Front Cover – TA1980

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.

This photo was taken of Claude (22 years young) driving TA1980 at the top of Mt Panorama, Bathurst on 16 April, 1949. The odometer now shows 12,000 miles; it has been round the clock once, making the total distance travelled 112,000 miles since 1938.

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.

Above and below: view of each side of engine

Above and below: view of each tool tray

Above: chassis no. on front of n/side chassis rail
Above: view of dashboard
Above: View of interior – quite amazing when you consider that the car is nearly 74 years old and has covered 112,000 miles!
Above: Three-quarter view
Above: And to close… a ‘shot’ of Claude’s grandson, Lawson in his Replica 1938 Cream Cracker (BBL 78) Billy Cart which has been raced with some success at several downhill race meets (but that’s another story)

5 thoughts on “Front Cover – TA1980

  1. Wayne Frasch says:

    Your car is amazing, and is a resource for us who are trying to do an authentic restoration of a TA. It appears that the tools and tool trays are original. Are the original tools still present underneath the tool trays? I would very much like to see photos showing how those tools like the jack, jack handle, pump, etc are secured. Also, I would like to see photos of the jack and the copper wheel hammer to see if they are the same as those pictured in the T-series (TA) instruction manual and parts catalog.

    • Ross Harris says:

      Wayne the tool boxes and tools are Authentic. They were in the car when dad purchaxed it in 1948 and dad had known the car since new and previous owners personaly. The spounge rubber souronds are original and have been keept in “as new condition” with regular dustings of french chalk. All the tools are in tact (including brass “Dunlop” valve tool & “Lucas” points gauge/screwdriver) and apart from the copper hammer none of the tools have ever realy been used. The copper Hammer has some burring on the head and it has a wodden handle with a square section copper head.
      The jack is a shelly mechanical type, the wooden turn bar can be seen in the photo above the hammer. The handle, jack and pump etc are retained with spring clips inside the tool box. The pump is a “shelly” with the word “Shelly” embossed on each of the foot plates. I will endeavour to take some photos for you next time I catch up with dad (I live 200 Km away from the car) you can, if you like contact me directly via email or my web site.

  2. JOHN JAMES says:

    Hello Wayne,

    This TA must be one of the most original examples (if not the most original) in the world. The owner (Claude Harris) is in his eighties and does not have access to a digital camera.

    I wrote the article and obtained the photographs with the help of Claude’s son. He arranged for a professional photographer to take the photographs. I will see if we can get some more photos but I cannot promise and it may take a while.

  3. norman ackroyd says:

    I have had the pleasure to know the Harris family and the TA my entire life.

    A fitting article to a remarkable man and an amazing car.

  4. Bill Carey says:

    This is a truely remarkable man with a truely remarkable car. Just being in company with either gives an aurea never to be forgot. In his 80s Claude still rides his pushbike and is a perfect driver. Unlike Norman Ackroyd I have only known Claude and Mary for 28 years. I once rang Claude when I had trouble with my mark 3 sprite and he was knocking on my door before I hang up. Well almost.

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