- 1949 MG TC ‘Gammon Special’ for sale
- Raced successfully in period by Peter Gammon
- Numerous victories at venues such as Silverstone and Goodwood
- Offered for sale from the Dave Saunders collection
The early post-war years were when the foundations were laid for the present-day British motor industry. Budding constructors such as Colin Chapman, John Cooper and Eric Broadley cut their teeth as racing got under way again, often making use of the plentiful disused airfields that were suddenly available.
It was also an incredibly fertile period for specials-builders, and one of the most successful of that era was Peter Gammon with his MG-based racer.
Originally built in 1949 as a very late-production MG TC and registered LBP 150, his car was raced at Goodwood the following year in standard specification by its first owner, an RE Molyneux. It was then bought by Gammon from its second owner, Michael Orr, and underwent a significant transformation during 1951.
Gammon fitted a lightweight aluminium body with cycle wings, and a 1497cc engine was installed. The car was looked after by Surrey-based Barwell Engineering and the engine was prepared there by John Lucas, who had previously worked for Weslake. The four-cylinder unit ran on twin SU carburettors, and featured a high-lift camshaft and a gas-flowed cylinder head with oversize valves.
Bernie Rodger was Barwell’s mechanic and chassis specialist, and he later went on to design the chassis for the Peerless car. The frame on the Gammon Special was strengthened and adjustable rear dampers were used – they were controlled via a knob on the dashboard.
Gammon went on to achieve a huge amount of success with the car. Among countless podium finishes were three wins at Silverstone in 1952, plus one at Thruxton. The following year, he won at Silverstone, Goodwood and Snetterton, and claimed the Motor Sport Silverstone Trophy as well as the Egerton Challenge Trophy.
He also won that year’s Performance Cars 1500cc Trophy, and in third place in the standings was Colin Chapman. So impressed was the Lotus founder that he invited Gammon to race one of his Mk6 cars. Gammon transferred the tuned MG engine into his Mk6 and raced it through 1954.
In September of that year, he advertised both the Lotus-MG (£850) and the Gammon Special (£450) for sale in Autosport. The latter was bought by Jimmy Blumer, who would go on to race in the 1964 Le Mans 24 Hours in a works Sunbeam Tiger. He raced the Gammon Special in 1955 but his results are unknown, apart from winning a sprint at Sherburn in May.
Blumer then sold the car to Arthur Grayson, who was based in Redcar in north-east England, and from Grayson it passed in the summer of 1957 to John Swift. In a 1976 letter, Swift recalled that he raced and hillclimbed it at venues such as Barbon, Catterick, Croft, Charterhall and Silverstone. ‘I had an enormous amount of fun with the car,’ he wrote, ‘which I raced on the proverbial shoestring.’
He explained that it would pull 6100rpm – ‘which is about 102mph’ – on the Club Circuit at Silverstone before he had to brake for Woodcote corner. It would apparently out-accelerate Healey Silverstones, AC-engined Aces and Triumph TR2s, and while he recalled it being less competitive against the new Lotus Eleven, ‘it was a source of delight to lap XK 120s and MGAs!’
Swift paid £295 for the Gammon Special and sold it for £375 to someone that he remembered only as ‘Lambert’. By then, he had modified the bodywork to include a ‘then-fashionable Connaught-type egg-crate grille’ and repainted the car British Racing Green.
Subsequent owners included Dick Deasey, Brian Chapman, Ted Walker (of Ferret Fotographic fame) and Ken Dalziel, before it was bought in 1975 by MG enthusiast Dave Saunders. He later said that it was ‘in a rather sorry state’ and the car was put away for 20 years until Saunders embarked on a full restoration in the late 1990s.
It was while he was researching the car and looking for photographs to use as reference material that he approached Ted Walker to ask if he had any period images of it, only to discover that Walker himself had owned it in the early 1970s.
Saunders meticulously rebuilt the car to Gammon-era specification in time for it to take part in the 1999 Goodwood Revival. He then raced it extensively in historic meetings around Europe, from Silverstone, Oulton Park and Donington Park to the Nürburgring, Dijon and Assen.
Now being offered for sale by The Classic Motor Hub for the first time in almost 50 years, the Gammon Special is one of the fastest and best-known post-war MG-based specials. It comes with a wealth of period photographs and later correspondence documenting its fascinating history, and perfectly evokes a halcyon period in British motor racing.