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A most unusual police car: The 1938 MG TA

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Photos courtesy of Historics at Brooklands.

A two-seat convertible sports car hardly seems like a sensible choice for police work, but from the 1930s into the 1960s, British automaker MG provided a variety of vehicles to police agencies throughout England. While some were sedans, TA, TB, TC, MG A and MG B sports car models also served with various departments around the country, many as motorway patrol cars.

One such vehicle was this 1938 MG TA Midget, carrying registration number CTF 921; after serving with the Lancashire Police and spending the bulk of its retirement years in North America, this personable police cruiser will be offered for sale on March 12 at the Historics at Brooklands auction, held at the Brooklands Museum in Weybridge, Surrey, England.

Designed to replace the PB Midget, MG’s TA two-seater first appeared in mid-1936. Longer and wider than the previous Midget, the TA was also more powerful, boasting a larger 1.3-liter overhead-valve four-cylinder engine borrowed from the Wolseley 10 (but re-tuned and equipped with twin SU carburetors) that produced just over 52 horsepower, compared to the PB’s 43 horsepower. The semi-synchronized four-speed manual transmission received a wet cork clutch instead of the dry clutch used on the PB, and the TA also received Lockheed hydraulic drum brakes instead of the older car’s cable-operated drums.

1938 MG TA

Though not particularly quick by modern standards, the TA was capable of holding its own against common production cars of the day. Top speed was said to be in the neighborhood of 80 MPH, with the run from 0-60 MPH requiring just over 23 seconds. With 2.5 million cars already on British roads by 1938, the TA’s nimble handling probably aided in response time more than its acceleration or top speed.

1938 MG TA

It’s not clear how long CTF 921 remained in service with the Lancashire Police, but its next owner was a Canadian student studying in England. When he returned to North America, the car came with him, and remained in his possession until 1970.

Purchased by an American buyer, the MG was given a repaint and an interior restoration sometime in the 1970s, and the car remained in his care until 2013. The brakes are said to be recently serviced, quite likely by the current owner in anticipation of the car’s pending sale, and the odometer reportedly reads less than 11,000 miles.

1938 MG TA

Said to be “mechanically faultless,” the TA currently wears oversize wheels that are not original to the car. Described by a former owner as a driver-quality car that’s a perfect candidate for restoration, the former police MG is expected to fetch between £24,000 and £28,000 ($33,500-$39,100) at the British sale, significantly more than the $25,000 asked for the car when it was for sale in the United States last year. Nostalgia ups the price, on the other side of the pond as well.

The Historics at Brooklands sale will take place on Saturday, March 12. For more information, visit Historics.Co.UK.