Story of MG Farina Magnette, Chassis Number 1566
This is web creator John Elwood's Farina Magnette.
I bought this Magnette when I was 17. (I'm 20 now.) The first owner was Alfred Locke. Now Alfred must have been an interesting fellow because in 1959, at the age of 72, he walked into the local MG dealership and bought an MGA. Upon bringing it home, Alfred found only one fault with the MGA: His beloved but equally as elderly wife couldn't get in it. Alfred really wanted an MG, but back to the dealer the MGA went later that week. Alfred was in luck though, he was not to go home MG-less. Having just arrived was the brand new MG Magnette Mk. III with beautiful light blue Pinninfarina bodywork. Little thought was required even though this Magnette cost half again as much as the MGA he had bought earlier that week.
Alfred and his wife motored happily for a few years. Alfred drove and his wife sat in the rear, (and judging by the holes in the rug, she always wore high heels). But soon time caught up with the nearly three-quarter of a century old Alfred. The MG was laid up in a barn awaiting Alfreds recovery. The MG sat until the 1980's.
The car was "discovered" by a friend (or relative) of the family, George Brochu. George bought this 20,000 mile Magnette for his wife to drive to work. She did for nearly a decade, racking up only another 20,000 miles. Little work was needed at this time except for a few hoses, a battery, and tires. After all those years the Magnette was looking a little tired and Mrs. Brochu was getting a little tired of the Magnette! George sold the Magnette to a cousin for $1.
This young man, a 16 year old Christopher Branch, liked the car but couldn't really take care of it. He made attempts at re-finishing the dash and re-dying the leather but caused far more trouble than the effort was worth. The MG, while basically sound and attractive from across a parking lot, was getting a bit ratty.
Unable to afford a restoration Christopher sold the car back to George for $1 with very few extra miles on it. George was not interested in restoring this car as he had other work to do like rennovating his house. An ad was placed in the local paper.
I saw that little ad in the paper and thought, nah, couldn't be! Worth a look though. I bought it not long thereafter. Alternating with a possessed MGB-GT and a nice MGB convertible, I drove the little Magnette with ZERO faults or breakdowns for another 5,000 miles. I drove in the rain, in the snow, in the hot, in the cold... Never a problem, always started first turn of the key. But I too was letting the car go a bit too much.
The choice came, either save the car or sell it. I had recently sold the MGB-GT for similar reasons. This car had become however my sole source of transportation. I bought a Jaguar XJ-S and decided to take the Magnette off the road.
Before starting to restore the car, I made a list of parts I needed and published them on the internet. A gentleman from Holland wrote that he had nearly all of them! For practically nothing I bought all he had, like lamps, lenses, chrome bits, etc. This was a great headstart on my restoration.
I soon had the entire shell stripped down to just an engine and a body, as it sits today. All the little components are slowly being rebuilt, like the heater is getting sandblasted and painted and the horns and every other little bit of aluminum brass or copper is getting polished cleaned or plated. As soon as all these sub-assemblies are finished, the body will be removed from the engine, the 45,000 mile engine will get some seals and a coat of paint. Then the suspension will be rebuilt, rebushed, painted, etc. Finally the body will be painted. Then every part I had repaired and repainted all winter will be ready to put on come spring. Hopefully if the money holds up this car will be done by summer!