Post-war MG’s first appearance at Devonport Motor Show
Before nipping around Turners Beach, smoothly taking in the twists along the Forth River and then humming at a steady pace down the Bass Highway in a 1948 MG Y, we chatted to Turners Beach vintage car enthusiast John Turner. John is the owner of the burgundy MG with a leather interior, which has a fascinating story behind it.
It was designed before World War II and due to be released in 1939, but the war meant it wasn’t released until nearly a decade later with a somewhat dated design. Today, it is much sought-after, with IFS, rack and pinion steering, OHV 1 ¼ litre engine, sunroof, opening windscreen, and 4 built-in hydraulic jacks just for starters. You can listen in to our chat and take a ride in the MG through Turners Beach with John below or read the transcript.
Where did your interest in vintage cars stem from? JOHN: Something I’ve always had really. When I was young, my grandfather, he had a 1937 Hillman. Then, later on, he progressed to an Austin. The Hillman went to my uncle and then when my grandfather gave up driving, the question was asked at the tea table – I didn’t realise it was a setup – but the question was asked what’s going to happen with the Hillman. So little John put his hand up and said “I’ll have the Hillman’’.
We lived on a poultry farm, so at the age of about 14, I got this 1937 Hillman Minx. It turned out it was not only my first car, my uncle’s first car, and my grandfather’s first car, but the original owner’s first car. That was back in England. And unfortunately, when I left England, it got sent to the wreckers.
How did you come about getting this one – the 1950 MG Y?
JOHN: “Previously, I’d never been much interested in post-war cars. But I’ve got another one inside there – 1925 vintage – that’s original. But this one, I saw one somewhere, I can’t remember where now, and thought that was interesting. I thought it must be pre-war, but it’s actually post-war”.
What’s the story behind it, because it has quite an interesting story behind it as well?
JOHN: “This one was actually designed before the war. It was going to be introduced at the motor show and put on the market about 1940, but as everybody knows World War II got in the way. So it didn’t come out until about 1947 or ’48. It was a little bit of an old fashioned design at that stage. People were looking for something a bit more modern looking, so it wasn’t a real big seller”.
It was quite a nippy little car for its time. You wouldn’t call it nippy today (laughs). But you said it drives well still?
JOHN: “Oh yes. For its time, it was very advanced. It’s got independent front suspension, it’s got overhead valves, it’s got four jacks built into it so you can jack it up off the ground – not that I can on this one at the moment, there’s a bit of a leak –windscreen opens at the bottom, so you’ve got ventilation, you’ve got a sunroof, a little blind for blocking off the headlights behind you at night if you want to.
Yeah, she’s just a lovely car. Leather upholstery. When did you actually acquire this car?
JOHN: “It would be about three or four years ago. It was advertised in one of the magazines and I rang the guy up and he was up in the Dandenongs. So I had a talk to him about it and I didn’t want to waste my time going over if it wasn’t any good, so I rang my daughter who lives down the foot of the Dandenongs and asked her if she’d go and have a look at it. Not that she knows a lot about cars. But she could at least have a see if it was worth having a look at. She said ‘oh yeah, we’ll go and have a look at the weekend’. I said: ‘oh no, tonight’. (laughs). So anyway, they reported back that it was worth having a look at, so I took a day off work and went over. And it was too good to pass up”.
Have you done much restoration work on it?
JOHN: “I’ve done a couple of little things, but as it is is how I bought it from the previous owner. He’d had it for about 25 years, I think. He’d restored it after about 10.
Do you take it out much for a drive?
JOHN: “Not as much as I should. The wife’s still working, looking after the children. I’ve had it out a few times lately when normally I would have just taken the modern. But, oh well, I’ll take the MG instead. As long as you fill your logbook in, it’s OK. She’s very good. A little bit slower on the highway, of course, compared to modern traffic. When she gets to the traffic lights, she gets away pretty smartly, so you’re not holding people up.
What about the Devonport Motor Show – have you exhibited there before?
JOHN: “I entered about two or three years ago, but a couple of other things got in the way so I wasn’t able to go in the end. So this will be the first time I’ve actually been in the Motor Show”.
Do you do many of the shows at all? Do you exhibit?
JOHN: “Not the shows, no. I’m not usually into displays where you’ve got to sit around all day. But this one’s different, because there’ll be a lot of cars to look at. So I don’t go in for the local agricultural shows or anything, because I’d rather be off driving”.
Anything else you’d like to add about the car or the Motor Show?
JOHN: “No, I’m just looking forward to the show. The cars, even though they weren’t very popular in their day, only sold about 8300 – I forget the exact figure. But they are now very sought after. The value of them is going up all the time now, because people are starting to really appreciate them. When we lived in Queensland, one of the neighbours had one and I never took much notice of it, to be honest. But I wish I had now”.