‘Kermit’ (TC4896) is named after the little fellow on the left. The TC, green in colour, graces the front cover of this issue.
‘Kermit’ was purchased by Flt Lt HC Cooper, Royal Australian Air Force on 2nd July, 1948 for £711.13.2 and registered as SA 239743 (as it is today) from Motors Ltd of Gawler Place, Adelaide South Australia, chassis number TC4896. The first photo shows a copy of the record of sales.
The M.G. was used daily around Adelaide until 1950, when Flt Ltd Cooper was transferred to Woomera Air Base for 3 years, making 7 round trips on extremely rough roads to Adelaide.
Driven to Queensland due to a transfer with the RAAF for a few years, the car was finally driven back to South Australia. By 1956, 100,000 miles were registered on the ‘clock’. The next 15 years were spent in Adelaide with TC4896 making several interstate trips – averaging 4,000 miles a year.
Early in 1970 at 160,000 miles, the car had an engine overhaul and new paint, from black to its colour today. Bob Reid of Kurralta Park, South Australia carried this out. After another 25 years (Adelaide & interstate) with the speedo approaching 300,000 miles, another engine overhaul/paint was again carried out by Bob Reid. In 1995 Flt Lt Cooper was not in good health and TC4896 did little mileage.
No. 4896 with its original plates, handbook, tools and papers (as seen in the auction advertisement in the second photo) was purchased from Bennett’s Classic Car Auction S.A. (Deceased Estate) by the car’s second owner, West Reynolds (ex Royal Australian Navy).
Before proceeding much further with the story it is worth commenting on the ‘MG Roadster’ details in the record of sales. It will be noted that the cars are recorded by their engine numbers rather than their chassis numbers.
The first entry is ‘XPAG 5482’ for which the corresponding chassis number is TC4893. The next, ‘XPAG 5212’, is TC4626. This is followed by ‘XPAG 5496’, which is none other than TC4896 (‘Kermit’) and lastly ‘XPAG 5438’, which is TC4833.
Apart from ‘Kermit’ (TC4896), only TC4893 is in the database of the UK’s ‘T’ Register. It would be good to know that TC4626 and TC4833 have both survived.
One further point; the production dates for these cars range from 26th January, 1948 to 26th February, 1948.
Returning to Kermit’s story, West Reynolds had been looking for a good unspoilt TC, having sold, one by one, a modern Midget, MGB and ZB saloon, leaving him with a MGC GT. A friend drew his attention to a one owner TC which was being offered for sale by Bennetts, Classic Car Auctioneers in South Australia. West, who is based in Perth, sent for the details and was provided with photos of the car and the original bill of sale and guarantee certificate which was made up in the form of the display board which is reproduced in this article.
Dealing from a distance (Western Australia to South Australia) dictates that you ask a lot of questions before submitting an auction bid. The auctioneers said that the car “drove well” and the only problem was that it had a poor hood. Having satisfied himself sufficiently regarding the history of the car and its rebuilds, West put in a pre-auction bid, which was rejected; the auction failed to reach West’s bid and the car was put in a container, then train and arrived three days later in Perth.
An apprehensive West wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but what “greeted” him was an unpolished and dusty TC with windscreen wipers falling down. It was unregistered, the brakes were almost non- existent, it had a mind of its own in steering and got very hot on the way home. All this from a car that, according to the auctioneers, “drove well”!
West takes up the story from now:
“A week of examination did give some relief, even after a wash it looked good, the side curtains, interior & carpet were good, forget the hood, did have the half tonneau. The brakes were all basket cases, so was the cooling system, and the front end was doubtful.
I was still working, and decided to give the repairs to Mike Sherrell (who better! Ed), which turned out a good thing, as I would never have crack tested the front end. The firewall was given the proper colour, the radiator slats, & the horrible gold rocker cover. Here in Perth the TC Owners Club have a Parts & Services Reference Folder, made from contributions from the members over 50 years now. John Bowles (engineer) is the guru here in TC repairs, mend any part, revamp & update any TC car. The Datsun steering box is a must, which he would have converted many, the Morris Minor Differential conversions for different ratios for keeping up with modern traffic, oil cleaner conversion etc.
Later on the new hood and full tonneau cover were made. The wheels were the last expense, sand blasted, spokes checked and painted, not powder coated.
Kermit is not a concourse car, but fits comfortably in to any group of T.C.s Kermit is very original, draws its admirers at any car show especially when they read the history – comments such as ‘does it glow in the dark’ (stationed at Woomera Air Base in S.A. I guess referring to radiation the U.K. & RAAF with their testing of the Atom)”.
West Reynolds, Perth, Western Australia
Ed’s note: The front cover picture was taken from Kings Park, the most popular visitor attraction in Western Australia. Kings Park and Botanic Garden was originally known as Perth Park but re-named Kings Park in 1901 in honour of King Edward VII following a visit by his son, the Duke of York (later King George V). The Swan River is in the background – the leafless trees are bottle trees (baobabs) [adansonia digitata]. A native species of Madagascar (and Australia), they were transported down to Western Australia from the Northern Territory and there was much speculation at the time as to whether they would transplant. Judging by the photo above, they haven’t done so bad!