1936 MG Midget
- Year of manufacture1936
- Chassis numberPB528
- Lot number381
- Number of seats2
- Exterior colourOther
- Fuel typePetrol
Ex-works prepared, Brooklands, Crystal Palace & Goodwood campaigned
1936 MG Midget PB Supercharged Sports
Registration no. HS 8860
Chassis no. PB528
This car's first owner, J Scott-Hepburn, had already enjoyed trials success at the wheel of his MG J2 when he decided to modify 'HS 8860' for off-road competition. The PB had been delivered via Andersons Ltd of Newton Mearns in December 1935 and Scott-Hepburn later wrote an article about its transformation into a lightweight trials car, which was published in The Sports Car (April 1937 edition, copy on file). Perhaps the trials conversion was less successful than he had hoped, for later in 1937 the MG was sold to the second owner, E C Haesendonck of Chadwell Heath, Essex. Haesendonck and his brother were owners of 'JB 7524', one of the famous 'Cream Cracker' team cars. Surviving factory records list the servicing and maintenance carried out for both Scott-Hepburn and Haesendonck, the latter being invoiced for 'tuning specially for Brooklands'.
A supercharger was fitted for the 1938 season and at Crystal Palace on 13th August Haesendonck and the PB lined up against a field that included Cyril Hawley's Alfa Romeo 8C, George Abecassis' blown Alta 2-Litre, Peter Aitken's Frazer Nash-BMW, D A Loader's SS Jaguar and Arthur Dobson's Riley Six to finish 10th in the Crystal Palace Plate Handicap. Haesendonck followed this promising start with a fine 3rd place in October and his performances at the South London circuit continued to improve, culminating in a 2nd in class (4th overall) finish on 1st July 1939.
With war approaching, Ernest Haesendonck changed his name to Harewood, it is thought to gain entry into the RAF, and fortunately both he and the MG survived the conflict. The duo was soon back in competitive action, their forceful performance at Blandford Camp, Dorset in 1949 being recorded by MG works driver Dick Jacobs in his book, 'An MG Experience':
'The starting grid was a two-two-two formation due to the width of the road. On the front row with me was John Haesendonck's brother, Ernest Harewood, in his MG PB and he made a beautiful start leading the field for the first lap. We both became involved in a battle for the lead with L Woods driving a Lester MG based on an L-type Magna chassis. We each took the lead several times and it was not until the last lap when Harewood dropped astern by just a few yards that I was able to pip Woods to the winning post and in so doing made fastest lap at 68. 65mph.'
The PB's finest hour arrived on 18th June 1953 when it was entered in the BRDC's British Empire Trophy Race. Consisting of three heats and a handicap-format final, this event was held on the challenging Douglas circuit in the Isle of Man and attracted a top-class field, pitting the elderly and seemingly outdated MG against state-of-the-art opposition. The latter included the Jaguar C-Type of Stirling Moss, Reg Parnell's Aston Martin DB3S, Hans Reusch's Ferrari 340, Desmond Titterington's Allard, Ken Wharton's Frazer Nash Le Mans Replica, Alan Brown's Cooper-Bristol and the Cooper-MG of Cliff Davis. Defying the odds and shrugging off a half-litre capacity deficit in the up-to-1500cc heat, 'HS 8860' finished 4th out of 14 starters and lined up 3rd on the grid for the final. Getting a tremendous start, Harewood's PB lay 2nd by the end of the first lap and stunned all who witnessed it by inheriting the class and overall leads from Cliff Davis on lap four. Sadly, the MG retired with transmission failure just after half distance but had done enough to earn itself the nickname of the 'Beam Axle Bombshell', bestowed by Autosport.
'HS 8860' seems to have retired from competition thereafter, reappearing some ten years later in the ownership of Peter Vane. Suspecting that his PB had once been raced, Vane wrote to the MG Car Company in March 1963 and was told that it had: 'this vehicle has in its initial stages received considerable attention at these Works and at one time was raced at Brooklands.' The factory also stated that the engine had been changed from '740 APB' to '2223A 165P'. Taken off the road in the mid-1960s, the PB was purchased in the early 1970s as a partially dismantled project by Peter Gregory, the well-known collector of pre-war MGs, who undertook a total rebuild.
'HS 8860' was sold by Peter Gregory to Kenneth Hawes in 2001 and in May 2003 was acquired from the latter by the current vendor. Since then the PB has been raced extensively in historic events throughout Europe and the UK at venues including Le Mans, Spa-Francorchamps, the Nürburgring, Porto, Cadwell Park, Donington Park, Silverstone, etc. Following a racing accident at Silverstone where the car was barrel-rolled three times, the body had to be scrapped. The car was then stripped, the chassis crack-tested, the axles rebuilt and a complete new body made, with inspiration from the Scott-Hepburn creation of 1937. Completed in January 2014, this work was carried out by the renowned Fiennes Restorations at a cost of £77,671 and is to concours standard. The interior though, is still spartan and stripped for racing. A recent road test showed this supercharged racing PB to be unbelievably fast with an exhaust note to split one's eardrums!
Full and continuous since the car was built, the racing career of this historically very important MG, which includes pre-war competition at Brooklands and Crystal Palace, is documented by the contents of four lever-arch files. The latter contain the current FIA Historic Technical Passport, old-style logbook, (copy) MG factory correspondence, Crystal Palace and Goodwood programmes, modern race results, sundry bills, assorted magazines, a copy of 'An MG Experience', V5C registration document and VSCC 'buff form' (to be updated by the new owner). A race-ready ticket of admission to a wide variety of the most prestigious international historic events.