1933 MG K-Type Magnette Supercharged RoadsterSOLD

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

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ESTIMATE: $125,000 - $175,000


$181,500 Sold

124hp, 1,086cc, supercharged, single overhead camshaft inline six-cylinder engine, four-speed Wilson-type pre-selector transmission, Bowden cable operated single cross shaft mechanical brakes. Wheelbase: 94.5"

The MG Magnette, the first of the K-series, appeared shortly before the 1932 Motor Show and was powered by a 1,100cc six-cylinder engine, which was in essence an enlarged version of the engine recently introduced in the Magna. To accommodate the greater displacement, the Magnette’s engine was fitted with a crossflow head, a much stronger crankshaft and camshaft, and three SU carburetors.

No clutch was used, as the Magnette came equipped with a Wilson-type pre-selector gearbox manufactured by E.N.U. Its continuous gear train consisted of four clusters of gears: reverse, first, second and third. A cone clutch was used for direct top gear. The operation of the gearbox required the driver to select the desired gear using the hand lever, and engage the floor pedal, located where one would normally find the clutch pedal. At the time, the pre-selector gearbox was popular because it was easier to use than a synchromesh manual transmission. It was also a popular unit in racing cars, even though it was significantly more difficult and subsequently more expensive to repair.

The Magnette was a larger MG in length, width and track than its predecessors and required very large, 13 inch diameter, Electron drum brakes with steel liners. Originally, the K1 Magnette was offered as a four-seater, pillarless saloon, but in 1933 an open four-seater was unveiled, followed by a two-seater with a shorter wheelbase, which carried the K2 moniker.

The odd-sized porting of the engine found in the K1 and K2 led to disappointing overall performance. But that was all going to change with the introduction of the competition-bred K3 Magnette.

The 1,086cc engine in the K3 had a high-boost supercharger mounted ahead of the radiator and featured special valves, valve springs and heavy-duty bearings. The resulting power output was three times that of a K1 and K2, which required extra bracing to the chassis behind the pre-selector gearbox, both of which had been carried over. The vastly improved performance of the K3 also necessitated the installation of special brake drums with screwed-in steel liners.

In their first outing, an international race in Italy, K3s finished first and second in their class, outlasting the more powerful Maserati team, and in the process earning MG the team award. More successes were to follow… Back in England K3 Magnettes finished first, second, and third in the 1933 International Trophy at Brooklands. American Whitney Straight, who had led most of this event until his Maserati broke down, immediately placed an order for a K3 and also replaced the gearbox on his Italian racer with a pre-selector transmission.

Despite these great achievements, the most famous victory came when racing legend Tazio Nuvolari powered his K3 to victory in the Mille Miglia. It had been a dual between two MGs as all the other competition had fallen back or retired. The MG J4 of Hammy Hamilton was leading the MG K3 of Nuvolari, who had been taking his 1,100cc MG K3 steadily around Ards at 81mph. After 400 miles, there were only seconds between the two cars and fuel was running low in both. Hamilton stopped for fuel, while Nuvolari, in a gutsy move, decided to barrel on with less than half a gallon left in his reserve tank. The risk paid off when Nuvolari and the MG K3 were the first to cross the finish line.

Only 33 MG K3 Magnettes were built, as either a two-seater with a slab-tank at the rear, or with a boat-tail. The factory built each K3 to the customer’s wishes in either ready-to-race form or outfitted in road form. Most ordered their K3 with full road equipment and then rebuilt their car to appropriate race trim.

This beautifully rebuilt example was not built on an original chassis, but was painstakingly created to correct K3 Mille Miglia competition specifications by well known MG expert Peter Gregory. As much as sixty percent of the parts utilized were original K3 competition components, including the finned sump, the magneto, the supercharger unit, the steering column and even such minor details as the spark plug mount. It is understood that this example may be one of the first three K3 recreations Gregory built, which would account for the large amount of original parts and bits throughout the car.

This finely created recreation is doubly striking with its British Racing Green body and Midnight Black bonnet and cycle fenders. The brightwork is equally impressive, with the chromed supercharger cover, the Lucas headlamps with stone guards, chrome exhaust and outlets, and stone guards affixed to the rear fenders, all shining brightly.

The fit and finish of the K3’s tan leather and wool carpet interior displays a high level of quality. The dash, fitted with a full complement of period correct Jaeger, and Hobsons Tele gauges as well as an original University Motors Ltd., Stratton House, Grovesnor plaque, is beautifully presented.

Under the bonnet, the roadster’s fully rebuilt engine features a painted blue block and is properly detailed. The MG K3 rolls along on Dunlop racing tires mounted on chrome wire wheels. It also has a full folding windscreen in addition to the racing screens.

Built for competing in vintage retrospective events such as the Mille Miglia, this well recognized MG K3 has raced extensively in the United Kingdom within both VSSC and MGCC events. This MG K3 has also been piloted in the past by none other than Stirling Moss and was on display at The Coys Festival in 1994.

Subject of numerous articles and on magazine covers, K0326 is listed by the MG Triple M Register and is featured in Michael Hawk’s book, “The K3 Dossier,” where the car is included in a list of K3s by registration number.

Due to scarcity, one very rarely has the opportunity to add a MG K3 Magnette to their collection and, although not a true example, this beautiful MG comes very close. Any original and no stories K3 would be worth anywhere from $400,000 to $500,000, making the opportunity to purchase an example as accurately built as this car a rare opportunity indeed.
Famed American MG authority and author Richard L. Knudson noted in his latest title, “MG Competition Cars and Drivers,” of the K3 Magnette, “All other designs of this period just do not measure up to this gem from Abingdon.”

Reference Number 7581

as of 2/27/2007

Car 1933 MG K-Type Magnette Supercharged Roadster
VIN K0326 
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