Biography on 1955 ZA Magnette

by Grant Howlett

This unique car was purchased new by Grant's grandfather " Lord Peter Miller", in June 1955 for 980.00 Pounds Sterling. The Price included a full tank of petrol @ 3 Pounds 6 Shillings, and a top of the line side valve radio @ 9 Punds 10 Shilling (this was a very expensive radio). The car was painted twilight grey, and the leather interior was red.
The car was one of 5/6 vehicles that he owned, but it soon became his "special Sunday car and occasional mode of transport for annual fishing trips and summer vacations. He never allowed another member of the family to drive it. Nobody ever sat on the back seat. It was always covered with a picnic blanket. He never allowed the car to get wet, it was wrapped in blankets each winter and kept in a warm garage always. The car was fastidiously hand polished by him each month and was serviced by the same mechanic and garage in his home town in Suffolk, England for over 40 years.
The only non-standard item he fitted to the car was a s/s exhaust in 1963. All other repairs were done using original spares . All parts replaced were documented, including any light bulbs that were changed etc. Whenever he purchased a spare part that he needed, he would usually buy half a dozen, so the car had and today still has over 60 spare light bulbs (all original Lucas), several sets of BMC gaskets, fanbelts, sparkplugs, fuses and filters. All carefully catalogued by him and kept in an old large black leather bag that Grant still has now in his garage in Virginia.
He drove the car up until his death aged 97 years old in 1998. It was left in his will to his daughter (Grants mother) to give to Grant, who lived in Virginia, USA. Grant was delighted. It was a dream come true to inherit his grandfather's MG-Magnette. Grant had been for rides in the car as a teenager and on two occasions had been allowed to polish it and help change the oil, which was always golden clear in color never black! Grant had owned himself several MG saloons during the 70's and 80's and had rebuilt a 1963 MG Midget, which he owned for several years before he married. He had been and still is a fanatical MG Car nut.
Grant exported the Magnette to Norfolk, Virginia by boat in August 1998. It arrived safely at the Portsmouth docks on Grants birthday.After filling in the paper work Grant started the car. It fired up up first time having been on a boat for six weeks. Grant then drove the Magnette home 220 miles that evening during a hot spell in very heavy highway traffic. It was the first time Grant had driven "Lord Peter" (he has named his car after his grandfather) in the USA on a 6 lane highway with only trafficators as turn signals and a RHD steering column. It was an amazing experience that Grant will never forget!!

The car at that time in 1998 had only been driven 40,000 miles from new. Grant and his youngest daughter Abigall have tried to care and maintain the car to the same high standard as Grants grandfather did, but they do drive it each summer at weekends up and down the East Coast to car events and shows, often driving up to 400 miles in one trip in temperatures of 100 degrees or more. The Magnette has won over the last 4 summers many major concours awards including best Variant at the North American MGA Register.

What makes this car so unique is it's history and 100% originality, the engine, matal body, chrome and all exterior paintwork, all interior, are all original from new. Grant also still has the original spare tyre in the boot!

Grant Howlett

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