My first car, TC 2380, was bought in 1968 when I was an apprentice age 20. This was rebuilt and used as the daily driver, and from 1970 onwards was supercharged and raced and hill climbed in the MGCC T Register championship until 1975 when it was sold to a gentleman in Switzerland. (In 2016 the car resurfaced still in Switzerland). Roll on ‘till 2001, and a chance remark by my good lady, “don’t you ever fancy another TC?” was all I needed. Co-incidentally, I had been browsing Classic and Sports Car at the same time and seen an advert on Terry Bone’s website for an ex TC race car, no engine and gearbox but everything else important was there. I was not interested in a standard road car, but a competition TC ticked all the boxes and the deal was done.
The car was converted into a race car in 1979 by Brown and Gammons for Will Corry who raced the car both in the MGCC T Register Championship, and in N Ireland during the 70s and 80s, and who eventually became chairman of the MGCC in 1991. Many of the modifications were based on Gerry Brown’s very successful T Race car of the period.
Between 2001 and 2003, as the car had been standing for some 15 years, I completely stripped down the chassis and body which were rebuilt / re-sprayed. An engine and gearbox were sourced, and the car was re-registered for road use in 2003, where I digress:
When I bought the TC in 2001 I knew it had no identification. The guarantee plate was missing and the chassis number had been partially removed leaving only “TC” visible, and there was no Log Book (V5).
After the rebuild was completed in 2003, I needed to re-register the car for road use. The first task was to establish the year of manufacture. I researched the various idiosyncrasies of TC design using Mike Sherrell’s book TCs Forever! looking at the design changes like the bulkhead pressing, the chassis fillet and stub axle changes. Using this, I narrowed the production period to be between November 1946 and February 1948; therefore the balance of probability was that it was a 1947 car. This was endorsed by the late Malcolm Hogg who was the T Register DVLA rep at the time. This research was used as supporting evidence in my application for an age-related registration number. After being inspected by the local DVLA office, the car was given registration number PAS 337 together with a modern 16 digit Vin Number and declared year of manufacture of 1947.
This status quo lasted several years, but I always had a nagging thought it would be nice to trace the original chassis number. By this time I had managed to contact a previous owner who had registered the car with the T Register in 1974, and I now knew the chassis number was alleged to be TC 3102, as I had surmised a 1947 car, but how could I prove it?
After extensive internet searching I became aware of a process of etching the damaged area using a substance called Fry’s Reagent, a mixture comprised of Hydrochloric acid, Copper (II) Chloride, and water, used by metallurgists or forensic scientists for etching ferrous metals, most commonly for the visual recovery of ground-off stamped serial numbers on cast iron, steel, engine or firearms parts.
I now knew it was in theory possible to recover the number, providing not too much original material had been removed. The next question was where can I get some Reagent? Many telephone calls to forensic science establishments and chemical suppliers in the UK all met with the same response “sorry, health and safety” we can’t supply a private individual. Carrying on with the internet it seemed that it was readily available by mail order from the USA. I bit the bullet and ordered 150ml from http://chemical-supermarket.com current price $38.95 plus shipping and import duty, which significantly increased the cost, it comes very well packed!
The etching process requires that the affected area is cleaned of all paint and polished to a high finish. I used successive grades of wet and dry, the finish I obtained can be seen in the photograph below:
To etch the area, I used cotton buds dipped in the Reagent, wiping it over the area where the number was assumed to be. Each cotton bud only lasts a few wipes before it discolours so I would advise a full packet to start with. After about 15 minutes of gentle wiping – eureka! feint numbers began to appear, eventually most of the 3 and all the 102 could clearly be seen all in the same font that the factory used, even down to the smaller size 0. I repeated the etching process several times over a month always recording the results with a camera, the best result is shown in the next photograph.
A detailed paper on the theory and process can be found at http://what-when-how.com/forensic-sciences/serial-number/
I now appeared to have the correct chassis number, the next phase was to try and get the records straightened out. Based on the evidence, the MGCC T Register has accepted that the TC is chassis 3102 (the provenance lies with the chassis number, not the guarantee plate) and the records have been amended accordingly. The good news now is that after several inspections, the DVLA has also agreed that I can re-stamp my chassis with its original number.
To continue:- At this stage the specification was 1350cc, Laystall Cylinder Head, 1.5″ SU’s, extractor manifold, fast road cam, together with all the B&G chassis modifications ( anti tramp bars, radius and panhard rods and 15″ wheels and roll cage).
Its first competitive outing was in September 2003 at Wiscombe Hill Climb, some forty years since my last event in my first TC and 1.5 seconds slower! Back to the drawing board! Since my first TC, I was always a fan of supercharging, all that extra power and torque. The search was on and in 2005 I was able to purchase a Marshall J75 Supercharger, initially blowing at 5 lbs/in2 and latterly 10 lbs/in2 The engine was now giving a reliable 100 bhp at the flywheel and four seconds quicker at Wiscombe!
The engine is based on a “round hole” TD block bored to 69.0mm with standard crank, rods, pistons and lightened flywheel. The continual quest for more power has resulted in further re-bores to 69.5, and subsequently 70.0mm (1387cc) with no signs of going through into the waterways – yet! A decompression plate has been fitted to the cylinder head to keep the compression ratio below 8 :1. A special camshaft from Newman Cams and upgrade of supercharger to a Marshall J100 delivering 10lbs/in2 boost, now gives approximately 120hp at the flywheel on the rolling road.
The current set-up with Marshall J100 ‘blower’ giving approx. 120bhp at the flywheel.
Transmission is via an MGB clutch, TC gearbox and Ford differential, although I do have a close ratio Ford Type 9 5-speed box that provides superb drivability, especially on long road runs.
To date, the car has competed in over 80 speed events mostly hill climbs, which I find more challenging than the wide-open spaces of Sprint Courses and have a nicer ambiance, catering more for classic cars of our period. Since 2005 I have entered the MGCC Luffield Speed Championship gaining several class awards.
Reliability has been impressive. Over the 14 years I have been competing I have only been stopped three times, once with a seized piston at Aintree, a stripped distributor drive at Harewood when a small screw fell out and locked the advance weights, and a broken half shaft at the Bo’ness Revival this year, and only one case of driver error! Particularly satisfying was breaking the forty second barrier at Shelsley Walsh.
As well as competition, I have clocked up some 15,000 road miles. Notable journeys include the MGCC European Event of the Year in Aviemore, a trip to Angouleme in 2014 to watch the road racing, and a drive to southern France in 2016, together with several TTT2 and T Register Tours, all without any problems. For road use I have a full windscreen and a specially made hood and sidecreens which use the roll cage as a frame.
In 2014 the car had its fifteen minutes of fame when it featured in the Channel 4 TV Programme For The Love of Cars driven by Phillip Glenister at Shelsley Walsh.