An MG K3 in Tokio
A historic MG K3 Magnette was rescued from a long hibernation in a damp shed recently by an enthusiast in Tokio and the formidable job of restoring her has already started. The car (chassis no. K3751, engine No. EXX3, and British Registration no. JB 1046) is the No. 1 of the two prototypes built in 1932-33. The first Japanese owner is Baron Motoharu Kobayakawa who imported her into Japan in 1936. He is a talented engineer who once worked for Nissan Motor Company and must have been quite a wealthy man then, as he owned at the time an MG M-type coupe and a Standard Flying Twenty as well. Although he had never raced before, he decided to go racing with this new acquisition. It was an All-Comers Race on the newly constructed 1.2kilometre oval track in Tokio suburb. Most of the rivals were Specials based on "cut and shut" touring cars (among them was a supercharged Model-A Ford, built and driven with quite a verve by a certain Soichiro Honda!), but there were two Type 35 Bugattis and a shortened 3-litre Bentley as well. It was a very hot day and the new surface of the track melted with a scorching sun, becoming very sticky.
Naturally the K3 was utterly unsuitable to this sort of racing and all that he could achieve on that day was second place in a heat and the K3 was withdrawn from the final. During the WW2 it was stored in a basement but most unfortunately the building above was burnt down by an Allies' air raid and the K3 was "baked", as it were. Luckily, the enoine had been removed beforehand and sent to Aeronautical Research Institute for research purposes, so escaped from the damage. Although bodywork paint, upholstery and wiring, etc. severely suffered from extreme heat, mechanics seemed all right. So, in the late Forties the K3 was rebuilt more or less to the original shape, thanks to help from Abingdon.
Mr. Kobayakawa, now deprived both of his baronage and a fortune due to the post war drastic reformation, was forced to rely on his K3 in order to earn his bread (or rice and soya?). Up until early Fifties he competed with the K3 extensively in the series of professional dirt track races and despite a colossal handicap he managed to beat all before him. For this type of racing the K3 was run without supercharger sometimes and the original rear axle was replaced with that of a light commercial. However, the career of the K3 came to an abrupt end, when Mr. Kobayakawa suffered a severe head injury in one of the motorcycle dirt track races. He decided to withdraw from racing as a result. The K3 has remained idle in a dark, damp shed ever since as he adamantly refused all the offers, some of which came from abroad, mostly from the USA and Australia.
It was only recently that he finally agreed to sell the car to an enthusiast named Nobuo Harada who had been persuading him for nearly twenty years. Mr. Harada is a genuine enthusiast with enough knowledcm and resources and already owns a 1931 Aston Martin International Le Mans (the 1931 London Show car), a Type-13 Brescia, and an MG M-type Midget among others.
As the accompanying pictures show, the K3 is in a very sorry state now but complete and basically sound. This prototype has the shorter wheelbase than the later production model and the 2-seater body is basically C-type Midget, The gearbox now fitted is not a preselector but an ordinary MG crash box. Mr. Kobayakawa says that it was so fitted when he bought the car from R. C. Jackson of MG in 1936. The wheels are of 18 in, and these also seem a later modification. The new
owner wishes to trace her earlier history in England and he would be most grateful to hear from the knowledgeable people there.
Tokio SHOTARO KOBAYASHI