TA1980 came off the Abingdon assembly line on 30th November, 1937, the last of twenty TAs (TA1961 – TA1980) assembled on that day. It was fitted with engine number MPJG 2241 and left the Factory bound for Australia in red livery with red trim.
The first owner was Jim Ship of Wollongong who paid 409 pounds and took delivery of the car when registering it as new on 16th June, 1938. The TA has been fully registered on each 16th June ever since.
Jim sold it to Sid Rutty, also of Wollongong, on 9th March, 1945.
The car again changed hands on 13th August, 1948 for 500 pounds and has been owned ever since by Claude Harris of Albion Park.
The MG TA body plate reads “Body type B270 Body no. 811/7054”. Its original registration number plate was DZ-815 but was changed to WR-005 in 1946 as the brother of the owner’s name was William Rutty Snr.
The car has won and been placed in many Pre – War concourses, some being against much rarer and more valuable cars such as Frank Betts’ magnificent MG K3.
Through the years Claude’s Passion for MGs has forged many life long friendships with the likes of Ted Ackroyd and Bill Rutty, who at various times have wished they still had their original new MG TCs they purchased in 1948.
The TA has never had a serious accident or been raced or taken part in any motor sports events but used in club runs and outings with the South Coast Vintage Car Club in Wollongong and the MG Car Club. It has never had a loose spoke in any of the wheels. The carburettors have never been dismantled, only the suction chambers and guides cleaned and oiled and the float levels checked. The needles and jets have never been removed from the carbs or the seals replaced. The clutch corks have been replaced and the seats are showing some signs of wear.
Starting in 1949, Claude with a group of like minded MG enthusiasts with up to 20 cars would load up with camping gear and attend the Annual Bathurst Easter Motor Bike and Car Races until their demise in 1988 and Claude still has all the programmes and photos to prove it.
A very important event in Claude’s MG days was on 18-5-1957, travelling at 50 MPH on the Princes Highway in the TA and slipping a diamond ring on a young lady’s finger.
What is remarkable about the car – apart from its length of ownership (63 years) – is that it is still in its original condition, as the photos at the end of this article testify. Claude still has the original manual, the Transfer Rego and the Motor Spirit Consumer’s Licence with petrol ration tickets which expired in January, 1950 when petrol rationing ended in Australia.
Another remarkable fact is that the car has been in the same Region/Town (Wollongong/Albion Park) from the day it was imported. Claude has known the car and its previous owners since it was new, and is still in regular contact with the first owner’s son, Noel Shipp (who wouldn’t mind the car back!) Noel can recall riding in the car when it was brand spanking new.
Claude remembers vividly as a boy how he and everybody in his father’s Garage/Mechanical workshop and the Blacksmith’s shop next door would down tools and run out on to the footpath to watch TA1980 drive through town. This was back before WWII when cars, let alone bright red sports cars were a rare sight. Little did he know that some ten years later he would become the proud owner!
I am most grateful to Claude and his son, Ross for helping to put the article together and for arranging to have the photographs taken. Acknowledgment is also due to the photographer, Des Stubbs.