Gunners Garage

It Could’ve Been Me—It Could’ve Been You

The beginning phase of our MG Magnette teardown. This was in 2006 and the car is still in pieces today.

The beginning phase of our MG Magnette teardown. This was in 2006 and the car is still in pieces today.

 

We admit to being lazy. A few years ago we purchased an unusual car at the Iola Old Car Show. It was a 1957 MG Magnette ZB Varitone Saloon. How’s that for a long name that drives my spell checker absolutely wild?

The MG Magnette bowed in 1954 at a big new-car show in England. It was actually a badge-engineered Wolsley (another British car brand) and MG enthusiasts didn’t like that. So, they didn’t buy many Magnettes and even fewer of them made it to America.

With its “mustache” style trim, the first generation Magnette ZA looked rather plain and odd. It had semaphores instead of blinkers and a small back window. The ZB model had different trim. The Semaphore holes were covered with chrome and blinkers were added. And the rear window was actually widened by hand at the factory. All’s it took was a sharp hacksaw and larger glass.

The Magnette is a cute little bugger. When we first saw ours at the Iola show we thought it was a Jaguar saloon. That’s partly because it was incorrectly painted in Jaguar-like black and maroon colors and partly because it looks like a small Jag. Although many of the later cars were two-toned, the term Varitone does not equate with two colors, because some of these cars were mono-toned.

As stated, we are a bit lazy. We took our Magnette apart, gathered up some new pieces, rebuilt the engine and went through the tranny. Then we parked the project and let it sit for years. Which explains the title of this blog. Last week another 1957 MG Magnette Varitone saloon won a First in Class at British Car Field Days in Sussex, Wis. Its owner, Bob Houllian, walked away with a nice award for bringing such a rare and pretty car to the all-British car show.

Soon after arriving home, we walked out into our car building and stared at our Magnette. Then we told the car in no uncertain terms, “It could have been you—It could have been me!”

Mr. Robert Houllian’s gorgeous 1957 MG Magnette ZB. This is an original color scheme. Our car was originally two-tone gray..

Mr. Robert Houllian’s gorgeous 1957 MG Magnette ZB. This is an original color scheme. Our car was originally two-tone gray..

 

 

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