1958 MGA Twin Cam Roadster
MG is one of the world’s most iconic motoring brands. Founded in 1924 by Cecil Kimber, MG (which are the initials for Morris Garages) produced some fabulous cars pre-war and enjoyed much success in motoring racing. A milestone for the company occurred in 1933 when an MG Magnette K3 became the first non-Italian car to win its class at the Mile Miglia.
Today when someone mentions MG you immediately think of ‘the affordable, everyman’s sports car’, and particularly the MGB. It was, however, post-World War II that MG really brought the sports car to the people with the MG TC. The MG TA (built from 1936 – 1939) and MG TB (built from 1939 – 1940) were well regarded sports cars, but sold only in relatively small numbers. Introduced in 1945 the MG TC was in fact a very similar car to the MG TB, both visually and also mechanically sharing the same 1250 cc engine but with a slightly higher compression ratio. Although only built as right hand drive, America fell in love with the MG TC and many cars were sold to American serviceman serving in the UK and Europe at the end of the war. In fact everyone loved the TC and cars were sold to all points of the globe! Over six years of production MG sold 10,000 MG TC’s.
The MG TC was succeeded by the MG TD in 1950 and circa 30,000 cars were built before being replaced by the MG TF in 1953. Just under 10,000 TF’s were built of which one third had the 1500 cc engine. The T Series MG’s were replaced by the MGA in 1955.
The MGA was introduced to compete with the new and very fresh Austin Healey. This model was a completely new design which proved to be another great success story for BMC. In total just over 100,000 MGA’s were built from 1955 through until 1962. When introduced the MGA was powered by a 1489cc four cylinder engine and the first MGA’s were often referred to as MGA 1500. The MGA power plant went through a number of improvements through the model’s life, including an increase to 1588cc in 1959 (MGA 1600) and then to 1622cc in 1961 (MGA Mark II). MG also introduced a high performance version of the MGA, the MGA Twin Cam in 1958.
The MGA Twin Cam was built in limited numbers and only 2,111 examples left the Abingdon factory before production ceased in mid-1959. The breakdown of the 2,111 cars is 1,788 were roadsters (1,331 left hand drive & 457 right hand drive) and only 323 were coupes (125 left hand drive & 198 right hand drive).
Oldtimer Australia is delighted to offer for sale this factory right hand drive ‘home market’ MGA Twin Cam Roadster. The MGA Production Record on file confirms this car was built 6th – 22nd October 1958 with a date of despatch of 31st October 1958. It was originally finished in orient red with a red interior and a black soft top. The car was delivered with Dunlop wheels and the following options: competition seats, heater, radiator blind, sliding side screen, black tonneau cover and a windscreen washer.
The car has an excellent history file, including its original UK ‘buff’ registration booklet which confirms the car was first registered on the 10th November 1958 with the registration plate SVD878 in the name of Thomas Tunnock Ltd. Tunnock & Sons of Uddingston, then Lancashire, are well-known bakers and confectioners from Scotland. Boyd Tunnock, who at the time was the managing director of the company and also the grandson of the founder, owned the car and used it as its makers intended. Tunnock successfully rallied the Twin Cam as part of a Scottish team of three cars. There is a photo on file showing the car at the start of the 1961 Highland Rally. There is also a photo on file showing the front cover of the November 1961 MG Safety Fast magazine showing the car at the California Cup – Longbridge in 1961. There is correspondence on file from 2008 and 2011 where Tunnock writes to the car’s then owner about his time with SVD878, which makes fascinating reading.
The car changed hands in October 1961 and it subsequently passed through a number of UK owners before being acquired by David Bryant in October 1985. Bryant had owned MG’s in the past, a 1937 TA and a 1947 TC, but when he got married MG’s were no longer practical. Many years later he went searching for another MG and he wanted it to be something different, so a Twin Cam it had to be. Bryant acquired the car in a poor state. It had been laid up in the previous owner’s garden for the past twelve years waiting to be restored. He described the car as “ . . . tatty, non-running, but promising”. The chassis was in good condition and only needed a clean and some new paint. The body, however, was quite rough. There was severe corrosion to the boot floor, rear valence, back body mountings, bottom sections of the wings etc. In other words, a full restoration of the body was required. Bryant was a retired BMC foreman so he undertook most of the restoration work himself. It took him 5 years to completely restore the car, including rebuilding the entire drive train, working on the car 1½ hours every day, except for Saturdays, which was his ‘day off’! The car is featured in the January 2001 issue of MG Enthusiasts magazine and there is another article on the car from an unknown and undated magazine. Bryant enjoyed the car for twenty years and at some stage upgraded the carburettors from SU’s to two 40DCOE Webers.
Bryant sold the car in 2011 and it travelled across the world to its new home in north Queensland, Australia. There is an Import Approval on file dated the 2nd June 2011. The car arrived into Brisbane in August 2011 on board the vessel Bunga Raya Satu. The car was used sparingly before being acquired by its current owner in 2015. He enjoyed his MGA Twin Cam for a few years and whilst the car still presented well he decided to take it to the next level. The paint work was starting to show its age and in his words ‘it was just a little flat’. He is fastidious with his cars and had the MG stripped back to bare metal to repaint it. The body was removed from the chassis to ensure everything was done properly. There was no rust in the car, however, he did find a few panel repairs which were not up to his high standard that were rectified. A number of repair panels were sourced from Kilmartin in Ballarat, Victoria who have developed a reputation for providing some of the best quality repair panels for British sports cars in the world. Once the metal work was completed the car was repainted in its original colour of orient red, which is a perfect colour for any MGA, and subsequently reassembled. The whole process took over two years to complete and its owner has found his next project and therefore decided to part with this car.
Today this MGA Twin Cam presents exceptionally well. The paintwork is fresh and vibrant with a strong depth of colour. There are no obvious blemishes, which is not surprising given it has travelled very few miles since it was repainted. The panel gaps are excellent and the grey bodywork piping, which can often distort, is also in excellent condition. The Dunlop wheels, which are a real feature on a Twin Cam, the chrome and the external trim all present exceptionally well. The interior of the car is very well preserved given it was restored almost thirty years ago. The seats are showing just the right amount patina but remain firm and comfortable. There are no rips, tears or splits in the seats. The upholstery on the rear bulkhead is showing some wear in places. The dash, steering wheel, instruments and controls are all in excellent condition. The hard top is in good condition, though the inside would benefit from a retrim. The soft top and tonneau cover are both in excellent condition.
Turn the key, then pull the starter button and the car starts easily first go. What’s immediately apparent is that the Weber carburettors definitely give this MGA Twin Cam ‘an edge’. The car can be somewhat temperamental until its warms up but once it does, it is all systems go. It is fitted with an MGA Twin Cam close ratio gearbox, which we understand was installed by Boyd Tunnock all those years ago. It is also fitted with a front sway bar, a popular upgrade to an MGA, which significantly improves the cars handling. As a result this car is an absolute delight to drive. It has a terrific exhaust note and with the top down on a beautiful Brisbane afternoon it doesn’t get much better than to enjoy some time behind the wheel of this iconic British sports car.
The car has a fabulous history file and in addition to the original UK ‘buff’ registration booklet there is also a subsequent ‘green’ registration booklet stamped through until 1977. The car is confirmed as having its original engine from the registration booklets and it is therefore ‘matching numbers’. There are UK MOT test certificates on file from 1991 (odometer 1,294 miles) through until 2005 (odometer 20,283 miles).
Today the odometer reads 22,301 miles, which is the actual mileage the car has travelled since it was restored by David Bryant.
The anoracs will love the fact that this car carried its original UK registration of SVD878 from when it was first registered on the 10th November 1958 right through until it was sold to Australia in 2011. Since arriving in Australia the car has been registered in Queensland as . . . you guessed it, SVD878!
This Twin Cam has a rare factory (fibreglass) hard top and the original SU carburettors are still with the car. There is also a correct jack kit, tool kit, pump, spare wheel, box of miscellaneous spare parts, the original UK registration plates SVD878, workshop manual (original) and an operation manual (original) that will accompany the car.
The MGA Twin Cam is a rare car and finding one in this condition with such a fabulous history is a true ‘diamond in the rough’.
- A rare factory right hand drive MGA Twin Cam
- Matching numbers engine and chassis
- A fantastic history file with original UK registration log books
- Rare factory hard top and other accessories
- A superbly presented car that is ready for its next owner to use and enjoy.
- MGA Twin Cam Roadster
- 22,301 miles