Thursday Trivia

Thirsday Trivia
Welcome to Thursday Trivia where we offer up a historical automotive trivia question and you try and solve it before seeing the answer after the jump. It’s like a history test, with cars!
This week’s question: What was the first MG to feature Rack & Pinion Steering?
If you think you know the answer, make the jump and see if you’re right.
Have you ever noticed how many British sports cars are the result of an individual partnering with an existing car maker to turn generally dull and cheap car parts into something special? That’s what gave us the Austin Healey, Nash Healey, and to a certain extent, the Mini Cooper.
That man with a plan and a car maker connection also gave the world the beloved brand, MG. Cecil Kimber founded MG in 1924 and gave it that name in honor of his employer, Morris Garages. Then the company’s General Manager, Kimber identified a market for Morris cars that offered a little more pizzazz and get up and go.
Pretty soon MG was making a name for itself as a maker of sporting models, based on Morris running gear but tuned and topped with coach-built bodies. The 1924 14/28 Super Sports was the first to be branded with the now-famous octagon badge.
In 1935 Morris and MG were folded into an umbrella corporation, the Nuffield Organization. This, the first of a number of consolidations in which MG would participate over the years, partnered the company with a number of other small British makes: Riley, Wolseley, Morris Commercial and the S.U. Carberettor Company.
That merger enhanced the company’s financial stability and broadened MG’s parts resources. It was the War however, and the affection American GIs had for the tiny MG sports cars, that really impacted MG’s fortunes. By then Kimber was out having rubbed Lord Nuffield the wrong way over wartime work. MG continued to thrive however, and also continued the practice of adopting existing mechanical elements from sister brands and adapting them in a more sporting fashion to their own products.
Sometimes those parts just weren’t good enough and MG would have to go their own way. An example of that was the first MG to carry rack and pinion steering, rather than the Bishop Cam that had been deemed to be good enough in previous cars. This would be the first MG to carry that more precise steering mechanism.
From the MG Owners Club UK:

It was in the spring of 1947 that the 11/4 litre MG saloons started to leave the factory gates at Abingdon, better known as the Y series cars, they were often thought of as the MG version of the Morris Eight series E four door saloon. It is true that the MG was based on the Morris 8 which provided the basic body shell pressings, however the power unit was sourced from the Morris 10 series M car…
…Syd Enever and Alec Issigonis had started work on the project codenamed EX 166 as early as 1937 and the development work that had gone into fitting independent suspension onto pre-war MG racing cars was adapted for use on the new Y series cars, in fact the Y saloon was one of the first British production cars to be fitted with such a suspension arrangement and it was considered very advanced for the day. Rack and pinion steering was also introduced for the first time on an MG as it was mechanically more precise that the Bishop Cam type used on the earlier T types.

In later decades MG would not be seen as a innovation leader, and in fact for most of the ’70s the company rested on its past glories trying to pawn off old designs as “classics” even while the competition moved inexorably forward. Numerous attempts to relight the flame or re-postion the MG name to keep it from forever fading from view have had little success or support from the brand’s many fans.
Today, the famous Octagon adorns a series of nondescript sedans and hatches, with financial backing and production services from China. Final assembly is in Great Britain, but there’s no evidence that the new models offer anything over their source cars. I’m sure they all have rack and pinion steering, however.
Image: the MG Owners Club UK

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  1. roguetoaster Avatar

    Nifty! I feel like this was covered here before, but it has me wondering what the last car sold in the US with a steering box might have been (or is, as the case may be).

    1. JayP Avatar

      My 2002 Crown Vic was the last year for the old steering box.
      The 2003 Panthers had rack and pinion along with several suspension updates.

      1. outback_ute Avatar

        The BMW E39 5-series V8 cars didn’t get the rack and pinion steering of the six cylinder cars so 2003 there. Assuming the E60 was all rack and pinion that is.

  2. Rover 1 Avatar
    Rover 1

    Another chance to post something on my favourite MG, The one-off MG EX-E, a Ferrari 328 competitor based on the running gear of the Metro 6R4, (midmount quadcam V6,AWD) Sadly it remained a one off though the positive response it recieved helped the MGF get approved for production.