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MAGNETTE DIESEL

by Ronald Faulkner

Here is the story of how I came to be intrested in MG Magnettes. My car is a 1955 ZA it appears to have been green previously, I would think probably it’s original colour, but is now black. But the history of my car is very intresting and also the car itself as I have what appears to be the only Diesel Magnette known to exist. The engine is a BMC 1500 diesel the rocker cover is from MG (maybe added for fun) although the car is registered petrol. It has clearly been converted but when in its life. The engine has been in the car a very long time and the history is as follows mostly obtained from the  previous owner plus the pieces I can put together.

The first owner is believed to have had it 36 years by the time the second owner got it, it already had its diesel engine. The second owner bought it and according to a Mot failure slip tried to get it on the road and then seems to have given up. It actually only seems to have failed on a split steering rack gaiter ! So I understand it spent 8 years in a barn with 2 Riley RME’s for company. It appears that some intrest was shown in the car over this time with a view to getting it on the road as the following things were done. The diesel injector pump has been overhauled tell-tale signs it shines like new (eg it went through the part washer) and had dabs of green paint put on the bolts plus new springs. This work I’m sure was done in its off the road life, and it is cleaner than everything else there. It has 4 brand new tyres and a brand new transmission tunnel gaiter in red. The rear seat is original and the one front has no cover but the other seat has a brand new leather cover fitted that has never been used on the road yet. The exhaust system has been replaced but due to the diesel setup maybe they couldn’t get a exhaust to fit so they put on a new exhaust or part of a exhaust from a Mini cooper Mk1 (it still bears the part sticker) but the conversion is a neat job. It has had some rear spring hanger welding done (neat job) but a long time ago and most surely when it was still on the road. It also has a towbar fitted then again it has been on a long time. The fuel tank is not in the usual MG place it is in the boot floor with the filler cap located on the right side of the boot but someone has cut into the chassis member or whatever that panel is, made a perfectly neat hole just to re-route the new fuel filler system pipe, why they went to such a effort is beyond me. The tank has a return flow for the diesel not any old pipe work in rubber but nice solid copper pipes neatly routed even the tank looks old and having been there a long time.

The car then got moved around quickly in 2 years. At this point along the line some bastard robbed it of it’s original number ONP 571 it then got a age related number ESL 542 I think they should stop all this silly car numbers game. But now that it will probably live in Germany it all means nothing. The second owner let it go to a car recovery truck driver who needed paying for his services and showed a intrest in the car. It bears 3 previous keepers on the log book and is still registered in the 4th owners name altough my friend got it and then I got it of him. The 3rd owner got it on 07 /07/ 1999 and the 4th registered it on 21 /12 /1999. Incedently according to the last registered owner and the address I am sure that I saw it when it was outside his house, as the house I remember always had a old car or two outside and I remember seeing a black Magnette on his drive. The date was not easy to forget as it was when my daughter was born and the Magnette was parked over the road from the hospital. Having so many old cars over the years you get to notice these things.

My friend was working for the same recovery service as the truck driver (who got it off the second owner). When I saw it outside my friends house he said come and look at this (the Magnette) it doesn’t need much to get it running. He was good at acquiring cars but never getting them on the road. So almost totally un-intrested by the car due to life’s many changes and not so much time at that point to entertain a project, I just joked it’s not for me it doesn’t have a diesel engine (the last 8 years I have driven only diesel cars). Well that is when I was very surprised to hear that infact it was a diesel. He went on to tell me one man old man said they made 2 or 3 Prototypes. The only classic diesel I knew was Standard Vanguard and the old Austin 1800’s plus the Rover SDI diesel. Well the spider had spun his web and the rest we all know.

But it doesn’t end there on 1st August 2000 I decided to move to Germany (Leipzig) with my family. Having moved almost everything here only my MG and a very old Ford enamel sign remain in England. Well due to the move and settling in to a new place new profession etc it didn’t seem realistic to haul the MG here and do it up. Finding a new owner or scrapping it came very close to happening, just a sense of being stubborn, strong minded and knowing I had a very unusual car kept me holding on. Also I had found out East Germany is not the place to do up old English cars, 40 years of Trabants, Wartburgs and Lada’s meant they knew nothing of English cars from the 50’s and 60’s Then the lucky break came we bought a computer my first infact and here I was curious to discover the Internet and how it worked. So one night curious to get out there and discover the internet I did a search under “MG Magnette”, I didn’t find so much but I did find the Magnette register and sent a e-mail to Günter to ask if he knew about any other diesel Magnettes. That got him curious and we started writing to each other. Eventually I decided I wanted to go to the meeting in Holland 2002. I had a day out in Dieter Ottens car and I was hooked. And now that I have the contacts I can consider bringing my car here because of the register.

My car needs a good restoration the work I can do all myself. The biggest job is to weld up some of the floor and respray the car. It is very original in condition and has never been badly repaired. I have now got myself a garage for the MG to restore it in, and the plan is to haul it over in December 2003. If anyone knows a cheap way to get it over please let me know.

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