Chassis number 'KN0440' is one of the series of around 20 KN chassis sold by University Motors, the well-known London MG agent, as the 'University Special' Speed Model. The original 'K' series of Magnette sports cars had been announced at the London Motor Show in 1932, comprising the long-wheelbase K1 and short-wheelbase K2, the latter sharing its chassis with the racing K3. The K-Series used an overhead-camshaft six-cylinder engine similar to that of the existing Magna series but downsized to 1,087cc to gain entry into racing's 1,100cc Class G, success in which was considered vital by MG boss Cecil Kimber. For the K-Series, MG's long-stroke 'six' received a cross-flow cylinder head and in the K3's case induction was by means of a Power Plus supercharger driven off the crankshaft nose and fed by a single SU carburettor.
Introduced in July 1934, the KN Magnette combined the longer (108") wheelbase chassis of the K1 with the all-new and much stronger N-type 1,271cc six-cylinder engine. The KN was only offered as a 'pillar-less' saloon, thus providing University Motors with the opportunity to exploit a gap in the market with their attractive K1-style four-seater tourer using the larger and more powerful N-type engine. It was advertised thus: 'To cater for the growing demand for the open speed model coachwork, University Motors Limited have introduced this pleasing four-seater on a special long wheelbase MG Magnette chassis.' Some sources state that University Motors used leftover K1 tourer bodies while others attribute the bodies to London-based coachbuilder, Coachcraft.
Retaining its original chassis, body and 'MG 4314' registration mark (University Motors used the 'MG' prefix on all of their pre-war and many post-war sales) this KN Magnette was purchased by the vendor in 1975 and has been in continuous use for the last 38 years. We are advised that the body has never been off the chassis and that the vendor has made extensive mechanical modifications over the years to improve the car's capabilities as a high-speed tourer, all of which could be reversed if a future owner so desired.
Incorporating a new cylinder block, crankshaft, con-rods, valves, etc, the engine has been bored out to 1,680cc and was rebuilt in 2012 by Harding Autos of Woking, Surrey. It has been supercharged for 30 years, the unit fitted being a Volumex, which is fed via a 2" SU carburettor with pre-heater. The chassis has split-system hydraulic brakes, an up-rated (Ford) differential and 72-spoke wire wheels shod with Blockley 19" tyres, while the electrics have been upgraded with an alternator. An overdrive unit is fitted to the original 'crash' gearbox, which has been rebuilt with new gears by Transmission Services of Guildford and fitted with a modern clutch. The car is said to be in top order mechanically, the interior likewise, while the body would benefit from refreshment of the paintwork. The hood and side screens are in good order and the car boasts a fold-flat windscreen, which is complemented by a pair of Brooklands 'aeros'.
A much used car, not concours, 'MG 4314' has been raced and hill climbed with the MG Car Club and the VSCC, and has also competed at Angoulême. The vendor has heard it said that his is the fastest road going 'Triple-M' car out there. Although he would not vouch for that claim, the vendor does say that the Magnette will travel the length of France in a day, two-up with luggage including a good lunch. Possessing a wonderful patina and driving without fault, this sensibly upgraded MG Magnette comes with old-style logbook, Swansea V5 document and a very good history file containing bills for work carried out over the years. It is taxed for the road until August 2014.