The "Owd Speck'ld 'Un" is For Sale
Translation: The "Old Speckled Hen" is For Sale
For those well versed in MG Folklore the Old Speckled Hen (a.k.a. "Owd Speck'ld 'Un") is a Classic. It has now appeared on the Market for a cool £65,000 ($85,000) following a restoration. "It" being the Beauty in the Photo. According to Legend the "Owd Speck'ld Un' was built as an experimental model in 1927. The model was called the 'MG Featherlight Saloon' which featured cellulosed fabric stretched over a wooden frame, and was finished in black (speckled with gold??)
The Legend has it that the "Owd Speck'ld 'Un" became the factory runabout. Eventually it became speckled not only with the alleged original gold speckles, but also a multitude of early MG bodywork colors as it traveled around and through the factory. If this element of the Legend is true then it certainly cleaned up nicely after its restoration. It was the center of attraction at Silverstone 2002.
The actual history surrounding the early days of MG is difficult to chronicle accurately as there are a multitude of stories in the literature. However, the experimental car was a forerunner of the 14/40 launched in 1927 and was based on the contemporary Morris Oxford flatnose that was a development of the 14/28. It was the first car series reported to have the MG Octagon on the Radiator. The /40 was supposed to represent the Horsepower of the vehicle but it probably never exceeded 35 Horsepower. It was classed as a sports car so the Featherlight construction was probably aimed at encouraging more speed from the model. Production of the 14/40 stopped in 1929. A reported 851 units were manufactured. The excellent example of a 14/40 Tourer Opposite is clearly a spectacular MG. However, it doesn't have the 'Story' behind it that the Original "Owd Speck'ld 'Un" has.
Fast forward from the late 1920's to 1979 and the launch of Old Speckled Hen Beer. The Morland Brewery was asked by MG to create a commemorative beer for the factory's 50th anniversary. Daniel O'Leary (brewer and former cooper), had developed a recipe for a private beer in his garden shed in Abingdon and O'Leary's recipe was used when the brewery agreed to release the celebration beer for the anniversary. The beer, an amber coloured Pale Ale, was brewed at a gravity of 1050 to denote the 50th anniversary. 25 barrels and 1200 dozen half-pint bottles were produced mostly for the promotional activities at MG, but also for limited distribution to Morland Pubs in the Abingdon area. What had been produced as a one-off celebration brew, proved so popular that a second batch had to be brewed in time for the main celebrations which were to be held in Abingdon over the weekend of the actual anniversary.
Rolling Forward to the present day: An empty Speckled Hen Beer Can makes a Statement under the Bonnet of any MG as a radiator overflow receptacle, as demonstrated by Club member Mark Spaulding's 1970 MGB engine bay. The can is a permanent attachment!
*Photo of the revamped "Speck'ld 'Un" courtesy of "The Early MG Society".
*The narrative above is a mix of information from various sources. There doesn't appear to be a definitive reference source such was the chaos associated with the early days of MG.
* Old Speckled Hen Pale Ale can be purchased from Total Wine in St. John's Town Center.