For those of you with teenage girls at home, no doubt you’ve heard Meghan Trainor warble, “it’s all about that bass” from an iPod or similar device. Well, for classic cars you can substitute provenance for bass and you’ll understand how the market works. That inimitable history was enough to lift this 1949 MG TC from the $30,000 to $40,000 range (the value of an equivalent condition period race car) to an order of magnitude (and then some) beyond that.
What makes XPAG3042 so special? Well, unlike most cars where a Carroll Shelby autograph hurts value more than it helps (ask an owner of a real Cobra what his signature does for the bottom line) his imprint on the door panel of this particular TC signifies something historic.
In May 1952, Carroll Shelby used this MG – like thousands of other young racers around the same time – to drive in his first sports car race in Norman, Oklahoma. Borrowed from his friend, Ed Wilkins, this first drive propelled Shelby into history. Shelby took his class in that race, and then using another borrowed car – an XK120 – and won again that same weekend. The die was cast and Shelby moved into another borrowed Jaguar, an Allard, eventually going to Le Mans with the Works Aston Martin team.
Shelby then continued with various sports cars – including a C-Type Jaguar and various Healeys – before heading to the big time with factory drives for Ferrari and Maserati and Aston Martin on the Grand Prix circuit. Of course, the rest of the story is one that we’re all familiar with as he was the guiding force behind the immortal AC Cobra and Shelby Mustang and essential to Ford’s Le Mans winning effort in the GT40.
But in the spring of 1952, this was all in the future and that destiny starts with this little TC. Part of the Syd Silverman collection for decades before its purchase by Ron Pratte it was awarded the Collier Cup in 2005 and was often a source of reflection for the larger than life Texan.
After several passes on the auction circuit, it was sold earlier this year by Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale for $539,000 (including the buyer’s commission). Too much? Not enough? What we know is that you can’t have too much provenance and this car had that in spades.
By Johnny Oversteer
Stock images courtesy of Barrett-Jackson. Auction image courtesy of SCM.