Bring a trailer auction in progress: 1 of 65 Bertone-bodied MGs. Great colors, nice restoration.
1954 Arnolt MG Coupe (auction ends Monday October 2nd)
VIN – TD27137
Arnolt Car No. - 297
Exterior Color – Peacock Blue
Interior Color – Grey Leather
Engine – 1.3L in-line 4-cylinder
Transmission – 4-Speed
Current Miles – 10,398 miles (TMU)
Current Owner Purchased – 1988
Current Owner Miles – 10,398 miles
Some say you’ve got to be wacky to get into the car business. That certainly was the case for Stanley “Wacky” Arnolt, a dapper Chicago, IL industrialist with a passion for cars. First earning wealth in marine accessories, Arnolt began importing European and British cars and various automotive accessories to North America in the 1950s. After visiting Italy and viewing the speculative Bertone prototypes built for the 1952 Turin Auto Show on the vague hope of earning a construction contract with MG, Wacky removed his Stetson, put his money on the table, and engaged a delighted Bertone to build 100 cars. Taking advantage of the tooling bucks for the steel and aluminum prototypes the project quickly advanced to production. Leveraging the proven MG mechanicals became key to getting to market quickly using an MG TD chassis and 54 hp engine. With the distinctive Italian design and sporting touches, the Arnolt MG would be among the first of these innovative partnerships in transatlantic manufacturing, allowing desperate Italian coachbuilders to sustain themselves with small volume coachbuilding through the decade.
Established as their own manufacturer, Arnolt was also part of the final assembly and body work for their cars as they arrived in preparation for US delivery. An important factor that would lead to future projects including the Arnolt Aston, Arnolt Bristol, and Arnolt Bentley, as well as a racing team for Sebring in 1955. Production for the Arnolt MG lasted until 1954 when MG informed Arnolt they could no longer supply the chassis for their cars. Though 200 cars were planned for total production, just 103 cars were complete, 67 in coupe form and 36 as convertibles. Arnolt club archives suggest that nearly 60 of these rare cars are accounted for today.
History and Build Details of This Car
According to the Arnolt MG registry ( https://arnoltmgregister.com/a... ), the vessel delivery ledgers indicate that Arnolt coupe 297 was shipped on the SS Meir Dizengoff with coupes 305, 306, 309, 311 and 312, and received in New Orleans January 22, 1954. The purchaser was Continental Motors Ltd., Houston, Texas, delivered on January 3, 1955, referenced by invoice 1845. Detailed notations provided by the owner and family members indicate that this car was purchased in 1988 by well-known Arnolt MG expert Terry Sanders. Though not an expert at the time, Sanders would spend the next 30+ years refining his knowledge of these special cars. An electrical engineer by trade, Sanders purchased this car from a Napa, CA owner who stated the car had been previously owned by Jerry Goguen, an MG parts supplier, and Ron Thompson (Tacoma, WA). The car needed a complete restoration, at that time having no engine or transmission.
Sanders dispatched the car to Bob Monroe, a motorcycle parts fabricator for Arlen Ness, also skilled at bodywork. Monroe tended to the largest portion of the car that needed attention, the lower rear portion where the floors needed metal replacement. The next steps were managed by Hans Turley, a retired Mercedes-Benz body man recommended by Neil Kirkham. Turley would spend the next 18 months refining and aligning panels applying primer and final color, matching the Peacock Blue specified on the original Arnolt manufacturers build plate mounted to the cowl.
The restoration took approximately five years to complete including the interior, which was performed to a high standard by MG trim expert Jim Silva at SureFit, a foremost MG interior trim shop. The interior was trimmed in gray leather which also matches the manufacturing build plate designating the interior color. Sanders selected a later series block MG TD engine for the car, mated to a correct 4-speed gearbox. Leveraging his professional expertise as an electrical engineer, Sanders wired the car himself using a stock MG TD harness. Mindful of the era when the restoration was complete, much of this work was done by letter correspondence and trips to England to locate specialized parts. A task that Sanders enjoyed while continually improving the car over his 45 years of dedicated ownership Upon completion this car was shown at Concorso Italiano, participating in numerous events, and in 2000 participated in the California Mille.
Among the detailed features of this car, Sanders was careful to document and locate exact parts for this car as well as assist other club members with their restorations including groups that made new parts and restored original components. As the car is composed of many rare items from many suppliers, the rarest are the correct Marchal headlights and Marchal driving lights. Sanders’s notations also accompany this car including vendors for specialized parts such as emblems, trim, and exterior chrome. Sanders also kept notation on the car from 2001-2020 referencing accumulated miles under his ownership and various services performed in his home garage.
In preparation for sale, the fuel system was drained and cleaned, the carburetors cleaned and adjusted, brakes checked and adjusted, and the ignition system serviced including a new distributor cap, new rotor, and fresh spark plugs. A new set of contemporary Americus 165/80R15 radial tires and inner tubes have also been mounted and all lighting, horn, and general systems function. The wipers are currently disconnected. Mileage indicated today is 10,398 all of which are believed to have been accumulated by Sanders over the past 45 years of ownership.
Today this Arnolt MG presents in excellent condition offering a delightful and unique appearance in very attractive colors. The blue paint is glossy and properly prepared with excellent coverage throughout the body panels. The aluminum hood, doors, and trunk show very good panel gaps and proper fitting to the steel body, opening and closing with ease. The exterior brightwork and various trim, emblems, and badges are in excellent condition. Importantly the Marchal headlight trim rings retain their logo crowns, crisp lettering, and correct headlights. The correct Marchal driving lights are also in place and in excellent condition. The beautifully finished chrome wire wheels wear a 2023 set of contemporary radial tires. The glass, lenses, and lighting are in excellent condition with very good rubber and gasket material shown in the window trim and body areas. The chrome window surrounds are in excellent condition as well and the correct Arnolt emblems which add a unique touch reminding onlookers of this rare and daring American pioneer of automobile manufacturing.
The interior has been very nicely restored using correct components, proper materials, and attention to detail throughout including very nicely finished seats and door panels. Though the seating leather shows signs of use and gentle patina, the finishes remain reflective of quality workmanship. The front seats are outfitted with a pair of woven black lap belts. The dashboard is finished in matching exterior blue with a cleverly laid out array of beautifully finished MG instrumentation, Arnolt emblem, a later series AM/FM radio, and glovebox. A wood rimmed steering wheel features an Arnolt emblem in the center hub. The grey carpets are in very good condition and a fire extinguisher is discretely mounted under the dashboard. The interior features properly detailed trim worthy of what anyone might find in Lancia, Ferrari, or Maserati Italian coachwork of this era. The rear portion of the interior can be used for storage or seating for smaller passengers, finished in leather and matching carpet. The trunk is very nicely finished with matching grey carpet, housing a full-size spare wheel, a hidden door for fuel filler access, and tire changing tools mounted at the rear bulkhead.
Under the hood, the MG TD engine is nicely finished with a combination of original finishes and modern updates for improved use including braided stainless-steel fuel lines and a modern 12V battery (2020). The engine is dressed-up a bit with vintage MG touches and the painted finishes have been applied correctly to match the original appearance. The wiring loom is very nicely done, and the engine bay is very clean and tidy. Of particular note are the many even plaques placed on the engine cowl revealing years of West Coast vintage event participation. The underside is in excellent condition including proper exhaust, clean satin black floor pans, and nicely finished suspension components. The chassis appears dry and free of structural corrosion. There is no visual evidence of structural compromise to the chassis or suspension mounting points.
The car starts easily warm or cold and idles smoothly. Though light smoke is evident at idle, the car runs properly and has a nice feel while driving. The engine offers typical power for this era and while the experience is more casual than sporty, the suspension and steering are composed, brakes consistent for the era, and the handling offers a nice window into an era where enjoyable drives were often valued for the quality of their journey rather than the speed to the destination.
Items Included with the Car
This Arnolt MG is offered with a set of tools in a leather tool roll, a knock off hammer, jack, an MG series TD operation manual, copies of reference notes from the long-term owner, and handwritten documentation recording accrued miles and various service notations.
The above vehicle information is complete and accurate to the best of our knowledge at the time it is posted to this website. Corrections or additional information is always appreciated. All advertised prices exclude government fees and taxes, any finance charges, any dealer document preparation charge, and any emission testing charge. Vehicles are subject to prior sale. All advertised to be true but not guaranteed. We assume no liability for errors or omissions.
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