Club member John Hubbard was recently asked by a local collector to help renovate his Arnolt MG. …….Wait a minute – what is an “Arnolt MG”?
Old timers can skip this part, but newer members might be surprised to learn that some folks back in the ‘50s thought that they could improve on factory MG products. Yes, it may sound like heresy today but the theory was that MG – in spite of its mostly wonderful engineering – was lacking in a few areas. Now don’t forget, this was back in the days before Mustangs, Camaros, GTO’s and the like. It was back in the days of boxy Plymouths, Studebakers, Desoto’s etc. There was no such thing on the market as a “sport sedan”. What to do with Momma and the kids and still have a neat car? And S.H. (“Wacky”) Arnolt was one of those dreamers with an answer to that question.
Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about him:
“ Stanley H. "Wacky" Arnolt was a Chicago industrialist, who began importing foreign cars in the 1950s to the United States. Though sold as American cars, the cars were true hybrids, with British mechanicals, Italian bodywork, and U.S. sales and distribution, as well as in some cases final assembly and body work. SH Arnolt Inc. was a licensed automobile manufacturer in the State of Illinois. A fortuitous meeting with Bertone at the Turin Auto Show in 1952 resulted in four collaborative efforts between Arnolt and Bertone.
The first was the Arnolt-MG, a four seater Bertone bodied car based on the MG TD chassis and XPAG 54hp engine. The Arnolt MG was designed by Giovanni Bertone, his son Nuccio, and Giovanni Michelotti. Of a planned production of 200 cars, 103 have been documented as built between 1953 and 1954 (67 coupes and 36 convertibles). Out of this total, the whereabouts of 36 are unknown and three are known to have been scrapped (as of 1993).
The initial price was $3,145. In 1954, MG informed Arnolt that it could no longer supply chassis and engines due to demand for its own complete cars (as well as the replacement of the TD by the TF), so Arnolt began looking for a larger engined car.”
OK, so now we know what we are talking about. This particular car is a convertible, #27 per the data plate,1of 35 made, and received a cosmetic restoration a few years ago, to include a repaint, new top, and some interior work. John Hubbard recently supervised an engine rebuild and front end rebuild. There are some questions about the authenticity of some exterior trim pieces as the car sits today as you see it in the photos.
But it has these features: steel body tub and fenders with aluminum hood, doors, and trunk lid. Wheel hubs modified to accommodate Italian wire wheel hubs, and non-MG braking components (quite probably Wolseley – as in moWOg units ). Leather sets, not from a MG-TD, and provenance unknown at this writing. And it has a back seat, something lacking in factory MG-TD’s.
Interestingly enough, the instrument panel is from a standard MG-TD (but installed upside down) with MG-TD gauges but a custom formed dash board. Steering wheel is stock MG-TD. Also true of the tail lights.
Arnolt MG’s are just one more interesting chapter in the evolution of MG’s. Other well known modifiers were Lister, and (others). Not to mention the various coach builders such as Tickford, Vauxhall, and the like. And, P.S., if you didn’t already know it, Carroll Shelby got his start in the automotive world driving hot-rodded MG’s.
It’s great to know that some enthusiasts are still maintaining cars like this; if you meet it on the road, give it an “MG” wave as now you know what it is.