1957 MG EX181 speed record car at Engineering Materials Live

This is the last MG record breaking car built by the engineers at Abingdon, and was of course designed purely for straight-line speed. It is unique in that it places the driver ahead of the engine with his feet in front of the wheels. The supercharged MGA twin-cam engine is mid-mounted and drives through a Riley RM-series gearbox to a chassis mounted differential. The chassis itself is tubular, with MGA front and de Dion rear suspension, featuring quarter-elliptic leaf springs.

The body shape was arrived at by extensive wind-tunnel testing and like most land speed machines is said to be quite claustrophobic for the driver. In 1957, with a 1500cc engine installed in the EX181, Stirling Moss achieved a record speed of 245.6 mph on the Utah Salt Flats. Two years later, with the engine slightly enlarged to 1506cc, the American driver Phil Hill recorded a speed of 254.9 mph. This was despite him being almost suffocated by petrol fumes which were being sucked into the confined cockpit as the car sped down the course. This run by EX181 was the last successful MG speed record attempt, and to date, has not yet been beaten in terms of speed for the amount of power produced. Engineering Materials Live visitors can see this fantastic vehicle at first hand when they visit the event at the British Motor Museum on March 12th.

The British Motor Museum houses almost 300 landmark vehicles mapping the UK’s often intriguing automotive history: it contains an eclectic mixture of the famous, the oddball, the world-beaters and the no-hopers……..something for everyone! Your visitor badge to the Engineering Materials Live event is also your free pass to see this fantastic collection with, so pre-register now.

Tom Austin-Morgan

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