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Two for the Road

Outstanding cars from the 2003 British Extravaganza

By Leonard Emanuelson & Ken Smith

Big shows such as the 2003 VARA/Moss Motors British Extravaganza this past May have more good stuff than will fit in one issue of British Motoring. We enjoyed the diverse range of rare, restored, and race-ready cars that descended on the Buttonwillow Raceway; we think you’ll enjoy them too. This issue, we take a closer look at Michael Jacobsen’s 1934 MG N-Type Magnette and Bob Prieve’s 1960 TR3A.

1934 MG N Special: Family Heirloom Racer

Many vintage car enthusiasts love their machines. Few, however, have the connection that Michael Jacobsen has with his 1934 MG N Special. It has been a family racecar for more than 50 years. Michael’s dad, Lars Jacobsen, converted the car from a Magnette N road car (approximately 600 of which were built) to a racecar, and competed in the SoCal area at SCCA and other local events. In fact, at the age of 10, Michael pit-crewed for his dad at a race in Santa Ana. This experience made a lasting impression on him—racing MGs was a pretty cool thing to do.

From any angle, this MG N Special looks right. Rudge wire wheels were cut down from 18 to 16 inches. Brakes have been converted to hydraulics in front but retain cable-operated rears. A few parts were carried over by MG from the N-Type to the TA-B-C, notably the rear axleshafts and electrical parts.

From any angle, this MG N Special looks right. Rudge wire wheels were cut down from 18 to 16 inches. Brakes have been converted to hydraulics in front but retain cable-operated rears. A few parts were carried over by MG from the N-Type to the TA-B-C, notably the rear axleshafts and electrical parts.

Lars actually had three Ns that were converted to racecars. Michael points out that his is not a numbers-matching car because his dad kept switching components from car to car to keep them running. One car was destroyed in a crash and another was sold when Lars passed away a few years ago. Michael races the remaining MG N Special (serial #476), and we snapped these candid photos of him and #99 competing at the 2003 VARA British Extravaganza.

Lightening holes are everywhere. Large tachometer is a factory race part and occasionally sees 7,000rpm. Shifter connects to a TC gearbox that has better ratios for racing. Michael is too tall for the shortened MG, so he sits on pads instead of a bucket seat.

Lars converted this N to race spec by removing weight, increasing horsepower, and making chassis mods to bolster the handling. The wheelbase was shortened from 96 inches to 88—about an inch too short for the 5’10” Michael, who must ride on a couple of pads instead of in a proper seat. This chassis chop removed quite a bit of weight and made the car more agile on tight courses. Lars also liberally drilled the frame and reinforced it in critical areas. He hand-built a custom aluminum body and added a low-profile roll bar. The only other concession to safety was converting the front brakes to hydraulics. The rears remain 12-inch cable-operated mechanical brakes.

An interesting point about this car is the independent front suspension, which was installed in England before the car was shipped to the U.S. The springs are a series of bungee cords hooked together. It sounds scary, but Michael claims that this setup works well and that he only replaces the bungee cords every four or five years.

The inline six-cylinder SOHC MG powerplant now displaces 1430cc and produces 75hp by way of a hotter camshaft and larger SU carbs. Beautiful exhaust is believed to be a genuine NE racecar piece.

What attracted us to take a closer look at Michael’s MG was its gorgeous six-cylinder SOHC engine. It originally displaced about l27lcc. In race form, it’s l430cc, and power has jumped from the original rating of 56hp to 75hp. A hotter camshaft, larger throat (1 3/8”) twin SU carbs, and a factory-style N racecar exhaust are responsible for much of the increase. The engine passes the power back through a TC gearbox that has better ratio spacing for racing.

In 1934, MG built seven racing Ns, which were labeled NEs. They were constructed to replace the supercharged K3s that were outlawed for the Tourist Trophy race. The NEs won the race, and it is believed that four of the famous seven cars still exist. Lars and Michael’s MG N is even more rare. It is one-of-a-kind—part classic British sports car, part good old American hot rod. When you look at the perfect proportions and the balance it shows on the racetrack, you can’t help but think that Lars really got it right.

Long-Distance 1960 TR3A

Bob Prieve isn’t a fan of trailers. Here, the rack-and-pinion steering conversion helps him rip through the slalom at Buttonwillow Raceway.

Bob Prieve isn’t a fan of trailers. Here, the rack-and-pinion steering conversion helps him rip through the slalom at Buttonwillow Raceway.

Bob Prieve is the original owner of this 1960 Triumph, and it’s been a daily driver ever since he purchased it. However, Bob has made certain modifications over the years to improve the TR’s drivability. Most notable are a Toyota Supra 5-speed gearbox, rack-and-pinion steering, and a limited-slip rear differential. Bob also swapped in a 260-grind cam.

The engine has about 175,000 miles on it. Aftermarket goodies include K&N air filters, a Mallory distributor, and aftermarket plug wires.

The engine has about 175,000 miles on it. Aftermarket goodies include K&N air filters, a Mallory distributor, and aftermarket plug wires.

No stranger to long road trips, Bob recently logged 4,200 miles from his home in Thousand Oaks, California, to Minnesota for the Vintage Triumph Convention. He took second place in the People’s Choice category there and also bagged a second-place trophy in the autocross. According to all reports, both the car and its owner are 43 years old and in excellent shape.

Bob recently had the interior redone and the car repainted. Car-show fans wholeheartedly approve of the work.

Bob recently had the interior redone and the car repainted. Car-show fans wholeheartedly approve of the work.

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