Mys­tery car

New Zealand Classic Car - - Automobilia -

Our mys­tery this month brings us a lit­tle closer to home, with a pro­duc­tion line dat­ing back to 1957. What is the ve­hi­cle be­ing as­sem­bled, and what is the story be­hind this pic­ture? Send your so­lu­tion to edi­tor@ clas­s­ic­car.co.nz, or mail to Mys­tery Car 261, Novem­ber 2017, New Zealand Clas­sic Car, PO Box 46 020, Herne Bay, Auck­land by mid De­cem­ber. Our Mys­tery last month, the just pre-war fast­back coupé, was a one-off project from HRG in Eng­land, the 1938 HRG Air­line coupé. It seems this rather pretty lit­tle car was a pet project of the HRG com­pany’s chief de­signer, Ma­jor Ed­ward Hal­ford. It was based on a widened HRG special lad­der-type chas­sis with cross brac­ing, us­ing a Tri­umph Dolomite/glo­ria en­gine/gear­box in­stead of the reg­u­lar HRG’S Mead­ows en­gine. The body evolved from an Air­line coupé body fit­ted to a Pa-se­ries MG Midget, orig­i­nally an HW Alling­ham–de­signed body built by Car­bod­ies as fit­ted to the PA Midget. One source says the coupé part of the body came from the PA Air­line Midget, though from per­sonal ob­ser­va­tion it is cer­tainly not the same — it’s no­tice­ably dif­fer­ent in the sun­roof to the 1934–’5 Air­line PA that has been in our fam­ily for some 50 years. The longer bon­net of the HRG and long front wings were built by a dif­fer­ent coach­builder, Crofts of Croy­don. To a crit­i­cal eye they are per­haps too long, as it some­how un­bal­ances the lines a lit­tle. The special HRG coupé was even­tu­ally sold in Bri­tain, but fi­nally ended up in the USA. In 2000 it was given a thor­ough and sym­pa­thetic restora­tion in the USA, well doc­u­mented in sev­eral ar­ti­cles that re­count in con­sid­er­able de­tail the pit­falls of one-off ve­hi­cle restora­tions — the best ar­ti­cle is from the Fe­bru­ary 2013 is­sue of Hem­mings Sports & Ex­otic Car. The body in par­tic­u­lar, though clearly based on the MG PA ver­sion of the Air­line body, has sev­eral sub­tle vari­a­tions ne­ces­si­tated by be­ing in­stalled on a dif­fer­ent chas­sis by Crofts, the al­ter­na­tive coach­work com­pany. Our thanks should go both to the long-time own­ers who kept the car to­gether, and the restora­tion ex­perts who made such a good job of bring­ing it back to life again. Writ­ing to an early dead­line, I have no re­cent info on the win­ner of the last Mys­tery Car — we will catch up next time, all be­ing well.

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