A Classic British sports car with an international history!
MG’s new MGA first saw the light of day in 1955 and was a huge breath of fresh air for the Abingdon marque. With the MGA, BMC brought their every man’s sports car ahead by two decades in one swoop.
This car’s first owner was Captain C O (Mick) Jennings, who arrived in Kuala Lampur from the UK in 1935, working as a municipal architect. At the end of the Great War, he had served in Mesopotamia with the Royal Engineers. In his spare time, he was an enthusiastic racing motorist but this was brought to a halt when war broke out and the Japanese began their advance south toward ‘Fortress Singapore’. As Singapore was about to fall, Captain Jennings took matters into his own hands. Not wanting to surrender and see out the war as a POW, he and a companion took a small boat with 60 days worth of supplies, and set off from Sumatra in an attempt to sail to Australia. But things didn’t go as planned and the intrepid pair were picked up by the Japanese and returned to Singapore, where they were held at the infamous Changi prison until the Japanese surrender. One of the treasures that come with this car is a copy of An Ocean Without Shores (see photos), the memoir which Captain Jennings published in 1950, telling the tale of their epic and ultimately failed journey, and how the two man survived for so long at sea.
Post war Jennings was keen to get back to motoring and competition. He purchased a pair of MGTC’s and the Jennings name soon began to appear in results from 1949, along with his wife, referred to in that delightfully period as Mrs C O Jennings, who set FTD for a lady driver in the Lornie Mile, a one mile sprint held in Malaya (now known as Malaysia). This event was a very successful outing for the Jennings equipe, with the team’s prize also being awarded to them.
It was 1956 when Mick Jennings decided to update his equipment and purchased a new black MGA with red seats. This is the car advertised for sale here. Back at the Lornie Mile, modernised for 1956, this MGA, running in the 1101 – 1500cc racing cars class, was a worthy second and a year later, Captian and Mrs Jennings were both in action – the Captian winning his class while his wife’s result was not recorded.
In June of 1957, the Forces Motor Club ran a race at Changi, the first circuit race ever to be run in Singapore, and which turned out to be a one-off event. Jennings was again in action in the MGA – one can only imagine his feelings as he raced at the site of his wartime incarceration, on the airfield that, as a prisoner, he would have been forced to build under the brutal hands of his Japanese captors at the cost of the lives of many of his fellow detainees. Whatever emotions were passing through his mind, this black MGA took pole for the sports car race and only beaten in the race by a similar, but genuine works prepared car.
Captain Jennings and his MGA arrived in New Zealand1n 1958, as the car was immediately in action at one of the biggest races on the calendar – the Lady Wigram Trophy in January 1959. He qualified near the end of the grid, hardly surprising when the pointy end of the grid was taken by the likes of Ron Flockhart on pole in a BRM, with Jack Brabham, Bruce Mclaren, and Ross Jensen taking up the rest of the front row in Coopers. Even with the best will in the world, the little MGA was never going to do anything other than make up the numbers. Still, Jennings did finish, in 18th place, ahead of the Brian Blackburn – driven Citroen Special and Wally Darrell in the ACE III – two cars that are still actively campaigned today in VCC racing.
This car as it arrived was wearing a twin-cam head, not the standard item, and one of the mysteries of this MGA’s history involves what this head was and, more importantly, where it went as its no longer fitted to the car. It is possible that Captain Jennings has had some influence at the MG works, because the block still in the car with its heavier con-rods and a lightened flywheel, has the appearance of having been there from the factory. The missing twin-cam head is one of those motor-racing enigmas that may never be solved.
ABOUT THIS CAR
Chassis #: HDA2312384
Engine #: BPI5GB2412
One of the rarer factory RHD versions
A sign of a great body and a very clever panel beater is when a car can wear a coat of gloss black paint without any sign of blemish or repair. This is one of those cars – the body is flawless.
Wire wheels and drum brakes – standard fitment for the 1950’s.
Presumably to get extra air through the radiator and around the engine in the hot humid conditions it would have faced when being campaigned on the Malay Peninsula, an extra intake behind a chrome-plated grille was set into the nose on either side of the standard MGA item. The originals survived but were rusty and the previous owner had new grilles made and fitted this small modification, along with a single leather strap to help hold the rear hinged bonnet. All this gives the MGA’s shapely snout a far more aggressive look.
The front bumper carries the car’s current number plate (as can be seen from photos) but in racing form, the bumpers were removed, and thats how the car sits now, with its original Malayan registration number – BC9163 – painted where the number would originally sit. In full road going trim, there’s no sign of this.
An MGA is a very svelte car by design, but with the bumper’s off, the windscreen replaced by a single aero-screen and still wwearing its correct wire wheels with skinny 155/15 Michelin radials and chrome knock offs, it really looks like a pukka 1950’s racing car.
As well as an exterior make over to bring the car back to its time as the Jennings’ racer, the interior has also been redone. Red leather seats, cockpit coaming and door trims are as the MG was when it first made its way from Abington to Kuala Lampur, and the contrast against the black tonneau and the body looks particularly smart.
There has been no temptation to replace the original four spoke steering wheel or to add extra gauges to the dash in order to make it better suited for any competition that it might appear in.
It has a standard rev-counter, oil pressure gauge and water temperature gauge.
A lot of time and money has been invested in this car and car was never raced after restoration.
This car would suit someone who wants a beautiful MGA, that is an amazing drive by the way, with good history and provenance.
TRANSPORT / SHIPPING CAN BE ORGANISED ON THIS VEHICLE ON BUYER'S BEHALF AT BUYERS COST.
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