The Racing MG T-Types in Malaya & Singapore

By Eli Solomon

March 2024

This is a short account of some of the MG Ts that raced in Malaya & Singapore between the late 1930s and 1950s. It is not a comprehensive account by any means, but it does feature the more popular and successful cars that participated at club and Grand Prix events. While the overhead cam pre-war MGs were immensely popular at the sprint and hill climb circuits (with Ms, Js and P-Types and a real K3) up and down the Malaysian peninsula, the writer’s focus here is on the T-Types that raced in period.

In 1936 the MG Car Company dropped the use of the much-loved overhead camshaft cylinder heads with the introduction of the Morris-derived MPJG-engine, fitted to the P-Type’s replacement, the MG TA. Following the takeover of MG by Morris Motors, Wolseley engines replaced the well-developed overhead cam engines that powered the C, D, F, J, K, L, M, N, P, Q and Rs. Before the push-rod-MPJG engine of the TA and the XPAG engine of the TB had time to make a name in motor sports, war came upon the world.


The MG Car Company barely had time to launch the TB, a car with a totally new engine derived from the Morris Ten. It was freer revving than the TA’s 1292cc MPJG long stroke, and while the bodywork looked similar, the TB was a much livelier car to motor around in.

One such car made its way into racing in South East Asia when local racer Lim Kok Tai entered his “Blue Flash Special” TB in the 1940 Johore War Effort Grand Prix. While it was the sole TB entered, TAs, TBs and earlier overhead camshaft PBs were very popular and were regularly raced in the club events up and down the Peninsula. It has been said that there was even an MG Car Club in the region, probably led by those intrepid planters in Perak and Penang.

One of the few pre-war images of a T-Type in a Grand Prix… Lim Kok Tai’ “Blue Flash Special” TB with boat tail comes to an inglorious end in the 1940 Johore War Effort Grand Prix. Story in GENESIS & THE WINDS OF WAR.

In Malaya, the TA was already in action on 1 August 1938 at the August Bank Holiday Reliability Trial in Ipoh, a 70-mile drive over main roads, over tracks, plantation estates and around the mines. The “MG Minors” team of Penang-based Harry Marriott (PB), Malacca-based Public Works Department Superintending Engineer John Keene (TA) and Negri Sembilan planter John F. Gooch (TA) 1 took the team prize.

On 11 September 1938 the Seremban Half-Mile Speed Trial was held for the first time in the state. This would become one of the most popular events in the Peninsula – probably for its location between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. No less than three TAs and a TB were entered, together with a pair of regularly raced PBs (Harry Marriott and Kuala Lumpur building inspector C.O. ‘Mick’ Jennings’ cars). Marriott would have had to motor nearly 1,000km to get to Seremban and back, a reliability trial in itself! As it were, a drive from Seremban back to Singapore in wet weather in a Maserati 4CS took Ted Holloway just three hours in 1940! The other T entry with a 1249cc engine might have been a misprint in the local press report as one would not have expected to see a prototype of the TB being tested out in the colonies, unless there was a TA with a different 1249cc motor installed.

One car that stood out was the “MG Cracker” TA owned in the late 1930s by Perak-based planter James George Milne ‘Bill’ Ferguson. Was it a genuine MG Cream Cracker and if so, which of the team cars – from the 1937 cars or the 1938 MG TA VA-engined team? Both the Ferguson brothers were keen followers of the UK’s motor sports scene and had the means to indulge. Upon further investigation, it seems that it was one of the Maurice Toulmin Cream Cracker TAs – ABL960 (chassis TA0930), the 1937 Cream Cracker car or BBL78 (chassis TA2017), the 1938 Cream Cracker car with 1548cc VA engine bored out 1708cc with 73mm WA pistons. BBL78 can be eliminated because it was still with prolific MG competitor Toulmin in early 19392. Which leaves us with registration ABL960 (chassis TA0930), the first of the Cream Cracker TAs. Wilson McComb, in The Story of the MG Sports Car, notes that: “For 1937…MG produced six modified TA two-seaters, the Crackers in their familiar cream and brown finish, the Musketeer cars painted red. These were ‘sold’ to the team drivers on the understanding that MG would repurchase them for an agreed figure at the end of the year…Although the 1937 cars differed comparatively little from standard TA specification, both teams had a good year and the Cream Crackers won the coveted MCC Team Championship Trophy.” Had Abingdon on-sold one of the 1937 Cream Cracker team cars to Bill Ferguson of Perak? We have Vintage car enthusiast based in Malaya, David Morton, referring to the Ferguson TA as “an ex-Toulmin Cream Cracker” 3. You can reference the story in another article I wrote about this car: See TA 0930 – THE LOST MG TA CREAM CRACKER

The Perak “A” team that took part in the 1940 Gopeng Hill Climb on 24 March. The photo features Bill Ferguson in his MG Cracker, Hugh G. Oates in his MG PB and Charles Vernon Crowther-Smith in his Fiat Victoria Special.

A pre-war photo of Bill Ferguson’s 1935 Triumph Vitesse Sports Tourer alongside fellow Perak enthusiasts Hugh Oates4 (MG PB), Jack Ashby5 (MG TA) and Gerald Dixon6 (MG TA)7.

Bill Ferguson’s first recorded appearance in his 1292cc MG TA “Cracker” was at the Penang and Kedah Branch of the Automobile Association of Malaya’s Mount Pleasure Hill Climb held on 23 October 1938. A further appearance came at the Perak Branch of the AAM’s Gopeng Hill Climb Easter Holiday Festival on 9 April 1939. It seems that older brother Freddy Ferguson was down in Singapore on 11 June 1939 for the AAM’s Gap Hill Climb. The Perak MG squad of Harry Marriott (MG PB), Hugh Dornhorst (MG PB) and Freddy Ferguson (MG TA), took the Bosch tankard for fastest team of three with under 1500cc cars. Ferguson’s TA didn’t perform too well in Sports and Racing Cars Up to 1550c however, finishing behind Peter K. Braid’s LA MG-TA Monoposto and Neville Reddish’s supercharged TT Austin Seven.

At the 2 July 1939 Penang and Kedah Branch of the AAM’s Mount Pleasure Hill Climb, both Freddy and Bill Ferguson participated in an MG TA. The third of a mile course was now 30 yards longer than 1938 course. Freddy won Class 11 (Borneo Cup) for 1500cc Sports Cars in 38.15 sec, Bill was second in 38.25sec. Bill was 2nd in the Unlimited Sports Cars to Harry Marriott’s supercharged MG PB. Freddy was 3rd. Team Perak, an all-MG team of Gerald Dixon (MG TA registration PK1184) and the Fergusons, won the Inter-State challenge between Perak and Penang. FTD was set by Harry Marriott in the MG PB at 37.25 sec with only Bill Ferguson close with a 38 sec. run in the Unlimited Sports Cars class.

The only MG T-Type in the 1940 Johore War Effort Grand Prix was this TB, road registered SN20. The car was nicknamed the Blue Flash.

There were two further appearances for the Ferguson Cream Cracker – at Mount Pleasure on 9 February 1940 (first in Sports Cars to 1550cc; first in Sports Cars Unlimited) and Gopeng on 24 March 1940, both hill climbs. Bill Ferguson’s mode of transport seems to have been his Triumph Vitesse (registration PK140) and his pre-war motoring ventures were clearly confined to events in North Malaya, usually in Perak and Penang8.


Following the cessation of hostilities in 1945, car production in Abingdon was ramped up once again. The TB begot the TC, with 1250cc XPAG overhead valve motor that produced 54bhp. The TC, which was launched in October 1945, took the United States market by storm, as it did in South East Asia. In Clausager’s Original MG T-Series, he writes that nine TA/TB’s were exported to Malaya in 1939, and another seven cars in 1940. Malaya was the third largest export market from 1937-1940 for T-Types (after Australia & Germany) – and this was pre-war!

The one thing going for the XPAG motor was that it was immensely tuneable, especially when coupled to a Shorrock supercharger fed on a cocktail of methanol (50%), fuel (20%) and Benzol (30%). The earliest TCs must have arrived in South East Asia in 1946 and one of the first to possess the new model was MG faithful, Kuala Lumpur-based Captain Cyril Oswald ‘Mick’ Jennings. Malayan MG distributor was Malayan Motors, owned by Wearne Brothers Ltd. The company had reopened for business in May 1946 but spares were limited and new stock non-existent so it stands to reason that Jennings would have imported his car directly from Abingdon. The first mention of his TC is from Ruth Jennings’ memoirs of her journey in the car from Penang to Kuala Lumpur, after arriving in Penang with daughter Sally Jennings in March 1947.


Arguably the best-known MG in Asia of the post-war period was Mick Jennings’ highly tuned TC, known as the Black Draught. Having spent the years before the outbreak of war in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, Captain Jennings fled the invading Japanese forces and wrote about the first part of his escapade it in his book Ocean Without Shores (First Edition – Hodder and Stoughton Ltd, July 1950). He returned to Singapore on 20 June 1946 and was back in Kuala Lumpur as Building Inspector with the Town Board shortly after. He had remarried, following the passing of his first wife Margery during her imprisonment in Sumatra.

Alone in Kuala Lumpur, Jennings went about trying to relocate his racing MG K3 Magnette (K3007) and Supercharged MG PB. While on home leave during the summer of 1939 Jennings had acquired MG K3 K3007 from the MG factory in Abingdon in September, just as war was declared on Germany. It miraculously made it to Malaya by ship and was road registered B2335 (Kuala Lumpur plates). It was ready for the 1940 race season and there is a picture of the car in action at the Johore Grand Prix on page 10 of the 13 November 1940 edition of The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser. During the Japanese occupation the K3 was lost and there are various stories of where it, or parts thereof, could have ended up. Nothing showed up in Jennings’ quest and both K3 and PB were presumed lost until he got wind that the K’s engine may have been shoehorned into a boat during the war. There’s more on K3007 in an article I wrote: See The Real Captain MG.  

As he went about building a new life with wife Ruth and orchestrating the reconstruction and creation of new homes in Selangor, he reacquainted himself with MGs, using his new TC for his daily commute into the Federal Capital. His relationship with John Thornley, Syd Enever and Reg ‘Jacko’ Jackson meant that factory goodies would accompany Jennings back to Malaya during home leave.

B5334 was Mick Jennings’ first Black Draught MG TC. Look closely to the left of the image for the Selangor Motor Sports Club’s badge, designed by Jennings.

His first race in the TC was at the Seremban Sprint that was held on 5 June 1949 despite the ongoing petrol rationing and prospect of running into bandits on the drive from Kuala Lumpur during the undeclared war against communist insurgents (termed the Malayan Emergency).

Organised by the Negri Sembilan branch of the AAM, this was the first post-war sprint held at Rahang Road in Seremban. In 1949, the Automobile Association of Malaya composed of five branches: the Singapore and Johore branch, the Negri Sembilan and Malacca branch, the Selangor and Pahang branch, the Perak branch, and the Penang and Kedah branch. For the event, the family’s Austin A40 Somerset provided dual service – as backup transport and entry into the saloon car race. Ruth was quickly involved in racing as well. Their home on Lorong Kapar in Kuala Lumpur was a hive of activity as the 1949 season progressed.

A month after the Seremban Sprint, the Selangor, and Pahang Branch of the AAM held the Lornie Mile Sprint (3 June 1949), an annual event that would become extremely popular with racing enthusiasts up and down the Peninsula. Both Jennings and Ruth entered their TC in the Sports and Super Sports class. It was here that the road registered (B5334) TC was first recognised as the Black Draught.

When entries closed for the first post-war Johore Grand Prix in September 1949, three MG TCs were on the list of 22 cars entered for the main Grand Prix race. Wolseley, Morris and MG cars importers Malayan Motors had little idea how one of the smallest capacity entries in the race could upset the establishment and boost sales.

Jennings working on the Black Draught at Yung Fatt Motor Works in Seremban. Ruth Jennings looks on. Note the truncated rear end of the MG.

Where Jennings’ MG K3 failed in the 1940 Johore War Effort Grand Prix, the Black Draught did not let him down as the fancied Specials succumbed. Jennings romped to a fine victory in the 30-mile 1,650-yard (30 lap) 1949 Johore Grand Prix after the front-running Kudensay Special pulled out. He also bagged the trophy for cars 1500cc and under, unsupercharged, and 1100cc and under, supercharged. Jennings made the cover of the Straits Times papers on 3 October 1949.

Thank you very much Mrs Jean Falconer9… Mick Jennings wins the first post-war Johore Grand Prix in his Black Draught. Looking over is Clerk of Course Paul Gibbs Pancheri (assisted by young Michael Pancheri).

Lap of honour for Mick Jennings and his Black Draught with its distinctively sloping tail that couldn’t have held much of a fuel tank. [See MONSTERS & MAVERICKS  MALAYAN/SINGAPORE POST-WAR SPECIALS]

Press advert in the Singapore papers in 1949.

Malayan Motors was quick to capitalise on the win, associating the marque with world land speed records set by Colonel Goldie Gardner as well. What a splendid bit of advertising it must have been – MG TC wins Grand Prix. [See MG WINS FORMULA 1 GRAND PRIX]

A scene from the first event of the 1950 Johore Grand Prix for Racing Cars. Wong Loon Cheong’s #26 Silver Arrow II 1490cc on the right, entered by Wong for young local car tycoon Chan Lye Choon. The car in the middle is Fred A. Stone’s #18 MG TC. Wong also entered his 1100cc Silver Arrow I (#24) 1100cc. Three other cars stand out in this photo: #25 (back, right – Kok Kum Woh in his Singer Nine Roadster), #21 (Mick Jennings in his Black Draught MG TC), and #23 (Freddie Pope in his supercharged Fiat Special).


MGs and the new TCs were already at the forefront of club activities from the resumption of racing in Malaya and Singapore. Indeed, from the very first Singapore Motor Club event on 25 April 1948, the Bukit Batok Hill Climb, MGs dominated in their respective classes. Motor mechanic Norman Chow Ah Teng ran an MG, presumably a pre-T as it was entered in the Under 1100cc class, while, in the Under 1500cc Sports Cars class, motor garage owner, racer and top Malayan Specials builder Lim Peng Han entered his MG. Expatriate MG owners included of J.N.K. ‘Neil’ Moncrieff (TC), Martin Ogle10(TC), Roy Leaman (TC)11, M.G. Knapman and internal combustion fuel export F.J. “Jacko” Williams. Lim Peng Han took the class win but it is not known if he was racing his PB or his two-tone T at the time.

TCs getting ready for a sprint in Kuala Lumpur in the early 1950s.

Kuala Lumpur-based Saw Kim Thiat’s accessorized MG TC.

Saw’s TC at the Lornie Mile Sprint…pre-1951.


Following the shock victory of Jennings’ Black Draught TC in the 1949 Johore Grand Prix, four TCs were entered in the first support race of the 1950 Johore Grand Prix (for 1500cc and under, Normally Aspirated and 1100cc and under, Supercharged cars), lining up against five Fiats, two of Lim Peng Han’s L.A. Specials, a Singer and a pair of Wong Loon Cheong’s Fiat-engined Silver Arrows. The main Grand Prix race for Formula One cars (Supercharged cars 1500cc and under or 4500cc and under, unsupercharged) consisted of a pair of TCs, one of which was supercharged. Nine of the other cars were local Specials, from the 3.9-litre Kudensay to four of Lim Peng Han’s L.A. Specials. To top it off, Fred Milne Ferguson had an alloy Jaguar XK120, the first XK120 on the local racing scene.

The start of the 1950 Johore Grand Prix with Jim Pattinson rocketing away from Freddie Johns and his #36 Jaguar Tourer Special. Fred Ferguson’s Jaguar XK120 had an awful start and can be seen at the back of the grid. The other cars on the grid included Peter Laws in a 4-litre V8 L.A. Special, Jimmy Milne in his V8 J.D. Special, Mick Jennings in his Black Draught, Freddie Pope in his Supercharged Fiat Special, Neil Moncreiff in the Kudensay Special, Lim Peng Han in his 3.5-litre L.A. Special, Chai Eng Quee in his L.A. MG-Special, and Lim Wong Nyan in his V8 L.A. Special.

Ferguson and his XK120 had a poor start but eventually finished second, setting Fastest Time of Day. The show, however, went to a 32-year-old Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank officer, J.M. “Pat” Pattinson12, of Singapore, in his supercharged MG TC. Pattinson astonished the establishment, leading from start to finish against much faster machinery. Back-to-back wins at Johore for the MG TC. Jennings’ No.21 Black Draught took yet another 1500cc and under class win. The following year, five XK120s were on the starting grid of the Grand Prix to make amends for the previous year’s disappointing show.

Five XK120 Jaguars prepare to usher in a new era of motor racing in Malaya.

The following year, five Jaguars XK120s were on the starting grid of the Grand Prix in an attempt to put an end to MG domination. If the Abingdon brigade couldn’t win outright, there was still a lot of silverware in the supporting races for the Grand Prix.

Come 1951, nearly the entire grid of 13 cars in the Le Mans-style start for the Sports Production cars under 1500cc race support race to the Johore Grand Prix consisted of MG TCs, bar one lone Singer Le Mans. The grid also included a blonde in her early 30s, Mrs Isabel Corkett 13, the only lady entrant, driving C.O. Jennings’ Yellow Peril MG TC (no. 67) which he lent her after she discovered her other mount was not ready. Corkett was the first woman entrant in Johore’s mass-start Sports Car race and naturally received a great deal of attention.  

An MG sandwich with Chan Lye Huat ahead in his No.35 MG TD. No.30 is Paul Gibbs Pancheri in his 4 1/2-litre Bentley. Behind the Bentley is the No.33 MG TD of Chan Lye Choon. The Grand Prix was run to Formula 1 rules over 25 laps (51 Miles 990 Yards). Bill Ferguson’s little Cooper JAP won both the Johore Grand Prix as well as the preceding race for cars 1500cc and under. Greatest disappointment of the show was Capt C.O. “Mick” Jennings, President of the Selangor Motor Sports Club, who was forced to withdraw his “Black Draught” from the big event.

By then many of the MG Ts had special names and special tuning done by their owners, from the MG TD-based Emmgee Supercharged Special of John Reed 14, to the Hitam Manis (MG TC) of Freddie Johns, and Saw Kim Thiat’s purposeful-looking cream-coloured MG TC Special (later sold to Robert Lee).

SB4315 was Saw Kim Thiat’s MG TC Special. The car retained its spare wheel at the rear. Not much is known of this car.

Saw Kim Thiat’s MG TC Special in action at a Malayan hill climb.

Another of the Lim Peng Han-built 1,498cc Fiat-based Specials in action in Johore in 1950. The gaggle of identifiable cars behind Yip Peng Yin’s Fiat L.A. Special include Fred Stone (MG TC), William Johns Putra (MG TC) and Mick Jennings (Black Draught TC). Yip was the cousin of Lim’s second wife, Irene.

At the club events, the MG marque was extremely well represented. Stock, lightened, tuned, supercharged TCs and TDs were extremely popular. The MG-based Specials were a subject unto themselves, and these include Jennings’ Black Draught and Lim Peng Han’s L.A.s – XPAG engine with lightweight alloy bodies for his customers.

The Mount Pleasure hill climb and standing half mile sprint was organised by the AAM Penang and Kedah and the Perak Motor Cycle Club in the early 1950s. The photo shows an MG TC in action in the hands of Freddie Johns.

The Johore Grand Prix packed the Grand Prix weekends with many classes of racing, including one for production sports cars such as this race in 1951. The entry list was dominated by MG TCs (and a sole Singer Le Mans).

The 1951 Johore Grand Prix 5-lap Sports Production Race for cars under 1500cc. No.51 is Yap Swee Kit in his Singer Le Mans. Trailing is No.5, P.M. Jamieson in a TC; No.87 is P.D. Rooth in a TC; No.15 is J.A. Graham in a TC; and No.83 is Mick Jennings in his road-going TC. The grid of 13 consisted of 11 TC, a TD, and the Singer Le Mans.

A Type 37 Bugatti body on an MG chassis – in this case, an M Type chassis.

Singapore Motor Club President Paul Gibbs Pancheri (1928 3/4½-litre VDP open tourer  Bentley, was shipped to Singapore in 1949) leads Chan Lye Choon (MG TD) out of Jail Corner onto Jalan Ayer Molek during the 1951 Johore Grand Prix. Singapore’s Chan brothers, Lye Huat (No.30) and Lye Choon (No.33), known as the Citroén Brothers as they arrived at the events in Citroéns (the brothers had inherited Eastern Auto, agents for the French marque) were participating in the Johore Grand Prix for the first time in MG TDs.

Lim even had parts of a Bugatti Type 37 body (namely, the horseshoe grille), on an MG M-Type chassis, entered as an L.A. Special [See Automotive Archaeology & the Bugatti-MG Special]. The Type 37 Bugatti body must have come from the 1926 1½-litre Bugatti Type 37C (chassis 37254) that he had sequestered during the war. It barely resembled a Bugatti and was really an MG – possibly from the remnants of his first M-Type. Lim raced this car on a number of occasions – as #19 in the 1949 Johore Grand Prix Sports Car race, listed as a 1250cc MG with side-laced wire wheels; as #35 at the Bukit Batok Hill Climb on 26 November 1950 as a 1250cc L.A. Special (Racing Cars 1500cc and Under class win with a 49.0 sec fastest time), now with centre-laced wire-wheels with larger drums on the front; as #52 Lim Chu Kang on 13 February 1955 (unlisted in the official program). In each case it was listed as an L.A. Special with 1250cc engine capacity, adding further to the already complex variety of L.A. Specials circulation around. To add further confusion to the #52 entry at Lim Chu Kang in February 1955, Lim and Francis Baruch shared an MG Special (listed at 1250cc) running Lim’s customary #9. Lim won class 4, 1500cc Sports Cars and Under with a new record of 28.92 sec., beating Freddy Pope’s 1250cc FP23 that weekend (Pope held the previous record in 1954 with 29.75 sec.). At the Gap Hill Climb on 24 April 1955, Lim’s #9 MG Special was listed with a 1486cc motor, the red car road registered SC4833 and sporting a few unusual features – one of which was a left side-mounted spare wheel.

Up north in Perak, the Ashby Road circuit was used for timed runs. Here, Freddie Johns prepares to launch his TC for his run.

The start of one of the support races in the 1952 Johore Grand Prix featuring (front row L to R) Bill Ferguson’s 996cc Cooper JAP, the Roy Kendall-Neil Moncreiff Kudensay Special and Mick Jennings’ Black Draught MG TC (No.21). Singaporean Chan Lye Choon is in the No.33 MG TD on row two.

Selangor resident Saw Kim Thiat raced his MG TC in the Production Sports Cars race for the 1952 Johore Grand Prix 1952. For the Grand Prix, he used his Jaguar XK120.

Black Draught Mk2 with Ruth Jennings at the start of the 1952 Lornie Kilo.

Two MGs chase a Fiat Special in the 1952 Johore Grand Prix support race for Cars 1500cc and under. The Fiat was run by Kok Kum Woh while No.44 was one of the XPAG L.A. Specials raced by Phil Caroline. Entering the corner is Freddie Johns in his Hitam Manis MG TC.

SC4833 was Lim Peng Han’s favourite MG and the car was a regular at the sprints and hill climbs during that period, sometimes listed with a 1464cc motor, sometimes with a 1468cc motor and sometimes with a 1486cc motor, no doubt typing errors during time of entry. This is the car Lim shipped to Colombo for the Ceylon Motor Cycle Club’s Road Race Meeting held 20-21 August 1955. It was a total fiasco for the two Singapore entries and all that remains of this is a tattered race program from Lim’s personal collection.

The August 1955 Colombo Road Race program.

The under 1500cc Sports Cars race in 1953 was started under Le Mans rules with drivers lined up across the track for the massed start. Nagle Yap took an early but short-lived lead, but it was Saw Kim Thiat from KL, driving an MG TD, who took the flag and set FTD of 2min 18sec at 61.16mph.

Lim Peng Han in his MG TC Special in 1953 on the way to a second-place finish in the Under 1500cc Sports Cars support race. [See MONSTERS & MAVERICKS  MALAYAN/SINGAPORE POST-WAR SPECIALS]

Freddie Johns was another very active participant throughout Malaya in the 1950s until his untimely death in 1966. For the 1952 Johore GP, he raced “Hitam Manis”, his MG TC.

Two TCs coming together during a support race for the Johore Grand Prix.

A different perspective of the clash between Freddie Johns and his MG TC and Ruth Jennings in her TC. Who had the correct line?

Lining up for the Gap Hill Climb in the 1950s with a mix of TCs, TDs, and the Black Draught.


When Jennings’ Black Draught was wrecked in an accident on the return journey from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur after the May 1951 Gap Hill Climb, the Black Draught Mk 2 was created from its remains. It was now supercharged with magneto ignition and reputed to put out 85bhp at 6500rpm. The bodywork was rebuilt with a lower radiator and a supercharger, giving the car a real “racer” appearance, according to close family friend and Jaguar XK120 racer Derek Bovet White. It was still black.

Another incarnation of the Black Draught – seen at the 1953 Johore Grand Prix with the assistance of Clerk of Course, John Gwatkin-Williams

Speaking of John Gwatkin-Williams…15

The Black Draught eventually had a larger engine installed, showing up at the 13 May 1956 Lornie Kilo Sprint in Kuala Lumpur with a 1498cc engine, presumably out of an MGA, or perhaps an XPAG, linered to 1500cc. Here Ruth pipped her husband by a full second, finishing second fastest to Bernard Arnold (in a 996cc MkIV Cooper Jap that held the course record set in 1952) in the 1101-1500cc class. Shortly after this event, the Black Draught, the family Yellow Peril TC and their BRG-coloured TD were superseded by Abingdon’s latest sports car, an MGA. Jennings called it his Black Panther and it became his club race car. What became of the Black Draught and Yellow Peril?

Final incarnation of the Black Draught MG TC.

By then the 1500cc and under class of racing was dominated by the new MGA while overall wins were the domain of the XK Jaguars and racing Cooper Japs. At that Lornie Kilo sprint, the sports cars 1100-1500cc class saw long-time Kuala Lumpur competitor Saw Kim Thiat win in his newest acquisition, an MG TF.


Between 1954 and the late 1950s, racing in Malaya and Singapore was confined (with one exception at the RAF Changi Circuit Race of 1957 in Singapore) to sprints and hill climbs. Here TCs, TDs and TFs dominated the 1500cc and under class while the tuned TCs were often entered in the Sports Car Unlimited categories. When a new class for Sports Car under 1300cc was created, TCs and TDs dominated, while in the newly created 1600cc and under class, MGAs (single and twin cam models) ruled.

While Bill Wyllie had his Triumph TR3-engined Buckler DD2 Mistral Wyllie Special from the middle of 1957, fellow Wearne Brothers colleague in Kuala Lumpur, Alan Tydeman, had an MG TC-engined version of an earlier Buckler. In October 1956, Tydeman advertised for sale his “100mph MG Sports Special” – Buckler racing chassis [Straits Times, October 1956]. The advertisement stated it had a professionally built body, asking price $3,500/- ono. The car was offered once more [Straits Times, 14 January 1959] as a “HOT ROD” MG, TC engine, Buckler racing chassis with professional sports racing Body, all normal road equipment, $1,500, ono. The author has not been able to establish which Buckler chassis it was or whether the car was ever raced in the Far East.


MG TCs, TDs and TFs continued to be popular in club racing in Asia right up to the 1970s. And when they were old enough to be considered as vintage machinery, their enthusiastic owners entered them in the support races in the Malaysian and Selangor Grands Prix at the Shah Alam Circuit and the Penang Circuit Races well into the 1980s.

Words by Eli Solomon

[email protected]

Images from Rewind Media Archives


  1. John Francis Gooch [b.1905 – d. 15.2. 1942] Henley, Bucks. Assistant Planter, Damansara Rubber Co. Ltd, Batu Tiga, Selangor. Wife H.J.M. evacuated to Shiptake, Oxfordshire. Sgt. FMSVF, Armoured Cars. Killed in action in his armoured car on 15 February 1942, Paya Lebar Road, Singapore.
  2. Safety Fast, October 2018 – Letter from Jonathan Toulmin, son of Maurice Toulmin. States that his dad disposed of the T-Type Cream Cracker BBL78 between the end of the Cream Cracker’s final event at the Exeter Trial on 7 January 1939 and Land’s End Trail on 8 April 1939. “During those three months, dad had disposed of his T-type Cream Cracker (BBL 78), purchased this N-type, got married, had a honeymoon, etc!”
  3. Those Were The Days, MSVCR Magazine, June 1971. David Morton’s source would have been an earlier letter to the Editor in the same magazine – pre-1970 magazine.
  4. Hugh G. Oates [1911-1990]. Listed in 1957 with OBE (Military) for Wing Commander Hugh Gordon Oates, Commanding Singapore Wing, Malayan Auxiliary Air Force. The Singapore Wing, Malayan Auxiliary Air Force (MAAF) was active from its formation in June 1950, until its disbandment in 23 September 1960. The MAAF was based at RAF Tengah. This writer is not certain if this is the same H.G. Oates who resided in Ipoh before WWII and who worked for Wearne Brothers, Ipoh though Wing Commander Oates was stated to have come from Western Australia (as were the Wearne brothers). It is possible that Oates, a member of the Malayan Volunteer Air Force before the war, was evacuated to Sumatra by air and in the ship Jala Retna, eventually finding his way to Perth following the fall of Java. In Perth he became a member of the RAAF.
  5. Geoffrey Emile ‘Jack’ Ashby was the fourth son of Eurasian W.J.B. Ashby M.C.H. [Malayan Certificate of Honour, awarded in 1928], J.P. [awarded in 1933] (Secretary, Kinta Sanitary Board). Ashby Road (where, in the 1950s, stood the Kinta Detention Camp as well as the military establishments) was named after W.J.B. Ashby. Jack married Miss Mildred Pavanaris in Ipoh on 10 September 1940. W.J.B. Ashby was a leader of the Eurasian community in Perak in the 1930s. Born in Penang [28 June 1871], died aged 68 in May 1939. His father was William Ashby, a European Inspector of the Straits Settlements Police.
  6. Gerald Dixon is perhaps better known for setting a record for the Butterworth to Singapore drive in June 1931 – 513 mile, 11 hour 48 minute record set in a 1926 twin overhead camshaft 3-litre Sunbeam. See Straits Times, 3 June 1935 p12. – Through Malaya in 10 ¾ Hours – Motorist Dash from Penang. See also the first edition of Motoring In Malaya, 1935.
  7. Source: Tyler, Brian & Stonor, Henry. Vintage Motoring in Malaysia. July 1977.
  8. A further note on Bill Ferguson is necessary here. Aside from his Triumph 1935 Gloria Vitesse 6-cylinder Sports Tourer and the MG TA “Cracker”, in 1939 he also had a V8 Lancia Coupe, revealed by him to have been the Mussolini car, of which just four were built for the Mille Miglia. Three of these were raced but the Mussolini car was gifted to the Il Duce in 1935. The bodywork of the car was similar to Carlo Vigano’s 8C Alfa Romeo that crashed in practice ahead of the 1953 Johore Grand Prix. With the exception of the Triumph, which Ferguson used as regular transport, the remaining cars would have been in the Ferguson estate at Tanjong Rambutan when the Japanese invaded Malaya in December 1941.
  9. John Falconer (b. 1898 – d. 1990) was British Resident Commissioner to Johore between March 1949 and July 1952. Dorothy Jean Falconer was his wife.
  10. Martin Ogle was a Senior Master, Penang Free School before the War. Escaped to Padang then Colombo on HMS Dragon, then HMAS Hobart. Remarried Dulcoe Helena ‘Judy’ Tholen of Singapore in April 1946 when he was listed as Education Department. Singapore. 16 September 1938 granted a Commission as Hon. Cadet Lieutenant in the Penang Free School Cadet Corps. Appears as Principal of Anderson Secondary School, Ipoh, in 1965.
  11. Roy Leaman was a PWD mechanical engineer based in Johore. As Paul Gibbs Pancheri recalled of the SMC’s first Bukit Batok Hill Climb in 1948 (letter to Julian Collings, MSVCR March/April 1989), “My task was to take charge of spectator control, no light task even nowadays, but for what must have been the first time any of the inhabitants had seen anything of the sport, it was hard work indeed to keep them from committing suicide. Anyhow, the meeting was voted a success, and for me it meant another batch of friends, amongst whom were Roy and Marjorie Leaman. Roy was a PWD mechanical engineer in Johore, and he had probably the fastest unblown MG TC in Malaya, and over the years since then we have been in many adventures together.
  12. J.M. Jim ‘Pat’ Pattinson, 32 in 1950, was Hon. Treasure of the Singapore Motor Club. In 1949 he watched a race at Silverstone while in England and decided to have a go at the sport. He arrived in Malaya in September 1949, joining the Singapore Motor Club shortly after. He then purchased an MG TC and entered in the Lornie Mile in Kuala Lumpur (undated), where he finished 3rd in the 1101-1500cc Sports Cars race. He won the 1501-3000cc class, beating William Johns Putra. Was the car already supercharged then? He was later seen in Hong Kong and continued to participate in club meetings there, first at the 17 October 1954 Practice Hill Climb at Golden Hill in Hong Kong, setting FTD in the cars event. He repeated this at the 5 December 1954 Golden Hill Climb and at the 9 January 1956 Wong Nai Chong Hill Climb, again in his MG T-Type Special. It was but a fleeting appearance over the 1955-56 period in Hong Kong.
  13. Isabel Corkett first came to prominence when she won the Ladies Race at the July 1951 Lornie Mile in one the Lim Peng Han-built L.A. Specials, beating Mrs. Judy Carey Rees and Mrs. M. Allen, both in MG TCs. She was in her early 30s and had a son and daughter of school age. She was also interested in flying and was a glider pilot of the Perak Flying Club. She did her first solo flight in a Tiger Moth in 1953.
  14. John Reed’s Jayarr or Emmgee Special had a tubular ladder chassis, Cooper-type front suspension, Fiat 1100 rear with locked differential axle ratio 4.1:1, 1/4 elliptic springs at rear and rack and pinion steering. The car carried twin fuel pumps and the engine had an offside-mounted supercharger. It was offered for sale sans engine in the Singapore Motor Club’s Gap Hill Climb program, 24 May 1959. It was originally an MG TD. Reed was employed by Guthrie & Co, Kuala Lumpur.
  15. 39-year-old John Fenwick Lovell Gwatkin-Williams (b.1925 – d. 1983) arrived in Singapore in June 1946 with the Ministry of Supply as a disposal officer. He headed the British Stores Disposals Board (Singapore), offices in Cathay Building. He was an engineer by profession, working at Bentley Motors before the war. During the war he commanded the Eighth Army’s Mobile Vehicle Park (3rd London Ordnance Field Park), one of the original desert rats. From running the British Stores Disposal Board in Singapore he moved to the Civil Service, spending time in Burma before returning to Singapore for Overseas Corporation (F.E.) Ltd, sole agents for Repco parts (in that capacity in 1956) in Singapore and Malaya. Overseas Corporation (Far East) Ltd was a subsidiary of Overseas Corporation (Australia) Ltd., local office at 18 Cecil Street in Singapore and at 68 Ampang Road in Kuala Lumpur. He also served on the committee of the Singapore Motor Club, holding the positions of Public Relations Officers and of President (in 1957).

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