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Stories from the rear view mirror

Some of us know a bit about our car's history, some of us want to find out, and some of us are not bothered one way or the other.  This page indexes stories from people in the first category. If you know some of your car's history, and have a few significant photographs you'd like to share please send them to the webmaster

AEB 59 - chassis number unknown

In the 1970's I owned a YA, registration no AEB 59. Returning from my honeymoon in 1970, it dropped a valve. I was young and broke and it languished in my garage for a number of years awaiting the funds to repair it. Finally, I had to move home, and the situation needed resolution. I decided to give away the car as it was to a good home. I put an ad in the MG owners' magazine (Safety Fast), and shortly afterwards saw it carried away on a low loader. I would love to know if it survived. Contact me on the email link below in my name please.

 

Ian West

Memories of an MG YT

My wife and I bought our MG-YT Tourer in Chicago in the Spring of 1955. It was a four-seater, painted black and in wonderful condition, with right-hand drive. My wife, who became a very good driver, learned to drive in that car. In the course of her learning, and early driving, she tended to let the clutch out too quickly. As the YT was really cobbled together from TC and TD power plant and drive train, with a heavier body (4-seater rather than 2-seater) the strain on the drive shaft and rear axles was too great to handle a sudden release of the clutch. So, frequently, one of the rear axles would snap. I kept spares in the garage, and became quite proficient at changing a rear axle within fifteen or twenty minutes. I also became quite good at cleaning and tuning the two SU carbs.

 

We spent part of the summer of 1956 in Nashville, TN. While we were there the starter burned out, and I discovered, to my dismay, that just before that occurred there had been a fire in the warehouse of the supplier for the Northeast, Southeast and Midwest, of all MG parts. Fortunately, Nashville is a bit hilly, and I was always able, during the three weeks or so we were awaiting shipment, to park on a slight slope. Thus, I would start the engine by rolling downhill and letting out the clutch. Sometime in the late summer we had the car sprayed, a light blue.

In early 1957 we had our first child. We were then living in Michigan, and the winters were rather severe. It became clear that this was an impractical car for a couple with a baby. My mother, visiting us from California, was horrified that we were driving around, with her grandchild, in a ragtop with no real windows (only isinglass panes with flaps for hand signals).

 

We spent the summer of 1957 in New York City. While we were there we decided to be more practical. With heavy hearts we sold the car there for about $400. We had paid about $1000 when we bought it.

 

Robert J. Wolfson, Forest Hills, NY 11375-4607

YMG 23 - chassis number unknown

I owned YMG 23 for a couple of years in the mid-sixties though the engine was on its last legs and in my late teens I could not afford £55 for a new one. We sadly parted. For a while she was black but I repainted YMG 23 though I took advice and gave her two coats of red oxide after sanding down to the metal. Then she had 3 coats of Sikkens grey undercoat Coach paint from a specialist paint shop in Chelsea. I brushed each coat by hand and sanded them with wet and dry. Finally, I gave it one coat of top coat British Racing Green. About ten years ago I saw her parked in a display of Vintage Cars (still BRG) at the Dorset Steam Fair but the owner appeared to have gone for lunch.

 

Chris Newman

YMG 22 - chassis number unknown

MG YB registration was YMG 22. This was my first car in 1965 in which I also passed my test in it in December 1965. When I bought it from Mick Taylor (of Camberwell, London) it was grey in colour. While in my ownership I painted it red (by hand with Polyurethane diamond hard paint!) sacrilegious – but I was young. I also “decoked” it. I loved the built in hydraulic jacks (until they no-longer retracted!). Had many adventures in the car with an Italian girl called Prisca and a lovely catholic girl called Kathleen (Notre Dame school) and a few others – great days. I sold the car on in 1966 for about £55.

 

Steve

Len Ayton

MG-A Len Ayton

Len Ayton was a journalist for Autocar and wrote the article Overseas Encounter sub-titlted How to have an accident (if you must) when abroad. This article can be downloaded from the Reprinted Articles page - Autocar 14 September 1951. The following is an extract from a letter sent to David Mullen by Len's widow.

Thank you for your letter or 12 August and the MG ‘Y’ Series Newsletter. I was really delighted to receive the article on our accident outside Bulle; it really brought back some good memories.

UML 121 was light green and I think it had tan upholstery. I do not have any details of the car or its chassis and I no longer have Len’s notebooks from the early 50s.

Len was working as Editor or British Automobiles Overseas when he took delivery of UML 121 in 1950. I think it was in the early part or the year as Len and two friends took UML 121 to St Jean Cap Ferrat, near Nice, that summer; we married in December of 1950. UML 121 was a company car, and it was replaced by a green MG Magnette in 1953 or 1954. I don’t recall any photographs or UML 121 (Len was most unsentimental about cars; he regarded them as a “tool of the trade”).

Returning to the article on the accident in Switzerland, Michael (Michael is the son to Len and his wife - webmaster) loves the country (and is still interested in trains, particularly Swiss ones) was in Bulle two or three years ago and tells me the market town of the early 1950s is now a young city. The Hotel des Alpes has been rebuilt and he did not rind Francine, the patron’s daughter in the article.

I hope that this is of interest to you. I‘m only sorry that I am unable to help you further on UML; it was a lovely car and that real leather upholstery ...

 

My memories by Owen Frankland - Cleveland UK

I have some great memories of the the first one I had, a green YA, (1949, I think) but as these were my courting days most of the memories aren't suitable for this site.

***

One memory is of my girlfriend (now my wife) and I going to a fancy dress party done up as Bonnie & Clyde. We thought we looked good with the car but the reality is probably very different. I did have a photo but it's lost in the 30+ years of later stuff. When I next have a couple of weeks free I might look for it again.

***

Another involved a mad dash to work on a winter morning. I was, as usual, running late for a 6am start. I knew the road well and part of it had a slight downhill gradient leading to an almost 90 degree right hand bend, followed by a slight uphill gradient.

The technique I developed was to maintain enough speed round the bend to get me up the hill without losing too much speed and it seemed reasonably successful.

This particular morning I went barrelling down the hill and into the corner. About halfway round I found myself going backwards at a great rate of knots for a short distance till I bounced off the bank at the side of the road. I ended up stalled in the middle of the road. Even though it was a quiet road I was in a potentially dangerous position so I started the car and tried to drive to the side of the road. It started OK but wouldn't rev. I kept my foot on the throttle and suddenly the revs picked up. Once at the side of the road, I got out to inspect the damage and found I was on sheet ice. Luckily the damage was minimal or so I thought at the time. Whilst at the back of the car I saw something laid in the road. I went to see what it was, just in case it was from the car, and found a cylinder of compacted earth the diameter of the exhaust pipe. That explained why it wouldn't rev. The damage was worse than I thought when I had the need to remove the spare wheel and found that the compartment door was wedged shut by the bent bodywork. I didn't treat any of the cars very well, but at the time they were just old second hand cars which could be bought for little money.

***

Once again, back in the early 70s we were at a club meeting and a friend was there with a YA. Two of us went outside and used the Jackall system to lift the rear wheels about half an inch. At the end of the meeting we all stood and watched as he tried to drive away. Great fun if you have an evil sense of humour.

***

The other two were YBs I think and apart from the fact that one was black & white, and the other was metallic gold & metallic bronze, I can't remember anything particularly notable about either of them.

My MG-YA Special by Christopher Constantine

MG-A I was visiting an old friend, Peter Robinson, who had looked after our cars for many years, when he mentioned that Lindsay Head of the famous Head Brothers was now in a factory just around the corner and that he might like to see the MG-A, our latest acquisition.

Racing Austin The four Head brothers had something of a legendary status in the motor industry as they had built and raced, Austins, (The picture to the left is of their car which won the first Australian Grand prix at Phillip Island Victoria) MGs, Rileys and Morris Minis from the 1930s on through to the 1970s.

First impressions can be deceptive as this short gruff, no-nonsense little man walked out of the door, had a cursory glance at the pride and joy, turned and walked back inside. “I’m having a cuppa, do you want one?” was the introduction to a great friendship which lasted till the end of his life. At that time he had just finished building extended Holden ‘two tonners’ which had become a benchmark for all other manufacturers. The next project was to be replica Rolls Phantom 11’s based on the extended Holden Chassis, but over in the corner were the wrecked shells of the three YA sedans Lindsay had rescued from the scrap heap.

Many months and many ‘put the kettle ons’ later, it was decided that I should buy the Y-Type conditional on Lindsay building one into something a little special. “Get me a Wolseley 2480 or Austin Freeway” were his only instructions, and so the special was born. The Australian Freeway motor, it turns out, was an MG-A 1600 extended by two pots, which he and his brothers had helped design.

Ron Head Ron, the older of the brothers, had worked at Abington on the experimental MG racers of the 1950s and so was co-opted to help with the bodywork required for the ‘heart transplant’.

The six cylinder was duly grafted into the Y’s chassis with a minimum of fuss along with the Freeway front end, transmission and rear end. This left us with a tailshaft of about 22 inches.

Final product looks just like the original Larger tyres and an automatic shift were the only cosmetic differences to the standard car, that and the distinctive paintwork copied from a 30’s MG-SA, but that’s where any similarities ended as was demonstrated at its first club outing. The little car went like the proverbial ‘cut cat’.

It really was a wolf in sheep’s clothing which gave enjoyable and reliable service for many years. Such was its impact, that a number of similar projects were born, including MG-B and Morris 1500 powered vehicles, and a Freeway engined roadster, which I got to help Lindsay design and build from the remains of a very sad Y Type roll-over wreck.

Both Lindsay and Ron passed away not long after completing the cars.

Having sold the car a few years ago, I’m now looking to retrieve it and bring it back to that rather ‘Special’ status it enjoyed all those years ago when first conceived of and built by two of the legendary ‘Racing Head Brothers’.

YB 1022

Clive Ervill

Link to Ys on Parade

YB 1022 by Clive Ervill

Bernard Lee as 'M' in the Man with the Golden GunOne day, in the 1960s, I went going down to Toulmin Motors in my cousin's Ford Anglia 103 to get a couple of exchange hubs for my YB after I bought them, and on the way back someone hailed me as if I was a taxi. I stopped, and this rather than life character said he would like a lift down to a nearby pub. Once in there people kept coming up to him sort of grovelling and creeping, and kept looking at me as if I was some sort of special person too, which I emphatically was not.

I asked what was happening, and he said his name was Bernard Lee. I was completely lost at this, until he said he was an actor who played "M" in the James Bond films at the time. A bit embarrassing really since I didn't know him from Adam until he said. My one in a lifetime brush with a celebrity, but it must be very unpleasant to go for a quiet pint without being approached all the time.

Clive Ervill

Me with UMG 512,Y 7142, in 1960

UMG 512 with Henry Hebles, current owner, Eindhoven

Terry Ciantar's Y and mine, May Day Shute Harbour

Leading ANZAC parade 2009

 

A tale of two Ys (with apologies to Bill Shakespere)

or a History of Y Type MGs UMG 512 & UMG52

By Ted Evans

 When I finished my National Service in September 1959 I bought my first Y Type, it was a 1951 model. Registration No. UMG 512, I had until 1966 when I sold it to my sister who had for three years. In 1961 I took to Austria, ’63 to Spain and in ’64 to Italy. I rebuilt the engine once and re-sprayed it twice. We emigrated to Australia in 1973 and I forgot all about it.

In 1993 I was building in Bundaberg, travelling up from Eumundi each Monday morning and returning on Friday nights. One Monday morning whilst passing through Gympie, I looked left to see a new second hand car yard that had just opened up in a field, and sitting there was this Y Type MG exactly the same colour as I last re-sprayed UMG 512. As it brought back many memories I had to buy it. It was in pretty good condition and had been about 80% restored.

We moved up to Airlie in 1994 and I registered it as UMG 52. It was a 1949 model. I drove it around for a few years. It was not kept under cover for during that time and the weather got it. Two years ago I decided to completely restore it and having use of my sons’ workshop completely striped it down. Getting the engine balanced first. I made contact with NTG in the UK who are spare parts suppliers for MGs. I asked them was there any way I could track down UMG 512, and I was told to try the Y Type Registry in the UK.  I googled it and found this website.

I did this and came up with about hundred and fifty cars. It took a bit of time to look at them all. They were nearly all known by the chassis No. and engine No. I had no idea what it was.  So I gave up looking.

Two months my sister came over from UK bringing me new bumpers and hub caps. Late one evening I ask her would she like to see the cars on the registry and she said yes. So we spent an hour looking and were getting rather tired so I quickly scrolled to the bottom the list and the said we had enough for one night so I began to scroll back up quickly and suddenly my sister said “Stop, go back”, and there in big letters that stood out was UMG 512. So we read the history. It was taken by trailer across to Luxemburg in Jan 1989 and 3,300 hours was spent restoring it. As the addresses of the owners were not given on the list, I had to get the Y Type Registry to contact the owner and I had a reply within two days. He turned to be the Private Secretary to the President of Luxemburg!

He was pleased to get the past history of the car. Six months later Margaret and I decided go to Europe to see family and friends, one of which lived in north Germany, so we then planned on going down to Luxemburg about 150 km further south. Two weeks before we departed for the UK .the car was sold to a MG specialist in Eindhoven in Holland.  From the ferry at Ostend, Eindhoven was on the route to our friends in Germany so we called in to see if we could find it, which we did for a couple of hours: it bought back many memories. We also arranged time permitting that we would call in on the way back to England after two weeks holiday in southern Germany and Austria.

In Austria more memories were bought back as we drove over the same roads I drove the MG over in the 60’s. On our return we managed to spend another three hours in Eindhoven where I drove the car around the city, which bought back many more memories. Not a bad record 47 years after first driving it!

When I got back to Australia mid last October I decided not do any work and spend nearly all my time restoring UMG 52.and was hoping to get it ready to go down to Maitland for the sixtieth anniversary of the Y Type, this I did not achieve but I flew down to Brisbane to drive my friends Y down whilst he drove his YT down. There were 17 Ys and13 YTs there.

My next target was to get it roadworthy to take her to Townsville for cars on the Strand on 22nd Sept, which by skin of my teeth and we took her up on a trailer. It has been hard since Easter I had to back to work building with my son. There a few things to finish but at least I can drive an MG again.

Sunday Run Dec 2009

 Ted Evans

UMG 512 1960, UMG 512 Eindhoven 2006

UMG 52 Dingo Beach 2006

Y 2866

Terry Ciantar

Link to Ys on Parade

And now

Y 2866 by Terry Ciantar

From 1949

and another ...

and another.

I have recently had the good fortune of making contact with the two surviving granddaughters of Reginald Richardson, the original owner of my Y type. Both were extremely excited and pleased to receive news of their Grandpa's car. Both ladies have fond memories of the Y. Learning to drive and getting their drivers licence in it, driving it into town to impress the boys. I have stories about fox and rabbit shooting, one driving and the other standing up thru the sunroof  blazing away. A disaster narrowly avoided when a bush fire on New Years Day 1975  just four weeks before the marriage of one of the girls, burnt thru the family property and their mother escaping with  the MG loaded with a wedding dress, two bridesmaid dresses, the family dog and two valuable paintings.

 Contact with the family was made thru a Mr George Brooks who has been a close family friend of the Richardson's for many years, George (in his eighties) is an avid motoring enthusiast/historian, and in addition to putting me in contact with the family, George also gave me 3 x 35mm negatives of photographs of the MG which he took in 1949 when the Richardson's took delivery of the new car. I have double checked with George about the date of the photographs, and he is positive that the pictures were taken in 1949 as he has all his films catalogued and indexed.

Purchased in 1949 by Reginald Filgate Richardson from "White River" near Port Lincoln, South Australia.  The vehicle was purchased as the family car. When Reginald died, he passed the car onto his son Hugh. During this time it was externally repainted in original colours. No other restoration was carried out since, other than general maintenance. In 1988 it was sold to Sandra Johnson of Port Lincoln where it was stored and maintained (unregistered) and used for car club events on permits. In 2001 "Emmie" was transported to Airlie Beach, Queensland where she was stored until 1st June 2003 when we acquired her.

Terry Ciantar

YT 4619

David Pelham

Link to Ys on Parade

YT 4619 by David Pelham

YT 4619 was imported into Switzerland by J.H. Keller AG  of Zurich, the official MG Importers and allocated the Swiss Government Registration Code of M 013 B (M = Military). All motor vehicles were registered in this way in case they were required by the military at a later date.

 In the UK a number plate is allocated to a car, whereas in Switzerland a number plate (Kontrollschild) is allocated to the owner. This has certain advantages where it is possible to run two cars using the same plates. Can you imagine this in the UK?

 YT had nine owners prior to my acquisition in October 1998. Whilst I have the full details, they are abbreviated below: 

First Owner - Hans-Jörg Morel.  Zurich.   Registered 2nd June 1950   Kontrollschild  (ZH 5792).

 Second Owner - Hans Rudolf Behrli.  Gerlafingen. Soloturn.  Registered 4th April 1954 Kontrollschild (SO 8508).

Third Owner - Jeanette Bettenmann, Aarau, Aargau.  Registered 4th May 1955 Kontrollschild (AG 5817).

Fourth Owner - Karl Hollenstein, Aarau, Aargau.  Registered 4 July 1959 Kontrollschild  (AG 24233).

Fifth Owner - Walter Glauser, Zauggenried, Bern.  Registered 1st January 1960 Kontrollschild (BE 91597).

Sixth Owner - Transport Geb.W., Bern.  Registered 3rd July 1960 Kontrollschild (BE 51479).

Seventh  Owner - Dr Hans Sanften,  Bern.  Registered 30th March 1962 – Kontrollschild (BE 71873).

In March 1962 Total Kilometres recorded as 49,373.

In December 1966 Total Kilometres recorded as 114,858.

Dr Hans Sanften & family in the early 1960s.

Eighth Owner - Rolf Kohler, Rohr, Aargau. Registered 24th May 1973 – Kontrollschild (AG 112690).

Ninth Owner - Max Stoop, Langnau am Albis, Zurich.  Purchased  late 1975 – Total Kilometres 131,000.

Max Stoop’s new toy before restoration 1976.

Max Stoop’s new toy

before restoration 1976.

Max Stoop and sons at Nostalgic W/end at Veltheim, Switzerland 1981.

Max Stoop & sons at Nostalgic

 W/end at Veltheim, Switzerland 1981.

Registered 24th April 1977 – Kontrollschild (ZH 200761).

Tenth Owner - David Pelham, East Grinstead, Sussex.  Purchased  9th October 1998 , Total Kilometres recorded as 144,126.

 

Regency Run 1999.

Regency Run 1999.

‘You can’t make an omelette

without breaking eggs!

You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs!  Undergoing restoration for the second time in November 2000.

Undergoing restoration for the

second time in November 2000.

Registered 3rd December 1998 Registration (TSJ 946)

I have to give full credit to my good friend Victor Rodrigues who traced details of previous owners for me. There can be only a few Y Types where details of all previous owners are known.

YT4619 has been restored twice, once by Max Stoop in the 1970s, more recently by myself almost 30 years later and completed in 2003.

David Pelham

Y 5270

usa

Paul Barrow

Link to Ys on Parade

Y 5270

And now

Y 5207 by Paul Barrow

From the 1960s.

From the 1960s

As it was when I bought it -1997.

As it was when I bought it -1997.

I do not know anything of the car's history other than it was first registered in Manchester on 8 June 1950, and remained in the area until I bought it at Silverstone, in the Jubilee year, 1997.  The first photograph was sent to me recently by David Mullen and (according to the back of the photograph) was owned by a Maurice Jones of Bolton, who also owned an MG ZB (registration RUX 106).  From the colours of the photograph, I believe this would have been sometime in the late 1960s.

The middle photograph was given to me by the previous owner to myself, Rev. John Kershaw and was taken shortly after he restored it in the early 1990s. The last photograph was taken by me outside the church in Awbridge, Hampshire UK, shortly after it current restoration to the body's original in 2003 just before I moved to the US ... with the Y naturally!

Paul Barrow