1939 MG TA Midget

The Collection’s Exhibit

It’s an evocative 1940’s scene, the wartime airfield, planes and crews at the ready, and an MG sports car nearby. The Collection’s MG is a 1939 example, and was originally Richard Shuttleworth’s own car which he drove regularly whilst in the RAF.

The initials MG come from Morris Garages, the Oxford based dealership owned by William Morris and established to sell his range of motor cars. Cecil Kimber was sales, then general, manager and by 1924 was selling the Chummy, a four-seater sports version of the Morris Cowley, on lowered chassis with a special body. The octagonal ‘MG’ badge was on the radiator.

The first MG to bear the name Midget was the M-type sports of 1928 that used an 847cc overhead camshaft engine from Wolseley, also by owned by Morris. This was to be the forerunner of the P-series and J-series of sports cars. Morris sold the MG Car Company to his own Morris Motors in 1935 and ordered cost cutting – including the abandonment of the well-regarded but expensive overhead camshaft engine.

Under direct Morris rule the first new MG was the TA Midget of 1936, its 1292cc overhead valve engine, valves operated by pushrods, derived from the Morris 10.

Posted to No 10 Flying School at Tern Hill, Shropshire, in 1940, Pilot Officer Shuttleworth took the MG, towing a two-wheel trailer-workshop he had converted from a Morris Cowley van with him. With the ‘workshop’ parked outside his bedroom he was able to run an electric lead so that he could have electric power to work on repairing the Locomobile steam car boiler and his De Dion tricycle!

On Richard’s death in August 1940 – in a night time flying accident – the MG passed to Air Commodore Allen Wheeler, a friend of Richard and his family. After many years in the care of the Wheelers, latterly with the late Air Commodore’s wife, Mrs Barbara Wheeler, the car was donated to the Collection on Sunday 2nd May 2004, 65 years after its first registration.



Manufacturer: MG Car Co Ltd, Abingdon, England
Model: TA Midget
Engine: 52bhp, 1,292cc four-cylinder
Top Speed: 80 mph


This exhibit is part of the Richard Shuttleworth trail.


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