A number of MG sportscars appear across the site, but this is the first of the classic MG saloon cars to get a mention in this old photo section. Prior to the launch of the Farina-designed MkIII Magnette of 1959, there would be two versions of the Gerald Palmer-designed Magnette offered in the 1950s, first the ZA and then the revised, but very similar, ZB. The car in this photograph is an early ZA Magnette, the "hockeystick" trim on the front wings being the most obvious giveaway. It's parked alongside the premises of a signmaking firm in Manchester, Royle & Gemmell, of 31 Chorlton Terrace in Ardwick. Is this building still in existence?
(Please click the thumbnail to view full-size image.)
On the building is a large sign for Firestone Town & Country tyres - "The First and Finest All-Season Rear Wheel Tyre", although I wouldn't have thought that there was much demand for off-road tyres in the middle of the City, unless it was winter-time and heavy snow was on the way.
The Magnette is wearing trade plates (107 BN), partially obscuring the original registration which looks to be JJA 984 - a Stockport series first used in July 1955. As the ZA was in production from 1953 until 1956, this could well be correct. The ZA Magnette was a monocoque design, ie without a separate chassis, and made its debut at the 1953 Motor Show as a replacement for the Y-Type (YA & YB), with deliveries commencing in 1954. Under the bonnet was BMC's B Series four cylinder unit of 1489cc, fitted with twin carburettors. Emphasising its sporting nature, it came with individual front seats (rather than a bench), hydraulic braking to all four corners, and independent front suspension as standard. Four colours were offered - black, maroon, green and grey, the latter most likely being the colour of the MG above. The 80mph ZA shared much of its basic design with the contemporary Wolseley 4/44, although in reality only a few of the panels were directly interchangeable.
In 1956 the ZB took over from the outgoing ZA in the BMC dealers' showrooms. Similar to the early car, it introduced a number of improvements to the original design. For the first time a "Varitone" version of the MG Magnette was offered, this benefited from tweaks such as a larger rear window, giving better rearward vision, flashing indicators, and, in most cases, a duo-tone colour scheme. Production of the ZB lasted until 1958, by which time the badge-engineered (Farina) MkIII was ready to be launched.
2. A ZA Magnette in Nairobi.
Thanks to Roger now for the following three MG ZA Magnette photographs. They were all taken in the 1960s during his time seconded from the RAF to the Kenya Air Force. While there he ran the MG saloon as his daily driver, and the car took him all over with his involvement not only with the East African Safari Rally, but also with the Race Track at Nakuru.
The first head-on shot of Roger with his MG was taken at the Kenya Air Force Station Eastleigh, situated in the outskirts of Nairobi. The rally plate attached to the front was required as Roger was employed as a scrutineer on the East African Safari Rally. The MG also competed in a number of private rallies in Roger's hands.
Next, a colour photograph this time of the dependable Magnette and its proud owner.
Finally, a side view of the car, registration KCK 876. Thanks to Roger for providing the photos!
The video collection below contains a wide variety of photos featuring classic MG saloons, estates and hatchbacks, ranging from the 1930s through to the early 2000s. There are quite a few MG Magnettes included!
A former owner of a tuned ZB Magnette sent me over his recollections of it, they can now be read here, in the Motoring Memories section of the site.
Old Classic Car (C) R. Jones 2023. Content not to be reproduced elsewhere.