Arnolt MG, the MGTD in Italian Dress

BY JOHN F. QUILTER                                                       Oct 2015

Back in 1952 to 1953 the importer of MGs for the USA Midwest who was based in Chicago, Stanley Arnolt, who ran S H Arnolt Inc. decided that the MGTD, which was one of his big sellers, needed a new updated body. Not seeing sucha product likely to come from the Nuffield organization in England he set about finding a coach building firm to create a new body for the car. He met with Giovani Bertone in Italy at the Turin auto show in 1952 and the foundation for a cooperative agreement was made.

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This agreement resulted in the design of new body for the venerable MGTD designed by Nuccio Bertone and Giovanni Michelotti. The result was a full enveloped body for the chassis and mechanicals of the TD. The only exterior styling features of the new car borrowed from the TD were the grill design, instruments, and tail lamps and as such it is hard to believe the new product was an MGTD under the skin. The fascia, although using all MGTD instruments was completely reoriented with the speedometer and tachometer on the driver’s side (all Arnolt MGs were left hand drive) and the TD’s central gauge panel turned upside down between the two main dials.

Both coupe and convertibles were made and initial production goals were 200 cars but the final figures were reported to be 67 coupes and 36 convertibles making this a very rare MG indeed. Some of the very last were produced with the TF 1500cc engine. Arnolt would have liked to produce more but MG was selling every TD, and later TF, they could build and were not willing to spare chassis and components for the custom body endeavor even though the Arnolt version was close to a third more costly than the standard MGs. The weight of the coupe was reported as 2,094 pounds a bit more than the MGTDs figure of 2,005. Arnolt also dabbled with custom work for Aston, Bentley and Bristol over this period.

There is an amazing proliferation of models to 1:43 scale, everything from an Amphicar to a Daimler Majestic Major to an amazing selection of American cars from the 1930s to the 1980s now produced. So it is not surprising that NEO, a Chinese based resin model maker, has taken on the Arnolt MG in coupe form. This is sold in three colours: red, racing green, and cream. Always striving to replicate every conceivable MG in miniature for my collection, I added a red coupe to my miniature MG museum and then got to thinking that I could tackle modifying another one into a convertible.

That desire resulted in my obtaining an additional model, in green, and “chopping” off the top. It took some judicious cutting work with a jeweller’s saw and some additional modifications. At least these resin models saw easily in comparison to die cast models. The top had to be reshaped to represent top bows and the quarter windows of the coupe had to be filled in as the convertible has blind quarters eliminating the need on the real car of roll down quarter windows. I wanted the car to be able to be display top up or top down so a top boot was created with a small piece of very flexible sheet lead and painted tan to match the top. As always Google images provide a great selection of photos of nicely restored real cars to use as a guide in design features.