The "Spy Van" and the MG Express 105 "BRM Special"
This VANtastic super rare MG van came into my life during the period the Twin Cam had left our family. I bought it in 2017 having sold my ex #HMRC Ford Transit Mark 3 Undercover Surveillance Van - aka The Spy Van - for a believed world record price for that model of £10,300 at Manheim Auctions Shepshed. This sum, when combined with other funds raised, totalled £12,817.29 and was donated to the Alzheimers Society.
"The video of the auction sale went viral with over 500,000 shares on social media! BBC Radio Leicester picked up and ran our story on their breakfast show where I am interviewed by DJ Ben Jackson."
As I had never actually owned an MG in my life and, as my career specialism is commercial vehicles, this MG van purchase ticked two boxes.
These vans are super rare with many people saying they never even knew Rover built a ZR van. In actual fact, according to this article, it is considerably rarer than the Twin Cam, with production totals of 317 Express vans versus 2,111 MGA Twin Cams. This van is 1 of 24 fitted with the peppy 1.4 K 105ps series engine and 1 of 87 finished in Trophy Blue. And now it's a 1 of 1 BRM Special!
"The MG Express didn't need anything like the work on the Spy Van but I hatched various fun plans over the coming months - a 1.8VVC Turbo engine swap, High Speed Service Van #HSSV recreation of a period MG Works Competition Department van.....I settled on a unique Rover BRM inspired special!"
Having bought dad's MGA Twin Cam in August 2018 this little van understandably went onto the backburner. 2020's lockdowns gave me the impotus to complete it. My eventual plan is to auction it off in the same way as The Spy Van - with all proceeds being donated to The Alzheimers Society. I had a shopping list of all the bits I needed and found them fairly readily, albeit all over the UK. The only real challenge were the door handle rods; they needed re-fabricating but everything else in the conversion proved that the Rover 200 and Rover 25/MG ZR were identical under the skin.
The eagle eyed of you will notice a photo above - a collection of press photos, press release, magazine article and brochures (see my earlier blog where I admit to my automobilia addition!). I was pleased to take the van back to its spiritual home and the iconic ramp outside the Longbridge gates where it last rolled out through in 2003. Four of the pictures above are taken at my local MG Dealer - Summit Garage Dudley who are key project sponsors. Working together with me they have kept the van on the road and mechanically overhauled it in 2019. To celebrate their 75th Anniversary in 2020 they made an incredibly generous donation of £300 to the Alzheimers Society. Additionally they are selling some specially commissioned branded clothing and have committed to donate all the profits to the charity.
"John, Nick and their team at Summit are an amazing example of doing the job right, focusing on the basics and looking after their people and customers alike. Sadly lockdowns have put paid to our plans to attend local car shows with the van and John's wonderful MG SVR X Power but I am hopeful we'll get to a couple before the van is ultimately sold. Until then I have become quite fond of it. I love it for its basic specification and engineering - offset by its unique look inside and out. It sure makes a statement and I have had messages saying we have been spotted "out and about" on the road and at events!"
I'm planning on auctioning off the MG Express BRM in 2021 so I'll keep you posted. It will be a great injection of funds to the charity after a woeful lockdown year, as well as bolstering our own fundraising total.