The Ex-Bellevue M.G. Magnette

Donald Pitt describes —

His Ex-Bellevue M.G. Magnette

This car, as most readers will recall, was that built in 1937 by W. E. Wilkinson, of Bellevue Garage, to the special requirements of John Dugdale.

The chassis itself was originally a standard N-type M.G.”Magnette.” Upon this chassis was built an off-set, single-seater body, complete with a 25-gallon tank, which comprises the tail, and a most ingenious radiator, the outer frame of which is off-set to comply with the bodyline.

A very special unblown K.3 M.G. “Magnette” engine was installed, fitted with twin T.T. S.U.s alongside the much-modified inlet manifold, the idea being to bring it into a different handicap category, as against the other more potent “Magnettes.”

With a very special camshaft, high-compression domed-top pistons, Lucas automatic-advance magneto, and running on 50/50, the car was capable of 90 m.p.h. in 3rd and 110 m.p.h. in top, with acceleration to match. Unfortunately, I have few details at the moment of its history whilst in John Dugdale’s hands. Before the war the car changed ownership and was raced by Edmundson and Hurst, being successful in several events. It put in several laps on the Outer Circuit at 108 m.p.h., driven by “Wilky.” [The car’s best race performances were: Outer Circuit, Wilkinson, 91.38 m.p.h.; Campbell Circuit, Hurst. 63.56 m.p.h.; Mountain Circuit, Hurst, 65.21 m.p.h. — Ed.]

A long-distance ‘phone call, a rapid journey to Town in a Riley “Kestrel,” a careful inspection at close quarters, and the car became mine. It was decided, rather energetically, to pull everything to pieces, rebuild the car and enter it for a Prescott meeting a fortnight later. Monaco Ltd. were entrusted with this work. Meanwhile, I had decided to tax the “Magnette,” partly to get the general feel of it in the few hours available after completion, and partly to get it home as quickly as possible. I drove the car home from Monaco to Stroud, arriving in the late evening before Prescott.

Yes, this M.G. most certainly had something, even though it was unblown. The urge from 70 m.p.h. onwards was something on its own, and with the close-ratio gearbox 3rd and top seemed very close indeed; this, with the whine of the E. N.V. straight-cut pinion assembly, together with the Brooklands exhaust system and the pungent smell of “dope,” made this motor seem a very rapid means of conveyance. It is, however, also remarkably tractable, gives no fuss or bother with plugs, and is an easy starter.

At the Brighton Speed Trials, after a journey through a very damp night, we competed and had a lot of fun, being matched alongside Ian Connell’s E.R.A., “Bira’s” original “Remus.” I drove the “Magnette” home from Brighton the same night, completing 400 miles for that day.

Several modifications have been done since I took over, including the fitting of duralumin Andre shock-absorbers at the rear, which Andre Components Ltd. very obligingly made specially in eight days. The whole car was re-cellulosed black and aluminium. Altogether a very attractive little motor car, with great potentialities, and much work is planned on it during the winter months. The car will very definitely be in action again next season, in an entirely different form from that originally planned.