MGTD Von Neumann Special
Restored and Sold
This MG was purchased new early in 1950 by Johnnie Von Neumann. Immediately the wood was removed from the body tub and replaced with electrical conduit tubing. The fenders, hood, gas tank, doors, front and rear valences were replaced with aluminum. The body was sectioned including the radiator and grill. The body was then dropped over the frame like an American hot rod lowboy.
All the special body work was done by Emil Deidt, famous Southern California auto body builder. The frame was lightened thru cutting holes out of the boxed frame. Holes were alternated on the inside and out to maintain strength. The front A arm suspension was drilled to lighten it. The TD gearbox was replaced with the stronger and lighter TC gearbox.
Instruments not needed for racing were removed from the dashboard and the dash was made of engine turned aluminum again to reduce weight. A second line from the gas tank was added and another fuel pump. The engine was ported and relieved, larger carbs installed and an extractor exhaust system put on.
A Lucas magneto replaced the standard distributor which required reworking the side push rod cover. The fan was removed and the generator brackets rebuilt to move the generator enough to accommodate the large Magneto. A baffled 6 qt oil pan replaced the smaller 5 qt standard. The rods were lightened, polished and the entire engine balanced. The head was shaved to increase compression.
Two individual driver and passenger seats were installed replacing the original single bench seat. Wooden floorboards were replaced with sheet aluminum. Eleanor, Johnnies wife, made a new aluminum suede covered steering wheel.
The front coil springs were cut to lower the ride height and spacers added to the rear springs to lower the center of gravity. Rear springs leaves were removed to soften the rear suspension and traction bars were added to reduce twist in the rear end. The front dumb irons were cut off to reduce weight and an oil cooler added to handle the heat produced by the engine mods. Adjustable anthrex shocks replaced the original lever shocks at the rear. The drive shaft was remade to adjust to the shorter TC transmission.
The car was now ready to be entered into the first Pebble Beach Road Race in 1950. Johnnie Von Neumann drove it to victory in this race. It went on to win the Palm Springs race, Torrey Pines, Sandburg Hill Climb, and Carrell Speedway. In 1950 – 1951 it entered 14 races and won 7.
Many changes were made to the car to make it more competitive between each race. For instance, special Alfin finned aluminum drums replaced the cast iron factory drums and 72 spoke Borranni Wire Wheels with mag rims replaced the steel disk wheels.
In 1952 it was sold to Tracy Bird and Bumpy Bell. They won a number of races with it and eventually sold it back to Johnnie. Josie Von Neumann then drove it to many wins in the ladies races. Webber Carburetors were added and new intake/exhaust manifolds made. Later Johnnie shipped the car to Switzerland and converted it into a run around town car with bumpers and tuck and roll upholstery. Al Moss bought the car from the Johnnie in the mid 1980’s and returned it to race configuration. He raced it for several years and then had Don Martine drive it for him.
In 1989 Al Sold the car to Don Martine who has over 20 wins in Vintage racing including the 1994 Collier Cup beating 49 other MG’s. The car has won in vintage racing at Sears Point, Coronado, Lime Rock, Watkins Glen and at Eklhart Lake. It won the race class at Santa Barbara Concours. It has appeared at the Pebble Beach Concours twice. In 2005 it won the Rolex Award for Best Performance and Presentation at the Monterey Historic's Road Races. And it recently won the race at the Mid-Ohio racetrack.
In 2017 I was able to purchase the team car that Competition Motors built for Tracy and Bumpy. I then sold the #11 and we are now racing and restoring the team car.