1959 MG MAGNETTE ZB VARITONE

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - CLASSIC CARS FOR SALE - David Simister

WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE?

This ZB’s twin car­bu­ret­tors have clearly been set up well – it re­sponds in­stantly and cleanly when you put your foot down. The steer­ing is light but con­fi­dence-in­spir­ing and free of any wan­der or ex­cess play, and there are no jolts or bangs from the sus­pen­sion dur­ing cor­ner­ing or on un­even road sur­faces. The gearchange is smooth and un­ob­struc­tive, although the rather sud­den clutch – it’s ei­ther in or out, with noth­ing in be­tween – does take a lit­tle get­ting used to. The brakes don’t jud­der or pull un­der load but feel a lit­tle weaker than on other ZBs we’ve tested.

BODY­WORK CHECK

The cream-over-ma­roon paint­work has a deep, even shine through­out, but there are a cou­ple of paint chips on the bon­net edge, a small dent on the near­side front wing and a patch of dis­coloured paint on the roof near the off­side rear door. There’s also some pit­ting on the front and rear bumpers, and the win­dow rub­bers are cracked. The hub­caps have some mi­nor scuffs, but the match­ing Miche­lin tyres look like they have plenty of life left in them. Over­all, the struc­ture’s in good con­di­tion but the cos­met­ics would ben­e­fit from some fur­ther at­ten­tion.

HOW’S THE IN­TE­RIOR?

The wood ve­neer dash­board and door cap­pings are in very good con­di­tion, as are the in­stru­ments – in­clud­ing the Jaeger clock mounted in the head­lin­ing. All the con­trols are present and cor­rect and op­er­ate as they should. The car­pets are dry and un­dam­aged, the door cards and dif­fi­cult-to-find rope pulls are in­tact and while the seats have a lovely patina to them, they look like they would re­spond well to a spe­cial­ist over­haul. The sun­vi­sors are past their best, how­ever.

UN­DER THE BON­NET

The next owner may want to treat the en­gine bay to some de­tail­ing and clean­ing be­fore prop­ping up the bon­net at a show. There’s noth­ing fun­da­men­tally wrong with the B-se­ries en­gine but there’s a quite a bit of dirt and sur­face rust on some of the com­po­nents. There’s no ev­i­dence of fluid leaks, the oil is a healthy colour and the ra­di­a­tor and aux­il­iary com­po­nents ap­pear to be in good con­di­tion. The bulk­head and in­ner wings are rot-free but would ben­e­fit from a re­paint. There’s lit­tle re­cent ser­vice his­tory, but it does come with three pe­riod ser­vice books and the peace of mind of a cur­rent MoT, even though it doesn’t legally need one.

THE CCW VIEW

There are a few cos­metic im­per­fec­tions on this Varitone to iron out, but the body­work and the way it drives re­flect a car that’s fun­da­men­tally sorted. It would be a great clas­sic to im­prove over the win­ter then show dur­ing the sum­mer months. Well worth a look.

En­gine bay would ben­e­fit from a re­paint and de­tail­ing. Smart and orig­i­nal in­te­rior. Seats have lovely patina.

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