1938 MG SA Three Position Drophead CoupeSOLD

RM Auctions - The Ponder Collection - Texas - April 20-21st, 2007

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ESTIMATE: $125,000 - $175,000


$118,800 Sold

78bhp, 2,322cc, overhead valve inline six-cylinder engine, four-speed manual transmission, semi-elliptic rear springs, four-wheel Lockheed hydraulic brakes with 12-inch drums. Wheelbase: 123"

One of the Most Beautiful Grand Touring MGs Built 1938 MG SA Tickford Three Position Drophead Coupe Coachwork by Keller

Perhaps the factory brochure sums up the MG SA best: “With all its performance, it belongs not at all to the helmet-and-goggles era. It gives you not only ‘safety-fast!’ but ‘comfort-fast!’ …You may buy this car, as thousands will, for its superb beauty of line and equipment. You may buy it, as you will certainly want to, for the sheer fun and satisfaction of driving it. But you will be buying a car which also has in it and through every part of it the character and endurance of a true thoroughbred.”

With a 0-60mph time of 22.5 seconds and a top speed in excess of 80mph it was an excellent performer by 1937 standards, especially considering the MG SA was a large car. When combining that performance with the comfort and luxury it provided, it is easy to see why the MG SA was praised by the press upon its announcement in 1936 and why the MG SA is recognized today as a Full-Classic by the Classic Car Club of America.

As was the custom of the time, factories supplied selected coachbuilders with chassis for the fitting of coachwork bodies. MG supplied Salmons and Charlesworth on a fairly regular basis, but often chassis were shipped to other parts of Europe.

Twelve MG chassis were shipped to Switzerland in the late thirties, ten of which ended up going to the Swiss MG importer Sportcar AG of Zurich, managed by J. H. Keller, who was also a keen MG enthusiast. According to MG Car Club data, Keller imported two in 1936, seven chassis in 1937 and one in 1938. Due to the fact Swiss import duties were greatly reduced if only a bare chassis was imported rather than a finished vehicle, by bodying the cars himself, Keller could make a considerable profit if he then sold the cars at market price.

Although referred to as a body by Keller, the importer actually subcontracted the work to a coachbuilder. Keller sent the SA chassis to Reinbolt and Christe of Basel to build bodies. The company had a reputation for building magnificent bodies in a style described as a cross between contemporary French and German design. Unfortunately, only one of the originals is known to have survived.

The 1938 MG SA presented here originally left the MG factory gates on June 3, 1936 as a standard factory four-door Saloon model and was sold through MG’s University Motors dealership. It was sold once again before being registered for the first time in the UK in Middlesex County, where it was given the registration number MG 4803. From this point, little is known of MG 4803 history until it was rebuilt in 1987 as a Keller by Peter Ratcliffe for a previous owner and registered as BYS 977. When Mr. Ponder acquired the car, he had the top and frame completely redone properly to execute the perfect Tickford style and slope at a cost over $12,000. Mr. Ponder’s exacting standards can be seen throughout the exterior of the car while all areas not seen, such as the framework, were treated with equal reverence in its construction as well.

The interior features a full tan leather interior with matching wool carpets and magnificently finished wood trim. The instrument panel features all the period controls, instruments and fittings. The original engine was completely rebuilt and fully detailed. The chassis too, underwent a full restoration and was painted.

Other features include suicide doors, dual horns, a black cloth top, Lucas lamps and some original tools. Notably, the fog and King of the Road headlamps are quite rare and restored to show standards by Vintage Restorations of England.

The former MG club Best of Show award winning SA presented here is one of the world’s very finest British grand tourers. Without question one of the most beautiful large MGs ever built, the Keller bodied example from the Ponder collection is truly peerless. From its long hood, flowing fenders and radically raked windscreen to its metal covered rear spare, this is a stunning and accurate recreation in excellent condition. This MG SA will provide exhilarating drives in a style much appreciated but seldom experienced.

Reference Number 7574

as of 2/27/2007

Car 1938 MG SA Three Position Drophead Coupe
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