M.G.s in Competition

Historic photos of Australian M.G.s in action

Archivist; Matthew Magilton


This PA has an Australian copy of an English body. Note the typically Aspinal windscreen mounts. I wonder if 258.857 is the car that Lanes Motors sold to “Miss Narrie” in 1934? Note the look on the drivers face as the ‘helper’ takes a firm grip on the front mudguard.
Magilton Collection.

This J3 is almost certainly chassis J3762 now owned and restored by Ed Taylor. The event could be a Victorian Light Car Club 1/4 mile sprint. Any more information would be most welcome. I can highly recommend Ed Taylor’s book covering the histories of all 22 J3s. – Magilton collection.

Prewar lineup archive
This is possibly my favourite old photo. The scene is the “LCCA Winter 100” at Phillip Island on the old gravel road circuit in June 1934. Here we have no less than five J2s, all imported by Lanes Motors of Exhibition St, Melbourne and all bodied by Charlie Aspinall with his distinctive doorless, steel framed bodies. The timekeeper has just flagged off the limit man Bob Lea-Wright in the Singer and is now counting down the seconds before sending the J2s on their way.
Maybe the start of a rally in Melbourne. Here is a PA chassis 1429 probably fitted with a Charlie Aspinal body (note the typically Aspinal windscreen mounts). This car was imported by Lanes Motors and sold to John Dugdale in 1935. By the 1980’s it was being restored by Tim Ingham of Ballarat who sold it to Walter Magilton as a two tone cream and dark green doorless car with cycleguards. 1429 now resides in Western Australia. Does anybody have information on John Dugdale? – Magilton Collection.
This is J3 chassis 3763. Before being exported to Australia this car was modified at the factory with bigger brakes and an outside exhaust, consequently it was believed for many years that this car was a factory J4. This could be at Phillip Island with George Martin at the wheel. George was one of the importers for Britannia Motors who sometimes entered their own MG teams in Victorian races. I also have a rear view showing the registration number 87.338 which was cancelled in August 1934.- Magilton Collection
This is NE chassis 0516. Originally built for the 1934 Ulster Tourist Trophy when a ban on superchargers prevented a repeat performance of the K3 victory from the previous year. This was taken at Rob Roy on the 2nd of May 1948 and it is surprising to see that a supercharger has apparently been fitted for John Barraclough who achieved second in class with a time of 34.10 seconds. On the same day Tony Gaze crashed the Alta into what is now known as “Gaze’s Gully”. Later 0516 was rebuilt with a shiny new aluminium body by Bill Lockington and Rod Robertson. She now resides in Germany. – Morrie Chambers Collection.
Here are the two Australian NEs together in Melbourne in 1964, having both just been restored with much of the work done by Rod Robertson who used to race a modified TB. Chassis 0520 is the white car. This was driven by George Eyston in the 1934 Ulster T.T. and later became part of the Bellevue Garages team. Both NEs were imported by John Sherwood in the late 1930s and both were driven by John Barraclough in major events. Fred Gray owned 0520 when this photo was taken and later Lance Dixon would have it on display in his Doncaster showrooms. Now part of the Peter Briggs collection W.A. Chassis 0516 is believed to have been a practice car for the 1934 Ulster T.T. and before Bill Lockington acquired the car it was painted blue and had a Talbot engine. She was restored with an aluminium body and now resides in Germany. – Magilton Collection.
This is a PA chassis # 1427 fitted with a streamlined tail by Charlie Aspinal for Les Murphy to drive in the pre-war Grands Prix. This photo was taken on June 12th, 1950 at Balcombe when the car was owned by Phil Harrison and fitted with a Vauxhall engine. In the 1960’s Walter Magilton purchased 1427 and refitted a P type engine and radiator surround. Now owned and restored by Graeme Steinfort and still appearing on race tracks over 70 years later. – Morrie Chambers Collection.

Here is Tim Jackson’s J3 (J3771) competing in the New Years Day Centenary 300 race at Phillip Island in 1935. The driver is Bernie Horsley with his brother Jack as the brave riding mechanic. In 1993 Jack gave a talk at one of our Pre War nights. In this event they retired with a sheared blower drive, possibly caused by the flexing of the chassis on this very rough circuit.Magilton Collection.

Here we are in the pits at the old Phillip Island circuit. It is the 27th of October 1934 and the competitors are getting ready for the Victorian Centenary Grand Prix. On the left is a J3, number 10 being driven by the Horsley brothers, Bernie and Jack. They imported J3771 only weeks before and it was registered 198.657 on the 13th of October. On the right is another J3 (J3776), number 8 to be driven by Ces’ Warren. His Aspinall bodied car finished 7th (whatever happened to this car?). Bernie Horsley sold his car to Hugh Syme who competed in several races with Tom Hollinrake as driver. Today it is being enthusiastically restored and researched by Tim Jackson.
Bill Benett collection.

J3771 1934 Vic Centenary GP

Here is Russell Bowes in his N type Magnette at the Australian Grand Prix at Lobethal in January 1939. The body could be an Australian copy of an English body as the doors do not look ‘factory’. I would love to find out more about this car. Russell was unable to finish this race and soon aquired the K3 #3030 off Colin Dunne but he war apparently prevented Russell from using the K3. Russell enlisted in the RAAF and was a Flight Lieutennant with 79 Squadron when he was killed in Burma in 1943. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

…And the limit men are away! The start of the Australian Grand Prix at Lobethal in January 1939. This view from in front of the grandstand shows Russell Bowes of S.A. in the N type Magnette (#24) getting the jump on Dr Robert Manser of Melbourne in the NA #0281 (Walter Magilton’s car). Close behind is the Morgan Special of Jack Boughton (#25) and the TB of Raymond Curlewis (#20). Raymond was planning to drive an N type in this race, but he rolled over in the previous race at that event (The 75 mile South Australian Grand Prix). Raymond who was born in Warwick, Qld, enlisted in the RAAF and was a Sgt with 75 Squadron when he was killed in 1941. What became of the TB?
Lobethal Start
Sawyer Stone Murphy Gullen

Here is a line up of very historic cars taken at the time of the 1953 Australian Grand Prix at Albert park. Outside Otto Stone’s home in Glenhuntly we have from left to right:

  • John Sawyer who was apprenticed to Otto and lived next door with K3752 registered BJ.371
  • Otto Stone who entered for the Grand Prix but was unable to start, with K3016 registered GAG.131
  • Les Murphy, winner of two Australian Grands Prix and Q0256 which he has just bought, registration OD.437. He came fourth in the 1953 A.G.P.
  • Jim Gullen, an engineer from Yorkshire with K3004 registered YT.256. His car was unable to finish the 1953 A.G.P.
    Rod Murphy Collection
Here is Otto Stone and K3016 which he owned from 1947 to 1973. Otto always kept this car in immaculate shape and top mechanical condition and competed in major events in Victoria and N.S.W. Tim Shellshear informs me that this photo was taken at Oran Park, Sydney, at the first Historic event in 1967 or 1968. Otto led a parade of T types around the circuit. Rod Murphy Collection.
Otto Stone MGK3 K3016
Here is Otto Stone with his recently acquired K3-K3016 on the start line at Rob Roy in March 1948. Registered JF.020. It is a credit to the MGCC of Victoria and a huge volunteer effort that Rob Roy has been rescued from oblivion and once again echoes to the sounds of O.H.C. MG’s. This photo is from the Leon Sims collection and I highly recommend his book on the history of Rob Roy.
Here is Raymond Curlewis from NSW in his TA or TB at the A.G.P. in Lobethal in 1939 where he finished in 9th place. Raymond was born in Warwick, Qld and during the war he was an RAAF Sergeant with 75 Squadron when he was killed in October 1941. What became of the car?
№20 RF Curlewis MGT
№10 SR Haig MG Tiger
Here is Selwyn Haig driving an 18/80 chassis number 6409 in the Stock Car Championship which preceded the A.G.P. at Lobethal in 1939. This Australian bodied car is now owned by Ian Curwen-Walker who would love to find out more of this cars history.
Here is Peter Vennermark in his Q type #0256 rego number OD.437. He competed at Rob Roy hillclimb in 1948 and 1949 before passing the car on to Stan Jones, who in turn sold it to Les Murphy in time for the 1953 A.G.P. at Albert Park. Peter later purchased a Maserati 4CL monoposto which he co-drove with Ces Warren. Leon Sims collection.
Q0256 Car No 19 Rob Roy Type
Victor Harbour 1936
At the 1936 Victor Harbour South Australian G.P. we have all the cars apparently gathered for practice or a parade lap (as they are not in handicap order). On the left is Lyster Jackson in K3016 who was to retire only a few laps from the end. Next is Les Murphy in his square backed P type (now owned by Graeme Steinfort) who came home first for his second G.P. win. And on the right is Alf Barrett in the supercharged Lombard. Hear those engines roar! – Alan Griffin collection.
Here is the Lanes Motors MG team before they set off for Phillip Island to compete in the 1934 New Years Day 100 Mile race. Standing behind is Robert Lane whose MG agency covered Victoria, Tasmania and the Riverina. These cars were imported without bodies and then had rugged steel framed bodies fitted by Charlie Aspinall of Armadale. From left to right we have: a. Norm Putt in F1317 reg 1.187. Finished 6th. b. Les Murphy in J4112 reg 65.434. Finished 7th. c. Ces Warren in (J3) J3766 reg 11.527. Finished outside the time limit but not before posting a 750cc lap record. d. Les Jennings in L0546 reg 8.551. Finished 5th. Photo and research from Tim Jackson.
Lanes Pre War team 1934
34 Phillip Is 100 Young and Jackson's

You are now standing on the outside of “Young and Jackson’s” corner on the old Phillip Island circuit and bracing yourself for any flying stones. It is New Years Day 1934 and three members of the Lanes Motors MG team are screaming past in this 100 mile race. Note how the riding mechanics are throwing their weight behind the drivers as the cars bounce across the rutted track. These Aspinall bodies were fitted with a handle behind the driver for this purpose. Les Jennings in L0546 leads Ces Warren in J3766 and Les Murphy in J4112. 
Alan Bail collection.

Here is George Notley at the wheel of J2 (J4212). It is hard to believe this is the Colin Keefer car in the Phillip Island line up. Underneath all that bling lies the Aspinall body, to which doors and mudguards have been added, not to mention trumpet horns, spotlights and special badging. The huge brake drums are actually fake wheel discs; a ‘claytons’ Magnette? George struggled up Rob Roy in 1947 for a time of 53 seconds. Soon after, the original engine was replaced by a Ford unit. Later restored by Walter and Matthew Magilton and now owned by Ron Killcullen in W.A. Magilton collection.
MG J2 Scorer
Feltham Special
Resting between runs at Rob Roy in 1948 is the Feltham Magna Special. Wally Feltham was a used car and truck dealer on Nepean Hwy Victoria with a passion for motorsport. Two years earlier he unfortunately inverted his P type (1424) at Bathurst and in 1948 purchased L0403 from Bib Stilwell, which I believe may be this car (or parts thereof). The Feltham Special was towed behind the SA saloon that we can see in the background, but unfortunately fell off its trailer on the way to Bathurst in 1950 and was sold to W.J.Harrison in 1954. The SA may be that now owned by Brian Smyth if the rare rear bumper is a clue. Alan Bail collection
This unique saloon body was built for Mrs J. Manton who purchased the rolling chassis from Lanes Motors in February 1935. NA 0444 had engine number 725 and was registered 83.391 until the mid 1940’s when re-registered FJ.937. Later owners included Frank Walker c1940, Les Everitt c1941 and Steve Woolnough who ran a tyre business in the 1950s. Malcolm Robertson acquired the car as a basket case from Ed Ison before selling to John Hunting who built a very smart dark red NE replica on the chassis.
NA 0444
L 2069
Rare for Australia is this factory bodied L type which was photographed in 1950 when owned by Graeme Barr of Camberwell. On the bonnet is painted “Isle of Wright MG Magna”, the meaning of which is unknown to me (does anybody know?). This car, chassis L 2069 came to Victoria from NSW in 1944 when it was registered GL.377. In 1945 it was re-registered HH.759 and GXZ.659 in 1958. Graham competed at Rob Roy in 1949 climbing the hill in 60.66 seconds but this car will be needing a restoration before she competes again. Alan Bail collection
Ripping around Tin Shed corner at Rob Roy in 1947 is Bill Prowse in his J3 3763. This car was modified by the factory to almost J4 specifications and often mistaken for a J4. Previous owners include George Martin and Derry George and later owned by Rod Jackson when the engine disintergrated at Fisherman’s Bend in 1949. Victorian registration numbers include: 87.338 ’34, AG.589 ’39, EM.865 ’45, UU.770 ’51 and GXY.240 in 1959. This is one of the photos used by Leon Sims in his excellent book on the history of Rob Roy. Bill Prowse is still competing at Rob Roy over 60 years later.
MG Bill Prowse
PA 0595

Race ready and sitting on the sand at Phillip Island prior to the Centenary 300 being run by the ARDC is PA 0595. This car was imported by Lanes Motors with a rare ENV gearbox and fitted with an Aspinall body. Campbell Graham of Warrnambool took delivery from Lanes in September 1934 and competed in the Victorian Centenary G.P. in October, but prior to this PA 0595 was driven by Bill Thompson (head of Lanes M.G. Dept) in the Phillip Island Winter 100 coming home 7th as part of the Lanes team. At the Centenary 300 Campbell was part of the Lanes team entry with Roy McKay and the ultimate winner Les Murphy, all in white P types. Tragically Campbell and his riding mechanic Jack Peters were killed when their car rolled at The Needles Eye, a narrow part of the straight approaching Hell corner on New Years Day 1935. After many years of storage P 0595 was bought dismantled from Peter Swan by Ian George who commenced a detailed restoration which was completed when ownership passed to Graeme Jackson.
David Smallacombe collection.

In April 1934 the VJCC held a day of grass track racing at Nar Nar Goon. The “racing” was quite informal and no places were awarded because proper racing was banned on the Australian mainland untill 1936 when the first race was held at Benalla. Phillip Island was not considered part of the mainland. Here Jim Skinner is screaming around in J2 4211 which was imported by Lanes Motors and sold to Britannia Motors with seven other J2’s, all having Aspinall bodies. The ‘riding mechanic’ is Colin Keefer (who owned J2 4212). Australian owners include: Wally Johnston ’51, John Cochran ’60’s, Brian McLellan early ’70’s, Ron Wilson late ’70’s and now in New Zealand owned by Geoff Broadhead. This is the same car as GX.571 in the other photo. Magilton Collection.
MG J2 Skinner
1937 Les Murphy P Type
In the shade at the pits on the Lobethal circuit Les Murphy listens carefully to his engine before the Second South Australian Grand Prix held on the 3rd of January 1938. Les is in his pointed tail car, bodied by Charlie Aspinall PA 1427 and next to him is Dick Souters PA with an open-back Aspinall body which was driven by Arthur Beasley. Murphy achieved 7th place in this 100 mile event followed by 3rd place in the next race, a 50 mile handicap. Leon Sims Collection