The no. 108 M.G. Midget Sports (Competition) was introduced in April 1955, as the first of five British Sports Cars, successors of the pre-/early post-war series 38 sports cars. It was introduced in Meccano Magazine of that month and shown in the first full colour duo-presentation back cover, together with the no. 133 Cunningham C-5R Road Racer (the latter was the first single Dinky model to partly fill a colour back cover in the previous month). As announced the model was available in red or white with the respective racing numbers 24 and 28.
The chronological order of introduction:
108 M.G. Midget Sports, introduced April 1955.
109 Austin Healey Sports 100, introduced May 1955.
107 Sunbeam Alpine Sports, introduced November 1955.
111 Triumph TR2 Sports, introduced February 1956.
110 Aston Martin DB3S Sports, introduced March 1956.
Many drawings of the MG Midget are known to be still in existence.
Job nos. 7683 & 7682, MG Midget (including 7682 the 129 version) (assy) d.d. 03-03-1954 (shown below, auctioned at Christie’s South Kensington, Sept 1995, detail illustrated in DT&MM p. 131).
Job no. 7684, Body – MG Midget (large) d.d. 16-02-1954.
Job no. 7685, Base – MG Midget (small) d.d. 17-02-1954.
Job no. 7686, Windscreen – MG Midget (small) d.d. 19-02-1954.
Job no. 13995, Car Driver – Competition (small) d.d. 14-01-1954 (shown below, from the DTCA website, also illustrated in the GBofDT p. 187 ).
The touring version was introduced two years after, in 1957 as no. 102. Therefore it is remarkable to note that no. 129, the USA version of no. 108, referred to on the assembly drawing 7683 in 1954 already (as job no. 7682) and introduced in 1955 as well, was in fact a premature touring version without racing numbers, albeit also without (civilian) driver.
Why this deviating version was decided to be produced for the U.S. market (added as late as one year after the assembly design was completed, 22 March 1955) is not known to me. The U.S.A. catalogue of 1955 shows this model in the unique companionship with the previous generation, the pre- and early post-war 38 series cars, now renumbered in the lower 100 numbers, preceding the 106 etc. new sports cars range. Was the introduction of the exceptional driver-less and racenumber-less 129 done in order to match the former, still available 38 series sports cars in general appearance?
The no. 129 U.S. counterpart has the same white and red colour choices as the regular 108. By the way, a special U.S. issue for the Austin Healey, no. 128, was conceptualized too, but not realized (see the Dinky Toys list of steel bases, which was brought up to date up to 13 February 1962).
Like the other models in competition finish two colours were available, as referred to above already. The auction catalogue for the Remy-Meeùs collection (24/25 September 2001) mentions a white (cream) one with the racing number 26 instead of the regular 28. In fact 26 was the number for the light blue no. 107 Sunbeam Alpine.
As soon as the touring version was introduced there was a short time of overlap. In that period the no. 108 lost its reference number, embossed previously into the base plate (perhaps others can supply pictures of that, I haven’t). Contrary to the touring version the competition counterpart was never fitted with spun hubs, simply because is was discontinued before the introduction of the spun hubs. The brand name on the boxes was always printed in upright lettering and not many are found with treaded tyres, again, both contrary to the touring finish.
Finally a Wikipedia quote about the real 1:1 MG TF:
“The MG T series is a range of body-on-frame convertible sports cars that were produced by MG from 1936 to 1955. The series included the MG TA, MG TB, MG TC, MG TD, and MG TF Midget models. The last of these models, the TF, was replaced by the MGA.
The TF Midget, launched 15 October 1953, was a facelifted TD, fitted with the TD Mark II engine, headlights faired into the fenders, a sloping radiator grille concealing a separate radiator, and a new pressurized cooling system along with a simulated external radiator cap. This XPAG engine's compression ratio had been increased to 8.1:1 and extra-large valves with stronger valve springs and larger carburettors increased output to 57.5 bhp at 5,500 rpm.
In mid-1954 the engine capacity was increased by 17 per cent to 1466 cc and designated XPEG. The bore was increased to 72 mm (2.8 in) and compression raised to 8.3:1 giving 63 bhp (47 kW) at 5,000 rpm and a 17 per cent increase in torque. The car was now designated TF1500, and externally distinguished by a cream background enamel nameplate on both sides of the bonnet, placed just to the rear of the forward bonnet-release buttons.
Production ended at chassis number TF10100 on 4 April 1955 after 9,602 TFs had been manufactured, including two prototypes and 3,400 TF1500s. The TF was superseded by the MGA.”
Well, these were just some gathered notes in connection with two recent lovely acquisitions. Comments, additions and corrections much appreciated! Kind regards, Jan