Arnolt MG – the MGTD in Italian Dress

Back in the 1952-1953 period, the importer of MGs for the Midwest who was based in Chicago, Stanley H. 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 such a 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.

1955 Arnolt MG at RM Auctions in 2011

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 components of the new car borrowed from the TD were the grill, instruments, and tail lamps and as such it is hard to believe the new produce was an MGTD under the skin.  The fascia, although using all MGTD instruments was completely re-orientated 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 goal was 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 2094 pounds a bit more than the MGTDs figure of 2005.  Some weight was saved on these Bertone designed the cars as they had aluminum doors and hood. Arnolt also dabbled with custom work for Aston, Bentley, and Bristol over this period.

As recently as 2013 an Arnolt coupe turned up owned by a Jeffery Hess who had purchased the car directly from an S H Arnolt dealer when new.  This red car, only titled in 1959,  has accumulated only 2400 miles with only 44 miles added in the last 40 years.  In 2011 RM Auctions sold a nicely restored coupe in maroon with a Shorrock C75B supercharger for $38,500.

1952 MG Arnolt Coupe

Now with the amazing proliferation of 1:43 scale models, everything from an Amphicar to a Daimler Majestic Major to an amazing selection of American cars from the ‘30s to the ‘80s are produced,  it is not surprising that NEO a Chinese based resin model maker has taken on the Arnolt MG in coupe form currently.   Three colors are offered, red, racing green, and cream. Always striving to collect every conceivable MG in miniature 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 jeweler’s saw and some additional modifications.  At least these resin models do saw easily in comparison to

Always striving to collect every conceivable MG in miniature 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 jeweler’s saw and some additional modifications. At least these resin models do 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. NEO did a great job replicating the rearranged MGTD instruments and fascia details on these models and with the top down they are easily visible.

As always Google images provide a great selection of photos of nicely restored real cars to use as a guide in design features. NEO did a great job replicating the rearranged MGTD instruments and fascia details on these models and with the top down they are easily visible.

Note: This is another guest contribution by John F. Quilter on model reproductions of classic British cars. 
John F. Quilter
John F. Quilter is a long time British car fan and former employee of British Leyland in North America. He has a collection of over 2000 British car models, and that collection continues to grow. Originally from California, John now makes his own in Eugene, Oregon. Click here to see more about John and his cars.

3 Comments

  1. There is an aside to the Arnolt MG story. The second major batch built, I believe there were 84 of them, went down with the Andrea Doria, along with the Dodge Norseman show car. Stanley Arnolt was also the US importer and distributor for Solex fuel system products.

  2. Patrick
    What an interesting aside, however I would be really interested to know the source of this information. Have just looked up the Andrea Doria and it apparently had a 50 car garage on B Deck which was penetrated by the bow of the Stockholm, so unlikely there could be 84 Arnolts there. That said, they could well have been in another cargo area. The deck plans I have been able to find, which relate mostly to the passenger areas, seem to indicate there was a large cargo space on C Deck but I could not find any plans of the decks below the waterline, so any additional information would be welcome.

    Will (A multiple MG offender!)

  3. Crazy Arnolt also produced a very nice Solex conversion for the XPAG. I have a nice example on my car. Unfortunately he used a Venturi no larger than the 1 1/2 SUs so not a big advantage other than accelerator pumps. The carbs are the same as the Porsche Normal. I’m switching back to SUs as they are much easier to adapt to performance mods.

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