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Lot 407: MG NB

Quail Lodge Sale, Bonhams (16 August 2012)

* Rare pre-war six-cylinder MG model * Numerous period competition modifications * Marshall Drew belt-driven supercharger * Wilson pre-selector gearbox * One of the final overhead cam MG models * Significant early West Coast racer * Documented Pebble Beach history * One of only 98 NBs produced * Recent engine rebuild The late 1940s and early 1950s brought about the rebirth and rapid growth of sports car racing in the United States. In those early years, MG was the dominant marque. Initially many MG owners formed clubs and enjoyed low key activities such as rallies, gymkhanas, poker runs and hill climbs. When the desire for more competition spurred interest in road racing, MGs began to appear in droves on starting grids at road racing events around the country; in fact, they usually made up the majority of entrants. This particular 1936 MG NB played a very visible part in that early racing history. NA/0878 is a significant example of the marque for several reasons  first, very few of this type were manufactured; second, the NB had unique performance and styling features not used on other models; and last, this car has documented West Coast racing history. The NB was the final derivation of the famous pre-war racing "K" Series MGs to compete, and in many cases record class victories, at Brooklands, the Mille Miglia, and the 24 Hours of LeMans. It was also the last MG model built with an overhead cam engine before push-rod engines were adopted across the model range. Manufactured in 1935-36, a mere ninety-eight NB models were built, making this example a very rare car indeed. Originally equipped with a straight-six cylinder engine with an overhead cam, twin SU carburetors and a capacity of 1271cc, it produced seventy horsepower - indeed quite impressive for a sports car of that era. Styling was also a highlight of the model - the lowered scuttle, forward hinged doors, vertical slat radiator, and neatly enclosed gas tank combined to create a sleek and good looking package. NA/0878 was shipped directly to the United States to the Collier Brothers Agency in New York. The first known owner, a man named Benjamin Franklin, raced the car on a limited basis. In 1951, the car was purchased by West Coast racer Lars Jacobsen, on the recommendation of a friend who had seen the car in an ad while traveling on the East Coast. Jacobsen initially raced the car in stock form, but over the next five years made significant changes to improve performance and handling. These changes included the following: larger bore cylinders that increased displacement to 1454cc; Carrillo connecting rods; billet crankshaft; Aries pistons; solid copper head gasket; addition of a Marshall Drew belt-driven supercharger fed by dual Rochester carburetors; Bendix hydraulic airplane brakes on the front (replacing cable operated brakes); removal of the stock fenders and running boards (replaced by cycle type fiberglass fenders installed on the front); 16" Dunlop racing tires front and rear mounted on wire wheels; a Wilson pre-selector gearbox completed the updates. With an 8000rpm redline the car developed approximately 140  150 horsepower, making it a very competitive racecar in its class. Over the next six years, Jacobsen and his NB became a familiar sight at West Coast road races including famous venues such as Pebble Beach, Santa Barbara, Palm Springs, and Torrey Pines. Besides road races, Jacobsen and his NB competed in hill climbs (Sandberg Hill, Saugus, Willow Springs, Arrowhead Springs), drag races (Costa Mesa Time Trials, Saugus - Cal Club Drag, Orange Empire Drags, San Fernando Drags) and additional road races at Reno (Stead AFB), Chino, Terminal Island and Pomona. The NB was quite competitive and secured a number of podium finishes during its years in competition. In the 1970's Jacobsen rebuilt the car and used it occasionally on the street and as a show car. In 1995 the car was sold by the Jacobsen family to its current owner, an MG enthusiast, collector and vintage racer. He retained all the Jacobsen installed updates with the exception of replacing the Rochester carburetors with a single 1 7/8" SU for reliability, and readily available Cosworth Pistons. Over the course of his ownership, virtually every component of the car has been rebuilt. A factory correct paint scheme and interior completes the package. He has raced the NB in numerous vintage events including Watkins Glen, Elkhart Lake, Coronado and Hallett (OK). Bill Pollack, winner of races at Pebble Beach (1951, 1952) and Golden Gate Park (1952), was a guest driver at Watkins Glen, and Lars Jacobsen's son, Michael, drove the car at Coronado. The car's engine has recently been rebuilt, and with all other mechanical components in very good working order, the car is ready for vintage events, of course subject to all the standard pre-race checks. The car is registered with the Triple-M Registry (Midget, Magna, Magnette). This is a rare opportunity to own a car which was part of the sports car racing scene on the West Coast in its infancy, when amateur racing prevailed, and where camaraderie, social gatherings and sportsmanship were the norm. With its extensive racing history and unique place among pre-World War II MGs and British sports cars, this 1936 MG NB is a visceral memory of times past  and indeed still a competitor to this day.

Lot Details
Auction Quail Lodge Sale
Bonhams, Carmel, California, USA
Lot Number407
Outcome NOT SOLD
Hammer Price-
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Condition rating
Registration number
Chassis numberNA/0878
Engine number098A164N
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors2