Welcome to the Vintage Register

WELCOME to the Vintage Register microsite. Not all the cars are ‘Vintage’ in VSCC terms and not all ‘Vintage’ MG. cars are eligible for the Vintage Register.

The following are the cars that are eligible for the register: Raworth Chummies, 14/28 Bullnose, 14/28 Flatnose, 14/40 Mk. IV, 18/80 Mk I, 18/80 Mk II and the 18/100 Mk III, otherwise known as the Tigress. These cars were built from the mid twenties to the early thirties.

If you would like to have items added to these pages please contact Rob Constant at rob@littleabingdon.co.uk

In the following pages you will find the names of the committee members of the Vintage Register, news of coming events, details of past events, information about the cars we cover, details of the cars owned by members, with photographs and details of their history and details of the availability of spares.

The Origins of The Vintage Register

I have no personal knowledge of the origin of the Vintage Register thus to compile this item I found it necessary to seek help from various sources, including Roger Stanbury’s item on ‘The Vintage Register’ on page 133 of “The M.G. Car Club – The First Seventy Years”. On that page Roger mentioned Mike Allison and Phil Jennings as early secretaries of the VR and Geoff Radford as the first Chairman of the VR. Those three gentlemen have enabled me to fill out Roger’s words.

In the mid-fifties, with the government of the time talking about compulsory annual inspections of cars that were fifteen years or older, there was concern that all the pre-Second World War cars would disappear. With hindsight we know they were wrong, as when the 10 year test (now known as the MOT) was introduced in 1960 it was not as onerous as feared, the test was then a basic test including brakes, lights and a steering check and was for 10 year old cars not 15, although this was quickly reduced to 7 years of age in December 1961 and then 3 years in April 1967, it made it practical and possible to own and run safely such pre-cars. About this time many 14/28, 14/40 and 18/80 cars had more or less disappeared from sight, when you consider there were approximately 1,938 early M.G.’s cars built but only just over one hundred now exist about 5%, and many of the cars that are now on the road, were then in a dilapidated condition and/or hidden away in barns so there must have been as little as 2-3% of cars in use.

In 1955 at the M.G. Car Club’s annual Silverstone meeting marking the 25th Anniversary of the club’s formation, Russel Lowry, the then MGCC General Secretary, organised a parade for all those cars over 15 years old. Thus the launching of a ‘Register’ and he called it The Quindecimal (which means 15 years, it is thought that the Quindecimal referred to the years 1924 – 1939). However The Quindecimal covered all pre-war M.G.s and by June 1959 it had mustered just over 100 members.

During the existence of The Quindecimal, around 1958, John Guild, a naval officer and owner of an M.G. 18/80 Mk 1 PL 8282, although not an M.G. Car Club member, organised one or two informal get-togethers for these early M.G. owners and some successful meetings took place. One of these was held at The Hut at West Meon in Hampshire not far from Winchester on the 10th June 1960. Eleven cars attended and ranged from Lytton Jarman’s Bullnose 14/28 to Chris Barker’s 18/100 Tigress.

A friend of John Guild, Pat Tennant, who owned both an 18/80 Mk 1 Speed Model MG 1214 and a Mk 1 Saloon MG 1199, was at West Meon and expressed an interest in the possibility of a Vintage Register; John agreed to act as secretary but did not want to take on the full range of the models covered by The Quindecimal. F Wilson McComb, who was also at West Meon, wrote to Russel Lowry on the 13th June 1960 suggesting that the proposed group should take on the new title, ‘The Vintage M.G. Register’, and become a sub-section of the M.G. Car Club. Thus the Vintage Register was born, with the announcement being made in the September 1960 issue of Safety Fast. The new group would cater for the early models of M.G. the 14/28, 14/40, 18/80 and Tigress cars, but would not include the M-type, leaving that in The Quindecimal, part of which would later morph into the Triple-m Register.

During those early years of The Vintage M.G. Register, the M.G. Car Club was really more interested in the then more modern M.G.s such as the MGA and the new MGB, unlike today where anything and everything M.G. is revered, for example the M.G. Express van of the early 2000’s now owned by the Club.

Pat Tennant relinquished the Register secretaryship to Norman Sylvester, owner of an 18/80 Mk 11 Speed Model AYU 812, who in 1965 passed the post to Mike Allison. The Triple-M Register, although in its early period of development, was now expanding and in the summer of 1967 Wilson McComb, who had restored a two seater MK 11 VE 5212, became the next Vintage Register secretary, while Mike Allison, having sold his 18/80 Mk 11 MG 1035 tourer went on to concentrate on Triple-m cars for which he is now famous and is member No 1 of the Triple-m Register. Membership was not large, hovering around thirty members with the usual cars and owners appearing at the main meetings of the period. Wilson McComb held it all together until March 1973 when he announced in Safety Fast his resignation.

By this time Gordon Cobbam was M.G. Car Club General Secretary and he persuaded Jim Bowman to become the new Register secretary. Jim, an engineer and then owner of an 18/80 Mk 11 two seater, GG 1627, did all possible in offering technical advice to owners.

Things really began to move when in 1980 Phil Jennings was asked if he would take on the Register. Phil, one of the early Triple-M members also owned an 18/80 Mk 1 Fabric Saloon, MG 1124, and took on the Register with enthusiasm and, as well as getting essential spares made, compiled a complete history of all the known remaining register cars world-wide; this was published as Early M.G. and he has also written, with Robin Barraclough, Oxford to Abingdon, a compendium of all the cars eligible for the Vintage Register.

Up to 1986 the Vintage Register had always been operated by one member but the constitution of the M.G. Car Club now with several Registers and Centres under their wing, deemed that a chairman, treasurer and secretary were required. So on the 14th December 1986 the first AGM of the Register was held at the club offices at Studley. Geoff Radford, who then owned an 18/80 Mk 11 Speed Model, ALB 3, was elected chairman. David Potter, owner of the ex-Jarman Bullnose 14/28 four seater, became treasurer with Phil Jennings continuing as secretary, all positions being held for a three year period. Under Geoff’s leadership the Register moved on even more, with Geoff editing and producing the first Register Magazine. His aim being to get members to get out and about and use their cars, natters were organised, mostly around the M25 to enable members from all over to meet up. Meetings were held at West Meon, where the first meeting took place in June 1960 and at Brooklands which was in its resurgence following years of neglect.

The late 1980s saw an increase in the interest of M.G.s built before 1931, with the Register now on a solid footing and exactly 100 cars recorded (twelve bullnose, thirty two flatnose, thirty 18/80 Mk 1, twenty four 18/80 Mk 11 and two Mk 111s) in the ownership of 87 people. Others were also known or strongly suspected to exist in various states, it was thought possible that there were another twenty or so cars. Of the cars known at that time, sixty nine were in Britain, nine in Australia, four in Jersey, three in each of Ireland, United States of America and Holland, two in each of New Zealand and Sweden and one each in South Africa, Germany, Switzerland, France and Austria.

The Register was the first Register of the M.G. Car Club and remains the smallest. It holds an AGM held at the beginning of March, and organises one or two trips away each year. It also publishes a bi-monthly Bulletin, full of reports about events, personal experiences of members, interesting technical articles from members and friends.

John Cooper – Vintage Register