Written by Jack Collins
Brian and I have the opportunity to go to a lot of car shows and gatherings here in the Orlando area and we get to see a lot of hot rods, muscle cars, customs, race cars, and motorcycles, as well as British cars and MG’s. There are usually several very impressive restorations at these events. The owners and builders have put a lot of time and attention into their cars and you have to admire the effort, love, and attention that they’ve put into them.
Occasionally, there’s a car that sticks out of the crowd. Sometimes it’s because of the exceptional workmanship, sometimes it’s a radical powertrain, sometimes it’s just different. At the last British car driving event we attended in Mt Dora, Florida, we came across just such a remarkable car.
I had first spotted this car two weeks prior at a driving event sponsored by the All British Car Club of Central Florida. I was very interested in talking to the owners more, but time ran short and I didn’t get a chance to closely check out the car. I was very happy to see it again at an Orlando MG Club gathering in Mount Dora.
The car, a 1949 MG TC owned by Glen and Jill Moore, immediately grabs your attention with its race inspired handmade cycle wings. As you get closer you begin to see all the other little details that sets this car apart. This is not a restoration or a survivor – it’s more like a period perfect MG hot rod. The number of wonderful modifications are astounding in their detail and execution. It looks like something an MG enthusiast might have built in the late-50’s using parts at hand to build a high-performance TC. The execution of the details is immaculate and well thought out. Everything added or changed is completely purposeful, with form following function, and most of it made by hand just for this car. Nothing on this car is there simply to add “bling”.
The hand-formed, one-piece, alloy bonnet is held down with handmade leather straps. The bonnet is equipped with clever aluminum guides that protect it from the buckles. The radiator shell sports a stainless mesh grill.
The maroon MG power plant is the first thing you notice under the bonnet. But the carbs are on the left side, a sure giveaway that this is not an XPAG. My first thought was “MGA engine”, but the details are not quite right and the engine tag is not a familiar MG series number. Sure enough, this is not from an MGA, but a B-series 1500 from a Wolseley with 3-mains, but no tach drive. Several other details set it apart from an MGA engine. The TC transmission is attached via a bespoke adapter and sends power to a Morris rear axle.
The original MGTC Bishop Cam steering box was replaced with a more precise steering VW unit. If you look closely, you’ll spot the aluminum lowering blocks on the TC front axle that give it just the right stance. A discreetly hidden modern electric pump passes fuel thru the original SU pump. There’s a very crafty throttle linkage that crosses the firewall to the carbs on the left side and looks as though it is a factory original piece.
A pair of nicely finished vintage style, custom bucket seats occupy the interior. The rear wings have small one-of-a-kind Lucas taillamps that aren’t original to any other TC. The Brooklands windscreens are a great touch that add to the racing look. The fuel tank has an ingenious gauge and the polished finish looks great against the two-tone maroon and red paint scheme. There are literally dozens more details that are well thought out and constructed.
The thing I love most about this car, though, is the honest patina that it wears. The radiator shell has some dings. The paint has some orange peel, chips, and scratches. The badge bar is getting a little rust. You simply cannot create this look; it must be earned. This clean little car has earned all those marks thru experience and that’s what gives it a unique beauty. It’s loved, driven, well used, and well kept.
Unlike a glossy, factory perfect MG TC restoration that you might be afraid to use, this car beckons you to fire it up and drive it as hard as you dare. I’m certain that’s what the builder had in mind and it shows in every detail. We absolutely love this car just the way it is.
Glen and Jill, thanks for sharing your marvelous, exceptional MG TC!