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MG T Type

MG T Type Published: 1st Jul 2015 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

MG T Type

Fast Facts

  • Best model: TD or TF
  • Worst model: None really
  • Budget buy: TD
  • OK for unleaded?: No
  • Will it fit in the garage? (mm): L3680 x W1480(mm)
  • Spares situation: Pretty good
  • DIY ease?: Old car simplicity..
  • Club support: As good as you will find
  • Appreciating asset?: Interest always high
  • Good buy or good-bye?: Along with Morgan best old sports car bet
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Quaint and characterful vintage MG sports car that’s as easy to run as an MGB. Wide choice but prices and restoration costs are rising. A hugely likeable classic that proves speed isn’t everything WORDS BY ALAN ANDERSON IMAGES BY MAGICCARPICS.CO.UK


1936 TA launched with traditional chassis on a body comprising of an ash frame clad in steel panels. The frame was traditional but its tubular cross members were replaced by channel sections and the front of the side rails were box sectioned for extra stiffness. The sportster body, that aped the earlier Magna and Magnette, comprised an ash frame clad in steel panels and front and rear leaf springs fitted with Luvax shock absorbers. And for the first time, hydraulic brakes were fitted although adoption of a Morris engine displeased MG diehards…

1939 Looking identical, the TB benefited from major mechanical changes including a new 1250cc XPAG engine, allied to a synchromesh gearbox filled with better ratios and the old cork clutch was ditched in favour of a conventional dry item.
1945 TC was launched. To the casual observer it was similar to the TA/B albeit with a slightly wider body plus the running boards were smaller and fitted with two protective foot board strips.

1949 TD surfaces. Still retains pre-war appearance but with major changes under the skin including a completely new and stiffer chassis featuring rack and pinion steering plus fully independent front suspension, both adapted from the larger YA saloon. It’s a format that was to serve MG well for decades.

1951 The TD 11 version was launched in August and should not be confused with the TD Mk 11 or Competition which had been built in limited numbers for racing and sported a Special Tuning engine producing 60bhp, twin fuel pumps, and uprated dampers all round. The road going TD 11 gave 57bhp through bigger carburettors and a higher compression ratio. Dampers were special adjustable Andrex type (for a smoother ride on the bottom?ed).

1953 Last of the line TF introduced. Retaining TD 11 mechanicals the body was heavily revised which some regard as the prettiest T Type of them all.

1954 A larger 1464cc XPEG engine was fitted to raise the performance to more respectable levels while new hubs meant the normal holed steel wheels fitted but could be replaced with a wire option. The final TF was produced in April 1955, replaced by the sleek MGA.


Despite their distinct lack of pace, these MGs are real vintage sports cars, which progressively became better to drive over the years with the final TF being pretty close to the MGA in its drivability and overall feel.

What’s the capital T? Well, it depends what you’re after, of course, but if you hanker for a vintage sports car but don’t want to go down the Morgan route, then a T Type has to be the default choice.

Pre-TDs have the most vintage feel about them and some experts believe the original TA is a better handler than a TC due to the superior rear axle location although the later car offers compensations, such as 12 volt electrics, plus can be made to handle better. The TD, thanks to its rack and pinion steering and better suspension, appeals to those after a sharper and yet easier drive, even if the earlier cars are the sportier. The TF is the softest option of them all and – with its wider cockpit and better seats – the most comfortable and civilised although our personal pick is the TD because it has the most modern feel yet retains the MG’s lovely pre-war looks, character and charm.

None are exactly quick you understand! The TD struggled to 80mph after passing the 60 mark in over 23 seconds – Mini 850 pace in fact according to Autocar but the TF 1500 sliced eight seconds off that and could almost touch 90 on a good day. Bear in mind that there’s shed loads of tried and tested tweaks to improve matters not least supercharging, which was highly popular and effective on T Types (now a £3000 mod, see ‘Improvements’). Regular buying guide readers will know that in this section we also include press comments of particular road tests and impressions but we thought a retrospective look at the TF 25 years after its demise would be more relevant, today.

Autocar, who in a Talking of Sports Cars series reappraised an early TF and was impressed. “One quickly understands the demands for a 1500cc engine… Although the engine obviously doesn’t seem to resent its work and revved happily up to 5000rpm through the gears. A cruising speed of 60mph seems about right.”

As for the handling the tester noted that the MG “is not found wanting and is safe and predictable and really feels a lot more modern than the engine while the brakes are adequate for the available performance.”


Prices vary enormously and are dependent on originality and desirability. A quality rebuild costs around £30,000 – which is about the price for a top example from a specialist. Resto projects are around the £4000-6000 mark, but general values are governed by condition and provenance than actual age or model. The good news is that if you sift through this magazine and check out the likes of Barrie Carter, Barry Walker and Andy King, you can still buy an good example for under £20,000, but time is starting to run out for such bargains. According to leading pre ’55 MG expert King (01949 860519), the T Series has always been in demand for restoration. The difference now is that people are willing to spend proper money on one; cosmetically many cars are fine but mechanically “a bag of nails,”. Andy told us. T Type expert, Barry Walker, says the market has cooled over the past six months, sales-wise, especially for average condition cars of which there are more than you’d credit.

There’s quite a bit you can do to this MG to make it your cup of T. Starting with the engine, numerous conventional head (alloy from Laystall at £1250) and carb tweaks are available, culminating in a supercharger which was a popular mod in its day.

Today it’s a £3000 + fit, but it’s said to up power by as much as 45 per cent – just make sure the engine is up to it!
If the engine is past it and too dear to repair, then the 1500cc engine from the Y series can be fitted to the later TD and TF as can later 1500 or 1622 B-Series from the MGA or A55, although Heath-Robinson swaps can seriously devalue these MGs. George Edney can supply 1350cc XPAG unit or stroke it to 1.5-litres.

The vast majority of models can even be fitted with the saviour of many old MGs – a five-speed Sierra gearbox, which transforms the T Series making it far more relaxing for top gear cruises for around £1300-£1500. It’s a well accepted mod in MG circles that doesn’t detract from the characteristics or value of the car.

Suspensions can’t be converted to modern telescopic items like an MGB without a lot of work, but the brakes can be beefed-up with alloy drums and better linings to cut fade; NTG Motor Services is selling TA-TC types for £1104. Early cars can be retro-fitted with the better TD/TF anchors while with a bit of ingenuity, later MGA/MGB discs can be grafted on as well as servo assistance – but it’s not an easy job – or necessary believes leading T specialist Andy King. There’s a fair bit of scope to improve the slack, heavy steering on TDs. Consider a modern upgrade like a VW Beetle steering box which is the common upgrade now.


Such is the popularity of the MG T Series, and the TF in particular, that a cottage industry in replicas appeared. Naylor was the most faithful reproduction of the TF, albeit using 1980’s Austin Rover hardware, including the 1.7-litre O Series engine from the Marina/Ital. Known as the Naylor TF 1700, it was constructed along the lines of the TF but with an ash wood body frame, front hinged doors (to comply with E-regulations) and McPherson strut front suspension.

Being only £40 cheaper than a Morgan Plus 8 back in 1985 (£13,950) not even a sumptuous Conolly leather cockpit and full Austin Rover approval (and warranty) or the sight of Mrs Thatcher driving one could muster more than 100 orders before the company folded. Naylor went lock, stock and factory to the Mahcon Group in 1996 and emerged as the Hutson TF where another 61 cars were made, some in kit car form.

But far from being a kit car the Naylor remains highly regarded with owners and MG specialists, the latter where some regard it the best T Type of them all. Naylor is also credited of being the prime mover of instigating BMH with Austin Rover which led to the excellent RV8.

Now Naylors are a treasured classic and the vast majority of the 100 made still survive. The owners’ club celebrated 20 years of existence last year, marking the occasion at Gaydon.

Another replica came from Harper Roscoe Motors of Cheshire who became the European makers of the American TF1800 albeit with a British built chassis and MGB mechanicals. The car was praised for its build quality and, thanks to a relocated petrol tank to a safer location, more luggage space. Prices started from £9500 back in 1983.

The TD Silverstone is Malaysian, and sold as a brand new car using Toyota running gear. Its mix of old and new technology may outrage purists, but it works well. Imported to Europe by Lifestyle Automotive (

Another earlier quirky TF replica from far afield came from Sao Paulo-based MP Lafer who, back in the mid 70s, was perhaps one of the first to offer a T Type recreation – albeit based upon a VW Beetle floorpan! Why? Because the wheelbases were almost identical… Apart from a special rear end to cover the engine, the SP T looked quite like the MG TD and due to the lighter body the 1.6 VW engine went quite well but the ride was Beach Buggy poor. And at $9500 back in 1976 it wasn’t as cheap or funky either. Back on home soil around the same time we had a TF-looking kit car called the Gentry. Made from simple angle iron frame, plywood flooring and a mix of alloy and GRP body panels, the body was dropped onto a sound Triumph Herald or Vitesse chassis for just £385 or you could opt for a special chassis to accept MGB running gear for a bit more.

Finally, there was the Magenta, a TF-like body using BMC 1100/1300 running gear and a MG1100 grille that was ideal for saving a rusty saloon from an early grave.

What To Look For


The gearboxes are robust thankfully as spare parts aren’t that freely obtainable; a Riley can be used if need be otherwise it’s a hefty £1000 overhaul.

Diffs can be noisy but soldier on – but what one is fitted now as they were frequently changed to alter the gearing? Also, on later TDs-TFs, may have been substituted by a ZA Magnette or Wolseley 4/44 one.


The bodywork isn’t anything like so hardy as the chassis and rusts away – so much so that it’s better to check everything up to door handle height! Chief worry areas include wings, doors and bulkheads, particularly the rear one due to water leaks and traps by the fuel tank.


Of a Morris design, if originality matters on TAs, check the stamping as a Wolseley or lower tune Morris item may have been installed over the years.

TA units are the weakest and uses white metal crankshaft and bearings which is specialist and expensive to repair if worn – ditto the con rods. TA engines are prone to cracking as well but an oil pressure up to 100lbft is quite okay.

XPAG and XPEG units are the mainstay and pretty bomb-proof; good thing too as it can cost up to £5000 to thoroughly overhaul one. Oil pressure should be 40lbft minimum if still healthy although these units are known leakers at the crank seals, side plates and the rocker cover.

XPAGs can suffer from a weak valve train which is compounded by high revving tuned engines and if stronger valve springs have been fitted.

If a supercharger has been fitted check on a drive for an even performance and undue noises although a characteristic shrill under power is normal. Can be overhauled or replaced.

The chassis is made of steel up to 1/8in thick so they last pretty well with the pre TD the toughest due to its channelled design (however, look for the metal cracking under the seats).

Later cars used the Y saloon chassis which while stiffer has more rot traps plus is harder to repair. Later cars used thinner as well. Biggest rot spots are around the suspension points, the rear floor and the windscreen scuttle.

The timber outer frame will rot of course, particularly under the running boards and dash. The rest of the woodwork is well hidden so it’s a good indicator of its condition.

The door posts are also timber and are known to be weak – rather like a Morgan. Check for door drop as it’s a good guide to the rest of the car’s condition and expensive to correct.


Pre TD models used pressed steel drum brakes where hard use can lead to overheating and warping. They cost in the region of £100 each new.

Later cars used the more conventional cast iron efforts although are more prone to seizing on. Harder linings can be obtained and their performance quite suitable for today’s roads.

The steering is the car’s Achilles Heel, suffering from poor geometry, heavy operation and play at the wheel even after adjustment.

T Types with rack and pinion steering should be much sharper – if not there’s a problem with it.
The front suspension served right up to the MGB. Check for usual king pin and trunnion wear as well as the spring pan condition on TD/TFs.

Penny to a pound that the phosphor bronze trunnion inserts used on T Types have been ditched and replaced by cheaper and as effective steel types as found on MGAs. There’s nothing wrong in this. The simple cart strings fitted to earlier models are basic and so just require checking for wear and spring settling or breakages.


Given their age, it will be rare to find an example that hasn’t been restored to some degree. There’s nothing complicated about at Type and spares supply, while not as good as an MGB, should pose no worries. n From the TC onwards, 12 volt electrics were fitted and you may find earlier cars uprated. It’s an easier system to maintain and bulb replacements are much easier. On all, check the loom for natural decay over the decades.

It’s 60 years ago since the last T Type rolled out of Abingdon and signed off an iconic strain of traditional MG sports cars that have never been forgotten. Indeed, demand for good ones is always healthy and it’s easy to appreciate why – a T Type provides Morgan-like vintage motoring but with a character all of its own. Add typical MG back up and owner club support, an array of tried and tested improvements and the sheer fun factor, isn’t it your time for T?

Three Of A Kind

Chief rival to the MG came from Canley, and carried on where the TF and MGA signed off, remaining fundamentally the same in terms of design right up until the strain was pensioned off in 1976 in favour of the TR7. A far more modern and civilised alternative to any T, and faster too, early TRs have a Healey character about them with the TR3 boasting front disc brakes after 1956. Tons of spares, support and mods around make this Triumph an excellent buy.
In terms of style and character, the four-pot Morgan is the closest thing to this MG, but thanks to its eternal design you can buy virtually new examples yet still own a genuine classic car but without the hang-ups! Earlier models used Triumph TR power before switching to Ford, which still remain, although there was a brief flirtation with Fiat and Rover units. Charming vintage feel, illustrious badge and good residuals plus there’s a four seat option.
More a modern take on a vintage sports car rather than direct rival, but Panthers have a strong following. Initially designed around a Vauxhall Magnum 2.3 albeit with a single carb (where a turbo and automatic were also added), the Kallista replacement featured a dedicated chassis and Ford Capri 2.8i power. All are fast but can be tail happy. A good alternative not only to an MG but also a Morgan, Panthers boast more refinement.


The MG T Type is a great 1940’s classic that can still cut it on today’s roads. They are still pretty good value, easy to maintain or restore, can be tuned and raced by owners and, like all MGs, enjoy a great club support. However, if you’ve owned an MGB or the earlier A (itself essentially a re-bodied TF), drive a few as they are a totally different proposition. That’s not a criticism, simply a fact worth noting. But you’ll still love a T-time treat!

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