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UW 5990 FOUND!
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Ray White



Joined: 02 Dec 2014
Posts: 4211
Location: Derby

PostPosted: Sat Apr 03, 2021 11:31 pm    Post subject: UW 5990 FOUND! Reply with quote



For some time now I have been collecting information on my late Father's first car; the MG M Type shown here competing in 1950 at the Bisley VSCC rally. He owned the MG until the late 1950's and it was the first car I ever went in.

The last record the MMM Register had of UW 5990 dated from 1980 when the car was owned by a Mr. John Butt - however there has been no trace of it since.

Today, however, I managed to make contact with Mr Butt's wife. Remarkably, the car has remained in the ownership of Mr Butt since 1980 and apparently goes by the name of "Belinda".


The MG M Type was first registered UW 5990 to a Mr R. Andrews. It has a build date of 17th September 1929 as a red two seater.

My father, Ted White, would often recall interesting stories of this MG midget. It was his first car and required his considerable engineering skills to make it roadworthy. Shortly after Dad had bought the car he discovered it had a seriously frost damaged block and he repaired it by cold stitching with brass rod. Apparently, the finished repair looked so good he was reluctant to paint it over!

Another fault was something that many M type owners are familiar with; oil leaking from the overhead camshaft into the vertical dynamo.! Fortunately, Dad worked as a toolmaker at James Walker engineering in Woking and was able to make good use of a Dean Smith & Grace lathe (amongst other fine machines) to rectify the problem. He also made some spur gears and much else besides. The original engine number was MG 493A ...however, I have learned that this may have subsequently been replaced with MG779A.

My Grandfather (William White) was also involved in the project. He was a cabinet maker by trade and gave the car a new floor and in what would be frowned on today created a new "bob" tail with slab tank. This, together with a fold flat windscreen gave the MG a more contemporary appearance.

From what can be seen from an entry in the February 1980 issue of Thoroughbred and Sportscar, the body has subsequently been restored back to standard.
It was in this guise that UW 5990 represented the model in a parade of historic MGs as part of their Golden Jubilee celebrations at Abingdon. The MG Car Club have helped in finding a photo of UW 5990 actually taking part in the parade.

In what I will always regard as a cynical act of cultural vandalism by the (late) pugnacious Sir Michael Edwardes, BL announced closure of the plant THE VERY NEXT DAY! (He later admitted it was probably a mistake)

UW 5990 was the first car that I ever went in; however, I was too young to appreciate it at the time but Dad had owned the MG from the early to mid 1950s. One memory I do have is of him towing home an abandoned Morris Minor OHC for spares. It was also red and I recall seeing it on it's side which apparently upset me! As a toddler there was just enough room for me on the ledge behind the seat. I remember when we took a holiday, the car broke down on the notorious Porlock Hill. Apparently, the flywheel had worked loose. Fortunately, the then owner of Doverhay garage in the village had taken an interest in the little MG and in an act of exceptional kindness allowed Dad to work in the garage on a Sunday...and use his tools!

Dad soon fixed the car and we were able to get home in time for him to get to work on the following Monday. Incidentally, the little garage in Porlock still survives - and takes a keen interest in classic cars.

Returning to the photo of UW 5990 in competition. For many years it hung on a wall in my Parents home and was always a topic of conversation. My Dad thought it might have been taken at "Stony Castle" near Bisley but after so many years couldn't be sure. Following my Father's death I took the photo down to examine it closer. The MG must have only just started it's ascent because if one looks carefully, the furthest man on the left - possibly a Marshall in white - has his gloved hand raised detaining a car which is also hidden from view by the people on the right.

On the back was printed a date of 1950 and details of the photographer but nothing more. What was more interesting, however, was the discovery that the photo had been folded over on both sides. Opening it up revealed a hidden secret and one which led to the discovery of the venue. Again, If one looks carefully, there is a Marshall on the right with a white arm band on which, significantly, has VSCC printed.

Fortunately, Ian Fergusson (the VSCC librarian) has confirmed a date of 26th February 1950 at the Bisley rally. (Apparently, trials were also called rallies back then). Unfortunately, they have no record of UW 5990 despite other vehicles being snapped at exactly the same spot that day. By that date, I assume, it would not have been competitive. More a case of hope over experience I expect.!

Special thanks must go the Dick Morby of the MMM Register for some invaluable information and thanks again to ALL who have assisted me in my search. If and when I am able to get some up to date photos of the M Type I will of course post them.
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Peter_L



Joined: 10 Apr 2008
Posts: 2612
Location: New Brunswick. Canada.

PostPosted: Sun Apr 04, 2021 1:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent result Ray.
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Rick
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Joined: 27 Apr 2005
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Location: UK

PostPosted: Sun Apr 04, 2021 7:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great news Ray, persistence pays off!

RJ
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Rootes75



Joined: 30 Apr 2013
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Location: The Somerset Levels

PostPosted: Sun Apr 04, 2021 8:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A very good result!
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peter scott



Joined: 18 Dec 2007
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 04, 2021 9:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What a superb piece of history Ray!

Well done on tracing it.

Peter
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roverdriver



Joined: 18 Oct 2008
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 04, 2021 9:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fascinating history Ray. Especially interesting as I owned, at one time, a version of the 'sister' car, a 1930 OHC Morris Minor.
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Ray White



Joined: 02 Dec 2014
Posts: 4211
Location: Derby

PostPosted: Sun Apr 04, 2021 10:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I woke up this morning I thought I must have been dreaming... but no, thirty years of wondering if the old MG survives or not I have my answer.

What a result! Not only does the car still survive but when Covid restrictions allow I can go have a look ...and take some photos.

UW 5990 goes by the name "Belinda" so she must still be loved!!
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Rootes75



Joined: 30 Apr 2013
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Location: The Somerset Levels

PostPosted: Sun Apr 04, 2021 3:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What a moment that will be to actually see her in the flesh.
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Ray White



Joined: 02 Dec 2014
Posts: 4211
Location: Derby

PostPosted: Sun Apr 04, 2021 5:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rootes75 wrote:
What a moment that will be to actually see her in the flesh.


Indeed! My only reservation is that as I briefly mentioned in my earlier post the car no longer looks quite the same. At some time in it's history, there was an attempt to return the MG to correct M Type appearance. The one piece fold flat windscreen has been replaced with a curved split screen as per original. Anyone who is more than about 5' 6" tall will have difficulty in seeing through the screen with the hood up.

It will be interesting to see if the "bob" tail has been replaced with a replica pointed tail and the slab tank done away with.

I have so many questions. In particular I would like to see what history there was in the two decades between 1959 and 1979.

I would also not be surprised if my Dad's name is not recorded as an owner. Something he once let slip to my Brother has cast doubts on his actual ownership. Of course, back then, there was a more relaxed attitude towards old, cheap used cars and sometimes ownership was more a matter of who had hold of the keys rather than official paperwork. As I have said before, UW 5990 was saved from the scrap heap by the skin of it's teeth. That it survives at all is something of a miracle!

Very Happy
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mikeC



Joined: 31 Jul 2009
Posts: 1675
Location: Market Warsop, Nottinghamshire

PostPosted: Mon Apr 05, 2021 8:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ry, it's interesting that your father's M-Type had a slab-tank rear - there's just such an M-Type on sale at the moment:



https://www.carandclassic.co.uk/car/C1319943
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Ray White



Joined: 02 Dec 2014
Posts: 4211
Location: Derby

PostPosted: Mon Apr 05, 2021 9:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good evening, Mike. I understand that when MG started producing their J type with a slab tank some M type owners modified their cars in this way to give a more contemporary appearance.

In the case of UW 5990, it was my Grandfather ( a cabinet builder by trade) who rebuilt the body with a new floor, "Bob" tail and slab tank.

The flat/folding screen would have been a practical improvement as the original curved split screen made it difficult for taller drivers to see out with the hood up. The hood would also have been remade to fit.

None of these improvements are popular these days as they are not "correct" .
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