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Midget, Magna and Magnette

1929-1936
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When MG J2.4358 left Abingdon on the 13 November 1933, it was the beginning of an eighty-year journey across not only Wales and England, but the globe. The car painted Wedgewood blue, body and chassis with dark blue leather interior as requested by University Motors and was delivered to London where it was purchased by J.R.Taylor of Newport, on the 1st February 1934, and registered at Monmouthshire. According to the second logbook (the first being destroyed) it was bought on 7th August 1940, by W.J. Eddy of Penzance in Cornwall. In 1945 it changed hands yet again, being bought by A.W.Sweetzer, owner of the pub Crown and Horses in Maidenhead, Berkshire, and on the 22nd September of that year, it was bought by R.D.Long who became its proud owner. On the 27th March, with a new logbook, and now painted red, it was acquired by H.R. Blake of High Wycombe. It was then bought by R.Trenfield of Loudwater, Buckinghamshire on the 13th August 1947, and on the 5th July 1948, it changed hands yet again, returning to High Wycombe in the ownership of A.D. Carter, then being bought by Camden Motors, Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, where the logbook ended, on the 28th May 1949. On the 4th June 1949, according to ownership details from declaration, it was sold to A.J. Smith of Bletchley, Buckinghamshire who sold it 4 years later to C.Arnold of Northampton. Later that year, and now repainted green with a new engine installed, Engine No. A38683 it was sold to G.Bullen of East Barnet. On 1st August 1954 ownership changed to Colin Dadd, a duplicate RB being issued on 29th September 1954 in Epping. This new owner then moved to Copped Hall, Epping on the 31st August 1955. During this period the colour was changed to pink, and with a new engine installed Engine No.AJ2400 Mr.Dadd moved to Loughton in Essex on the 19th July 1957. The logbook now shows that the next owner, S.M.Burich of British Columbia House in Regent Street, was unable to insure the car. All this provenance was collected by a Mr. Michael Fox, a good friend of the next owner, John A.W.Abraham who bought it on the 24th August 1959. They had both been members of the Cheshunt Motor Club, and it was John who took it for its first MOT, when this was first introduced on 3rd April 1963. It was also fitted with 12-inch brakes ex F Magna F0550. Late in the sixties, it was sold to someone in Theyden Bois, Epping. It was seen at a show in Chelmsford in 1972 by previous owner Colin Dadd, in good condition and painted red, and was then seen for sale in early 1973, by Barry Walker from whom it was bought by Ralph Gazard registered DW8567. The Gazards emigrated with the car to South Africa in 1973 and on joining the Johannesburg Centre of the MG Car Club, brought their J2 to Show day where pictures of the day appeared in the 1975 MG World Book of Dick Knudson. Months after their arrival, the J2 crank broke, and the car was then loaned to the Johannesburg Transport Museum, where it languished in safe custody for at least 15 years. Sadly, when a club crank was obtained, Ralph was far too ill to do any work on the car. In the late seventies, through a business associate at Armco Robson, I was introduced to his Managing Director, Bob Wilmot, who was not only a very accomplished engineer, but also a gifted ship modeller with a great eye for detail. He told me he was really keen to find and restore an MG. In the years of friendship that followed, he not only found and restored two MGAs, an MGA Coupe, an MGTC, and a Y-Type saloon. He told me what he really wanted to restore, was a small pre-war MG, and to find him one. Every one of the cars he had restored was a tribute to his incredible skills as an exceptional restorer, all winning the top National Concours awards. They were objects of jaw dropping beauty, testament to the hundreds of hours lavished on them, and the effort put into making them all authentically accurate. His MGA being admired over and over, by Stirling Moss in 1992, when it helped the club to win the Pirelli Inter Club National Concours best stand award. I was determined to find him a pre-war MG! Late in the nineties, good friend Guy Paterson came one night to tell me that his neighbour's wife, whom it transpired was Mrs. Gazard, wanted to sell a J2, as her husband was terminally ill. As I knew the car, and felt it was what Bob wanted, I told him that I would take him to see an MGJ2 on the strict understanding, that there was to be no haggling … whatever the price asked, would be the price paid. Bob paid the asking price, and the following Saturday we collected it on a trailer, bringing it home, much to wife Maureen’s great dismay, at “yet another MG!” So I asked her to look in my J2 book, and tell me when it was built. When she told me, I then asked what day it was. It was 13 November 1999. Exactly 66 years to the day, that little car had left Abingdon! Maureen gasped, then I said that I was absolutely positive that Bob was destined to have the car. She agreed, saying 13 was her lucky number! Bob then took a long hard look at his purchase. He was happy with the billet crank, but the wood was rotten and broken in places, the 12-inch brakes were incorrect, and nothing short of a chassis up, nut and bolt restoration of a good few years, would be needed to bring it back to life. For years, I had dreamed of building a J2 special of my own, and had collected a chassis, axles and all sorts of J2 bits whenever I found them. Along with good friend Brian Wallace, we bought a pile of ash, and my boss Terry Burns, who loved woodworking, cut all the body sections from copied factory drawings. This complete wood kit I now offered to Bob to get him going, on the understanding that once he had built his J2, he would build me a tub. He was to do far, far more than that in the years that followed! Removing the body, the original colour blue of the chassis was revealed. All exposed sections having been painted black at some stage. Work began on the chassis, a flawless restored, and total original chassis, with all incorrect holes removed, being the first step. With the aid of fishing lines and lasers, the tub was then erected on the chassis, now used as a jig, raised to working height. On one of my many trips to MG Silverstone, I stayed with Don and Mary Hayter, keen to see the progress on his own J2 restoration. When I scolded him for fitting hydraulic brakes, he told me it was because at his age, he wanted the car to stop! Then he asked me what brakes I had, I had to admit that I had still not found any, at which point he tore off in the family car to his other garage in the village, returning with a full set in the boot, refusing to accept payment. How I got that lot home in hand luggage, is a story all by itself. So years later, when Bob was looking for the correct brakes, with Don’s happy permission, they were exchanged for the 12 inch F Magna brakes now on my J2 special. Bob stripped the engine, and with the billet crank mated to Triumph rods and shells, a perfectly balanced engine emerged. He had looked at all the options available for an oil filter, and being unhappy with all of them as they all involved boring into the block, he created an ingenious solution that looks so authentic that a good many concour judges have failed to see it! More importantly, it really works well, as over ten years of driving has proved. In the years that followed, I watched in awe, the slow painstaking progress. What emerged was in all probability, the straightest and most perfectly fitting J2 ever to start life in Abingdon. The tub and doors, tank, bonnet, mudguards and chassis, were then transported to the premises of Joe Decastro for the most incredible preparation and spray job imaginable, in stunning Wedgewood blue. This just brought the little car to life, and the reassembly was soon in full swing. Once the tub had been re-installed, all the oil lubrication piping, that Bob had made and bent to perfection were refitted, and his attention was turned to replacing the instrument panel that he had laboriously engine turned exactly as original. An authentic leather kit was brought from England by Doug Bush who marveled at the re-emergence of a work of true beauty. All interior panels were cut and covered and all that remained body wise, was the fitting of the correct wiring harness brought in from Australia, and top, tonneau and side screens. These were produced from card templates to the exact size, and Bob then guiding his sister, ensured that they were stitched as well as his ship model sails! The car was completed four days before the Combined Johannesburg and Northern Centre's Show day in 2010, Bob driving it out to Emperors Palace at OR Tambo International Airport, where it was adjudged Car of the Day. For the next ten years, it would be unbeaten. In 2012, at the Indaba, Bob drove from Clarens, via Fouriesburg to Sandstone, where it not only had the highest overall marks in the Concours d’Etat of any car, but had competed in the rally and driving tests as well, ensuring that the Johannesburg Centre were overall victors, to the great joy of all the members! For more information contact Bob Wilmot by email or phone +27 82325 8840 Should a deal be in the offering, I would liaise with some local shipping agents and see what can be arranged.

Price 700,000 ZAR (about 35,000 GBP)

Email bob@wilmot.co.za