Magnettes in Japan 

Not many of you will know Mr. Syoutarou Kobayashi from Tokio (I don't either). He owned a steelblue singlecolour (!) Varitone from 1963 - 1970. Not only did he use his Magnette for daily transport and club races, he also established "Car Graphic" as major motor magazine in Japan!
Mr. Kobayashi is now 70 years old and retired, but the Magnette is still his most favourite car! His car is restored and owned by a friend of his now.
He kindly sent us some beautiful pictures, of which we are proud to reproduce below with his article from 1986. Enjoy it!

The following article was taken from Japan Car Graphic Magazine June 1986

 MG Magnette ZB
--- Delighted Magnette owner of eight years ---

From the early days the British car speciality has been the mid-sized sports saloon.  In the 1950's there was the Riley 2½ litre, Sunbeam Talbot 90, and the refined, sporty MG Magnette.  Among of these, the MG Magnette is ideal car for me.  During the period when  the MG Magnette was a new car, many actor and actress owned the lovely Magnette. 

Cars I have owned began with an Austin 7, then a A40 Devon, an A40 Somerset, and a Nissan knocked down A50 Cambridge.  After a second one, I made an A50 Special.  I put an MGA cylinder head, camshaft, twin SU carburettors, MGA gearbox, and Nissan Fairlady remote control gearshift into an A50 white body.  But this resulted in a high centre of gravity, with a strong tendency to roll over at curves, with a strong under-steer.  Really I wished more and more to have a real MG. 

After a year, when I got my ZB, I was very pleased.  Many of my hard work modifications were equipped from the start!!  My Magnette is '58 Varitone delux type featuring wrap-around rear window and waistline chrome strip.  A Varitone is usually two-tone colour, but mine is a single Steel Blue colour with red upholstery.  Unusually, for an exported car, mine is a RHD, and was originally imported into Japan by a US embassy employee.  When I got the car in 1963, I was only the fourth owner, and the mileage is still only 15,000 miles; the car is in totally superb condition.  The first Japanese owner was the SHELL agency owner; he changed oil every 300 miles he drove.  Consequently, the 1.5-litre OHV B type engine is very well!

Since I have owned this Magnette for eight years and I have many memories.  Early one morning I took my wife to hospital for the sudden birth of our baby.  Many times I have driven the Magnette to SUZUKA circuit via ROUTE 1 (300miles driving from Tokyo) in seven hours for the preparatory runs for the first Japan Grand Prix.  My first circuit run was also in this Magnette.  Nowadays, Magnette prices have fallen to 400,000 - 500,000 yen, and the recently established MGCC Japan member's 7-8 Magnettes can now play gymkhana! 

With the late 1960's the highway period has arrived and the Magnette appeared old in its features.  This is a low-geared design, from before the days of the UK’s first Motorway M1 was opened.  Driving at 75 miles per hour, the noise is too much, but I stuck with the Magnette.  I wanted to change to an MGB 1.8 engine with overdrive gearbox.  When I went to UK, and enquired at BL, I found that I would need to modify the body cross-member, I gave up on the modifications and I bought a '68 Rover 2000TC.

Old b/w pictures show the car at

 1966 in  front  of the  Olympic Stadium 

Oiso Gymkhana, where I won the saloon  car class.

another MGCC occasion.
First time out!

In the Sixties we had quite a lot of snow in Tokyo.

The Newyear's Day of 1964.

In early 1971 I bought a 1968 Rover 2000TC.

Together with my wive's   daily hack, a 1968 Morris 1100 Automatic

Meanwhile the car is in his former glory as the pictures at the bottom show. 

  The Magnette log is as follows:

1958-1960 US embassy employee
1960-1962 Shell agent young owner
1963 Benzo Usui (Shotaro's Friend)
1963-1970 Shotaro Kobayashi
1970-to about 1980 farmer
1980-1997 Benzo Usui again
1997-up to now Masahiro Sato (Shotaro's Friend)

As you can see the car belonged most of the time to friends of Mr. Kobayashi. 
When Mr. Usui bought the car at the beginning of the 80s, the bottom was very rusted, because the car was stored for a long time in a farmers warehouse. The car was restored at the 'Motor House Bugatheque'. This restoration stopped before the body painting finished and this car stayed about 15 years in the Bugatheque garage.
Four years ago Mr. Sato bought the car and started again to restore the car at Bugatheque, what is 60 miles North from Tokyo.  
Meanwhile some parts are lost, but fortunately Bugatheque has another ZBV parts car. But still some parts are missing (door glass etc). He got parts and new rubber, rechromed all chrome parts and changed all electric wire harness and adjusted brake,clutch and engine. He changed all upholstery and also re-paint wanish mirror finish by himself. The petrol tank was rusted and Seich made a new tank. 
This ZBV is painted in an unusual Bentz color bule-grey, but the paint is still in excellent condition. Featured wing mirror position is the same as 60's.

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