Probably the best-known MG in the world – The Old Speckled Hen, a 1927 14/40 Featherweight Sporting Saloon - is coming up for sale with H&H Classics at the Imperial War Museum Duxford on October 14th with an estimate of £50,000 to £60,000.
Beginning life as a 14/28 model in May 1927, ‘WL 3450’ was among a small number of sister cars that had yet to be sold when Morris Garages (or MG for short) became a limited company that September.
Recalled to the Works, it was mechanically updated to 14/40 specification and is believed to be one of just three cars that were clothed with fabric Salonette coachwork by Gordon England (the enclosed body style was more expensive and considerably less popular than the open designs on offer).
Serving as the Works demonstrator once completed, the four-seater’s distinctive silver and black fleck livery saw it christened ‘Speckled Hen’ (a memorable nickname which has stuck ever since).
Keen to establish a reputation as a sports car maker, MG are understood to have fitted ‘WL 3450’ with a lowered back axle for competition events. The Salonette is also documented as having been returned to Gordon England for repairs presumably so that it could present its ‘best face’ to the public.
The victim of a major fire shortly before the outbreak of World War Two, ‘Speckled Hen’ survived the conflict and passed through the hands of several owners before the vendor, an acknowledged ‘flat rad’ MG specialist, discovered it in South Wales during the late 1990s.
A testament to the seller’s skills, ‘WL 3450’ remains extremely presentable twenty-one years after its ‘chassis up’ restoration. The subject of at least three articles in MG World by automotive historian Jonathan Wood, ‘Speckled Hen’ is also referenced in ex-MG employee Mike Allison’s excellent tome ‘The Magic of MG’.
Damian Jones, Head of Sales for H&H Classics comments: “There can be few Vintage cars that have had a beer named after them; Morland Brewery first concocting ‘Old Speckled Hen’ in 1979 to mark the 50th Anniversary of MG and fewer still that have led such an interesting life. A fascinating car in its own right, ‘WL 3450’ has been pictured with the likes of petrolhead and AC/DC frontman Brian Johnson and is surely a ‘must buy’ for anyone compiling the ultimate MG collection!”
The car is offered for sale with history file including various evocative period photos.