1932 MG J2 Discovered By Archaeologists!

We’ve often talked about how discovering a barn find is like uncovering a little bit of history or in some ways it’s like being an automotive archaeologist of sorts. Well, in the case of this 1932 MG J2 it really is auto archaeology as it was discovered buried in the ground at an old military base on the Salisbury Plains of England. It was just recently uncovered by actual archaeologist who were surveying a World War II artillery position turned weapons dump site in preparation for new development at the base. While there isn’t much left of the car, it’s still sitting on its original wire wheels and even manages to support its own weight. Special thanks to reader Scott S for this tip!

There’s no word on what exactly will happen with this old MG. J2s are rather rare with just over 2k being built. Chances are it won’t ever see the road again, but hopefully it ends up being preserved in a museum. While the archaeologists still aren’t sure what the car’s story is, they believe it was likely used by troops who were training at the base in the ’60s. The drivetrain was found next to it, so we can only assume someone was working on it and then for whatever reason, it was forgotten and eventually buried.

It’s hard to know for sure what happened with it, but hopefully someone who trained the base is still around and can shed a little light on this find! You can read more about this MG at BBC News or at Wessex Archaeology (they produced the neat 3D of the dig site you see above, so be sure to check it out).

Fast Finds


  1. jw454

    In it’s entirety, I don’t think it will see the road again either but, it would be nice if some part from it was to make it back to the road on another one like it.

  2. RayT Member

    Great story, Josh! Dare I say “it’ll buff out?”

    No, I guess not. But, sad as it is — all cars should be on the road, and this one never will again — I prefer stories like this to the alternative, which would be a J2 that had been mutilated, crashed or simply disappeared.

    It definitely belongs on display somewhere, with plenty of photos of its “final” resting place.

    And BTW: the cap arrived today, Josh! Cool!

    • Josh Mortensen Staff

      Sadly, I think it needs more than just a little elbow grease. As cool as it would be to see it revived, I’d even just be happy if they figured out the full story and put the remains on display in a museum.

      Glad to hear the cap arrived!

  3. Motrbob

    The “patina” boys should love this one…………just clear coat it!

  4. Dave Wright

    Anyone that thinks it won’t be on the road again doesn’t understand how eccentric and anal the British can be. One of my funny speaking relatives will cart this home, spend 10 years disassembling polishing reassembling and replacing missing parts. It might take 20 years in total but the car will be increasing in value the entire time. These cars are well known and loved in England. A great find and story.

    Like 1
    • Metoo

      Never gonna happen.

    • RayT Member

      Dave Wright, I always thought if a single example of a given car was built and a Brit owned it, he’d start an Owner’s Club. Two, and they’d publish a Register. Three, and there would be a Spares Scheme….

    • KEN TILLY Member

      Guaranteed, this will be back on the roads of Britain within a few years. I nearly bought one back in the 60’s but it was so narrow that even though the seats were offset from each other, the wife and I still couldn’t fit in. Great find.

    • Muz

      You Sir may call it anal. Those of us in the civilised world prefer the term, determined……

      • Muz

        ps: :-)

      • Dave Wright

        Well stated……….

    • TouringFordor

      Someone will restore it. Check out this link:

  5. Bruce Best

    As horrible as this car looks, I can truthfully say I have seen worse cars be restored and a J2 is one hell of a fun car. Small to the point of being silly the panels are dead simple and there are already those making them and the wood frames that hold them together, They just bolt together or are nailed. Strangely if you have the engine and transmission along with the suspension you have enough to restore it. With prices of Pre War MG’s there might just be economic justification to do so.

    A lot of work yes, expensive yes, but when finished you would have something very special and worth the effort. If you like a MG TC you will love one of these. The only ones I like better are the Pre War coupes that MG Built PA and PB I believe. Total blast to drive. Again not fast but laugh out loud fun. If you get the chance,
    do so.

    • Josh Mortensen Staff

      I actually could see someone restoring it, but I don’t think it will happen. Not because it’s too far gone or too expensive to do, although both could be a factor, but because it was dug up on a military base by an archaeology company. I’m more worried about what kind of red tape their might be. At this point, they haven’t said if it’s going to be auctioned off, boxed up and put in storage or sent off to a museum. Since it’s not an actual military artifact, hopefully they will let it go to a private party, but you just never know what will happen when something gets classified as an artifact.

  6. J Paul Member

    “Ran when parked”

  7. Joe

    Looks like the same condition, a little worse Than the 57 Bellvedere in Tulsa.

  8. Dave at OldSchool Restorations

    Poor Bugger never knew what hit ‘im

    • Muz

      This is what happens in the British Military when you’re late returning from leave….. you’ll only do it once.

  9. Jay M

    Driveline already removed for your convenience.
    Lovingly stored in natural environment.
    Missing a few small parts.
    Worth big money when finished.
    Original wire wheels need tweaking.

  10. Jeffro

    Looks like it was used for artillery practice!

    • Dave Wright

      You have never seen a vehicle hit by an artillery round.

      • Jeffro

        True, but I can image it’s kinda like what my ex wife did to my bank account.

  11. GP Member

    There is nothing there. Already way to much time and money wasted. Holds it’s own weight, WHAT WEIGHT?

  12. Milt

    Soon to be featured on BHCC’s website.

  13. Todd Fitch Staff

    Wow – Josh – Great story! Perfect for Preservation Class at Pebble Beach. It’s art!

  14. Superdessucke

    I’ve seen early 911s in worse shape on BaT before.

  15. PebblebeachJudge

    The story is worth the Full Value of the restoration. Get the Film crew in NOW. The Bugatti Brescia hauled from the Lake in Italy was far worst. That water-logged remains can be seen at the Mullin Collection in California. Sold in non-restorable condition for over $300’000.

    • Dave Wright

      An acquaintance of mine just finished restoring the last US fighter to be shot down in Europe they made a program about its recovery from a cold Austrian lake. A P47 that the pilot got out of…. ( he was at the Air Show)…..they flew it at an air show here in Idaho a couple of weeks ago at the P40 war hawk museum in Nampa. It was rebuilt at a hanger in Caldwell Idaho. The thing that makes this old MG viable is the engine and trans are still with it. All it takes is will and cash.

      • Dave at OldSchool Restorations

        yes….the difficulty level all depends on the water table …

  16. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    The 3D display is pretty cool, maybe in time Craigslist and Ebay will have a feature like this for sellers. It would be a great tool for buyers of almost anything.

  17. Dan

    Why the heck would “archeolgists” be messing around with a dump from the 1940s? Are we trying to determine how people lived back then? Why not just ask the ones who are still around.

    • Dave Wright

      They were clearing an old military artillery range. It happens here in the US too…..whenever the government wants to repurpose a range. It has to be completely cleared. Every year in Germany and England construction crews are killed by hitting an unexplored bomb or shell with a backhoe bucket. It is important work. Many times in urban areas.

      • Dan

        Yeah, I read it too. That does not explain the archeologists.

      • Dave Wright

        Anytime something is found, the archeologists are called to look at it. There were human bones found on my buddies ranch a few months ago….the sheriff was called, then the archeologists. They determined that a Badger had brought the bones of a Native American child’s grave to the surface. They are very active today anytime one of my wife’s projects require any excavation work. Some projects require them to be on site while digging, some just need to be called if something is found. How else are they going to make a living? We even worked with them in our underwater salvage projects. All of our large project bids had the cost of them built in.

      • Alan Brase

        I think they have to remove most of the lead from the soil as well. In US they remove the first few feet.

    • Ron Bunting

      Most of those who were national service personal in the 60’s would be at least 70 by now. I think iI know how it got there .A lot of the british air bases after WW2 that were still operatying were pretty slow places, with very little happening so the blokes would get to gether and do things like form car clubs .Because there were fully equipped machine shops you could “tune’ your car and because new cars were very hard to buy a prewar MG was the basis for a fun carwhich you take to hill climbs, trials, race meetings etc and have a jolly old time with the chaps. When they finished their 2 years service, they would go back to civvy street.The ownership of the car was probably shared by the club and if it were getting long in the tooth ,it would be parked away ,or simply buried . Industrial archeologist and Car historian,Michael Worthington -Willaims often recounted his days as a national Service man in germany after WW2 and the numbers of fabulous cars ,laying about and beng used for ‘entertainment’ by the various aircrew. is this car restorable? of course it ias, everything except the sheet metal is still there .

      • Dana Friedman

        My best friend’s father told the story of a Hudson which was used around an Army Air Force Base upstate New York during WW II. When the car finally gave out, the guys simply buried the car on the base. I often thought what a hoot it would be to dig up the car and see what was left.

  18. Madmatt

    If this was a 1950’s VW bus of some type, there would be fights
    over it !,and someone would spend their life savings on it.!
    Very interesting story,should go into a museum for the military

  19. Rex Kahrs Member

    The simple fact that they meticulously excavated this thing prove’s Dave’s initial assertion.

  20. Ian

    If it was a VS bus someone would pay big money and restore it.

  21. Alan

    Gosh , they are such cute little cars.

  22. Bill McCoskey

    In the top photo I see basically complete spokes on all 4 wire wheels, yet in the other 2 photographs there are only nubs of the spokes left. What happened to the spokes? Flash rusted to evaporation? Souvenir hunters?

    • AutoArcheologist

      I think that is due to the photography.. IE the 3D imagery they’re using. It may not have been able to pick up the detail of the spokes… Otherwise, how would the wheels and tires be able to hover in mid air like that..LOL

  23. Nevis Beeman

    I look forward to viewing this at the 2018 Beaulieu auto jumble……

  24. Kelland Hutchence

    Why the archaeologists? Quite simply because the whole area of Salisbury Plain is covered with sites of great archaeological importance, Stonehenge, about 2 miles from the Royal School of Artillery being one of them and Woodhenge another. So any excavation such as this has to be accompanied by experts. Is that so surprising?

  25. Martin Horrocks

    As per Pebblebeachjudge´s post, this is a Bugatti in the lake scenario.

    A unique piece, more valuable (I don´t just mean $) as a historical object than as another restored MG J2. Think you´ll find that ownership will lie with HM the Queen, so it will finally be displayed in a museum in an “as found” diorama, funded by other people´s money.

  26. AutoArcheologist

    As an AutoArcheologist.. this is right up my alley..LOL
    On a slightly more serious note, my heart says restore it.. my brain says that the frame is probably rather weakened by it’s many years of exposure to pure elements being buried and all and as such couldn’t be restored. I rather like the idea of it being “stabilized” and set in a museum of some sort. Especially if the real back story could be found. Part of my mantra is that the stories attached to our automobiles are their souls. Who among us doesn’t like to hear the stories attached to any of these “barn finds”? (In quotes as many are found in garages, fields, yards, etc.)
    Love it!

  27. Tom S.

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Notify me of new comments via email. Or subscribe without commenting.