Part Four Postwar Years
1946 to 1955
When the Second World War, started in 1939 only three light sports roadsters were in production in Britain. The HRG 1100/1500, the MG TB Midget and the Morgan 4/4. When production resumed after the war in 1946, that was the cars being produced, with the MG TB revised with a wider body to become the TC. The Morgan now had a side valve Standard Ten engine in place of the Coventry Climax unit, but was otherwise unchanged. The HRG's were now fitted with the latest Singer engines, but otherwise unchanged. As was the case with any type of car at this time in Britain, these cars were almost unobtainable. Everything possible was being exported for much needed foreign exchange. Not that that the Morgan's and HRG's made much of a contribution as only 1084 of the 4/4 was produced between 1946 and 1950 when there was a pause in production, and under three hundred HRG's were made between 1938 and 1956 when production of all models ceased. The MG TC was the exception, as a large proportion of the ten thousand examples made went for export, introducing the light sports roadster to the USA.
The only new light sports roadster to enter series production in the nineteen forties was the MG TD Midget, if it could be classed as a new car. It replaced the TC in 1949. The big changes made in the specification was the beam front axle and half elliptic springs were replaced by independent fronts suspension and rack and pinion steering, also disc wheels replaced the wire wheels changing the appearance of the car to go with improved ride and handling. Most were left hand drive models and were exported. Almost thirty thousand were made by nineteen fifty three.
MG TD Midget.
The only other example of the breed to be
made in series and in any number until late in the next decade was the
Jowett Jupiter of 1950. Jowett had been making reliable but unexciting
economy cars for the last forty years. They introduced the Javelin, an
advanced new saloon car in nineteen forty seven, and the Jupiter was a
sports roadster using Javelin components. The engine was a OHV flat four
of 1486cc, in a tubular frame with torsion bar springs for the wishbone
front suspension and live rear axle. Nine hundred were made by nineteen
fifty four when Jowett went out of business.
The small car sporting scene in Italy in
the nineteen forties and fifties, was the preserve of the specialist manufacturers,
such as Abarth, Bandini, Gilco, Grannini, Giaur, Moretti, Siata, Stanguellini
and Osca. These companies made almost one off examples of their sports
car, usually using Fiat components. Only Osca making models in any numbers
The Osca MT4. They fitted 4 cylinder engines of their own manufacture in
a various sizes and valve configurations. The MT4 was produced from 1948
to 1959, eighty examples were made. It was fitted with a variety of body
Where Italy had it's specialists, Britain
also had it's small sports specialists, usually making kits of components
for home assembly. This had grown out of the "Special", building movement
that had been going on in Britain for decades., Some special builders
produced cars that showed potential, and by popular demand found themselves
car manufacturers. With cars of any kind and particular sporting cars in
very limited supply there was a ready market. These new small producers
took advantage of this, sometimes making complete cars and also making
kits of parts. The major components were usual of humble origin, usually
of Ford or Austin manufacture. As with the Italian's, series product was
uncommon, but from the late forties until the early sixties about four
hundred assorted Buckler's and four to five hundred Dellows were produced,
complete or as kits. Both began as roadsters that were suitable for Trials
competitions, a popular form of motor sport in Britain in that period.
Also rallies and hill climbs. The Bucklers had tubular chassis. The Buckler
Ninety was an advanced sports car suitable for circuit racing as well as
road use often fitted with a Coventry Climax FWA engine and de Dion rear
In the same mould was Lotus, the
to be made in any numbers was the Mark 6. Approximately a hundred
examples were made, ether complete or in kit form between 1952 and
1956. The Mark
six had a multi tube chassis clothed in an aluminium body, with a swing
axle front suspension and was fitted with a variety of engines up to
litres, often the Ford Ten engine. It was very successful competition
that could be used on the road and was the foundation of the company.
Lotus Mark 6
The first prototype of a long line of Porsche
356's, was built at Gmunde in Austria in 1948. It was a true light sports
roadster. A two seater, with it's Volkswagen engine mounted ahead of the
rear axle in a space frame chassis. The drop head coupes derived from the
second prototype and produced from late 1948, that had the engine behind
the rear axle in a steel platform chassis, were not roadsters, as they
had a two plus two layout. A roadster version would not be produced until
1952, the type 540 or "America roadster". Fitted with a 1500cc engine and
an aluminium body. Only sixteen examples were made and mostly used for
competition in the United States. Further demand from America for a stripped
down roadster, led to the Speedster of 1954. The Speedster was available
with a 1300cc or 1500cc and later a 1600cc engine. Based on the 356 then
356A chassis. It was not made after 1958 by which time, 4854 examples had
Porsche America Roadster
Another Volkswagen based car to originate in Austria was the WD first made in 1949 the name changed to Denzelin 1957,Wolfgang Denzil produced roadsters , making a total of 64. Denzel cars successfully competed in the top Europian rallies of the period. As Wolfgang Denzel developed his cars, he ultimately had his own pistons, cylinders, crankshafts, connecting rods, etc. manufactured but continued to use the VW two-piece crankcase for all his engines. He gave up car production in 1960.
MG introduced the last of the "T" type Midgets the TF in 1953. By then the concept of a channel section ladder chassis with a seperate coachbuilt body was getting very dated. The changes to the car were only cosmetic and the cars became increasingly hard to sell. The last three thousand four hundred of the nine thousand six hundred made were fitted with a 1500cc version of the old MG engine. In 1955 it was replaced by the first of the modern MG's.
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