Tuesday, December 7, 2010

1965 MG 1100

I don't want to start a fight here, I know there are many rabid Volkswagen Beetle fans who read this blog, BUT, if all things were equal, wouldn't you have rather bought one of these instead of a Volkswagen back in the day?

In the US, BMC targeted this car squarely at the VW buyer.

For just a few hundred dollars more than a Beetle, you got FWD, an 1100cc water-cooled engine, real - non-toxic - heat, a roomier interior, Hydrolastic suspension and a name associated with very popular sports cars.

Unfortunately, all things weren't equal, and between MG's relatively small dealer network and relatively large list of mechanical and electrical issues, the 1100 was barely a blip on the US sales screen. It was never a threat to VW. Work stoppages at BMC's factories during the 1960s didn't help things either, as at times the cars were in short supply. Less than 35,000 were sold here during its 5 year run.

The MG 1100 (also known as - but never officially badged as - the MG Sports Sedan) is part of BMC's ADO16 range. The ADO16 range, which included cars badged as Morris, Riley, Austin and others, was very popular in England and other parts of the world.

These cars ride like few other small cars ride. The Hydrolastic suspension was a brilliant piece of engineering. Also brilliant is the engine and transmission, which shared lubricant. It saved space, but it makes changing the oil every 3000 miles (or less) a must.

A stock MG 1100 is painfully slow. However, since the engine is the same as the one found in the Mini, most Mini performance parts can be applied to the MG 1100. Me? I'd run it as is until the engine quit and then replace it with a mildly tuned 1275cc engine.

This is a very nice driver-quality MG 1100. It's amazingly rust free. The seller says it has had one re-spray in its life and that the interior is original. The engine has never been rebuilt. It has roughly 75,000 miles on it.

It's probably not practical for everyday use, but this 1100 would be a great car for slow weekend drives and would be a big hit at any British car show.

Located in Fresno, CA, click here to see the eBay listing.

A big thanks to JaCG reader, Tom, for sending me the link to this car!


rrshadow2 said...

I'm with you, I'd take an MG 1100 over any air cooled VW, ok water cooled too, but then I'm biased, I'm a HUGE BMC/British Leyland fan, always have been, especially if it has and A Series lump under the hood. Very few MG 1100s have survived, there's a few Austin Americas around but most of those have that awful Automatic transmission attached

Tom said...

Thanks for posting this great article. You really know these cars well and they don't get the respect they deserve. You are so right about the non-toxic heat. I've owned air cooled VWs and the heat is horrible, it always smells like exhaust fumes. Water cooled is the way to go, but VW learned that too late. The car sold for $2625, not bad, but I think it was worth more. The buyer got a great deal.

rrshadow2 said...

Wow, whoever ended up buying this car Scored! I also just noticed the Seattle Area Mini Owners Assn. Decal in the back window, I've been a member of that club since I was 15. Now I'm 46!

Anonymous said...

I'm the VERY HAPPY new owner and found this by accident - Great writeup! I actually started my own blog after I bought the car. I hope you don't mind if I post a link here.


Anonymous said...

I have a '64 1100 with a SAMOA decal in the back as well, an honorary member, as my husband has a MINI and has been a member since maybe late '70s. Most yrs. it has been a daily driver and I love it. Not sure if I can figure out how to add a picture but will try.

Tim Kern said...

My first car was a '63 MG1100. It wasn't slow by the day's standards (a quarter mile was just under 20 seconds, but it was "competitive" up to 40, with just about anything but a big V-8), and it would certainly make hash of any VW. I saw 90 on the speedo a couple times, though it did take a valve job and a head milling to do that.

Roomy for its size and very comfortable, 30mpg at 60mph; handled great (I did my first three-wheel turn in it), stopped OK (front discs), and was easy to work on. (That was a good thing, 'cuz it needed frequent valve adjustment and carb synching.)

One day, the throwout bearing quit, and it was winter and I was in college and didn't have a place or time to fix it, so I sold it to a Mini racer for parts.

I would gladly buy another.