On the heels of the success BMC had with the Mini-Minor, Sir Alec Issigonis envisioned a larger version of the compact, front wheel drive sedan that had taken the world by storm. As with many British cars of the time, body design expertise was sought from the Italian firm Pininfarina. The sporty MG 1100 emerged featuring a 1098cc 8.9-1 compression engine with maximum BHP 55 at 5500 RPM, twin SU carbs and a four-speed transmission.
Using the concept of moving the wheels to the outside corners of the car to allow more interior cabin space (sounds like what Chrysler would later call forward design in the ’90s), Issigonis had created a 60s smash. BMC marketing would sell the idea that the man who owned an MG sport car might find himself needing more room for the family, and the MG Sport Sedan would fill the bill. The car was sold in the US between 1962-1967 and saw the Volkswagen Bug as its biggest competitor.
Filled with innovations for the time, 1100s featured a transverse-mounted front-wheel-drive 1098cc engine, front disk brakes, rear brakes with an anti-lock device, and a curved laminated safety glass windscreen. Road vibrations are further isolated from the passengers by use of rubber mounts between the subframes to the mono-construction shell.
In order to achieve excellent road characteristics Issigonis used Hydrolastic suspension. A “non-freezing liquid” interconnected the front wheels to the back using a “Hydrolastic Displacer” to move the suspension arms. Thus, when the car encountered a bump at the front wheel, pressure was moved through the system to the back displacer where the rear end was lifted up slightly to anticipate the forth-coming elevation in road surface. This system, combined with a heavy anti-roll bar gave the car outstanding road manners and a big-car ride.
MG badged 1100s feature the MG logo on all hub caps, on the boot lid, and horn push. Early cars featured a wide wooden dashboard with strip-style speedometer, and later cars had a more narrow dash with the same speedometer. Few MG 1300s made it to the US. They featured a higher output 1275cc engine and a much more luxurious dashboard with circular speedo and tach much like other MGs of the era.
When the MG1100/1300 models were phased out in the latter part of the 60s, the Austin America was introduced to fill its spot in the BMC/BL US market lineup until 1971.