MGC GTS and John Chatham
Ever since I was 5 or 6 years old, I have loved cars. Growing up, I started understanding that you need money to buy them, and before I was able to make some money, I nourished this crazy dream about walking into an old barn, and finding an old Bugatti, or a Jaguar D type, or as a Porsche fanatic, a Porsche Spyder 550, that I would buy from an old guy for 100 $ and then store away in my garage. Well, sometimes reality, while not imitating a dream to its fullest, can come close, and while I did not find a Bugatti, or a Jaguar D type, I might have found an interesting car for MG lovers, albeit not at 100 $. (Again reality can resemble a dream but not quite match it!)
A couple of months ago, as I was looking to expand my garage with an older/fun car, I came across a guy in London who was selling, what he described to be a MGC GT on steroids. Intrigued and always interested in acquiring some oddities, I went along and I found myself in front of a MGC GT that looked the “business.” After asking some questions, the seller told me that he had owned the car for about 2 years, had barely driven it, and that he had bought it from an older man that dealt with racing cars, and had been the victim of a stroke.
I liked the looks of the car, I enjoyed the performance and the overall condition was reasonable, not pristine, but no major trouble spots and never really restored. I bought the car and had it serviced at MG Motorsports, enhancing the suspension, brakes and the steering. I also changed the leather buckets for some higher back racing buckets, and kept all the original parts. I then shipped the car to Luxembourg, where I reside, and decided to put it on a rolling road, as the performance was quite intriguing. The car came out with close to 200 hp, 197 hp to be exact. The engine being a MGC block with different camshaft, a Donwton collector and exhaust, as well as a battery of triple SU carbs sourced from what most probably was a Jaguar E-type 3.8 Series 1.
I also wanted to know more about the previous owner, and proceeded to get a copy of the title. The previous owner had the car for 30 years, from 05/14/1969 to 01/30/1999. The car had benefitted from a race preparation with other brakes, a cage and a battery master switch among some of the goodies. The owner and driver’s name for those 30 years was John Chatham. When I told a friend of mine who is into MGs, he jumped off his chair. A reaction, which I didn’t really understand. He told me that Mr Chatham had been quite involved with MGs in racing, and had later on become a AH 3000 Rally Works and MG GT Sebring specialist, before suffering a stroke in the late nineties. I thus decided to go on to the web, and type in his name along with MG. A couple of sites came up, and I started corresponding with some people. This was soon followed by a series of very surprising offers to buy the car or auction it for me!
Even more intrigued, I continued my research and found out that John Chatham, had not only been extensively involved with MGs, but had also raced his own private MGC GT Sports at events such as the Targa Florio. Why I know that my car is not one of the factory Sebrings with the all alloy body, it seems to have an interesting and unique pedigree, and the fact that Chatham used it for almost 30 years, makes it apparently in most MG’s enthusiasts’ eyes a very special car. I am now waiting on a series of documents to confirm certain assumptions. But if luck has it, some guy in London sold a prepped MGC GT, and I didn’t buy a very fast and cool MGC GTSports, but John Chatham’s unrestored MGC. If on top of it was the number 41 car at the 19070 Targa Florio and ranked in a series of other prestigious events such as the Monte Carlo, than reality has caught up!
Here are some details on the car:
Model/Type (as described in original title) C GT Sports
Date of registration 14/05/1969
VIN/Chassis/Frame N° GCD1/5497
Engine N° 3785
Cylinder Capacity 2912 cc
Registration MNF 420 G (UK registration)
I own a series of very fast cars both for road and track use (Viper GTS, RUF Porsche 911, Audi S3, Mercedes S500 Carlsson), but this one has really surprised me, and not just by its provenance. I am still looking to buy a 1973 911 RS 2,7 or a 911 3.0 RSR, and as many of you know the quest for “the” car never really stops, Thus if I came across a genuine enthusiast and not a professional, someone that would ensure not to resell the car for quite a while, I would try to make a true MG fan, just like I am a Porsche fan, a happy person!
Gerard Lopez - Managing Partner, Mangrove Capital Partners
P.S. - Something to add. I got official confirmation that John Chatham had the car for 30 years, and that he raced the car, but that this was not the car used at the Targa Florio. He did have an all aluminum car (one of the 6 shells), and this conversion as his “private” car. I got this information from the guys at MG Motorsports who have performed work on my car. Nevertheless, they stated that the car by the sheer fact of its previous ownership was worth considerably more than a “normal” replica.
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You may contact Gerald Lopez at:
Mangrove Capital Partners
Phone: +352 26 25 34 1
Fax: +352 26 25 34 20