The 'Works' Hack
Though not a Midget Coupé, I feel it appropriate to include here this equally important 'works' Midget - in fact it was known as the "Works Hack" because it was used as the development car for many of the later modifications and technical improvements made to the Midget during its 19 years in production.
Back in 1963, Syd Enever was MG's chief engineer. His son, Roger, was an apprentice at Morris Commercials at Adderley Park where another of the apprentices was Peter May, who had moved to the West Midlands from Cheam in Surrey to take up the opportunity. Peter says, in an interview with Dennis Wharf in June 2010: that he "shared living accommodation with Karl Barras and Bob Neville who were in the same years as me, along with Roger Enever and Alec Poole, who was a year older and Arnie Poole, Alec's brother, a year behind us".
Chassis 1: First registered in (?) March, 1963, the car started life as a Midget Mk.1 which had doors from the original Frogeye, its sliding sidescreens, and quarter-elliptic rear suspension. It initially bore the registration number MG 1, and was regularly raced by Roger Enever, see Chris Harvey's photos top right. The MG 1 plate was later transferred to General Manager, John Thornley's MGB GT.
In John Baggott's book "Mighty Midgets and Special Sprites" he states that the red Midget 138 DMO first appeared on the club racing scene, in the hands of Morris Commercial apprentice Roger Enever, at the 1964 Mallory Park Boxing Day meeting. This late date does not seem to tie up with Roger having raced the car as a Midget Mark 1 - I would imagine, through the 1963 season!? John also says the car was first registered on 7 Oct 1963 and points out that "the car was the works development car but was entered privately by Roger Enever. Many assumed, wrongly, that it was a works entry".
Chassis 2: When the Midget Mark 2 was developed the initial fabrication of the new windscreen and doors is understood to have been carried out on DMO and I believe that the registration was later transferred to a new car when the new model went into production. This upgrade gave it improved creature comforts like wind-up windows and semi-elliptic rear springs, though at the expense of increased weight and, arguably, less-precise handling. It would now have had the later 1098cc engine with 2" main bearings.
Another piece of information also comes from "Mighty Midgets": On 2nd July, 1965 the car was fitted with a 1275cc engine (XSP 2195/3) this being a Cooper 'S' engine converted to run in-line by welding a flange to the rear of the crankshaft for mounting of the flywheel and clutch. The block still retained its detachable tappet chest covers, unlike the later production 1275.
The car's weight was gradually reduced from 700 kg to 620 kg, being taken to the weighbridge on a monthly basis.
Chassis 3: On 22nd May 1966, while racing at Castle Combe "Enever got boxed in at the start and had to force his way back through the field. In the closing stasges he was catching the class leader, Bill Bradley in a Spitfire. Approaching Camp Corner on the last lap, Enever was only 50 yards adrift; he braked, lost control and spun, launching the car into a series of rolls, end over end. The Midget hit the bank hard, completely destroying the shell.... The Midget was re-shelled and painted black, which had by this time become the standard colour for development cars".
According to Bonhams auction particulars of July 2009, when a car said to be DMO was withdrawn prior to sale: "From 1964 to 1968, 138 DMO was raced with great success by Roger Enever ........ In 1967 the Enever/Midget combination took 19 victories, winning the Fred. W. Dixon Trophy and the Amasco Championship which led to Roger's Grovewood Award".
Chassis 4: To quote Peter May again from his interview with Dennis Wharf: "...then I had Roger's old Midget 138 DMO, which I comprehensively destroyed in the banking at the MGCC Silverstone meeting in 1971. Beyond easy repair I removed all the mechanical components from the car, presented Bob Neville with the somewhat re-shaped bodyshell, then bought another correctly shaped one for about £3 and built my own car".
So Peter then passed the damaged Chassis 3 to Bob Neville and it is believed that this was subsequently built up as a second car (to be verified) leaving us with the anomoly of there now being two cars which can lay claim to being 138 DMO, one with its mechanicals and other with one of its many body-shells!
A quote from Bob Neville in an email to David Scothorn in Nov, 2012: "I sold 138 DMO to Jonathan Buncombe who’s son Alex is a works Nissan driver. JB loves the car and plans to bring it out one day". This relates to the car which was going to be auctioned and which had been the subject of a rebuild by Bob Neville and Charles Dawkins around 1993/5.
DMO in its original form..
...with side-screens and ¼ elliptic rear springs
Now with wind-ups
Here with the spare Jacobs front panels fitted, in which guise Roger was to crash the car heavily at Castle Combe.
at Mallory Park
Above photos from Bonhams
One of the 2 versions of 138 DMO - this one is now owned by Julius Thurgood, the car seen here in the hands of
Rae Davis and his team.