1938 MG TA Tickford Drophead Coupe by Salmons & Sons

Sold For $85,250

Amelia Island - A Gentleman's Collection: The Pride & Passion of Orin Smith

Chassis No.
  • Very rare coachbuilt TA; one of about 260 made
  • High-quality restoration by marque specialist
  • Wonderful color scheme and presentation
  • Among the finest examples available
52.4 bhp, 1,292 cc OHV inline four-cylinder engine, four-speed manual transmission, front and rear sliding trunnion suspension, and Lockheed four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 94 in.

As 1938 dawned, The Motor magazine observed that MG was suffering “the perilous inheritance of an honored name.” TA Midgets were being overshadowed, as the company moved ever up-market with larger sedans and tourers, with ever-larger, more powerful engines.

Meanwhile, The Autocar heralded the arrival of a new TA, one considerably more sophisticated than the Midget roadster: a three-position drophead coupe, which bridged the gap between the two-seater and the large four-passenger VA series. The drophead coupe’s bodywork was built by the famous old coachbuilder Salmons & Sons under their new name of Tickford, and it featured such niceties as wind-up windows, a fixed windshield that could open for ventilation, and a three-position insulated convertible top. It also featured an adjustable telescopic steering wheel, while its semaphore trafficators notified other drivers of changes in direction when the windows were raised.

Some 260 Tickford drophead coupes were produced before World War II, and experts believe that about half that number remain in existence.

The excellent example offered here was reportedly the subject of a seven-year restoration effort, completed in 1994, by MG expert Gene Roth. Mr. Roth retained all original and restorable mechanical and body components, to assure authenticity, aside from the engine block, which was replaced in England. The interior was restored in walnut, leather, and Wilton wool carpeting, as original, and the body finished in black, accentuating both the beautiful lines and the quality of the body panels. The brightwork is triple-plated chrome, including the wire wheels. The car retains a correct and complete tool set, including a jack and wheel hammer, and its finishes remain beautifully preserved throughout, with little or no signs of wear and use, aside from a few tiny minor paint chips. The odometer had ticked over only 287 miles, since restoration, at the time of cataloguing.

Certainly one of the highest-quality restored Tickfords to be offered in recent years, this car has been a great favorite within the Smith Collection, and it takes only one glance to know why. It has charm and elegance in equal measure, just as its coachbuilders intended!

Lot Number

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