1929 18-80 MG Mark I Speed Model Restored and Sold
Don Martine purchased this 1929 18-80 MG Mark I Speed Model in 1988 in Santa Cruz from the estate of Douglas Foye, a Triumph Mechanic. Foye had obtained the car from a chicken farmer nearby.
Don tells the story of how it got into the chicken coop: “Supposedly in the mid 1950’s, two gentlemen restored the car, shipped it to the US, drove it around the country and it broke down in Santa Cruz. Supposedly, they traded the car to the chicken farmer for two tickets back to England. It sat in the coop for many years not running.
"The mechanic purchased the car, put on midget carbs because parts were not available for the originals and got it running. He later passed away and his family held an auction to sell equipment, nine Triumphs in pieces, the 18-80 and miscellaneous stuff.
"I bid on the 18-80 during the auction but it appeared not to sell. I also bid on some Triumph transmissions, which were sold to me.
"The next day as I was picking up the transmissions, I asked about the 18-80. The relative said they had a letter bidding more than anyone bid at the auction so they did not sell it. He showed me the letter, and said he really didn’t want to wait for the person who wrote, and that he would rather sell it now. He stated a price he wanted and I said I would go to the Bank on Monday with him so he could be paid in cash. We went to the bank, then I worked for half a day to get the 18-80 running well enough to drive 45 miles home. Four hours later, we made it home.”
This 18-80 MG Mark I Speed Model has a 6 cylinder, 2468 cc overhead cam engine. The cam, oil pump, distributor, water pump and dynamo are chain driven. Dual SU carburetors and rare factory race exhaust are on this engine.
The MG Company made twenty-five Speed Models, six went on the MK III chassis, thirteen went on the MK II chassis and six went on the MK I chassis. It has power assist cable and rod brakes. The clutch was cork and ran in the engine oil and the transmission on this car was a 4 speed, not the standard three speed. This car originally sold in 1932 after production had stopped on all MK I’s. The MG factory guaranteed 80 mph. A Mark I Speed Model ran and finished 17th in the 1931 Monte Carlo Rally.
This 18-80 has raced at Watkins Glen, Lime Rock, Laguna Seca, Portland, San Diego and its best finish was a 6th at Laguna Seca. It has appeared at numerous concours including Hillsborough and numerous GOF’s. This car is unrestored, in excellent operational condition, but needs the rear body work replaced properly, not as it was done in the 50’s.
Early in 2010 this car was sold to a gentleman in Australia who has several other pre-war MG’s.