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HomePick of the DayPick of the Day: Italian-designed MG coupe with ‘Wacky’ history

Pick of the Day: Italian-designed MG coupe with ‘Wacky’ history

‘Wacky’ Bristol sent British cars to Italy for their makeovers

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As the story goes, Chicago industrialist Stanley Arnolt, who was nicknamed “Wacky” and who showed up in a cowboy hat, boots and a silk suit at the Turin Motor Show  as Italy was being to rebuild from World War II. 

Arnolt was dubbed with his nickname when he made a promotional trip across Lake Michigan in 1938 in a 13-foot rowboat powered by a marine engine. He had purchased the rights to the engine, which would make him a fortune when it was used to power small US Navy vessels during World War II.

After the war, Arnolt became the Midwest importer of British cars and was attracted to the custom-bodied MG coupe and convertible displayed on the Bertone stand at the Turin show. He told Nuccio Bertone that he wanted to buy the cars. That delighted the Italian design and coachbuilder because selling the coupe and convertible would keep him in business for another year.

Arnolt, Pick of the Day: Italian-designed MG coupe with ‘Wacky’ history, ClassicCars.com Journal
Arnolt, Pick of the Day: Italian-designed MG coupe with ‘Wacky’ history, ClassicCars.com Journal

“No, you don’t understand,” Arnolt said. “I want to buy 200 of these cars.”

Arnolt got his cars, at least nearly 70 of them before MG quit supplying the chassis. He also gained the title of vice president of Bertone, and thus began a series of Bertone-built vehicles for the Chicago distributor, the most well known being the Arnold-Bristol roadsters.

But first was the original Arnolt-MG in coupe and convertible and one of them, being offered for sale on ClassicCars.com as a 1955 Arnolt-MG coupe, is the Pick of the Day.

Arnolt, Pick of the Day: Italian-designed MG coupe with ‘Wacky’ history, ClassicCars.com Journal

The dealer notes that the styling for the MG TD-based coupes, fewer than 70 were produced, was done at Bertone by Giovanni Michelotti. After the deal with MG ended, Arnolt contracted with Bristol for his chassis.

Regarding the Pick of the Day, “This example was fully restored in 2013-2014 by specialist EuroSport,” the selling dealer in Atlanta notes. “It is finished in black over biscuit leather interior. The documented restoration included paint and bodywork, complete interior refresh, engine and gearbox overhaul, gauge restoration and chrome plating. 

“It retains its correct Marchal headlights and driving lights along with proper chrome knock-off wire wheels. Power comes from a rebuilt MG 1250cc 4-cylinder shared with the TD fed by twin SU carbs and mated to a 4-speed manual gearbox. The bonnet, door skins and boot lid are aluminum alloy. The engine compartment is nicely detailed.

“After the restoration was completed this Arnolt was sold to a physician and collector in Columbia; it was recently imported back to the states and has a current Georgia registration. Driven only 89 miles since restoration, this example still feels fresh and shows to a nice standard. Its driving characteristics are similar to a TD although it feels a bit tighter and more refined.”

The 1955 Arnolt-MG is being offered for $89,900. To view this listing on ClassicCars.com see Pick of the Day.

Hagerty
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

2 COMMENTS

  1. As a student in the mid 60’s I purchased an MG PB. Pre-war, it had bicycle mudguards and double overhead camshafts, (unseen), and looked great.
    It only had one fault – it was always going wrong, & being an impecunious student, I could not afford to fix it decently, so I sold it for the same loot as I paid for it – 60 pounds sterling (like 6 weeks’ pay)

    ( had previously owned an Austin 10 – it never went wrong nor turned any pretty bird’s head, ever!)

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