MG Discovered in Car-Sized Coffin

The-MG-in-the-Coffin

Jim Snider’s outstanding Austin-Healey 3000 started a dialogue that twenty years later yielded him an entombed MG. “I owned a bolt and screw business,” said Snider, of Louisville, Kentucky. “One day a customer of mine came into my office to compliment me on my 3000 that I had parked in my warehouse.”

“As I showed him the car up close, he told me of an elderly gentleman out in the country who also owned an old Healey.” Snider always enjoyed meeting fellow Healey owners, so he eventually contacted the gentleman, a gesture that led to a lasting friendship.

The gentleman, Hugh Grundy, and his wife, Frankie, were a fascinating couple. Initially, Snider was intrigued in learning about the Healey 100. The Grundys bought the car new and had modified it with an altimeter and other equipment with the intention of competing in the Mille Miglia sometime in the 1950s. But Snider was equally intrigued to hear about the career that led the Grundys to live for decades in places like Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Hugh Grundy had worked for Air America, a covert airlines operated by the CIA. Air America hauled supplies, but mainly fought the Communist threat in the 1940s and 1950s. (Interestingly, Grundy’s wife Frankie never knew he worked for the CIA.)

Before the Healey 100, there was an MGTC. This was a yellow 1947 model that the young couple used while living in Hong Kong. They traded the yellow MG for a new 1949 black MG. They drove their new sports car around China for a couple of years before having it shipped to the family farm in Kentucky. The farm had been in the Grundy family since the 1700s.

“It was shipped to the farm because Hugh and Frankie thought they were going to stay in Kentucky,” Snider said. “Frankie drove it about five hundred miles around Kentucky before the couple moved back overseas in 1964.” But before Frankie left, her dad helped her construct a box—a car-sized coffin—just big enough for the MG. She rubbed Vaseline over all the chrome to protect it for what would be a lengthy storage. But nobody knew just how lengthy it would be.

After Grundy retired to Kentucky, he and Frankie continued their sports car activities, but now in the United States. The Austin-Healeys brought the Sniders and the Grundys together as friends who would occasionally participate in sports car tours. “My wife Sharon and I went to dinner three or four times a year with the Grundys, and we became great friends,” Snider said.

“I had known Hugh for about ten years before I asked him one day while we were out in his barn, ‘Hey Hugh, what’s in the box?’ He told me it was Frankie’s old MG, and that someday he’d show it to me.”

“It was another five or six years before he actually opened the box and let me look inside.”

What Snider saw in that box was a time capsule: an original MGTC right down to its paint. The car was in needy condition: The paint was old, the tires were flat, and the interior had seen better days. Despite this, the car had been well-preserved for more than four decades, and the Vaseline-covered chrome was still like new.

“I expressed my interest in the MG, but it was Hugh’s intention to restore the car,” Snider said. “Then, one day, Hugh called me and said, ‘You know, I’m ninety years old. I don’t think I’ll have time to restore it. Frankie and I would like you and Sharon to own the car.’”

transfering-ownership

Snider was excited, and after promising not to sell the car while the Grundys were alive, he took ownership of the 1949 TC in 2004. Snider decided that the car was going to be his wife Sharon’s, since she was born the year the car was manufactured.

original-owners

Sharon’s MG is completely restored now, and it takes a place proudly next to Jim’s Austin-Healey. As a tribute to the Grundys—Hugh is now ninety-three and Frankie is eighty-seven—the Sniders kept the original Hong Kong license plate on the car.

 

Image #1: The 1949 MGTC in the coffin-like storage container that was built to keep it secure. It was entombed from 1964 until the container was opened in about 2004. With Vaseline rubbed on the chrome pieces, the car was in surprisingly sound condition.

Image #2: Original owner Frankie Grundy (left) and new owner Sharon Snider pose for a picture with the MG before transferring ownership. Sharon’s husband Jim decided it should be her car because she was born the year the car was built, 1949.

Image #3: Hugh and Frankie Grundy, the original owners of the MG, say goodbye to their longtime (four-wheeled) friend as Jim and Sharon Snider prepare to trailer the car to its new home. Jim Snider


Hemi Barn PB Cover.inddThis story originally appeared in Tom Cotter’s The Hemi in the Barn book. Subscribe to our email list for a chance to win a free copy and submit your own find stories because one is going to get published in Tom’s next In the Barn book!

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Comments

  1. Catfish Phil

    Great story!

  2. jake

    What an awesome story!

  3. Mel Stark

    Bee-A-Utiful. Thanks for sharing. Wish we could have seen the restored car.

  4. 2VT

    I’ve read a few of the “Barn Find” books. Cobra, Hemi, Corvette and Vincent. Great fun every one. Not that I’m more of a motorcycle guy than car but Vincent in a Barn was best as motorcycles aren’t always found in barns. They can be in attics and basements or even riverbeds as well.

  5. Dr. Barry Simmons

    This is one of the best stories you have offered. The Grundys seem to have enjoyed a wonderful life. Enjoying the “classic cars” and driving experiences that I certainly envy. The Sniders are so lucky to have met and kindled a friendship with such fascinating people. As owner of a 1949 TC, I know the Sniders will experience many fun voyages with their TC, and certainly their offspring as well in the years to come. What a lucky break for both families.

  6. Rick Prokopchuk

    Makes me do a big smile. Wonderful story.

  7. will

    And why exactly is the car now “completely restored”? Seems like a travesty to restore this car.

  8. scot

    ~ As with most all of Tom Cotter’s ‘… In the barn’ tales the love shines through.

  9. MikeL

    Stories like this, keep me coming back!

  10. jim

    Another great story. Can’t wait for the next one.

  11. Silvercad

    Tom… Fascinating story! I would certainly love to see some pictures of the finished restoration that Mrs. Snider now is enjoying!

  12. paul

    Fantastic, always love to hear a great story like this.

  13. swm

    Did you have permission to print Sharon`s year of birth?

  14. Jim Johnson

    I would love to see a picture of the restored car!

  15. Richard L Gugenberger

    Great story , would like to see the finished product !

  16. dave

    Fortunately…Or Unfortunately ????…Some of US Hoard things that tickle our Fancy and occupy Lots of Our Space !!!!…Things with pistons seems to be my hang up…especially OLD things with pistons and as we all know….there’s way more to the affair than pistons …LOL !

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