The Creamcrackered MG-TA

by Stanley Daamen

Since I started the restoration of my own MG-TC in 1975, the restoration virus has never left me. From the ‘nineties’ I regularly restored various MGs and parts for club members, including bodies, engines, gearboxes, carburetters, etc. At present, I am mainly concerned with writing articles about the MG brand. I have also picked up an old hobby again, model building and especially making classic car dioramas*.

*a model representing a scene with three-dimensional figures, either in miniature or as a large-scale museum exhibit.

In February 2000 one of the MG friends from my home area bought an early MG-TA from October 1936 with chassis number TA/0743. This TA was exported to Germany in 1994 and partly restored. From the purchase his plan was to recreate the car as a custom MG racer, his inspiration being the famous Works trials MG team “The Cream Crackers”. He then asked me if I wanted to help him with this rather complicated restoration.

To save weight, we started removing all unnecessary parts. The long fenders and running boards had already been removed by the previous owner; he also fitted a new narrow aluminum body with cycle wings and fabricated a panel to hide the side rails at the front of the car below the bonnet sides (as picture).

The complete windscreen frame plus the convertible top with frame were no longer necessary so were also removed.

My friend decided beforehand that the MPJG engine was not going to be restored because a well-tuned XPAG engine had to be built in; this type of engine was much stronger and could be tuned well. So first, we looked for an XPAG engine and fortunately it was found quite quickly.

Now the overhaul could be started. A specialist bored the block and I did the rest of the engine rebuild myself. My friend didn’t save on anything and the engine was equipped with a billet steel Phoenix crankshaft with a special oil seal, plus a fast road camshaft. A Laystall aluminium cylinder head was also purchased and was gas flowed. Twin HS4 1½” carburetters were fitted together with a special 2” freeflow exhaust manifold with a Simons bomber damper** for a louder racing sound. (Stage 2 MG Works Tuning).

** Simons is an exhaust system brand from Sweden, and the 2″ bomber type exhaust is a round open muffler with a rather loud sound.

The rebuilt engine installed in the car.

The bonnet was also equipped with a special air-intake tunnel. At the request of the owner, I also fitted a Ford 5-speed gearbox type 9, but there was no modified kit for sale at that time. The MG kit from High Gear Engineering Ltd came on the market a  few years later.

For this conversion the entire gearbox had to be disassembled to drill holes in the cast iron housing in which the modified clutch house was attached. I also designed and installed the suspension of this conversion myself. During this period, my friend further modified the body himself. He also had the upholstery reupholstered in the colour dark brown. This TA was then sprayed in the colours cream / brown because it should look like a MG Cream Cracker Works trials car. After the paintjob one of his English friends made the comment that his car now had been Cream Crackered. This gave him the idea to put this text on both sides of the bonnet.

A three-quarter view of the car. The air intake tunnel can be seen.

We then mounted special new halfshafts and aluminum Alfin brake drums with cooling fins.

The brake cylinders, including the master cylinder, were also renewed, and the choice was cast bronze specimens. The wire wheels were also newly built by a Dutch specialist to MG-TA specification and fitted with thicker spokes. I have also fitted the front axle with new kingpins, and the wheel suspension has been converted from standard ball bearings to conical bearings. To keep all this in a straight line, I also mounted a steering rack damper.

In 2004 when the restoration of the TA racer was just completed, the Dutch magazine “British Car” wrote an article about this MG with Front Page photo.

After the first rides with Koni Classic shock absorbers, classic Hartford dampers were mounted afterwards to give the car a more pre-war look. Almost all the original parts that came from his MG were stored in his garage. This MG-TA has eventually become a well-tuned super light race special. A purpose-built aluminum trailer was also purchased, and my friend started to register for various club races of the MGCC Holland and the Dutch Vintage Owners Club. He soon had his first race successes, but trial riding also caught his attention. He then participated several times in the Kimber Classic Trial. This is organized annually by the MGCC South West Centre. The test through the water is called “Alham’s Splash” and that was usually the highlight of this weekend. Especially if the cars entered the water too hard and stopped because the ignition got wet, that happened to him once.

Two views of TA0743 (‘Cream Crackered’) competing in the MGCC S. W. Centre’s Kimber Trial.

During that period my friend also switched to European classic car races. It was then necessary to obtain a Historical Technical Passport with his car as issued by FIA. This was followed by various events, especially in 2005, such as Vintage Montlery, and in Angouleme at the Circuit de Remparts where he achieved a top three ranking several times. He also proved to be a competitive opponent at the Eifel Klassik and Vintage Nürburgring.

At the Circuit de Remparts, Angouleme.

But things also went wrong, like during the Motor Racing Legends at Le Mans 2006. Unfortunately, this race ended prematurely because it got stuck in the gravel.

At the start of the Motor Racing Legends race at Le Mans in 2006 and leaving the track, ending up in the gravel.

I made a special unique diorama of this moment from his racing past in scale 1:18.

After only a few years, my friend stopped participating in racing and trial activities. He then married and moved abroad, during which time he became the father of a young growing family. He suffered from serious back problems and was no longer able to drive races or trials after several operations on his back.

Due to these physical problems, the MG-TA racer has been unused in his garage in the Netherlands for almost 15 years now. Personally, I find it very unfortunate that this beautiful and well-prepared MG-TA racer can no longer be seen during international classic car events. Several times I asked my friend what he was planning to do with his MG, but he couldn’t decide whether to sell his TA. Ultimately, this year, the decision was made and his Cream Crackered TA is now for sale at the well-known Dutch classic car dealer Altena in Gramsbergen NL. for a very reasonable price including many original parts such as the MPJG / 1044, engine block and the special open aluminum trailer and an official Dutch valuation report.

Ed’s note: The car has remained unsold now for a few months. You can see it at: along with some very desirable classics.

TA/0743 also has the high positioned number plates and brackets which have been on the car for hill climbs. Those are not mounted at the moment. Unfortunately, there are currently almost no men in the Netherlands who are interested in racing an old MG. I have written this article especially for Totally T Type readers to perhaps get some more attention in the UK among enthusiasts. Personally, I would be very sorry if this TA racer is rebuilt to the original version as it once left the factory in Abingdon.

That would be a waste of all the work and expense invested in this TA Cream Crackered racer.

Ed’s further note: Stanley concludes his fine article on a note of apprehension regarding the future of “Cream Crackered” but I thought I would lighten the proceedings by publishing this amusing picture:

The picture shows Stanley in Bill Clinton mask (remember him?)  with his ‘bodyguard’ (owner, Frans) wearing a London bobby’s helmet.

The occasion was a MGCC European Event of the Year meeting. The pair of them turned up one morning like this, much to the laughter of the assembled participants.