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Lot 356: MG Midget TA 'Airline' Coupé

Grand Palais Sale, Bonhams (5 February 2011)

The latest Series T MG Midget... gives an unusually good performance for its engine size, handles in a distinctly better manner than the ordinary touring vehicle and possesses those touches in the tout ensemble that endear it to the owner with sporting tendencies.'  The Autocar, 18th September 1936. Launched in 1936 as successor to the PB Midget, the TA Midget was an altogether larger and roomier car. Longer in the wheelbase at 94", the simple chassis followed established Midget practice with semi-elliptic springing all round, though the use of hydraulic dampers at the front and the adoption of Lockheed hydraulic brakes were new departures. Although styled in a manner MG enthusiasts had come to expect, the new two-seater broke with tradition by employing an overhead-valve engine instead of the previous overhead-camshaft type. The TA was introduced after Nuffield's take-over of MG and used the 10hp 1,292cc four-cylinder Wolseley engine, itself derived from that of the Morris Ten, which produced around 50bhp at 4,500rpm. Though MG purists complained about the adoption of a pushrod engine and synchromesh gearbox, the TA was faster than the PB, having a top speed of 80mph (with the folding windscreen lowered) and its total production of 3,003 was 19% more than that of the P-Series. Although the vast majority of TA Midgets came with the factory's open two-seater bodywork, there were a few exceptions; in August 1938 a Tickford-bodied drophead coupé was announced while prior to that there had been a very pretty fixed-head 'Airline' coupé from Allingham. H W Allingham had been one of the founders of Chalmer & Hoyal, and when that company failed in 1931 he set up as an independent designer, sub-contracting his designs to various coachbuilders including Offord, Motor Bodies, Whittingham & Mitchell and Carbodies, which was responsible for this 'Airline' coupé on the TA Midget chassis. Allingham's Airline coachwork was offered on MG's PA, PB, NA, NB and TA chassis, though total production amounted only to some 50-or-so cars of all types. Expensively priced at £295 when a standard model cost £222, the Airline-bodied TA found few customers; indeed, the car offered here is believed to be the only one constructed. Interestingly, '0355' comes with an original factory sales brochure, indicating that it had been MG's intention to offer the Airline TA as a catalogued model. Built on an early chassis (TA numbering began with '0251') the car retains matching numbers and comes with its original bill of sale dated 1st December 1936. We are advised that the car's entire history from new is known and that the current vendor is acquainted with the first owner's daughter, who remembers the evening when her father brought the car home in 1936. The current owner first saw the MG in 1972 and bought it in 1982 having located it in Boston, Massachusetts. Later he sold it to a close friend and then bought it back after the latter's death a few years ago. Restored in 1982, the car is described as in generally excellent working order and currently is registered in Switzerland (Carte Grise on file). Only offered for sale because the vendor wishes to concentrate on his Bugatti collection, '0351' represents a not-to-be-missed opportunity to acquire what many aficionados consider the best-looking MG ever.

Lot Details
Auction Grand Palais Sale
Bonhams, Grand Palais, Paris
TypeCar
Lot Number356
Estimate€175000-€225000
Outcome NOT SOLD
Hammer Price-
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Year1936
Condition rating
Registration number
Mileage-
Chassis numberTA 0355
Engine numberMPJG 622
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors2