Collector Classics: 1954 MG TF

Backyard find turned out to be the dream car Vancouverite saw being built in Abingdon in 1954

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“Come on Tiffany, there’s a good girl. Let’s get going,” cajoles Ron Brasier in the underground parking garage at his North Vancouver condominium. “She’s been sitting here under the cover since the fall but she always starts up.”

Sure enough, the red 1954 MG TF sports car sputters and starts with the engine gradually gaining revolutions and smoothing out.

Tiffany has been in Ron Brasier’s life one way or another since she was born in the Abingdon Road MG factory in England the late fall of 1953.

Back then, he was an indentured apprentice at a big British company called Glacier Metal Company that manufactures bearings. It was a practical education that was really hard to get as he was one of only six selected for the five-year program that followed the bearing manufacturing process through pattern design, the foundry and machining.

One of the great perks was visiting the shops and factories operated by the company’s customers like Cunard Cruise Lines, which purchased ship bearings that a man could stand in. Other factory tours included Ford, Jaguar and the MG plant at Abingdon.

The tours were very comprehensive, with Brasier and his fellow apprentices following the car manufacturing process from start to finish. He was particularly taken with a red 1954 MGTF being built. He also watched the tan leather interior for that car being stitched by woman in the trim shop.

As his apprenticeship neared an end, he gravitated toward the machine design department, then led by a Dr. Stone working with six qualified engineers. Dr. Stone took an interest in Brasier and when a position came open selected the young apprentice over seven other applicants, all graduate engineers.

Brasier was the only one to correctly answer the question: Approximately what size steel shaft should be used to transmit a one horsepower motor at 3,600 revolutions per minute? With his practical training, he knew a half-inch shaft would do the trick.

Between 1954 and 1956, Brasier spent two years in the British Royal Air Force teaching Luftwaffe engineers in Germany as part of post-war rebuilding process. In 1958, he moved to Canada to become a design engineer for Ontario’s nuclear power program and, 20 years later, relocated to Vancouver to open his own company.

The love of British sports cars led him to build a collection including an MG TC, MG TD, an MGA and two MGB sports cars.

“I stored them in the condo garage and swapped the license plates when I wanted to drive one of them,” he says.

But the car he really wanted continued to elude him. It was the red 1954 MGTF he had seen being built during the tour of the MG plant more than 40 years before.

Then came a phone call from fellow MG enthusiast Peter Webb: “You know that MG you’ve been looking for? I’ve found it!”

Webb had returned to his MG in the parking lot of a grocery store to find a woman staring at his car: “I’ve got a car just like that in my backyard,” she explained.

When Webb followed up, he discovered the car was a 1954 MG TF that the woman’s late husband had completely disassembled for restoration years before. The body had been covered with a tarpaulin and all the parts stored in two Sears garden sheds.

The car had been built in the Abingdon Road plant for export to Canada and it was red with a tan leather interior.

Ron Brasier finally had his dream car. He committed it to Colin Fitzgerald at Octagon Motors for a full restoration, which took one year.

“They did a super job and it turned out just like the one I had seen being built,” he says

He was so pleased with the car that he sold the other six sports cars he had collected, named his red sports car Tiffany, and he and his wife began touring with their dream car.

Since then, the 1954 MG TF has been driven thousands of miles on numerous trips to California and elsewhere. Ron and Joy Brasier participate in tours, pub nights and brunches with their MG “un-club” – a group of approximately 30 enthusiasts with similar interests who just like being together.

And having Tiffany in his life has completed the circle for Ron.

“I just know I was in the Abingdon Road plant when she was being built and was watching the ladies in the trim shop stitch up her tan leather interior, and that’s very special,” he says.

His next project is to find a Braiser convertible which was manufactured in Paris, France, in the 1920s.

Alyn Edwards is a classic car enthusiast and partner in Peak Communicators, a Vancouver-based public relations company. [email protected]

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