1957 MG Magnette £19,995
Fully rebuilt and set up for long distance road rallies, this is a largely original car with some useful upgrades, says Mike Renaut
With four recorded owners from new, this very early ZB, first registered in early September 1957, comes with a file of invoices and paperwork, including the original buff logbook. Many receipts are in Dutch because the Magnette spent several years in Holland where a previous owner used it for road rallies.
As such, it has a number of sympathetic upgrades. The car was fully restored, painted and retrimmed around 1990, the engine was rebuilt in 2000 and the majority of the rest was undertaken between 2000 and 2010. Inertia-reel seatbelts are fitted, and there is a pair of modern sockets below the dashboard to plug in a satnav or similar. In the middle of the dash is a modern Pioneer radio/cd, with speakers added into the lower corners of the front doors and parcel shelf. Water/oil temperature and ammeter gauges are fitted to the dashboard centre, superseding the original factory gauges still in place on the driver’s side. The walnut-finish dash and door-tops are excellent, as is the leather interior and fabric headlining. A Britax rollback fabric sunroof has been fitted in the recent past and appears like new.
Further additions include upgraded Eutolite headlamps and the rear indicators moved from the taillights into separate orange flashers. Electronic ignition and an electric fan have been added along with K&N air filters, and there’s an oil cooler behind the sump guard.
Most of the chrome is in generally good condition, but the boot handle/ numberplate surround’s chrome finish is tarnished, as are some of the door handles, while the shiny two-tone green paint defies its age with no obvious blemishes or signs of corrosion anywhere on the body.
The Michelin 185 R16 radials have decent tread, the steel wheels have a few scuffs, but the chrome hubcaps appear unmarked. Various gaskets and service spares along with a full toolkit are included in the boot.
The engine fires immediately from cold and idles smoothly. The non-original five-speed gearbox, believed to be a Ford Type 9, operates precisely and the light clutch feels in equally excellent order. Acceleration is very decent and the Magnette easily keeps up with traffic. There’s no play at all in the steering and the entire car is free from squeaks and rattles. The brakes bring the car to a halt perfectly adequately, and in a straight line, but appear to be the only mechanical area of the car that hasn’t been upgraded.
This is a hard car to fault. It looks great and drives extremely well. A purist may be put off by the upgrades, but nothing has been done that detracts from the vehicle’s appearance or feel. Indeed, the improvements mean you could confidently drive this car every day.
Magnette boasts several touring upgrades, including leather suitcase
Walnut trim and leather interior is in excellent condition
The 1.5-litre four-cylinder performs well