© Artcurial
  • Eligible for the most prestigious events
  • Matching numbers
  • No reserve
An evolution of the J2 model, the MG PB distinguished itself in particular by an engine with three bearings, a bigger displacement — and shorter gear ratios than the PA version. This delightful and efficient roadster with an overhead-camshaft engine did very well in several prestigious competitions including the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1937 (16th overall) and the Mille Miglia. Delivered new in England in April 1936 to Dr. D.O. Wharton in the Manchester area, this PB has its original registration book, which makes it easy to retrace part of its history. It also has its original registration and is listed in the MG Registry. Restored comprehensively between 2011 and 2012, it was bought in Italy by its current owner, who drove it in the historic Mille Miglia in 2012. In lovely condition and driving very well, the car was serviced in December 2016, including an overhaul of the carburetors. With the typical British roadster look from the 1930s, the PB originally developed 43 bhp from a displacement of 939 cc, and being a real lightweight, it performed most impressively. Now eligible in the most important international historical events, this rare car will be a real joy to the gentleman driver — for casual drives as well as racing.  

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1936 MG PB Roadster
Years Produced:1935–36
Number Produced:526
Original List Price:£222
SCM Valuation:$52,800
Tune Up Cost:$300–$400
Distributor Caps:$25
Chassis Number Location:On the front of the right-hand dumb iron (chassis rail extension)
Engine Number Location:Stamped into a raised panel on the near (left) side of the engine, just above the starter motor.
Club Info:MG Car Club (U.K.) Triple-M Register, North American Triple-M Register, New England MG T Register
Alternatives:1936 Bantam Singer Nine, 1935 Vale 1100, 1936 Talbot Ten Tourer
Investment Grade:C

This car, Lot 52, sold for €52,448 ($55,747) including buyer’s premium, at Artcurial’s Rétromobile sale in Paris, FRA, on February 10, 2017.

The PA and PB MGs were a short-lived series that followed the J-type and preceded the better-known T Series that first brought the marque to America’s attention post-World War II.

Produced from 1934 to 1936, the P cars used an updated version of the overhead-camshaft, crossflow engine that was also used in the predecessor J-type. In this engine, the overhead cam is driven by a vertical generator connecting the crankcase to the camshaft, and the distributor is spun directly off the crankshaft. It employs thermo-syphon cooling.

The engine was improved for the 1935 PB. It was bored out all the way from 847-cc to 939-cc capacity. The inline four with twin SU carburetors produced 43 hp if you dared rev it to 5,500 rpm. It was capable of propelling the car from 0–60 mph in a single afternoon — or about 27 seconds under ideal conditions.

The P-type chassis was strengthened and lengthened with half-elliptic leaf-spring suspension and rigid front and rear axles. Brakes were, of course, drum-type — and cable-operated. Production of the model totaled an estimated 526. It was the last MG motivated by an overhead-camshaft engine until the MGA Twin Cam debuted in 1958.

The next 4-cylinder model after the PB was the MG TA, which was the first of the T-series that includes the better-known TC, TD and TF models with their pushrod engines.

The last page of the first chapter

The PB sported three gauges with octagonal frames, mimicking the marque logo, aka The Sacred Octagon. The PB was also the first MG to wear the trademark vertical-slat grille, which replaces the honeycombed or wire-mesh design MG previously used.

Most PBs were open 2-seaters, but it was also available as a 4-seater that struggled to move a full load of passengers, and there was also a lovely coupe variant named the “Airline.”

The short-lived PB became a victim of the times, as the growing worldwide economic depression triggered a period of falling sales for the MG Car Company. Sales hit a peak of 2,500 cars sold in 1932, but by 1935, sales had fallen to half of that, and the company was suffering losses.

The rising prices of MGs — combined with increasing insurance costs exacerbated by the marque’s high-performance image — made them markedly less obtainable in an era of general economic depression. Consequently, in subsequent models the overhead-camshaft engine was discontinued and replaced by the cheaper Morris pushrod motor. Thus the PB represents the last page of the first chapter of the MG story.

A non-original road warrior

Our subject example is restored and finished in a complementary two-tone green, with just enough road grime to attest to actual use.

With enough of a head start it is roughly capable of that universal standard of “keeping up with modern traffic,” and the registry shows that this car was retrofitted with hydraulic brakes from a Wolseley Hornet. This is a welcome upgrade, as stopping distances with the original cable-operated drum brakes are often measured not in feet — but in tenths of a mile.

There are additional deviations from originality, including missing trafficators/semaphores, but they are of limited use in the modern world and important only if strict originality is sought.

The steering wheel is not original, and it appears to be a modern reproduction of a type that was popular in period.

The car also now has an electric fan behind the radiator and a “Retro Trip” calculator mounted above the shift lever. These modifications make it better for vintage events. Likewise, a water pump has been installed. While it is not standard, it was a factory option offered in period — and it is very practical in modern conditions.

Additional modifications to this car include a spin-on oil filter, and the rear suspension dampers have been converted from the original Luvax hydraulic type in favor of Hartford friction dampers, a common modification. All of this suggests that this vintage MG is a road warrior and no trailer queen, so perhaps like the previous owner, the new European owner intends to enter it in some vintage events.

Although deviations from originality can reduce a collector car’s value, in this case the enhancements to roadworthiness offset the transgressions. The SCM Pocket Price Guide pegs the PB at $52,800, so this sale is market-correct. ♦

(Introductory description courtesy of Artcurial.)

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