TC Midget was very successful. During its four year production run, lasting from 1945 through 1949, more than 10,000 TC's were created.
In 1949, the TC was replaced by the TD Midget. It visually appeared like the previous Midgets, but was very different in mechanical ways. With a new chassis, it was sturdier and provided a comfortable ride. An independent suspension with double wishbones and coil springs were placed in the front. The vehicle was left-hand drive. The engine and transmission were identical to the TC. To comply with newly developed safety concerns and regulations, bumpers were placed on the front and in the rear.
A Mark II version used a more powerful version of the XPAG engine. With larger carburetors and higher compression ratio, the vehicle produced 57 horsepower. The suspension was modified and the interior received bucket seats.
During its four-year production run, the TD experienced even more success than its predecessor. Just like the TC, many of the TD Midgets were exported to the United States.
In 1953, the TD was updated and dubbed the TF. It was given a 1466 cc engine. Production continued through 1955 when it was replaced by the MGA.
Prior to World War I, the future of the company was unknown. Thanks to the success of the TA, the road was paved for MG to continue their prosperous status after the War. The models that followed brought modifications both visually and mechanically. The T-Series, lasting from 1936 through 1955, was a simple and reliable two-seater sports car that was fun to drive. By Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2006