I’d been hankering after a TC since owning one as a student in the 1960s. I never knew the chassis number, but HKD 140 was a good runner, albeit in rather tatty ‘student’ condition. I had great fun during the couple of years I owned her, and learnt most of my car mechanics at that time. I sold her for £140, the going price in those days. Unfortunately, she seems to have disappeared, and I can’t find any trace of her today.
I’m sure there are many of us in this nostalgic post‑war ‘baby boomer’ bracket, re‑living our youth at much greater expense. The question is, who will take care of these beauties after us? I see mostly ‘grey‑beard’ owners like myself these days. I guess T-Types are just too pricey and of little interest to today’s younger classic car owners. My wife would say they are also impractical and uncomfortable to boot, and she has a point. Still, when did common sense play a part in these matters? It’s much more serious than that.
After talking about it for many years, I finally bought two TCs in 2001, with the idea of enjoying one whilst restoring the other.
TC1202 (1946). Some repairs were carried out in 2002‑4 including new front wings, repairs to body panels, and repainting. She is mainly used on dry days on quiet roads in the Scottish Borders, and on occasional club runs. I made a round‑trip visit to northern France in early 2007.
TC0999 (1946) is the more original of the two cars, manufactured for the home market with some modifications for police use. She was first registered as GUR 220 in July 1946 with Hertfordshire police. After police service, she was purchased by a senior police officer in about 1948. She was reportedly unused between 1969-89, and the log book was unfortunately lost. The car was re‑registered in 1989 with the age‑related number, RSU 772. Chassis and engine numbers match production records.
Around 1989, a previous owner painted her dark metallic blue, and fitted grey upholstery, a light blue hood and side screens, and new front wings (probably). Aside from these non‑original cosmetic changes, the car was largely unaltered, providing a good basis for restoration.
She was driveable when purchased, but the front brakes were pulling to one side, the engine was blowing smoke, and the right front wing was slightly damaged. The chassis and ash frame were in good condition, and the bodywork mostly rust‑free. The car retains some items specific to its police heritage, which differ from a standard TC. These include (i) a larger than usual bulge in the left side of the bonnet to accommodate an oversized dynamo for increased electrical demands, (ii) different positions on the bulkhead for a larger battery box, tool box, ignition coil and fuel pump, and (iii) a high‑ratio differential for increased top speed.
A body-off and chassis‑up restoration began in 2009, respecting originality where possible, and was completed in 2012. Most items have been restored, rebuilt or replaced as needed. All paint was removed, and the car returned to its factory livery of black bodywork and weather gear. Upholstery and trim are now beige, a personal preference, as this was probably red originally. Police regalia have been omitted.
Efforts to reinstate the original registration number have been unsuccessful. I’d be most grateful if, by some remote chance, anyone has evidence linking TC0999 with its original number, GUR 220. DVLA are not interested in circumstantial evidence, of which there is plenty. The 999 digits are appropriate for a former police car.
The distribution of rehabilitation costs is: 37 percent for parts and repairs, 30 percent for painting and bodywork, 18 percent for interior and weather gear, nine percent for the engine rebuild, and six percent for chrome work. Nearly half the restoration costs are for painting, including preparation, and for the cockpit interior. It is essential not to skimp on these items, especially if it’s black!
Of course, it goes without saying that it all took much longer and cost far more than expected. And I’m still waiting on one item sent away for restoration ten months ago! Fortunately haste has not been a priority.
It’s clearly far more sensible to buy a TC already restored, but where’s the fun and satisfaction in that?
On the agenda for next spring are local trips to uncover the inevitable bugs after such an extensive rebuild, and later, a leisurely trip to south‑west France to visit family.
I can’t justify owning two TCs (to management), so TC1202 is up for sale. I’ll be very sad to see her go, and will advertise next spring.
Ed’s Note: Tim sent what amounts to an album of photographs of the restoration. I’ll include quite a few of these in the next issue. Tim also sent a spreadsheet giving details of suppliers he used for his restoration. This is presented below – click on each image to view a bigger version:
Reference has been made to the efforts to reinstate the original registration number. We know that TC0999 and TC0998 were built on 26th June 1946. We also know that GUR 219 and GUR 220 were both registered in the name of ‘The Chief Constable Herts, Hatfield, Herts’ on 11th July 1946, but no record exists to link these with chassis numbers. However, according to Andrea Green’s book MGs On Patrol Richard Uzzell from Aylesbury owned TC0998 with the registration number GUR 219 in the late 1950s. This car had the same bonnet bulge (as TC0999) to house the larger dynamo used in police vehicles. Unfortunately it has so far not been possible to trace Mr Uzzell. What we need is some positive evidence linking TC0999 with GUR 220. Help!