M.G. Y 1¼ Litre
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 3
POST WAR CARS which offered a little extra in the way of equipment, refinement and construction were bound to develop a keen following, and earn respect; and few could match this quality better than the MG Y 1¼ Litre saloon.
There were plenty of reasons why this car was easily best in class, particularly when you consider it was fitted with such things as an adjustable steering column, a sliding roof (which did not leak), an opening windscreen, a rear window blind, a trip mileometer, good engine accessibility, a built-in hydraulic jacking system (which worked suprisingly well), and a luggage locker lid which opened to the horizontal to also serve as a picnic table.
The build quality was quite exceptional for the time, and large mileage cars that were tested in the early 1960's showed little appreciable wear or mechanical depreciation, most road testers finding the car would feel "taut", even on bad surfaces where the MG Y was free from the usual rattles and squeaks common on cars of the era.
The engine was a very willing unit which was both flexible and happy to rev at high speeds. The MG Y could be driven hard without any impression that the engine was being overworked, and it will cruise without fuss at up to 60 m.p.h., which was equivalent to a little over 4,000 r.p.m. in top gear.
If you were feeling particularly nit-picking, it was possible to detect a faint whine from the rear axle at certain speeds on high mileage cars, but the transmission would remain tight with very little free play, the central change gearbox being very pleasant to use. The gears were quiet and the synchromesh was fairly effective - particularly when judged against other cars of the era.
The MG Y had independent coil springs at the front and semi-elliptic leaf springs at the rear, and the ride was comfortable on most surfaces. The spring dampers were usually the first suspension components to show signs of wear, and once they had become weak there would be excessive vertical movement at times; yet so good was the suspension that the lack of efficient damping was far less noticeable than it might be.
The rack-and-pinion steering was likewise well sorted however although it was delightfully positive, many found it to be very stiff and offering little self-centring action. The brakes were effective, though heavy pedal pressures were needed. The brakes were prone to heating up when pushed, however this rarely resulted in any appreciable fade.
It was possible to accessorise your MG Y, the options including a 6-volt radio which was arranged to be powered by half the 12-volt battery, a panoramic rear mirror, a useful wing mirror, and you could have a small mascot mounted on the radiator cap. A flat-beam fog lamp was part of the car's standard equipment. The instruments included an ammeter, fuel gauge, oil pressure gauge (indicating about 75 lb sq in at cruising engine speeds), and a clock which, as usual, would be the first thing to stop working.
The inside of the MG Y was indeed a good place to be, it featuring a polished wood facia and door trim along with quality carpets. The seats were finished in leather, and proved to be extremely comfortable. The M.G. Y 1¼ Litre saloon was a splendid little car to drive: its direcctional stability was very good, and it cornered very well, the over-steering tendency being too slight to be troublesome. Its appeal as a safe, compact and economical four-seater with many good features, and capable of encouragingly high average speeds, was reflected in high re-sale prices being obtained many years after production had ended.
In 1952 MG Car Company updated the “Y” Type and an improved model was launched, known as the “YB”. The “YB” had a completely new Lockheed braking system and a much more modern type of back axle. The road holding was also improved by the introduction of 15 inch wheels; the “Y” and the “Y/T” had 16 inch wheels. The “YB” also had an anti-roll bar fitted to the front of the car and better dampers were fitted. When production ceased in 1953 8,336 “Y” Types had been produced, the breakdown being: 6,151 “YA”s (including 9 cars supplied to Swiss and Italian custom coachbuilders for special bodies), 1,301 “YB”s and 884 “Y” Tourers.