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Rare thirties MG Discovered by Archaeologists on Salisbury Plain

Rare thirties MG Discovered by Archaeologists on Salisbury Plain

A rare 1932 MG J2 has proven an intriguing find for both archaeologists and motoring enthusiasts alike after being discovered during excavation work on Salisbury Plain in the UK. The MG motorcar was discovered by a team of archaeologists on the military site of Larkhill and is believed to have been abandoned and subsequently buried within a disused WW2 weapons pit.

The uncovered J2, a model commonly regarded as a trendsetter within the MG marque, was a surprising artifact for the team from Wessex Archaeology. Speaking on their unusual find Steve Thompson, Fieldwork Director for the Larkhill site at Wessex Archaeology, said “When we saw the first two tires sticking out the ground we thought that it was perhaps the remains of a motorbike as we had found the remains of a 1930s Aerial motorbike a few weeks earlier. However as we stripped the whole area and we saw that we had all four wheels in alignment, we realized we had a car in situ. Initially, we thought it was going to be an army vehicle as there are so many rumors and tales of the military burying bits of machinery and old vehicles when they no longer needed them but when we saw the red paint we realized it was something much more interesting.”

Manufactured between 1932-1934, a total of 2,083 MG J2’s were unleashed onto the road back in the 1930s, and they came fitted with an 847cc cross-flow engine and twin SU carburetors that gave out 36 bhp at 5,500rpm. The J2 was capable of reaching a top speed of 65 mph whilst delivering a respectable mpg of 35. Power was transferred through a 4-speed non-synchromesh gearbox, of which first and second gear were aimed low enough to make the J2 an ideal choice for trial competition. Combined with a classic two-humped scuttle, low cut-away doors, and a minimalistic yet smart dashboard, it is easy to see how this small sports car would have sold well at the price of £199 when new.

“We were amazed and also very excited about the challenge of excavating and recording such an intricate and tangible part of our heritage. I’ve been working in archaeology for nearly 20 years and it’s the first time that I’ve ever found a buried car. I know that no one else in the team had seen one either so there has been great interest in the MG.” explained Steve Thompson.

As would be expected after six decades underground, little of the vintage 2-seater remains beyond the chassis, steering rack and column, wheel hubs, brakes, axle hubs, swivel hubs, wire wheels and tires. However, the team was able to identify the car thanks to J2 owner and enthusiast Jeremy Hawke who was able to confirm the vehicle’s identity and serial number of J2192.

Also found sitting alongside the MG, was an engine from a different manufacturer, which suggests that the car was being fitted with donor parts from other cars to help keep it running. The tire patterns indicate that the J2 was in use up until the early 1960s and was most likely being used as a pool car for troops on the Larkhill site. Damien Campbell-Bell of Wessex Archaeology said, “The MG is a particularly exciting find in that it shows the unrecorded side to life on an army camp.”

Using photogrammetric modeling techniques, the archaeological team have now produced a 3D model of the J2 as it was found at the excavation site. The MG is now stored with the Ministry of Defence to ensure its preservation whilst Wessex Archaeology are keen to continue piecing together the car’s history.

“One of the owners was a Mr. Howard from Retford, Nottinghamshire who owned the car in 1934. Unfortunately, he is the only known owner of the car that we have been able to trace and so we have no idea who owned it when it was at Larkhill. We would love to hear from anyone who thinks they may know more.” said Steve Thompson.

View the 3D model and find details of Wessex Archaeology online at:

Words by Gillian Carmoodie. Images courtesy of Wessex Archaeology & Jaimie Wilson.

Wednesday, 04 October 2017 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

Goodwood Revival 2017 revisited

Goodwood Revival 2017 revisited
There are quite a lot of top-notch classic car events all over the globe – in that regard today’s old car addicts probably live in the best of all worlds. Yet, if there is one that deserves a “pure magic” award, in my opinion, it’s the Goodwood Revival Meeting taking place each September on the grounds of the former military airfield and the legendary racing circuit that is situated beautifully on the spur of the South Downs in Sussex/England.

Three days of fierce historic motor racing from dusk till dawn, immensely powerful warbirds in the skies, and tens of thousands of enthusiastic visitors in period dress make you believe you are trapped in a time loop somewhere between the late 1930s and the mid-1960s.
The purist approach of the Revival, the sheer quality of simply everything there is unique and is without doubt due to the passion of the Duke of Richmond (formerly: Earl of March) who is the owner of the Goodwood Estate and grandson of Freddie Richmond who opened the racecourse in 1948.

So far, probably most of you have been constantly nodding and waiting for what the chap from Germany is really about to contribute if anything: Well, nothing new, of course. I simply wanted to share a number of photos which I took at the vintage car park during this year's Revival – to me not the least of the many attractions of the event. The fact that obviously, no one else had the same idea as yet might be due to the pretty ghastly weather conditions which did not really support taking photos.
Nevertheless, an HRG roadster – one of only 242 built – is a marvel even in the pouring rain, don’t you think? Another one of these rare beasts was on display during last year’s Revival (German readers will find an article on this car here). Or how about a Crossley 19.6 from 1923 bodied rather unusually as a dickey-seat roadster? 

Being an advocate of the oily rag approach when it comes to preserving historic motorcars, I also liked the well-used Sunbeam Tourer – the true connoisseurs among you will definitively appreciate the historic value of the car more than I – to me, it was simply a beautifully matured machine oozing character.

Needless to say, the lovers of a shiny appearance also got a treat. But, the polished body of a 20 HP Rolls-Royce tourer from 1926 was not the folly of a millionaire desperate for attention but is claimed to be the original one ordered by a certain Colonel Jackson of the Bengal Lancers in India.
A huge impression also made several Alvis’ who had been saved from being converted into yet another “special” recreation.

If the weather hadn’t been that nasty, I would certainly have made a dozen more shots of highly interesting and important prewar vehicles, patiently waiting for their owners while the ground became increasingly soaked.

But there is one last find which ”must” be presented on this website. It’s a superb Lancia Lambda from the mid-1920s – one of the most innovative and desirable cars of the first half of the 20th century. Since most of you are probably more knowledgeable readers than I am I spare you the details as regards this simply fabulous creation of grandmaster Vincenzo and his mates.

If I had the choice to own only one car from the 1920s, I’d probably go for the Lancia and take it to the Goodwood Revival year after year, come rain or come shine…

P.S. Probably nothing for the faint of heart was the unmolested, yet apparently fully operational 1939 MG VA saloon once owned by no one else but Cecil Kimber. If I am right, the story of this remarkable car is going to be told in the November issue of “The Automobile”, enjoy!

Words and photos by Michael Schlenger


Tuesday, 03 October 2017 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

A mystery Adler in Belgium

A mystery Adler in Belgium

Recently Hubertus Hansmann raced through the history of Adler at the wheel of an Adler Rennlimousine, an impressive car with a long bonnet from the '30s. This time I would like to show you an impressive Adler from about 25 years earlier. Normally the Adlers do not present real challenges in an identification, but the lead photo, in this case, does, at least for me. Proof of the fact that it is undeniably an Adler is the characteristic flying eagle on top of the radiator.
The rather long bonnet suggests either a large 4 cylinder or a 6 cylinder, the latter of which I have never seen a picture before. The 6 cylinder 15/35 PS model is rather a mystery, as it is not mentioned in every Adler reference book. Evidence for its existence is the 1912 catalogue, where it is mentioned with a whole range of possible body types, however without illustration. In the 1914 catalogue, it has disappeared again.
The location of the photo could be a garage somewhere in Belgium, suggested by the fact that the car has Englebert Chevron-type tyres. Moreover, behind one of the garage windows on a small sign advertises Riemann “phares et lanternes”.
So, dear reader, can you help me out? Is it just a large four or is it one of the mystery sixes? And I would also be very grateful if anyone could identify the location of the photo.

Words and photo by Ariejan Bos

Monday, 02 October 2017 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

Homesick for Hershey... !

Homesick for Hershey... !

This year for the first time since many, many years… no Hershey for us. And it hurts! Early October is the time when the sun gets low, hard winds and rain can blow but whatever the climate says the rolling Penna hills lure nut men from around the globe to chocolate town Hershey. The nerve starts when you meet the first tatty pick-ups hauling their load down the 76 or 81.

First glance at the fields (some still used to be green 14 years ago) and hoards gathering there will always produce the emotion  “ …did I come too late?”. Is that super bargain gone already?  Yet when you enter the fields - best early on Tuesday - and it feels like home. You see the AACA grannies handing out apples and selling the program book that brings no understandable information whatsoever, but who cares. You are there and Hershey is here. You go down the fields and start checking systematically or strictly random.  Did AACA find the wisdom to stop the far fields getting empty?

Everything between The Stadion and Giant Center and the car corral going round. And you never get tired of walking, walking, walking. Hershey is an organism and it will change continuously over the hours, over the days, and depending on the weather. You may want to check with friends; like we usually meet up with old time friends like Bob Swanson, Jim Kruse, with Mark Hyman, with Manny Dragone, with LBI, with Laferriere, with Fillinger, with Shappy, with Robert Pass, with Penbroke Marine Services Transport and with the guys of RM Sothebys, with always tantalizing offers like a barn found 1903 Oldsmobile Curved Dash and - at the other end of the pre-war spectrum -  a streamliner icon: the 1933 Pierce Arrow Silver Arrow.

Let’s say that you survived the fields, the corral and the auction still with a few dimes left in your pocket. For sure you will stay for the fine but club like Concours of the Saturday. No fancy showing like at Amelia or Pebbles. But a massive crowd of fabulous cars rolling in and parking or the autumn lawns of Hershey. And then it’s over again. Four days that went by like a snap. That’s Hershey, feeling homesick already days before. Either skip it from your bucket list or just go and be there!

(text and photos Joris Bergsma)

Sunday, 01 October 2017 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

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