Ramblings/Reminiscences of MG 5557

3 May

It was the summer of 1964 and I was driving back from a dinner/dance at Brighton Uni in my TA (MG 5557 – chassis number TA1679). Coming out on to the A23 it overheated badly (manifold glowing!) – a top hose had burst. The roadside repairs were carried out with ‘Hermetite’, (jointing compound), a bicycle inner-tube and the hose was tied with a stocking.

After waiting for it to cool down, the water level was topped up with water from a remote farm horse trough. Then, with fingers crossed and bated breath, I started the car, but Oh dear!…… knock, knock, knock, a big end had run.

We carried on with gentle acceleration, putting as little strain on the journal as possible. With luck and a fair wind, we made it back to Chiswick (West London), where I dropped off my wife to be, and I then headed back to my home in Ruislip, Middlesex without either breaking the crankshaft or the big-end journal.

After two weeks of scouring the pages of Exchange & Mart and various other publications, I found an early TC which was located in a house in Rochester, just off the river Medway. Unfortunately, nobody was around to loan me a car that weekend, so we risked driving MG 5557 across London with a slightly less noisy big-end, courtesy of STP (oil additive).

The journey through the City and the East End was fairly uneventful but there was bad news on arrival in Rochester. The owner of the TC came out to tell us that he had needed the space and had pushed the car down a bank and into the mud on the Medway. Undeterred, a handy lorry and driver were searched out and pressed into work.

Two hours or so later, the engine and gearbox were out and stashed behind the TA’s seat, also any other spares we could cram into MG 5557. These included a bonnet, for which a novel way of packing was dreamt up (it was simply fitted over the bonnet of 5557) and the headlamps and instruments, which were accommodated in the passenger footwell. All this for £12!!!!

We then set off for home, hoping that the big-end would survive. (I don’t think you could drive through London nowadays, looking and sounding as we did!). We arrived in Ruislip very late that night.

The following day, the engines were swapped over and a few weeks’ later I sold the car to a friend who had helped me.

The picture of the car with the rather substantial radiator muff was taken outside Arlington Park House in Chiswick. The other was taken in my parents’ drive, just before starting work on changing the engines over.

The person to whom I sold the car was a Mr John Cope and he later sold it to someone in South Ruislip. The car is now in the USA with Dennis Klemm.

I hope that this little story will be of interest and not too boring. It might hopefully arouse other memories of use and abuse.

I now have another TA (LTR 573 – chassis number TA1861). This car is the one that starred in Heartbeat, the TV series.

Peter Dennis

TA1679 sporting a rather substantial radiator muff (picture taken in the winter of 1964).

TA1679….with extra TC bonnet removed!

TA1679 – now with Dennis Klemm in the US.


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