1947 MG TC
When Geoff Browne’s father bought himself a well-used sports car, in 1956, it was the start of a family relationship that lasted over six decades.
WORDS AND PHOTOS: CRAIG CHEETHAM
50 YEARS IN THE FAMILY! 1947 MG TC
We track down a restored TC that has spent five decades in the care of the same family in Essex
’One day’ finally comes
Immediately after World War Two ‘Export or Die’ was the mantra of British industry and the MG TC was one of its most important (and most popular) exports. This has led to it becoming a hugely collectable car, evoking significant levels of nostalgia.
That model was based on the prewar Midget – a car that had charmed thousands of US service personnel serving in the UK despite its arcane construction methods, featuring a wooden body frame and a simple ladder chassis. It became Allan Browne’s dream car when he was a young man.
MG’s TC was the third T-series, following the TA of 1936 and the shortlived TB of 1939. It used MG’s trusty prewar, 1,250cc pushrod XPAG engine and was essentially the same car as the TB, other than the sliding trunnion spring mountings being ditched in favour of more basic rubber bush shackles. This had been forced on MG, as it was unable to obtain the raw materials necessary for the original mounts. It was a move that helped simplify maintenance but made little difference to the handling of the car, which was ultimately quite a good thing.
The engine had twin carburettors while the transmission was quite advanced for its day with synchromesh on all four forward gears.
Notably, the TC body was wider than its predecessors’ and it was a faster car than both, despite having the same fold-down windshield, flowing wings, 19-inch wire wheels, flat fuel tank and rear-mounted spare wheel. It was also only available in RHD but this didn’t impact its US popularity. Indeed, it was a gimmick and made very little difference on such a small car.
Over 10,000 TCs were made before the TD replaced it; not bad for a car that was originally intended as a stop-gap to restart production after World War Two. Over half of TC production was exported and the majority of those were sold in the USA, with several more exported there in later years. In the UK the model was a much slower seller largely down to post-war austerity.
Allan wanted one from the moment they came out and, in 1956, he found a nine-year-old example that had, ironically, been imported back to the UK from overseas. He purchased the car in Manchester and took it back to his native Essex; quite a drive in 1956 when the M6, A14 and M11 didn’t exist. He kept the TC on the road until 1972, making the most of it but, as is often theway with such things, life took over. He had a family to raise and a business to run. That business was a country garage in Great Bardfield, Essex, which went on to specialise in classic car maintenance and restoration and remains an asset of the Browne family today, albeit run by a separate management team as Geoff himself has other business interests. The TC was relegated to the status of a builder’s house or a gardener’s garden: a busman’s holiday that, instead of being restored, sat around in the workshop waiting for things to happen. Allan’s plan was eventually to restore the TC to its former glory but customer jobs always took precedence and ‘one day’ never came.
It wasn’t until 2011, after Allan’s retirement, that the TC was pulled out of storage and the restoration work began. He used a number of suppliers his business had worked with in the past to accrue or refurbish parts for the MG, with Hi Lite of Braintree (07850 940165) providing the paint, Kwikfast of Witham (www.kwikfast.co.uk) providing most of the imperial bolts and fasteners and Vintage Restorations of Tunbridge Wells (https://www.mg-cars.org.uk/vr/) restoring all the instruments.
In addition, he used NTG Services of Ipswich (https://www.mgbits.com) – one of the UK’s best-loved specialists in pre-war MG parts – to supply most of the components on the restoration list. Sadly, Allan never got to see the TC completed. He passed away in 2014 and the car was passed on to his son, Geoff, who took it upon himself to ensure it was completed and would see the road once again.
With business commitments of his own that would have prevented him doing all the work himself, despite being pretty handy with the tools, Geoff was adamant the TC wouldn’t sit around in a corner for another four decades. He entrusted the rest of the restoration work to Tudor and Black of Leiston, Suffolk (https://www.tudorblack.co.uk), a company that’s renowned for its concours quality restorations.
“I knew that if I took the work on myself then my dad’s car would never be completed and it was always his wish that it would be returned to the road and used again,” he said. “He’d have loved to have seen it take part in a show or a rally so I took it upon myself to get it to a standard where it could be used exactly how Dad wanted it to be enjoyed.”
The end result is terrific – a truly beautiful TC that must now rank among the very best in the UK. It was finished in 2017 and has been used by Geoff for a few events that he attended in his father’s memory but, with a fleet of 1960s and 1970s classics that are more his own cup of tea (nostalgia is evolutionary, after all), Geoff recently took the decision to sell the TC and it is now with a new owner who is using it as a show car.
Was Geoff right to sell a family heirloom? “It’s a question I asked myself for almost five years,” he said. “This was a car that my dad loved and that both of my parents had hugely fond memories of. It’s why they never got rid of it 50 years ago when it was first taken off the road.
“But with my father’s wishes in mind I ultimately decided to do what was best for the car. Since the restoration was completed I’d covered just a handful of miles in it, well below 100. I’d driven it to a couple of local events but, apart from that, it was just sitting in my storage as my other classics were always more suited to longer journeys or driving events. I love the car but Dad’s wish was that it continue to be used and taken to events. I was never going to give it the use it deserved and, this way, I’ll get to follow where it goes and maybe see it out and about. I’d rather that than it sit unused.”
LEFT: Original handbooks, service books and ownership documents all build up an amazing historical story
Geoff's TC was subject to a comprehensive restoration to pretty much concours standard. It's an absolute stunner