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						Burke Mg Roadster8

The Burke-Petersen MG-Cisitalia Special

By Dean Larson

Photos: Seller, Hemmings Classifieds

Early American sports specials from the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s are some of the most interesting cars to research, given their grassroots development and the wide range of design formulas. But things get even more interesting when you have significant historical figures involved, say for instance Bill Burke, Robert Petersen and Mickey Thompson. Said to be the only car like it constructed by Allied Fiberglass, this MG-Cisitalia Special is the product of several important figures in early American sports car history, and a fantastic race car to boot.

The story of the MG-Cisitalia Special all starts back in 1946 with the Cisitalia 202 Coupe, a stunning two-seater designed by Pinin Farina, which is recognized as a significant turning point in post-war automobile design. Robert Petersen of the Petersen Publishing Company had purchased a Cisitalia 202 Coupe for an upcoming Motorama in 1952, and sent it to George Barris to be repainted. Petersen’s 202 was successfully repainted, and headlined the event in ’52 as planned, but not without some mischief behind the scenes.

Bill Burke was one of the most significant personalities in the days of early hot rodding, and he had made a name for himself by building streamliners that could top 150 mph. Burke was working for Petersen’s Hot Rod Magazine and experimenting with fiberglass on his own by the 1950s. Burke had a few high-profile comrades during this time that would take part in his next fiberglass foray, including Mickey Thompson (speed part innovator and all-around hot rodder) and Roy Kinch, who founded Atlas Fiber-Glass in the early 1950s.

Noting the inherent aerodynamic characteristics of Petersen’s 202, Burke came up with a plan to pull a fiberglass mold off the car with the help of Mickey Thompson and Barris while it was being repainted. The trio apparently pulled off the job without ever alerting Petersen, and Burke had a finished mold of the body ready for production by late ’52. Burke and Thompson officially joined Kinch as partners in Atlas Fiber-Glass, and the name was formally changed to Allied Fiberglass in 1953.

Burke’s 202 copy would be officially named the Swallow, and offered in two wheelbase options of 94 and 100 inches. Allied went above and beyond to ensure that these fiberglass bodies were durable, and went as far as running half-inch steel tubes throughout the body to add strength. In its most common configuration, the Allied Swallow body was fit over an MG-TD chassis, and occasionally upgraded to Ford Flathead V8-60 power. By the best figures available, Allied built roughly 25-40 Swallow coupe bodies, and this singular roadster version.

As reported by Undiscovered Classics, the roadster was rediscovered around 2014 after spending 60 years in a barn, rolling on an MG TD chassis. The car appeared to never have been finished, but remained in good condition, prime for a full build/restoration.

Often referred to as the Burke-Petersen MG-Cisitalia Special, this Allied roadster is presented today as a fully restored racer in excellent condition. It retains its MG-TD chassis and has been upgraded with a TF1500 engine with Laystall head, a competition roll bar, Austin Healey 100 windshield and N.O.S. Borrani wire wheels.

By all accounts, this rare Allied Swallow roadster is one of one, and has a commensurate price tag of $145,000. Find it here on Hemmings classifieds.

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