1962 MG Midget MK I
"Noddy is the boss of the house"
For retired professional Samir Chaudhuri and his family, Noddy, their MG Midget Mark I (948 CC) — the only model in the country with the left hand drive — is the 'boss’ of the house. In this interview, he takes us for a spin in Noddy — literally.
How did you meet Noddy?
In the early 90s, I owned a Morris Minor and I used to take it to Sanjay Ghosh's (a well-known vintage car owner and restorer in the city) workshop. He used to help me keep the car in shape and we soon became good friends. As time flew, my younger son, Debashish, who is a music conductor with the Plzen Philharmonic Orchestra in Prague and Sanjay's son Rajiv, became good pals. I first met Noddy around seven years ago in Sanjay's workshop. I told Debashish about it. And before long he came and told me that Sanjay was looking for a place to just 'park' the MG Midget Mark I (948 CC). I should have known better. Eventually, the car became a part of the family.
Who named it Noddy and why?
Noddy is Debashish's baby. When he got the car home, he said that the two-seater sports car reminded him of Noddy's car and hence, the name. You must have seen the little figure of Noddy hanging from the mirror — it's like an official stamp. Debashish really misses Noddy a lot. Even today, when he calls us from Prague, he asks about Noddy first. Tell us about some of the unique features of Noddy. See, there are only three MG Midget Mark I (948 CC) cars in the country. But, our Noddy is the only model with a left hand drive. The other two — one is in Pune and the other is in Delhi — have right hand drives. The original owner of Noddy was an American; hence, it has a left hand drive. Her second owner, who worked with a prestigious advertisement firm in the city, sold the car when he got transferred from Kolkata. I am the third owner. Also, Noddy’s engine is a marvel. At times it feels like I am riding a horse. Noddy has twin-carburetor and everything about her is original. Right from the lamp covers to the colour. In fact, I have two sets of light covers. The best set is used during the rallies. Noddy is an ideal car if you want to impress your sweetheart. Just roll up the hood, you can feel the breeze gently blowing your hair — ah, isn't that romantic! (Laughs).
You take Noddy for a spin everyday, is it?
Absolutely, without fail. My wife refers to Noddy as her daughter and little children have to be taken for a walk, otherwise, they get cranky. The same logic works here. And it is this exercise that has kept Noddy in great shape. We go for a spin around the Ballygunge Maidan Camp, the St. Lawrence School, etc. This one-two miles 'exercise regime' infuses Noddy with new life everyday.
Apart from the 'exercise', what else keep Noddy in ship shape?
n Well, I never take her out during the rush hour. I go out around 12.30 - 1 pm when the traffic is light. I never drive at night. Also, I do not let anyone else, except for Debashish to drive the car. Cars like Noddy should be handled by one master only. Noddy gets a little upset during the monsoon season, which is when we cannot go for a spin everyday. Also, I do not polish or wash the car. I only wipe it and she usually goes to the workshop before the rallies for her routine check up so that she can continue to win laurels.
What are the laurels that Noddy has won till date?
For the last six- seven years, she has been winning the award of the 'best maintained car' in the classic category at the Statesman Classic & Vintage Car Rally. And for the last three years, she has been crowned as the numero uno car in the classic category at the same rally. Noddy is definitely the pride of the family.(AS TOLD TO JAYEETA GANGULY)
• Date of build:3-4 April, 1962
•Date of dispatch:6 April, 1962
• Sports two-seater developed from Austin-Healey Sprite by the MG division of the British Motor Corporation
• Colour: Old English White
•Details of Factory Fitted equipment: Disc wheels, heater, black tonneau cover
• Twin- carburettor • Four-cylinder• OHV engine (46.4bhp at 5500rpm)
• Four speed gearbox and • rack-and-pinion steering • Independent front suspension
• Drum brakes
• Top speed:95mph