Ads on Test: 1930 MG 18/80 MkI saloon

The MG 18/80 was the first true MG so this 1930 MkI example that we found for sale is a chance to buy into the formative years of a legendary marque

Price £44,950

Following the Morris-based cars, the 18/80 Six of 1928 was the first real MG with bespoke chassis and what would become the trademark MG radiator surround. This rare saloon by Carbodies looks splendidly original – even though it was restored almost 30 years ago.

Extra work was carried out 10 years ago, including a body and interior refresh by Wilkinsons, a rewire and a refurbished fuel tank and rear axle. At some point, Ron Gammons rebuilt the engine with high-compression pistons. It’s notable for having had only four owners, the first being a doctor who put the first 346,000 miles on it, (it’s now reading just over 365,000) and it appeared on the front cover of club magazine Safety Fast! in 1983.

It’s in excellent condition but nicely aged. The doors – now with locks installed – fit and close well, and the springs are leather-gaitered, with plenty of grease evident around kingpins and nipples. The finned aluminium brake drums were fitted in 2013, and the Firestones have plenty of tread. There are now discreet flashing indicators, and the dolphin radiator mascot dates from 1931, when the first owner’s brother was serving on HMS Dolphin.

The interior has been equally well looked after; the seat leather and headlining are new, but the door trims may be original. The rear roller blind is in place and still works, and the vanity cubbies in the rear pillars still have a clothes brush on one side and perfume bottle on the other. In the boot are some extras including a nice Pratts fuel can, some Valvemaster, a warning triangle and a dry-powder fire extinguisher.

The motor is clean and tidy, the original brass fusebox is on the bulkhead and the exhaust is well wrapped. The oil is cleanish and at maximum level. It starts easily, even after having stood for a while, with all the tappets sounding happily even. Though this is identified as a MkI – lighter with a narrower track – it’s a later car using the MkII’s four-speed gearbox; the two types were made concurrently for a while.

First is hard to find, although the motor is so torquey you can use third and top most of the time. As it warms through, changes through the intermediates become slicker and quieter – with a little practice at double-declutching, I even managed a couple of silent downchanges to second.

It drives really well, with a supple ride and no squeaks or clunks. The steering doesn’t wander, and the cable brakes bite and pull up well, and square; they suffer from fade when descending long hills, but recover quite quickly. Oil pressure is 35psi at 2000rpm and it feels as if it would cruise at 60mph all day. Water temperature never topped 70 degrees, though it felt as if the clutch needed adjustment because the biting point was near the floor and the gears became harder to engage as we went on.

The car is sold with brochure, two operating manuals, wiring diagram, VSCC Buff form dated 2000, and a history file. It looks good value too – there’s a 1930 Speed Model (that was originally a saloon) for sale elsewhere in the UK for £70,000.

This is one of four cars for sale tested in the latest issue, part of 16 pages of buying tips and advice, including Quentin Willson’s Hot Tips, Ads on Test and Buying Guide in the latest issue of Classic Cars.

Engine xxxxcc xxx ohv Power xxxbhp @ x000rpm Torque xxxlb ft @ x000rpm 0-60mph xsec Top Speed xmph Fuel Consumption xmpg Length xx00mm Width xxxxmm

phil bellMG, 18/80, Pre War