We’re used to hearing about the much fabled barn find, where classic cars of rarity and value are discovered in barely used original form, merely covered in dust in an undisturbed barn, but a car excavated by an archaeology team is probably even more unlikely. Yet that’s exactly what happened to Wessex Archaeology who were in the process of examining a former World War II military site at Larkhill, Salisbury Plain (Wiltshire).
The archaeologists discovered the skeleton of what was once an MG Roadster buried underground. The 1932 MG J2 was originally a 2-seater with a top speed of 65mph – which might not seem much by today’s standards, until you realise that braking was controlled by cables, and suddenly 65mph as a top speed sounds just fine – if not a little too much…
The MG J-Type was a short-lived run for MG, lasting from 1932 to 1934 and comprising of the J1, J2 and J3, with the J4 being the pure racer. The model found in Larkhill was one of only 2,083 produced by MG. Though this particular car doesn’t appear to have had it’s final resting place set in wartime, as the remains of the car’s tyres reveal that this J2 was most likely being used up until the 1960s.
The presumption is that the car had been used to ferry troops around the site for many years before eventually becoming the restoration project of a soldier from the Royal School of Artillery while based in the area. Though the car was eventually abandoned and left forlorn – until it’s recent unearthing – for reasons unknown; possibly because the soldier in question moved on, but we are unlikely to know for sure. Though the introduction of the dreaded MoT in 1960 may have had some influence.
Larkhill is an important site for the British Army at present, as the process of withdrawing all troops stationed in Germany will require a substantial plot to house them back in the UK, and Larkhill has been earmarked as a potential site. Before this happens, Wessex Archaeology are racing against time to unearth anything of historical interest – though I can pretty much guarantee a 1930s MG J2 was not on their list of possible finds!
Of course, being an archaeologist requires a heightened sense of interest and curiosity, so it isn’t of too great a surprise to learn that the team have been intrigued enough to put together a fascinating 3D model of the car. The process of creating this actually proved useful too, as it revealed the MG’s serial number.
During its heyday, you could pick up this 2-seater MG J2 Roadster for £199, which roughly translates to around £12,000 in today’s money.