Von Neumann Special
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
1952 it was sold to Tracy Bird and Bunky 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.
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 Elhart 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.