formerly owned by Sidney Joseph Perelman
Sidney Joseph Perelman, the noted humorist and writer who wrote many of the scripts for the Marx Brothers films, owned a 1949 MG YT Tourer car which he purchased in Bangkok. Later he drove it to Paris and in 1978 decided that he would return to the Far East in the very same car and entered the Paris - Peking Rally of that year. A UK newspaper, the Sunday Times, produced the following articles on the trip.
Johnston Lock has been able to provide the following additional information for us from a book called "Don't Tread On Me – the selected letters of S. J. Perelman" edited by Prudence Crowther and published by Penguin, complete with page references.
Perelman did indeed purchase the Y in Bangkok in May 1949 but took delivery of it in England at the end of June, intending to drive it through the Scandinavian countries [p. 97] It was put up on blocks from 1970 to 1977 at a neighbour's in Erwinna Pennsylvania.[p330] He proposed to drive it from Paris to Peking and was having it overhauled to prepare for the trip. It was shipped to England in late June of 1978 [p 342] for a proposed departure from Paris on Sept. 1st with two companions from Britain and towing a trailer loaded with things needed along the way. They left Paris on Sept 1st and drove through central Europe, the Balkans, Turkey, Iran and Pakistan. En-route, they encountered floods, heat earthquakes and rebellions. [p353] They arrived in Islamabad on Sept. 28th [p 353]. After 25 days of driving they arrived at Bombay having travelled 7,700 Miles. [p345]. From Bombay the car was shipped by air to Hong Kong where it was on Nov. 9 [p346]. Here Perelman waited 6 weeks for permission to enter the Chinese mainland. His companions left after 4 weeks and returned to England. Perelman drove on to Peking. Here he became ill and sent the car back to Southampton by ship. Unfortunately, there was a trucking strike there and the car was not offloaded but went on to Hamburg where it was offloaded and lost . But it must have been found again for the last reference to it was that it was in Pipersville, PA. Being restored to American standards in September of 1979. [xxvi] Perelman died in October of that year.
Details of how Sidney came to acquire the YT, and preparations for the Paris-Peking trip with Eric Lister, and the Sidney Beer are also detailed in Eric Lister's book "Don't mention the Marx Bothers". Details of both books, including ISBNs can be found on our Book Review page along with a few more pictures of Sidney Perelaman and the car.
Dorothy Hermann also wrote about Sid and his MG in her book "S J Pereleman - a life" (ISBN 0-671-65460-8). Mike Silk (UK) has summarised these here.