The 1930s MG overhead camshaft engines were all descendents
of a Wolseley design. Morris Cars purchased Wolseley Motors in 1927, and
the engine for the Morris Minor and 'M' type Midget was the first result.
The six-cylinder version of that engine was used in the Wolseley Hornet of 1930. (See photo)
After suitable modifications, it appeared in the MG Magna. Like the
Midget, it was given twin S.U. carburettors, a special alloy valve-cover
and sump, and other modifications. Pundits claim that the engine side
cladding-panels - as fitted to luxury cars at the time - were used to
disguise its provenance.
The truth is that Wolseley produced the castings for all MG engines in the '30s
until the Morris unit of the 'T' types, as well as many other items used in MGs
such as gearboxes. MG added numerous parts to differentiate the marque but
it was a lot more than 'badge engineering'!
Wolseley had a good reputation before the takeover. They had produced Hispano-Suiza
fighter-plane engines in the Great War - the external vertical drive for the
overhead camshaft may result from that design. MG developed the engine in different
ways from Wolseley and kept that feature.
The Wolseley Hornet 'Special' and MG Magna were aimed at similar customers and
William Morris disliked in-house competition. The sporting potential of the Wolseley
was discouraged in favour of MG. The Hornet was still a success, and 'F' type
owners would later be thankful as early 1271cc engined cars would be a useful
source of second-hand spares.
(For more on Hornet Specials see the Wolseley
Hornet Special Club)