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MG Y Type

MG Y Type Published: 17th Jul 2014 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Fast Facts

  • Best model: YT
  • Worst model: Anything ratty and rusty
  • Budget buy: YA
  • OK for unleaded?: Needs an additive
  • Will it fit in the garage? (mm): L 4090 x 1490mm
  • Spares situation: Pretty good
  • Club support: Usual MG standards
  • Appreciating asset?: Yes, especially YTs
  • Good buy or good-bye?: Yes as a T Series for all the family to enjoy
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Quaint pre-war designed MG saloon that shares a lot of DNA with the T Series and almost as much fun although parts supply isn’t so nearly as comprehensive. Good value and appreciating quite notably


1937 Y Type saloon, designed sharing certain body panels with the Morris 8 on a stout chassis later adapted for the MG TD using the T Series running gear. The now familiar 1250cc XPAG engine was also used albeit in a detuned 46bhp state. 1947 Set for launch in 1941, the war severely delayed the car’s introduction and was priced at a not inconsiderable £671. 1948 Four seater tourer badged YT launched using twin carb TC engine.

Almost 900 were made but all bar three were exported, discontinued in 1950. 1952 Facelift where car gained the YB designation, identifi ed by altered rear wings, covering smaller 15inch wheels.

Mechanically the car gained a front antiroll bar, harder suspension (Panhard Road is deleted) and better brakes.

Only 1301 YB versions were made before the car was replaced by the larger more modern looking Magnette ZA, as opposed to 6144 YA models.

Driving and press comments

Unless you yearn for real sports car thrills, you may fi nd the Y Type far more pleasing, thanks to an ultra stylish interior decked in wood and leather with just about enough room for four in comfort – plus, they came with a steel sunroof.

In its detuned 46bhp state the MG is decidedly leisurely and about as peppy as a 1098cc Morris Minor although it’s easy to bring the unit up to TD sports car tune or above if desired.

Like the T Series, they feel fussy on quicker roads unless the gearing is raised and some fi t a Ford fi ve-speed gearbox as a result; it’s a worthy mod.

Handling is very much like the sports car brother and can be similarly suitably uprated, if desired although you may fi nd many of these cars still running on period cross-ply tyres. Radials can be fi tted to the YB only and may need slightly defl ating for it to fi t in the spare wheel well and not foul the boot lid!

Pre-war MGs had some lovely touches and on the Y Type included self-actuated jacks and a front opening windscreen. The steering column is telescopically adjustable which goes some way to providing a degree of driver comfort for such an oldie.


The rarer YB is the better bet if you can fi nd one, but you can uprate a YA to suit if you want to. The YTs are extremely rare and their values are dependant on how much you want one plus it may well be a left-hand drive US expat although a fair number were exported to Commonwealth countries so will be right-hand drivers.

More likely, condition is the most important factor with any Y Type and a capital YA makes a better bet than an average YB. You may well find cars modded with T Series running gear, higher gearing and so on and they certainly make the saloon more suited to modern roads. Compared to the T Series, the Y Type is a bargain. Even the best of the best is unlikely to exceed £15,000 although you can expect to pay double for a YT drophead, when one comes along that is.

Average-to-good saloons cost £8-10,000 and projects around £3000 irrespective of model. Spare parts are relatively easy to obtain, especially the mechanical parts which are common to the TD, and renowned T Series experts such as NTG Motor Services of Ipswich, Andy King, Barry Walker and Barrie Carter can help.


Think T Series is the rule. First thing is to bring the engine up to T Series tune before removing 3/32” from the head face to increase the compression ratio to 8.6:1 – but don’t forget you’ll need washers under the head nuts to compensate. 9.3:1 can be achieved by grinding 1/8” off and port profi ling and polishing.

Period superchargers such as a Shorrock will give useful extra oomph whilst staying true to the ethos of a 1930s-1950s; Steve Baker MG sells a full Eaton M45 kit including ancillaries for £3300. This promises a 45 per cent power increase. George Edney of XPAG Engineering can rebore the unit to 1350cc and up to 1.5-litres with a 96mm stroke crank – but it could be as costly as the car. Ford’s Type 9 gearbox is a common upgrade. Expect to pay up to £900 plus you have to supply the gearbox.

Wider wheels aren’t really an option; it’s best to make the most of what you have by buying quality tyres. T Series wire wheels can be fi tted fairly easily to the YB but speak to an expert about the other models. The drum brakes, from a YB, equipped with quality linings, will suffi ce for many owners although a servo may be useful.

What To Look For

  • The chassis is broadly TD and as stoutly made and penny to a pound engine oil leaks have provided a nice protective coating! That said, look for past repairs in all the usual areas, especially at the rear where the lube rarely spread to as it is underslung on the Y Type.
  • MG TD chassis or repair sections can be used if required – the main area that may require attention are the rear suspension pick up areas and the spare wheel well.
  • Check the floor for rot, and pay attention at the running boards and sills, A post rusting and cosmetic tinworm at the door bottoms and boot lid. How the suicide doors fit tell you the state of the A and B posts.


  • Availability of body and trim panels new is non existent so you’ll have to source repair sections or opt for used components and bear in mind few Morris 8 bits fi t. NTG Motor Services of Suffolk is your fi rst port of call.
  • Condition and provenance counts more than specifi c model while many of the improvements found on the YB can be fi tted (apart from the bodywork).
  • YB bumpers aren’t the same as the YA and YT and both are rare finds. The answer is to use a TD rear bumper and special mounting irons; only real anoraks will know…
  • The electrics are dead simple and pose no real problems although given the car’s age, and likelihood of bodging over the decades, have a new loom fi tted to start all over again is a wise move.
  • Jackall integral hydraulic lifting system was clever in its day but is it still working and trustworthy? Parts are rare finds but are around.

Running gear

  • Usual MG foibles prevail here, namely the trunnions and king pins wearing out. You need to raise each front wheel and wiggle them about to check their condition but not dear to replace.
  • The good news is that the design fi gured virtually on later MGs, like the TF and MGA, so spare parts either new or used, can easily be sourced.
  • Look for weeping and clapped out lever arm dampers and if replacing, bear in mind that many cheap recons last no time at all. Check for spring pan rot and cracking, especially on the YB by the anti roll bar.
  • Rack and pinion steering is fi tted so it should feel nice and precise but as there’s no replacement existing units, and other types from later MGs can’t be substituted, they have to be rebuilt once worn.


  • Bringing a typical aged interior up to concours standards can be involved and as expensive as a Jag Mk2 so don’t dismiss the usual worn leather trim and jaded woodwork lightly. However, restoration kits are at least available as are fi tted carpets if you want to have a go yourself.
  • Is the steel sunroof seized? Blocked drainage tubes are usually the culprit – but if t could well have waterstained the headlining. Check for water leaks and rot damage at the front scuttle, perhaps due to a poorly fi tting front screen which can be opened.
  • Have a good look at the steering wheel if it’s original and not a T Series which may have been. The reason is that they were prone to cracking. There’s not much that you can do here other than have it professionally restored – a useful bargaining point perhaps?


  • XPAG units much dearer to overhaul than a B-Series and may require specialist machining and repairing. Reckon on £4000 for a quality overhaul – best to have it done by a renowned MG expert – to standard tune. Oil leaks are a nightmare and seems to ooze out of everywhere but at least it’s a good anti-rust agent. Oil pressure, should be 40-50psi around town and watch for smoke exiting the oil breather pipe.


Three Of A Kind

This is the car that replaced the Y Type and for many will be the better car – unless you yearn for pre-war looks. The B-Series engine provides brisker performance and can be uprated easier. ZB Varitone featured wider rear window among other enhancements. Similar in price to a Y Type, the Magnette makes a cheaper almost-as-good alternative to a Jaguar Mk1 or Mk2 in our minds.
Continuing with the Morris connection, the Wolseley 1500 and the sportier Riley 1.5 are larger, more upmarket Morris Minors that have an MG feel about them, not least their traditional wood and leather interior plus they use the same 1500cc B-Series engine as found in the Magnette. A nice little saloon that did well on the racing tracks, they represent good value but body and trim parts are scarce.
More upmarket than a Ford or Vauxhall, the Hillman Minx is another ‘left fi eld’ candidate worth considering if you hanker for a post-war saloon with a pre-war feel. Not quick or as characterful as an MG, the Phase III-VIIiA range ran from 1948 to 1957. Even top models won’t – or shouldn’t – break £3000 but spares, especially body and trim parts, will be a problem. Upmarket Sunbeams and Singer alternatives also.


We bet that you have never considered this MG before. You are not alone as they are invariably overlooked in favour of a T Series, the later MGA or the ZA/ZB Magnette. Yet the more you look at a Y Type, then the more you realise that they have just as much to offer, not least their charming pre-war style and character but twinned with surprisingly modern (well, MGA level) driving qualities (and at prices you couldn’t buy a good T Series for). That’s something no other car of that era provides we feel. So Y not consider this MG?

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