B​ritish-American via Wolfsburg: Circa 1980 British Coach Works "Model 52" MG TD Replicar

A​rguably the nicest & most accurate of the VW-based MG kits.

8w ago
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W​hile making my regular travel between Eugene, OR and its neighboring sister city Springfield, on the Friday morning before a major regional car event makes its return after Covid canceled it for 2020, I spotted this beautiful little piece of fiberglass kit car history in front of a muffler, brake, alignment & mandrel bending shop located in a blighted commercial district. Initially I thought it was a real TD, but the petrol/gas tank aka engine cover had the telltale shape of a fiberglass kit's, the wheels were obviously Lemmerz or copy thereof slotted steel wheels from a VW with custom hubcaps, and other details like the radio antenna, headlight buckets, and bonnet/hood outside latches easily identified it as a kit. What was tough, though, was identifying the kit maker.

A​s far as I can tell, this is a British Coach Works kit, made in Arnold, Pennsylvania between 1980 and approximately 1987. They made both a Chevette-based kit and the common VW-based design, with 50 cars displayed around the US and awarded to winners of legal driving age for the Schweppes Ginger Ale "Great British Sweepstakes".

C​irca 1984 magazine ad for the BCW MG TD replica on a VW bug pan.

C​irca 1984 magazine ad for the BCW MG TD replica on a VW bug pan.

F​ront-engine, Chevrolet Chevette-based Schweppes Special Edition Model 52, raffled off by Schweppes Ginger Ale in 1985 for the US-wide "Great British Sweepstakes". 50 were made. Note the fake "BCW" badges, Schweppes special edition badges, and VW Beetle wheels.

F​ront-engine, Chevrolet Chevette-based Schweppes Special Edition Model 52, raffled off by Schweppes Ginger Ale in 1985 for the US-wide "Great British Sweepstakes". 50 were made. Note the fake "BCW" badges, Schweppes special edition badges, and VW Beetle wheels.

T​hese were the most authentic MG kit available, outpacing the Daytona/Fiberfab MiGi, Classic Motor Carriages Duchess, Classic Roadsters Classic TD, MP Lafer (Brazilian production car imported as a kit car, much like the Puma was) and others in realism, with only details necessitated by the VW or Chevette donor, adaptations for 1985 US motor vehicle code on the Schweppes cars and factory build turnkey cars, and (where fitted; many builders/owners fitted real MG badging) fake MG logos with the company's initials on the grille, horn button & hubcaps. These kits even used a substantial amount of OEM trim and interior parts and reproduction restoration hardware replicating such, to help boost realism, and while the Schweppes and regular turnkey cars and most Chevette-based builds used Chevette switchgear, many VW kits used the authentic mix of toggle, push-pull and twist switches the real cars had, if they had studious builders.

W​hile BCW weathered the early 80s global recession fairly well, they ultimately did not survive, due in large part to tastes in the kit car business changing to exotic replicas, Cobra, Porsche 356 and Lotus Seven replicas and motorcycle-based kits of all kinds, from vintage/classic/antique replicas (though the dwindling interest in VW-based kits and cancellation of the Chevette after 1987 didn't help either), but a fan-based page exists on Facebook.

M​y only regrets with this shoot are not seeing its interior, "frunk"/"bootonnet", and engine bay, but it was at a busy muffler shop getting worked on, so that would constitute unrealistic expectations.

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