Market Finds: An MG TC Is A Police Car Fit For Captain Slow

An MG TC Is A Police Car Fit For Captain Slow

By Benjamin Shahrabani
March 8, 2016

Photos Courtesy of Bonhams

While cars often say something about the personality of their first buyer, they can also be tools that can be used to get a job done, like police work. While many are probably familiar with the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor common in the United States, at the polar opposite end there is the Dubai Police Force in the United Arab Emirates, which is known for its incredible fleet of exotic patrol cars.

The arm of the law is a long one, but it has had a long, continuing, and often offbeat history with cars over the decades to extend its reach. Such is the case with this 1947 MG TC that Bonhams will be selling at its forthcoming Amelia Island Auction on March 10th.

MG are the initials for Morris Garages, founded by William R. Morris in the 1920s. The company manufactured a variety of sedans and sports cars, along the way making a name for itself in the early days of automobile racing, but it was the MG TC, launched in 1947 with the return to peace after the Second World War that would put the company firmly within the sights of enthusiasts.

It was only offered as an open two-seater similar in appearance to its predecessor, the TB, and the two shared many of the same features. To help the company speed the model into production, the engine was the same pushrod OHV XPAG from the TB with a tad more than 1.2-liters of displacement, while the transmission was the familiar four-speed synchromesh unit. The brakes were 9-inch hydraulic units and the wheels centre-locking wires as seen previously on the outgoing model, too. About the only thing that did change was on the chassis where where sliding trunnion spring mountings gave way to conventional rubber bush shackles. But, despite the similarity—or maybe even because of it—the TC became one of England’s first post-war sports car hits. If you wanted a car that was fun to drive, the TC was one to help you discover that joy.

Almost 10,000 TCs were built until production ceased in 1949, with a substantial number being exported to the United States…even though all TCs were right-hand drive. One of the units that did remain in its country of origin was this particular 1947 MG TC, which was pressed into service by the Kent County Constabulary for duty in its traffic division from new. The primary use of this particular TC was catching speeding enthusiasts and truck drivers, and a letter from the Chief Superintendent reminiscing about the TC espouses, “the smallness of the vehicle was appreciated when ‘tailing’ a lorry, as the M.G. was ‘lost’ to the lorry driver’s view”. There was good acceleration for the time due to its relatively high power-to-weight ratio, and records show that police vehicles of the time included an upgraded electrical system powered by an oversized dynamo and a higher gear ratios in the rear transaxle, increasing top speed.

Now enjoying a well-deserved retirement from police duty, chassis number TC3110 has been restored within the last several years to its original police specification, and is resplendent in its original black and red livery. Included with the sale is extensive documentation such as the original TC owner’s manual, original UK ownership logbook, Kent County’s purchase and sales records, a letter of provenance from the then Chief Superintendent of the Kent County Constabulary, and tool kit and jack. All in all, a wonder example of a quintessential British sports car with an interesting history that goes along with it.

Last but not least, this MG TC also comes with a Police “Stop” hand sign, Winkworth Police bell, and removable “Police” identification signs, although it goes without saying these shouldn’t be used in an attempt to pull anyone over, not that you could in today’s modern traffic with only 54 horsepower on tap, and a top speed of 78 mph.

–First registered as a police vehicle in the UK
–Multiple concours-winning example since restoration

~54 horsepower 1,250-cc OHV Inline 4-cylinder engine with Twin SU Semi-Downdraft Carburetors, 4-Speed manual transmission, front beam axle with leaf springs, live rear axle. 4-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 94 inches.

Vehicle Information
Chassis number: TC/3110
Engine number: XPAG/3741

Auction House: Bonhams
Estimate: US$ 40,000 – $50,000
Price Realized: TBD, Auction on March 10th, 2016

Join the Conversation
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Scott Smith
Scott Smith
8 years ago

I have seen this car in person at a Northern Virginia show called Hunt Country Classic. Very nice car.

8 years ago

It would be a pleasure to be pulled by this classic, just on style points alone.

8 years ago

Lovely looking little car.

However, there is something incongruent about a British/English car in America. It appears to be the scale: the roads and houses are just differently sized and seem to dwarf the car. The same is true about US cars in Britain – the cars just look wrong, but completely at home in the States

8 years ago

I’ve driven one of these and it was delightful. Very entertaining little car!

Petrolicious Newsletter