MGC News – August 2020

MGC conversations with Richard Mixture, August 2020

Hello again, it’s Richard here.  How are you getting on? 

Isn’t it nice to go out and have a cuppa EBT with a mate?  That’s what my local café owners call it, EBT, English Breakfast Tea.  It comes in a nice little china pot sitting on top of the cup, all nice and warm.  At least things are getting back to the new normal, ‘cos it will never be the same, it never is, my hair’s fallen out for instance since I last looked into the mirror.

Now, if you cast your mind back to my April article this year, do you remember that one?  It was about that Sydney-sider Steve Perry and his racing MGC GT.  He was wondering which particular MGC he had as it was a bit hard to read the numbers on his ID plate under the bonnet.  After looking closely at his ID plate and at the records we thought the best match was MGC #8636, which is a Primrose GT that was despatched to Los Angeles, USA in July 1969.  Steve’s GT was Primrose but is now red.  Then one of our very clever Club members threw a spanner in the works.

Way back in April after the Club magazine was posted out, I received a phone call from a smart, MGC owner from Gumeracha.  He told me he always looks for that little gem that I hide in the text, describing it as more fun than the crossword.  Of course, he was referring to Bob Schapel’s prize winning crossword.  “Hidden gem” I said?  I wondered what on earth he was talking about.  “Yes” he said, “this month was just too easy”.  I still had no idea what he was talking about – which is not unusual whenever I have a conversation with him, but we always have a good laugh which I think always boosts my immune system and his too probably.

Anyway, he said “it’s on the ID plate”.  “Go on” I said.  “It’s staring you right in the face”.  Maybe I need to step back and have another look.  I still couldn’t work it out.  The it hit me, like a rod going through the side of your block at 200 mph.  It wasn’t the number that was so obvious, it was the generic stuff that is printed on the plate.  It’s there in black and white, oops, I mean black and silver.  Can you see it?

Steve Perry’s MGC ID plate is not an MG Car Number plate

I was so excited that I had to tell Steve in Sydney straight away. He in turn, was so disappointed. He said, “now my car is a real orphan” and he was correct. It’s still an MGC GT but which one? We had no idea, even that smart Club member had no idea, pity really, because he IS very clever, I think?

An MGC Car Number plate from a local Adelaide Hills car

Now just digressing for a moment, have you ever wondered why those other plates on the inside of the left-hand side guard are there for?  Yes, no?  There’s the Body Number plate, the Commission Number plate and the one already discussed the Car Number plate.  John Craven has done a little bit of research to try and make some sense out of the numbering system on these plates.  While he has searched the deep net (whatever that is?), read books and referred to the Australian Register, he has failed, that is failed to make any sense out of the numbers.  His success is of course is to discover that if there is a system, there are many variables. 

Here’s some of John’s discoveries;

So, what is the Body Number plate?  This plate was riveted to the body shell by Pressed Steel Fisher at either Coventry or Swindon/Cowley prior to painting and is often difficult to read.  They were used for accounting purposes by PSF.  The Coventry MGCs had Body Number from 1 to 1123.  Later built MGCs “with Swindon/Cowley built bodies had numbers from 501001 to 502166”, (refer Clausager).  They were a thin metal strip riveted to the left-hand side wheel arch.  Earlier MGCs were located high in the engine bay while the later cars were located lower just above the Commission Number plate. 

And now the Commission Number Plate.  Once the MGC bodies were completed by PSF and ready to send to MG for completion, they were deemed ready for “commissioning”.  These commissioned bodies were painted, had a hood, some body trim, glass, interior trim and seats and then sent to Abingdon.  The Commission Number was used to confirm the body specification on the orders from MG.  They were a rectangular aluminium plate with rounded corners had a red graphic with reversed words “COMMISSION No” and was rivet to the left-hand inner guard.  Also in red were the letters “G.52N” for Roadsters and “G.52D” for GT bodies and “F” or “P” depending on which location they were built.  So, there were four variations.

Now back to Sydney Steve’s Car Number plate.  Just in case you haven’t worked it out yet, MGCs have an ID plate that reads “THE MG CAR COMPANY LTD, ABINGDON-ON-THAMES, ENGLAND.”  Steve’s ID plate reads “AUSTIN MORRIS GROUP BRITISH LEYLAND LTD.”  His car doesn’t have an MG ID plate but a later one from an Austin or Morris.  Now there’s more questions to be answered, when was his plate changed and why was it changed?  Life’s never dull for anoraks.

Remember ladies and gentlemen keep ‘em tuned and stay well, stay very well!