Malcolm Leahy was casually driving past when the gleam from a nearby display window caught his eye. It was coming from an MG showroom and that struck a curiosity urging him to step inside. One thing led to another, and he came out the proud owner of a 1949 MG-YT. The vintage two-door roadster is stunning in its look and feels glamorous to those lucky enough to enjoy a spin, so we can fully understand why Malcolm couldn’t say no to a chance like that.
The idea behind the MG-YT stemmed from the notion of supplementing MG’s M-type, otherwise famously known as the ‘Midget’ (1929-1932), with three sporting saloons of varying sizes and capacities (S, V, and W models). The reception to MG’s sports saloons was very well received that an additional ‘type’ was already in the works, potentially adding another success story under the company’s belt. Plans were made for the YT to make its first-ever appearance at the Earls Court Motor Show in 1939; however, production did not commence until much later, in 1947, due to hostilities just immediately before and after the war. During WWII, much of the country’s expense and focus were directed towards engineering commercial and military vehicles, and so another sports car for personal use was something that had to be put on hold.
When the time finally came to launch her into the world, the 4-seater tourer enjoyed a warm welcome from the press and public. It sold well in both the local market and abroad, however it didn’t achieve the results MG was hoping for. In fact, other British car manufacturers were also facing similar difficulties in selling the open-tourer versions of their saloons. However so, the car’s aesthetics was something that got people talking.
The interior of the MG-YT was designed with top quality leather furnishings, including the door pockets. The seats were made from Rexine to match with the rest of the interior and the windows were fitted with roller blinds to prevent glare. Despite its age, the interior of Malcolm’s MG is still in immaculate condition since before the time of his purchase. Not much is known about the car’s previous owner(s), except that his predecessor was a Dr Sweet who refurbished the car to what you see here today.
The steel body of the YT closely resembles the traditional Morris. It’s specially swept tail and rear wings paired with the distinctive vertical chrome front radiator grille flaunt its MG origins. The vibrant berry red coat was painted relatively recent by Dr Sweet, and under the natural light, it never fails to grab the attention of passers-by. Driving down the open road with his partner and furkids, it makes Malcolm happy seeing the [smiles] and waves he gets behind the wheel. He laughs, “it makes me feel like a celebrity”.
Amongst the latest features built into the YT, the most worthwhile would have to be the engineering of the renowned car designer, Alec Issigonis. For the first time on a British made car, he was able to introduce an independent front suspension system which consisted of a coil spring and wishbone, allowing for wheels to move separately on the same axle. This was a ground-breaking invention of the time as it meant a safer and smoother driving experience. Another revolutionary mechanism applied to the YT was the Jackall hydraulic jacking system. This had already been incorporated in larger pre-war MG saloons and was fitted as standard on the chassis of the YT, with two at the front and two at the rear. This enabled the car to be completely lifted, supplying a more efficient method when a wheel change is necessary. In the long run, it also meant better car maintenance and the ability to handle larger loads and a stronger chassis.
If you’re wondering how she drives, don’t let that glossy red fool you. While many manufacturers were still producing side valve engines, MG had the OHV inline-four, otherwise known as the XPAG. This engine began the people’s frenzy in imported sports cars, and the YT with 1250 cc and twin carburettors stood high above most British saloons from a performance perspective. With a high degree of comfort and luxury, it was the ideal cruising car. Only 877 units were produced from 1948 to 1950, making this classy gem here a rarity on its own.
It’s been 13 years since Malcolm purchased this wonderfully preserved antique. He’s also currently working on another project – restoring a 1961 MGA Roadster 1600 MKII. While the restoration is something he’s enjoying at his own pace, we don’t doubt that it won’t be long before we see another unique collectible in his garage!