1938 TA Cream Cracker BBL 80

“The Missing Years”

The story of BBL 80 under Derek Pearce’s ownership was told in Issue 15 (December 2012) of TTT 2. The man who built the car up from a rolling chassis was John Barnacott. John describes how he came to acquire what was essentially a rolling chassis and a ‘box of bits’ and how he put the bits back together over a period of six years.

BBL came into my possession sometime in 1972 following a chat with ‘P’ Type Cream Cracker man (as he was then) Steve Dear, at our local natter near Bristol. Steve drew my attention to an advertisement in a recent issue of Motor Sport for an “Ex-works MG trials car, EX155/4”. Steve explained that this could be one of the TA Cream Cracker cars, he was familiar with the chassis numbers. A phone call the following day to the advertiser, who happened to be Julian Ghosh, confirmed Steve’s suggestion and arrangements were made to view and collect the car if we could come to an agreement, which we duly did.

Ghosh had made a start on the rebuild and had completed a rolling chassis before being seduced by a Vauxhall 14/98 (I think) needing his attentions. The rest of the car was literally a “box of bits”, but as far as I could tell mechanically complete, although in pieces.

The aluminium bonnet and doors were missing, as were the front wings, the rest of the body tub was “present” but so far deteriorated that salvage would have been impossible. Other parts in the collection were the scuttle and scuttle top, fuel tank, radiator and shell, and the front valance, together with windscreen and frame, to be incorporated in the rebuild. Beneath the black paint on the rear wings I discovered the original brown of the team colours (better described as “chestnut”) which I managed to match when it came to finishing the car.

The car was slowly refurbished over 6 years (and three house moves!) utilizing, one of Alastair Naylor’s excellent aluminium skinned, ash framed, bodies, with the bonnet and sides being fabricated in aluminium by my friend Graham Ash. All mechanicals were refurbished, re-assembled and installed, various components fabricated and new electrics fitted.

The car finally took to the road again in 1978, and after a suitable running-in period, I campaigned BBL 80 quite successfully in trials for several years, including being a member of the winning team for the 1980 Lands End Trial along with Norman Mckee in his 1937 TA Cream Cracker ABL 960 and the 1937 TA Musketeer ABL 965. We also took part in the MG50 carnival parade in Abingdon in 1979.

This is the only rebuild that the car has had as far as I know. Certainly, Ghosh acquired it as a wreck and only made a start on the rebuild as far as the rolling chassis described.

I sold the car in 1986 and it eventually came into the possession of Derek Pearce.

John Barnacott

Rolling chassis as acquired from Julian Ghosh (1972).

First fitting – half engine and g/box. (1974)

Re-build halfway through.  New body tub fitted and sprayed, ready for further additions.  (1976).

Back in action.  Blue Hills Mine, Lands End Trial 1980.  1st Class and Team Awards.  

Same venue, same trial, but 15 years later (1995) under Derek Pearce’s ownership. Gold Medal award.