Bringatrailer.com Fortnight Favorite: 1959 MGA Twin Car race car
For the inaugural pick of my favorite Bringatrailer.com vehicle a couple weeks ago, I chose a 1965 Austin MINI Cooper S. This time around it was an even tougher choice, but I'm going with another British car, a 1959 MGA Twin Cam that was used as a race car in the early 1960s and is being offered by the original owner's son. The U.S.-spec car was purchased at the famous London MG dealer University Motors by a United States Air Force pilot and shipped to the States after the owner drove (and raced) it in Great Britain for almost a year. It has spent most of its life in California and currently resides there.
The car has an incredible story and fantastic documentation, which is a big part of its charm for me. I also like the fact that it's not raced-out but instead is in streetable driving shape. Its condition is far from perfect -- a bit of rust, minor scrapes and scratches, very worn upholstery -- but it's a true piece of history that can be driven. Many BaT commenters wondered why Junior was letting go of such family history and selling Dad's car after so many years, but the asking price of $40,000 -- near the very top of the scale for a perfect twin-cam MGA -- raised some flags. "I'm not sure advertising this car for $40K constitutes trying to sell it," wrote one reader. "It would be worth that much to me…if it were MY dad's car." Chimed in another: "It definitely qualifies if your wife is pressuring you to sell it." It turns out that father and son simply just aren't that attached to the car -- and the son prefers his vintage Alfa Romeos anyway and the grandkids aren't interested in the MG, either.
The MGA Twin Cam was once selected by award-winning automotive journalist Dan Neil (an MGA owner himself) as one of Time Magazine's fifty worst cars of all time. I don't care. This car has an amazing story. And drooling over its provenance doesn't cost a cent.
Finalists for my favorite BaT car from April 16 through April 30 include the following, ranked from most tantalizing to least:
2. Another son offered his dad's longtime British pride and joy as a BaT Exclusive recently -- this charming 1937 HRG 1.5L roadster, which has about 200,000 miles on it and is one of only 241 cars built by HRG Engineering, between 1936 and 1956.
3. I personally sent BaT a tip on this 1977 Triumph Dolomite Sprint, which I've seen in person and know to be spectacularly nice. When I contacted the current owner, it turned out that he was experiencing seller's remorse before accepting an offer (understandable given our 2010 report on the model), so it's a good thing for him that he posted only one poor photo and asked a very pretty penny for the cherry Dolly.
4. This 440-cubic-inch 1970 Plymouth Superbird caused my eyebrows to raise, partially because of its $300,000 starting bid on eBay (a price that even Hemi Superbirds rarely achieve these days -- it didn't sell) and its seller's apparently well-documented claim that Ray Nichels equipped it with all manner of elaborate testing equipment so that the fledgling Environmental Protection Agency could use it as a test vehicle. According to the seller, the "results of the Superbird's air sampling efforts from May 1972 to October 1973, along with other EPA tests, played an important role in the government's decision to phase out leaded fuels and increase national pollution control measures."
5. From the cool customs department came this 1981 Porsche 924 Turbo station wagon. One commenter thought the conversion ruined the car. I tend to agree with another who wrote: "Ruin a Porsche? It's a 924; all the ruining was already done at the factory."
If you're not as committed to daydreaming about old cars as I am, check out my semimonthly blog, where I'll pick my favorite BringATrailer car of the past couple weeks. If you want to stay fully up-to-date on what the old-car buffs are discussing, subscribe to BaT's daily email blast of a wide assortment of old cars for sale and visit rumors.automobilemag.com every so often to learn what cars I like best. And feel free to share your thoughts -- and your own favorites -- in the comments section below.