18-80 MG Mark I Speed Model
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.