1939 MG TB Tickford Drophead Coupe (1939)
blue interior.The introduction of the T-Type Midget marked a significant turning point for MG Cars. Up to that time, MG was essentially a pet project of W.R. Morris, who had given Cecil Kimber a great deal of creative leeway in developing his world-class sports cars and racers. However, in 1935, Morris sold his interest in MG to the parent company Morris Motors, who had a previously taken a rather dim view of sports cars and motor racing in general. Thankfully, Kimber managed to maintain enough control over operations, and he continued to develop vehicles in his unique style, though now with a few “corporate” restrictions.
The first model produced under the guise of new leadership was the T-Type. The most significant change was under the bonnet, where Kimber’s advanced overhead cam engines were replaced with a simpler, cheaper Wolseley 10/40-derived 1,292 c.c. pushrod four-cylinder. While it may have seemed like a downgrade to some MG loyalists, the new TA could outperform the overhead-cam PB in most areas, while offering greater space and comfort to passengers. The TA was very successful in the home market, and it would set the pattern for MG’s future success in the 1940s and beyond, particularly for the TC in the all-important American market.
Following up on the success of the TA, the TB was introduced in 1939 with a host of improvements. The TB marked the first appearance of the now-legendary 1,250 c.c. XPAG engine. Derived from the Morris Ten, the MG unit was in a higher state of tune and wore dual carburetors. As with the TA, the TB was available as a standard roadster or with the luxurious and beautifully-built Tickford drophead coupe body by Salmons & Sons. However, Britain’s involvement in World War II meant production was cut short after just 379 TBs were produced. Of those 379 cars, a mere 57 were fitted with the handsome Tickford drophead coachwork.
We are delighted to offer this TB Tickford, chassis number TB 0440; a charming and important pre-war MG with a rich and well-documented history from new, and one of fewer than 30 known TB Tickfords in existence. Fully restored by respected marque experts Safety Fast Restoration of Mansfield, Ohio, this award-winning example presents in outstanding condition. According to T-Type registry information, TB 0440 was first delivered to G. Kitchingman of Leeds, Yorkshire, England and assigned the registration number HUM 7 on August 3, 1939. Documents including the UK registration booklet show HUM 7 was delivered in red over biscuit with a fawn top. It changed hands out of the Kitchingman family, and in the late 1960s, was discovered for sale by Christopher Orr. The teenage Orr and his father were both avid pre-war car enthusiasts, so they decided to have a look. They found HUM 7 in a small garage in Swinton, with the engine out and in the back seat, but otherwise complete and still in its original red livery. They settled on a price of £40 and towed the car home behind the family’s Riley RME.
Over the course of the next year, Christopher and his father sorted the MG out, eventually passing the MOT test just in time for Christopher to head to University. A 2006 letter from Christopher describes how the little TB Tickford served him well through school and how the car became a well-known fixture around campus. Eventually, using HUM 7 as everyday transport became too impractical, and Christopher turned the car back over to his father, who would eventually sell it on in the mid-1970s. By the late 1970s, HUM 7 left England and headed for Australia. Purchased by the York Motor Museum, they began the restoration process before passing the car on to a fellow Aussie named Harry Pyle in 1983. Mr. Pyle would continue to carefully research and restore the MG, going so far as to travel to England to meet with the widow of the original owner. In 2002, Mr. Pyle sold the nearly-restored HUM 7 to its current owner, an American MG enthusiast and collector. Upon arrival in the ‘States, HUM 7 was handed over to Tom Metcalf of Safety Fast Restoration, who would perform a comprehensive, thoroughly researched, nut-and-bolt restoration to world-class standards. An extensive history file documents the process and the great lengths that were taken to ensure the car’s correctness and detail. The only notable deviation from standard was the color choice, changing the car’s original red to an incredibly handsome two-tone Oxford & Cambridge Blue livery with blue interior and fabric hood.
Completed in late-2005, the newly restored MG TB debuted at the 2006 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance where it won its class against stiff competition that included two Alfa 6Cs and an SS-100 Jaguar. It would go on to further Concours success in several prestigious events, scoring a class award at the 2007 Meadowbrook Concours, and a 2nd in class at the Hilton Head Motoring Festival in 2014.
Today, HUM 7 presents in beautiful condition, the fine restoration having matured slightly from light use and regular care. The two-tone blue paintwork is in excellent order with a warm and attractive luster. It is well-equipped with period correct Lucas King of the Road headlamps, a single spot lamp, and King of the Road outside mirror. The large chrome landau irons are a functional component to the 3-position drophead hood and a signature of the Tickford body. The high-quality coachwork also features details such as an opening windscreen, semaphores, and roll-up windows for an altogether more civilized feel compared to the roadster.
The cockpit is snug but luxuriously appointed with supple dark blue leather, finely restored woodwork, and a fully lined hood. The seats show light creasing but remain very inviting, attractive and in excellent condition. The door panels are trimmed in antique-grain blue leather as correct, and beautiful quality wood trim features on the door caps, dash top, and instrument panel. Original instruments were rebuilt, and this car features the very rare addition of a Philco radio.
The engine number, XPAG 706, matches that of the production records supplied by the T-Type Register. It is fully detailed with correct hardware, fittings, and wiring used throughout, and a full complement of original tools reside in the under-bonnet toolbox. The presentation remains in near-concours condition, showing only light use since its completion. This rare and highly desirable pre-war T-Type MG has been maintained in lovely condition since its exceptional restoration and is ready for its next keeper to enjoy it on the road or the show field.
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- Year: 1939
- Body type: Coupe
- Colour: Blue
- First registered: 1939