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1937
MG Bellevue

Chassis # NA0756 Engine # 869134 AN 

The Bellevue Special; rarely does a car with this provenance come to market.

 

This Brooklands N-Type Magnette single-seater racing car was the brainchild of the infamous ‘Wilkie’ Wilkinson and was likely the first-ever car built by his newly formed Bellevue Garage (Racing) Ltd in 1937. 

The last 6 years

In 2015 the Bellevue was offered for sale on behalf of Ian Baxter, where it later starred in the Michael Barber collection.  Following the very public crankshaft failure at Goodwood Revival that year, the historically important Marshall supercharger was re-fitted by Tom Dark. The correct Andra Hartford shock absorbers were fitted and the original Bellevue Garage blue chassis paint and cream Bellevue stripe was applied to the bonnet.

 

During the live Goodwood Revival broadcast, Basil de Lissa’s son (now resident in Canada )spotted his father’s car still “alive and well” and he contacted the THL office to provide important and long-lost history along with additional photos and stories from his childhood days. This provided an invaluable living link to the car, providing digital copies of personal family photos and stories from his and his sister's memories of the car. 

Recently, the car has had its original weaknesses engineered out by James Ricketts of Ricketts Automotive Engineering, where it has been developed along-side some the fastest ERA’s. Over the last two years has been 100% reliable.

 

With FIA papers valid till 2028, the car can run in the world’s most prestigious events.   It’s now received a fresh engine rebuild – with two strong podium and finishes in 2021. With a couple of simple modifications, it could even accommodate a 6ft pilot, too!

 

It is now presented for sale by Tom Hardman Limited for what should prove to be a glorious next chapter in its important and historic racing story. Hardman believes that the Bellevue presents an unequaled opportunity for the right person to enter the sharp end of the VSCC competition. Furthermore, this fantastically historic car is just waiting to be introduced to the global historic racing car scene, where we know she cuts quite the dash.

 

An incredibly easy car to start and run at an event. With minimal hands-on fettling required during one’s competition weekend, it’s the perfect race car with an incredible lifelong provenance.

Fascinating early history

 

The renown Evans brothers – Denis and Kenneth – recognised the importance of showcasing the newly-formed Bellevue Garage on the racetrack. Together with fellow director and tuning expert, ‘Wilkie’ Wilkinson, they prepared the famous ‘Bellevue Special’ for track glory – and it has performed as intended ever since. This very car is now for sale by pre-war specialists Tom Hardman Ltd of the Ribble Valley. 

 

In period, the newly developed 1,271cc overhead-camshaft six-cylinder engine was fed by six Amal motorcycle carburettors (the originals are offered for sale with the car). Early chassis development concentrated on weight reduction, with extensive lightening of many components like pedals and cross members. A new bespoke offset body was also fitted.

 

This newly completed car finished third in the first of the Brooklands Easter Handicap races in 1937.  In August 1937, this N Type Magnette ‘Bellevue Special’ was advertised for sale in The Sports Car Magazine. By 1939 it was campaigned and owned by C.K. Mortimer, who refers to it in his book Brooklands and Beyond, where he confirms the car was sold to a Walton-on-Thames garage owner – John Marshall Esquire – during the war.

 

The next confirmed owner was Basil de Lissa, who competed with the MG Bellevue at the inaugural Goodwood Members’ Meeting on Saturday 18th September 1948 and again on Easter Monday 18th April 1949 alongside the late, great Stirling Moss in his Cooper. Events also included the Leinster Trophy Meeting, Manx Cup and Stanmer Park Hillclimb amongst many others. Engineering work was undertaken by racing car constructor and well-known driver, Paul Emery.

 

De Lissa sold the Bellevue to MG specialists Toulmin Motors of Windsor in 1950, where it ‘rested’ from competition for a decade until it sold to a Mr H. H. Garrett of County Durham. The car remained in Garrett’s custodianship for 12 years until in 1972, Norman Hart became the new owner. He quickly realised the car’s fine early history. A three-year search for detailed historic data enabled Norman to start work on a recreation of the car’s pre-war offset single-seater body, which was commissioned from David Royle of Vintage Motor Car Restoration.

 

Once the restoration work was completed in the early 1980’s, the MG Bellevue was quickly reunited with ‘Wilkie’ Wilkinson, who drove her once again at Croft circuit and later at a Brooklands Reunion. In 2017 the Bellevue was invited to Brooklands for the re-opening of the staring straight, it was an honor to be part of that evening's event  

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