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Lot 105: MG A Twin Cam Roadster

Goodwood Revival Sale, Bonhams (15 September 2012)

Conceived as replacement for the traditional 'T'-Series MGs, the MGA combined a rigid chassis with the Austin-designed, 1,489cc B-Series engine that had first appeared in the ZA Magnette. Running gear was based on that of the TF, with independent coil-sprung wishbone front suspension and a live rear axle. Clad in a curvaceous aerodynamic body and capable of topping 95mph, the MGA proved an instant hit, selling 13,000 units in its first full year of production. Immensely popular though it was, the MGA faced stiff competition from the larger-engined Triumph TR3 and Austin-Healey 100/6. Coaxing more power from the standard engine was becoming increasingly difficult, so development concentrated on a twin-overhead-camshaft cylinder head for the B-Series block. Conceived at Cowley by BMC engineer Gerald Palmer and introduced in 1958, the new engine did not disappoint, producing an impressive 108bhp at 6,700rpm. Considerably faster than the stock MGA, the Twin Cam could comfortably exceed 110mph, and to cope with the increased performance Dunlop disc brakes were fitted all round and Dunlop centre-lock wheels adopted. A high price discouraged sales however, and the model was dropped after just two years. Production totalled 2,111 cars, a mere 360 of which were sold on the home market, and today the Twin Cam is one of the most sought-after of post-war MG sports cars. This car, chassis number 'YD1/1580', left the factory on 16th March 1959 for delivery to Leeds dealers Isaac Swires & Sons Ltd. Just over one month later the car was competing in the first of the two Tulip Rallies that it would contest in the hands of owner Harry Mainz, co-driven by R Vicat-Cole, a member of the famous artistic family. Although not a true 'works' entry, it was numbered in sequence with the factory cars, the Gott/Tooley car ('SBL 707') being numbered '28', John Sprintzel/Stuart Turner ('RMO 101') number '29' and this car number '30'. This is illustrated in a period photograph contained in the history file together with a letter from MG Competitions Department staff member, Bill Price. The file also contains the original Tulip Rally timing and results books from 1959 and 1960 plus the car's original buff logbook that documents the registration number change from 'XWU 285' to 'JRD 333'. Approximately 28+ years ago the car was purchased by Mr Paul Channon, a well-known motor racing personality and garagiste who held the BMC agency for Bournemouth, and rebuilt by him (see photographs on file). Mr Channon had raced and hill-climbed his AC Cobra for many years and required a car suitable for historic rallying. He rebuilt the MGA to a high competition standard with special camshafts and 9.9:1 compression pistons, sourced from well-known Twin Cam expert, Peter Wood, plus three-point harnesses, Marchal spotlights, Halda Tripmaster, etc. From 1986 to 2005 Mr Channon competed in 46 rallies with much success, achieving 25 class wins, eight 2nd in class and four 3rd in class, including nine top three overall finishes (and only two DNFs). All of this is documented in two large box-files that include every entry and results sheet, many photographs, press cuttings, correspondence, technical details, etc, which we urge any prospective bidder to inspect in detail. Also included are workshop manuals, service updates, parts book, original Twin Cam brochure, owner's handbook, etc plus period road test articles. Accompanying spares include a gearbox, back axle including driveshafts, front hub assemblies including brakes, three sets of wire wheels (one with mud/snow tyres), original sump, boxed set of new pistons, alloy boot lid and boot rack. The current vendor purchased the MG at Bonhams' Goodwood Festival of Speed sale in 2010 (Lot 335), since when it has been only sparingly. Competition prepared yet easily tractable enough for everyday road use, this very special MGA is in exceptional condition and ready to compete in any historic rally. It comes complete with FIA/HSCC/VSCC papers and RAC logbook, and is expected to possess a fresh MoT by time of sale.

Lot Details
Auction Goodwood Revival Sale
Bonhams, Chichester, Goodwood
Lot Number105
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£32500
Hammer Price (inc premium)£37375
Condition rating1
Registration numberJRD 333
Chassis numberYD1/1580
Engine number
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors2