Front Cover: MG TC – JNA 362 – A Chequered History?

TC 3867 was built on 22 October 1947 and first registered on 5 November 1947. The engine number is over-stamped on the original plate with A 42352 indicating that a reconditioned engine was fitted late on during production.

JNA 362 spent its early years in and around Manchester and the North West before a stay in Devon and finally ending up in the North East. Initially green, the car was painted white and subsequently hand brushed red before a full red respray in 2005.

A comprehensive history file with the car shows that it was used initially as daily transport. However, as with many TCs, it took on a dual personality in the 1950s as a daily commuter during the week but used for motorsport at weekends. JNA 362 began competing in trials in the early 1950s, a DVD video shows the car being enthusiastically driven in the MGCC North West Trials in the early 1950s. During the fifties and sixties, the car went through a succession of owners in and around the Liverpool/Manchester area, its condition slowly deteriorating until it was bought in 1972 for £85.00 as a non-runner and went racing again with its first event being at Oulton Park in July 1976. There are photos of the car racing throughout the late seventies, including competing in the Curborough Sprint in August 1978. However, when subsequently sold in 1980 the car was laid-up for the next twenty-five years.

In 2003 the car was bought by an MG specialist where it underwent mechanical fettling before passing its MOT first time and being put back on the road for its first outing on New Year’s Day 2004 when it covered what was described as an uneventful 70 miles. The same specialist, when advertising the car for sale in March 2005, enthused that the car “featured extensively in magazines of the period and is now back exactly as it was when it was raced as a quick, well-engineered road car with various engine and other mods, a real time warp car”.

A new owner in March 2005 bought the car with the intention of a little light cosmetic work. This inevitably turned into a full restoration with new body tub, rewiring, re-chroming and a bare metal respray. However, after all this work the car was little used and was again laid up for another eight years to be subsequently bought by the current owner, Ian Forrester, in 2013.

The car was once again needing some work so Ian decided a light mechanical restoration was required to bring it back to full roadworthy condition but, as with these things, it soon became apparent that there was more to this than originally thought. Having stood for so many years, the suspension had sagged and the brakes were very poor; the car also leaked everywhere that it was possible to do so. The engine ran roughly and was unreliable making nasty noises if driven any length of time. The engine went through a number of head gaskets very quickly in the first two years of ownership and on one occasion the engine rear core plug burst showering very hot water over an unfortunate passenger’s feet.

Keen to retain as much of the racing configuration as possible, the engine was dismantled and rebuilt retaining much of the original bits. Unfortunately, this simply led to major reliability issues again and a well-known MG specialist was finally called upon to rebuild the engine to sort out the major problems of poor oil pressure and massive overheating. It seemed that the way the car was set up was good for racing but wasn’t good for modern road use.

During the rebuild it was found that the engine had been re-bored twice to 1350 cc and then 1410 cc. The head had been worked extensively providing very high compression and this was the cause of many of the problems. Consequently, to build in more reliability for the road, the head was swapped for a more standard unit with lesser compression and the exhaust manifold was treated to a ceramic coating to dissipate the engine heat more effectively. A new race exhaust was also fitted, the original having dropped off during testing! Other work saw modifications and upgrades throughout the car to provide reliability and comfort for touring.

Today the car retains its racing feel but is fully road legal.  Completely reliable again after its second full restoration, it is quick and can keep up with modern traffic easily. Ian has tried to retain some of the patina and history in the car – the radiator shroud still has the scuff marks on either side from when the vehicle was towed at some point in the past – although the paintwork is still in excellent condition and a tribute to the painter who sprayed the car back in 2005. Driving the car is typically TC but accompanied by a crisp exhaust note. It is finally used and enjoyed as it should be by Ian whenever possible.

TC 3867 racing at Oulton Park.