1/2 Scale MG Road Test

Do we really have something to say about a car which went out of production in 1949? Most decidedly, yes! The first new MG model to hit the States since 1980 is here, and the Moss staffers just happened to be the first Americans to put one of these little beauties through its paces. But before you start planning next year’s vacation in one, be aware that the new MG won’t hold much luggage. In fact, it only holds about 1/8 (Sec box on page 6.) as much luggage as the venerable MG TC. If you haven’t figured it out yet, we’re talking about the all new, limited production, 1/2 scale MG TC.

The TC is battery powered and takes a good 12-14 hours to charge, so we’ll run down some of the technical features while we wait. A good car needs a good frame to build on. Welded, box section steel is used with a mind to carrying adults (even though the car is intended for children). All mechanical components arc mounted on the frame. The motor is boiled through two inner frame members to be sure it can’t move around. Rear axles are held in place by heavy duty, permanently sealed bearings which are housed on heavy metal plates welded to the frame. Yes, we did say axles. To eliminate the need for a differential, each rear wheel has its own axle. Drive is taken directly from the 12-volt motor to the right rear wheel by means of a chain and sprockets. The left rear axle carries the brake. The production car differs from the prototype in that the electrically operated brake has been replaced with a cable operated brake. This new brake gives better proportional control than the electric unit which was either on or off. The foot pedal still incorporates a cut-off switch for the motor, so one can not accidentally try to brake and accelerate at the same time.

The car’s front wheels pivot on heavy frame extensions. Steering is by means of a lever attached to the end of the sleeting column. A tie rod runs to each front wheel directly from the lever. Steering is quick and precise, just like a full size TC in the first case, unlike the real thing in the second. We found the car’s handling quite reminiscent of the full-size car, but more on that later.

Dash controls are remarkably complete for a car this size. Starting from the left, we have a battery voltage meter, horn push, ignition key switch, lighting master switch, lighting activation button (one push of the button gives one minute of light), ammeter and direction switch. The direction switch includes a neutral position allowing for an accidental blip of the throttle without the car driving off on its own. Turn on the ignition switch and you’re greeted with the pleasing sound of a well-tuned engine. Flip the direction switch up for forward, or down for reverse and you’re off. Although the “transmission” is automatic, you’ll hear the exhaust note change as you go up through the gears.

The total package, complete with an impressively sized 12-volt ni-cad battery weighs something over 100 pounds. Two adults are enough to load the car in a “tow” vehicle. The TC fits perfectly in the back of a Peugeot station wagon for example.

“Yes, yes, we know. All the construction details are fine and dandy, but what’s it like to drive?” To keep the proceedings as scientific as possible, we brought in a real MG TC for comparison. Climb in (or on as the case may be) and get comfortable. Turn the key. Our test car started instantly every time. The full size car had to be manually choked to get it started when cold. A brief glance to familiarize yourself with the controls, and it’s time to start driving.

We went to the skid pad first. Pure acceleration was judged superior on the full size car, however it was pointed out that aside from the big car’s displacement advantage, it had a Shorrock supercharger which isn’t currently available for the half scale car. We therefore disqualified the big car’s numbers, making the model’s blistering 0 to 7 mph time of 1.5 seconds the clear winner. Top speed was subject to the same qualifications, so once again the model came out on top with a two way average of 7mph over the flying city block. We ran the top speed test in both windshield up and down configuration. The car’s terrific power to weigh ratio made a mockery of aerodynamics and the same top speed was recorded for both configurations.

Next up was the slalom. Our full size TC driver started the course confidently, but was disqualified for crushing all the pylons. With repairs made to the course, the half scale car put in a flawless performance. Everyone who drove it said they were amazed at how easily the car negotiated the course. The quick steering mentioned previously proved invaluable in changing directions rapidly to follow the course. We went from the slalom directly to the lateral acceleration test. Once again the full size team started confidently, only to be crushed by a seemingly impossible feat. The half scale car never broke loose! We pushed it unmercifully, but couldn’t get so much as a squeal from the tires.

There was but one last chance for the big car to redeem itself. Out on the open road there are few cars which can match a TC’s twitchy handling and rock hard ride. The model’s ride is every bit as hard as the big car, but unfortunately it just couldn’t be coaxed into hopping back and forth across the pavement of its own accord. The judges were clearly divided on this point. Some said that no real TC ever runs in a straight line, and consequently the model is not up to big car standards. Others said that because the model’s handling is safer (read less twitchy). it must be judged a better car. We’ll leave it for our readers to decide.

Automotive technology certainly has improved these last 40-odd years. Much to the surprise of everyone involved, the model handily defeated our full size car in almost every category. The big TC is worth about $20,000.00 and yet was out gunned by a new S6,995.00 (Moss #041-500) car. Frankly, we think the scale car is a belter deal. After all. you can pick up used TC almost anywhere, but the new MG is a limited production car which we can virtually guarantee won’t appear in your next door neighbor’s garage two days after you buy yours. As a final statement, as if to prove our conclusions correct, the full size TC lost its brakes on the way home. The defeated, humiliated machine limped away using a combination of downshifting and handbrake to check its rapid decline, uh progress.

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