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

Classic Cars (UK) - - Ads On Test -

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

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