The Midget Type P was introduced in March 1934 as the successor to the J2. And visually, there is no question that the P-Type bears similarities to earlier Magnas and Magnettes, and was descended from the M and J types. Autocar magazine road tested the P-Type in November of that year and reported, “This latest model is in every respect a marked improvement on its predecessors”. The sales literature published by Abingdon states: “In all there are over a hundred new and improved features”. Given the good reports in the trade press, it was not surprising that the car sold well and production started at the end of January 1934; over two hundred cars rolled off the production line every month.
The P-Type was fitted with an all-new 847cc engine with three main bearings supporting the rigid crankshaft. This allowed the safe use of higher engine speeds. The gearbox was strengthened and improved to cope with the increased engine power and the stresses of competition, and a newly designed heavy-duty clutch was used to cope with the hard stops and starts of sprinting and hillclimbing.
The standard equipment described in the sales brochure at the time included “the usual equipment that sportsmen demand – supplemented by the following new extras: easily accessible tool storage; non-reflective dashboard; new rev counter; long range chrome headlamps; new seat adjustment; twin-arm electric windscreen wiper; brake and tail lights; improved bonnet and side curtains; and a new folding windscreen with toughened, non-opaque Triplex safety glass.”
The 1934 Olympia Motor Show
The first cars produced were all two-seaters and, like its predecessor, the J2 had its wheels painted to match the interior; however, this was soon abandoned in favour of aluminium paint.
Most of the design knowledge gained from earlier stints testing production cars and racing proved invaluable in the production of the P-type. The chassis was far more stable than that of the J-type, and the body was less angular and had more flowing lines. There were two variants, either a two-seater or a four-seater version direct from the factory, but a fixed-head coupé was also offered on the P-Type chassis by specialist coachbuilders such as H W Allingham of London, University Motors (who were MG’s main agents) and Cresta Motors of Worthing. The most popular of these conversions was undoubtedly H W Allingham’s Airline Coupe, but very few of these attractive cars were made as they were considered quite expensive and larger standard cars could be had for about the same price. At its introduction, the two-seater Type P cost £220, while the four-seater version cost £240. The Airline Coupe was offered for £290.
Unlike many of its predecessors, the P-Type was never intended as a racing car, but it was used on the race tracks. In 1935 a team of three P-Type cars took part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The team was led by George Eyston and consisted of six ladies affectionately known as “The Dancing Daughters”. Although they attracted a lot of attention, they did not fare very well against competition from Singer’s 972cc sports car. This and other factors prompted Abingdon to produce a more powerful model called the PB, which was introduced in 1935.
The original P-Type was withdrawn from the range in favour of the new model, although it continued to be offered at a substantially reduced price. Sales of the remaining stock failed to materialise and by the end of 1935, 27 P-Types had been converted into PB models. Production of the PB was finally discontinued in February 1936 with only 525 examples. A total of 2,500 P-types left Abingdon between 1933 and 1936.