Twelve years ago we bought our present house here in Zeeland, in the south of The Netherlands, with a garage for 2 cars. A large garage was really a necessity because I was keen to restore a T-Type.
In my past life I had owned several MGs, including two TCs, a TD, a TA, an M-type, two MGAs and three MGBs, together with several other interesting cars.
In 2006 I started to search in newspapers, classic car magazines, the Internet etc. for a T-Type to restore and after three months I found, via the Internet a 1954 MG TF which was “sleeping” in a town called Middelburg, about 30 km from my place. It was a stranded restoration, situated in the cellar of an antique dealer, still with the original Californian black plates of 1966 on it.
We agreed a reasonable price, and later I went home with my treasure on a trailer, albeit it was in driveable condition.
From the Heritage Trust I found out that this car was built between 31st December 1953 and 5th January 1954 and despatched on 6 January to the USA. Specification LHD, North American Export. On 25th March 2005 it was imported to The Netherlands by a guy called Joop Stolze. He sells all sorts of cars, just opened last year a new warehouse, with almost 600 cars, all for sale! Just visit his website: www.stolzeclassiccars.nl and it is unbelievable, what you will see!
Mr Stolze is a very approachable and easy to get along with kind of chap to speak to. I visited him recently and we talked about my TF, showing him the US Customs paper with his name showing as the Importer. On the Certificate of Title was the name of the former owner Bruce Golino in Watsonville CA.
Just after I bought the TF, I wrote to Mr Golino but didn’t get a reply. Four years later, having finished the restoration, I wrote to him again and enclosed updated pictures of the car, but still didn’t get an answer.
After some years I Googled Mr Golino’s name, and found to my astonishment various articles, even with a picture of him on the Internet! He is a past president of the California Olive Oil Council.
It is a pity that he has not replied to me as I like to correspond with previous owners.
Well that’s the background to my purchase, now for the restoration details………
Stripping the car
After some weeks I took the MG completely apart. One day my wife came into the garage, and asked “Where on earth did you leave the car?” Well, I pointed to the chassis up against the wall, and in one corner the tub, and the rest in the attic of the garage – I certainly wanted to do a ‘nut and bolt’ restoration!
Early stages of dismantling
One of the first things I noticed was that there was a difference in height at the front of the car. This was due to a broken spring which would need to be replaced. Also, when measuring the front and rear axles I recorded a difference of 18mm left and right. It seems that the MG had suffered collision damage at the left rear side sometime in its past life. The rear left bow of the chassis was tighter than the right bow.
I brought the chassis to a company called Terberg in IJsselstein (see www.terbergtechniek.nl)
They were very helpful and friendly and straightened the chassis perfectly (as they did some years later with the chassis of my TC – see TTT 2, Issue 22).
I thoroughly cleaned the engine block and removed the old core plugs – what a mess behind them! Also important to clean the little holes in the back of the cores. New core plugs were fitted.
Rebuilding the car
Lots of new parts for the cooling system; new thermostat, thermostat housing, fresh hose set, new water pump, instead of the 4 iron fan blades a much lighter and better cooling 6 blade MG B fan.
Reconditioned starter and dynamo fitted, as was a new fuel pump.
The cylinder head was converted for lead free petrol. Had the carburettors rebuilt by BCCP Fuel Systems, www.bccp.nl Also restored and adjusted the back axle, and mounted new rear springs. Complete new stainless exhaust.
I designed my own heatshield of mottled aluminium.
Back axle ready to be re-fitted.
Cleaned the chassis, bare to metal, then wash primered it, and waxoiled the inner side of the chassis. Lastly a coat of shiny black paint.
Wash primered chassis and rolling chassis.
Using Waxoyl to protect the box section.
Before and after ‘shots’ of the bulkhead.
The engine and gearbox ready for installation – note new core plugs!
Above: Ready for the painter. Below: At the paint shop.
The finished paint job – photo taken at the harbour of Ter neuzen.
The green mohair hood was ordered from MOSS.
The hood was ‘pinned’ loosely and allowed to rest for about a week following which it needed some more tension. It then fitted perfectly.
The almond green trim came from PJM Motors http://www.pjmautotrimmers.co.uk
Although the Heritage Certificate showed the TF as having wire wheels when it was exported to North America it came to The Netherlands with disc wheels. I decided to fit wire wheels as it left the Factory so bought a conversion kit.
The instruments were restored by a firm called Info Instruments http://www.info-instruments.com who did a perfect job.
The original steering wheel was changed for a Brooklands wheel, which had previously been bought for me as a present by my wife.
The final task following the completion of the restoration was to go to the equivalent of the Dutch DVLA to register the car. There was a slight problem in that they noticed that the car did not have reflectors fitted. However, all I had to do was to fit them and send them a photograph as an e-mail attachment – quite sympathetic people!
Ed’s note: It’s rather different here with the DVLA. As DVLA representative for the MG Octagon Car Club I used to include my telephone number and e-mail address on applications I sent to the DVLA on behalf of members. I did so because I felt it was easier for everybody concerned to contact me as the “agent” of the applicant to help to resolve queries, rather than the applicant receiving back a bundle of papers with the message “I have to reject your application……” However, I gave up, defeated by bureaucracy – my good intentions were ignored! The latest example concerned an application which was rejected because the chassis number TF2680 did not tie up with the NOVA advice HDE 23 2680 – easily explained over the phone!
Back to the story………
Frans drove the car without problems for a good 3 years. It always started ‘on the button’ even in winter, albeit it never needed much choke, so was probably running on the rich side. However, he noticed after a run of 60km one day that the car started to run on 3 cylinders. This got progressively worse as it started to give problems after 50km and then 40km. He soon got tired of carrying a few spare sets of plugs around with him to change as soon as the car started to misfire, so decided to have the engine completely rebuilt.
He dismantled the engine and took it to Motorenrevisie Oudejans www.oudejans.com well known to MG Clubs in The Netherlands. They did a first class job and the TF is now running sweetly.
Since sending me the story of his restoration Frans married his girlfriend (they had lived together for 16 years) on 10th June. Those with a good memory will recall that Frans also restored a TC and this was featured in Issue 22 of TTT 2. He sent me some photos, two of which are reproduced below:
When I received the photos I was curious to know the reason why Frans, a Dutchman was wearing a kilt. Here’s what Frans told me:
“My name Sitton is related to the Scottish name of Seton. In the Dutch town of Tiel a Scottish soldier, Andryes Seton, born in 1585, married a Dutch girl, Jenneken Jansdr, born 1590 and became the first Seton in the Netherlands.
There is also a book written about 4 decades of Seton – Ceton – Saton – Sitton. To the west of Edinburgh there are several ‘Seton’ names, such as Port Seton, Seton Castle and the Seton Collegiate Church.
We observed several Scottish customs on our wedding day. These included jumping over a broomstick, blessing by the Quaich and the feet washing of my wife.
On her wedding gown my wife wore a sash with a Luckenbooth and walked the whole day with 6 pence in her shoe (another Scottish custom). The wedding flowers were thistles and other wild flowers from Scotland. A bagpiper walked in front of the TC before the ceremony.”
I’ll leave you with a photo of Frans looking pleased with himself following his rebuild:
Whilst on the subject of a TF rebuild there is a very sound offside front wing for sale which was in the ownership of the late Don Jackson. As it is an original wing there shouldn’t be a problem with fit. The asking price is £350, or near offer – carriage is extra. The advertised price of new after-market wings is over £1,250 each! Please call Mike Jones on 01254 823350 for further details.