David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
4/29/19 2:25 p.m.

Story by David S. Walllens, Photography as Credited


You may think you recognize the car pictured here, thanks to its iconic bonnet and sweeping fenders, never mind the octagon on the radiator surround, but you might be surprised: It’s not an MG T-series, or even a P-type. It’s a 1935 MG Magnette NB-type, one of maybe a dozen here in the States.

This particular example, owned by Tom Metcalf and completely rebuilt by Safety Fast Restoration, his MG restoration company, can also boast of being a class winner at both the Amelia Island and Hilton Head concours.

“First, it’s very difficult to be invited to these events,” Tom observes. “We are fortunate to have a pretty good track record of doing extremely well, though, and since our quality is a known quantity, it’s much easier.

“To actually win a class or even be noticed in an MG is also difficult, and I swear, it cannot be taken seriously,” he says of the experience. “Sometimes a car does very well when it shouldn’t; sometimes it does nothing when it should. But judges are typically pretty astute and well prepared. The vehicle’s background is very important–that story that goes with every car. Racing history is always good, and many MGs and other sports cars have it.

“Add in originality–things like true factory colors, documented–correct components, proper stance, field presence, rarity, some wow factor–and certainly what the other cars in the class are–all contribute. Judges will smile and nod with your story, but I’m sure they can sniff out phony crap. I typically have everything in mind I want to talk about,” Tom says, “then totally forget it all and wing it.

And, certainly, a well restored example of a rare car–rarity being somewhat subjective–still requires effort to look perfect on the show field. For those of us who enjoy driving our cars, that’s not always easy, especially [with] English cars that may leak just a bit of oil no matter how many modern seals are installed on a rebuild.”


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