MG VA Tourer

The MG VA, or MG 1½-Litre as it was originally marketed, is an automobile produced by MG between February 1937 and September 1939. It was the smallest of the three sports saloons MG produced in the late 1930s, the others being the SA and WA.

The new VA model was offered as an open four-seater at £280, a saloon at £325 and a Tickford convertible at £335.

The car had a tuned version of the Morris TPBG four-cylinder engine with pushrods and overhead valves, which was also fitted to the Wolseley 12/48 and the Morris Twelve Series III. The MG version had twin SU carburettors and produced 54 hp (40 kW) at 4500 rpm. Drive was via a four-speed manual gearbox with synchronisation in the first three gears to the driven rear axle, but in some early cars only in the first two gears.

Just as the chassis and engine were reminiscent of the Two-Litre, the 1 2-Litre as saloon and coupé closely resembled its bigger brother. Only the touring car looked different because it was made at Morris Bodies Branch rather than Charlesworth.

The unfortunate 1/2 Litre also had parallels to the Two Litre in other disciplines because it also took a long time to get production going and was subject to constant change throughout its life. The wet clutch gave way to a dry one, the crankshaft was changed twice, connecting rod bearings with shells were used instead of the direct metal bearing, further modifications concerned the camshaft, carburettor, steering gear, rear axle housing, springs, shock absorbers, door handles – it seems that every component was changed at least once.

The MG VA Interior

This endless list of changes must have made orderly series production almost impossible, and it is therefore quite remarkable how many VA examples M.G. was able to produce. There is a legend circulating in Abingdon of an assembly line worker with the strange name of “Maggie” Buckle, who designed a complex structure of ropes and planks to hold the VA front wings in position for drilling holes for the retaining bolts. When Maggie became ill one day, no one in the factory knew how to handle this monstrosity. So a huge quantity of VA mudguards waited to be fitted until Maggie finally returned to work.