1955 MG Hawk Special RoadsterSOLD

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

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ESTIMATE: $60,000 - $80,000


$77,000 Sold

Est. 70hp, 1,250cc, inline four-cylinder engine, four-speed part synchromesh manual transmission, rigid rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 94"

It was the MG T-Series that established the marque in the hearts of Americans. The MG TA appeared in 1936 followed by the MG TB in 1939. In 1945, the MG TC was rushed onto the scene and with it a sports car craze was ushered. Despite its spindly 19-inch wire wheels and being available only in right-hand drive, it was quite a sales success on North American shores.

The improved, but somewhat less charming TD followed until 1953. In all respects this was a better MG in terms of handling, comfort and performance. It had all the styling cues of a traditional British sports car with cut-down doors, a slab gas tank, a rear mounted spare, a fold-down windscreen on top of a twin cowl, and a tall, flat, chrome radiator flanked by separate headlamps. It also came with a wider body than the TA, which created a great deal more interior space, but most important to American customers, the steering wheel was mounted on the left side of the car. The TD was the best-selling MG at that time reaching almost 30,000 units.

While MG had been a pioneer in the scene, a new breed of sports cars was emerging, and many MG enthusiasts longed for an MG with a similar slick, streamlined shape. The square rigging design of the T-Series looked outdated compared to the Jaguar XKs, Corvette, Austin-Healey and even the Triumph TR2.

Fiberglass had proven to be a quick and comparatively inexpensive alternative to building an aluminum bodied sports car which also required a space frame. With fiberglass, any shape desired could be formed in a mold and the resulting body would then be bolted directly to an existing frame. While most sought aftermarket sources, some enthusiast’s like Dave Hawks of Los Angeles built a fiberglass body of their own.

Completed in 1955, Hawks had designed and built one of the loveliest fiberglass bodies ever conceived. Looking like something out of Modena or Turin, the Ferrari-like envelope body was well proportioned and fit with only minimal modification onto an MG TD chassis.
The MG TD chassis used to build this car had been used in several scenes of the 1952 film Monkey Business, starring Cary Grant and Marilyn Monroe. The director of that film was Howard Hawk, and after filming ended he offered the car to his son David. At the time David had set his hopes on a Ferrari he had seen in a Beverly Hills showroom, and wanted nothing to do with the MG.

A compromise was struck, and somehow David and his father agreed to build a custom Ferrari-like body for the TD. So using Howard Hawks’ resources at the movie studio, a small team consisting of David and Howard Hawks, some props builders from the studio and a friend of David’s, got to work.

Starting with drawings, the team made a wood and plaster male mold from which a five-piece female mold was created, also out of wood and plaster. The body was then built-up inside the female mold using four to six layers of fiberglass cloth, with the extra thickness placed in high stress areas. The entire body, with the exception of the hood (which was made of aluminum) was a single piece. With no doors, the body was significantly more rigid than it would have been with doors cut into the sides. Passengers had to be relatively limber, as entry and exit was via traditional Le Mans style.

Sadly, the project was not perused any further than this one design, despite its aesthetic beauty and the very professional appearance. David Hawks eventually tired of the car and sold it, by this time the molds had long ago been discarded. Fortunately, enthusiasts throughout the decades have saved the MG Hawk Special from the scrap yard.

Mr. Ponder solicited the help of David Hawks when he decided to have the car restored. It was through him, that Mr. Ponder acquired a collection of period photographs documenting the MG Hawk’s creation. Accordingly, these photographs are included in the sale of the vehicle.

Now fully restored, just 135-miles ago, the MG Hawk Special Roadster’s flawless fiberglass body was repainted in its original Romany Red and given a new leather tan interior and matching wool carpets. The addition of Hawk MG Special crests to the carpets provides extra flare. The Roadster’s exterior wears special badges and emblems, three portholes and a Plexiglas windscreen, which only enhance the Hawk’s very high standard of the fit and finish. And apart from a set of Borrani wire wheels, a different dashboard and an aftermarket wooden steering every other functional element of the car is MG TD. The MG Hawk Special is being offered with some fascinating period photographs, documenting its creation.

The 1,250cc engine was completely rebuilt with a period Marshall supercharger, which increases the horsepower to an estimated 70bhp. Simple in design, the Marshall Rootes-type compressor provides a high degree of efficiency with maximum durability. Fully detailed, with lots of extra punch, the engine resides in a completely restored chassis.
There is a California Mille badge on the grille of the MG Hawk Special roadster, hinting at what may lie ahead for the lucky new owner of this gorgeous Ferrari-look-alike MG.

Reference Number 7580

as of 2/27/2007

Car 1955 MG Hawk Special Roadster
VIN TD9247 
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