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MG T-Type

MG T-Type Published: 12th Jun 2019 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

MG T-Type
MG T-Type
MG T-Type
MG T-Type
MG T-Type
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Why not own a...? MG T-Type

If you want wartime wonder wheels then it can only be the mandatory MG T Type. The choice of RAF pilots (officers generally opted for the similar Y Type saloon) apart from a Morgan or TR2, no other sports car of this era is as easy or pleasurable to own – and they’re still quite affordable. Quaint and characterful this hugely likeable classic that proves speed isn’t everything.

Model choice

From A-F but strangely no E model, it all boils down to how vintage you want this MG. The TA/TB are the most closely related to earlier Midget (albeit with four-speed transmissions and all hydraulic brakes) while the TF provided the backbone for the MGA. The earliest cars are mainly for the diehards because of their closer association with those pre-war models but enthusiasts claim these are the best handling Ts of them all. To the casual observer the TC is 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.

For many the TD is best all rounder mixing pre-war thrills and styling with a dash of modernity – such as more precise rack and pinion steering and independent front suspension. 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.

The TF took all the good points of the TD 11 but was heavily revised, not least the XPAG engine which was enlarged from 1250cc to 1446cc (1500) from July 1954 onwards; without doubt it’s the best developed of the range but some don’t take to the looks compared to the older versions.

However, some MG experts concede that the best cup of T may never have originated from MG but a respected MG specialist called Naylor and its TF 1700 is a 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.

Yet far from being a kit car the Naylor remains highly regarded with owners and many MG specialists, the latter where some regard it the best T Type of them all – if originality isn’t an issue. Now Naylors are a treasured classic and the vast majority of the 100 made still survive and the company is also credited of being the prime mover of instigating BMH with Austin Rover which led to the excellent RV8.

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.

Left-hand drive Ts are worth signifi cantly less than equivalent right hand drive cars as people want to sit on the right, even though parts are readily available off the shelf from Suffolk-based NTG Motor Services. The TA, TB and TC were never built with left-hand drive, but less than 10 per cent of the TF1500s were sold in the home market, so there are quite a few left-hookers in the UK. Don’t worry about where you are perched – we’ve driven several LHD versions and because they are so small they are as easy to drive.

A fair percentage for sale are already modifi ed for modern roads without risking character and future values; prices similar but speak to a respected T specialist for advice.

Behind the wheel

What’s the capital T? Well, it all boils down to what you’re after, but if you hanker for a vintage sports car but don’t want to go down the Morgan route, then any T Series is a great choice. Pre-TDs have the most vintage feel about them and some MG pundits believe the original TA is a better handler (thus ideal for motorsport use) than a TC due to the superior rear axle location although the later car offers tangible compensations, such as greater comfort plus can be made to handle as well.

Care of its rack and pinion steering and better suspension, the later TD, appeals to those after a sharper and yet easier drive, even if the earlier cars are defi nitely the sportier. The TF is the softest option of the range and – thanks to its wider cockpit and better seats – the most comfortable and civilised for long jaunts although our personal pick is the TD because it has the feel of the TF yet retains the MG’s lovely pre-war looks, character and charm.

Where the TF scores is in superior performance in 1500cc guise where it can be coaxed up to 90mph although none are fast despite their sporting pretensions. The main issue with all is their low-ratio fi nal drive which means the engine is very busy when cruising. Even if you’re not unduly concerned about performance, if you plan to buy a T for any sort of long-distance driving, raising the gearing is very desirable.

Autocar in an appraisal of old sports cars published during the 70s and 80s, reappraised an early TF and was still 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 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.” The verdict most holds true three decades on.

Making one better

There’s no shortage of improving potential as Ts remain popular racers. TA, TB and TC brakes cannot be upgraded to TD/TF spec however. It’s possible to fi t Alfi n brake drums, at a cost of the thick end of £1400 for a set of four. If you fi nd the steering too heavy it’s possible to fi t a Datsun steering box conversion – although this applies only to the TA, TB and TC as the TD/TF has rack and pinion steering that’s fi ne. As the Datsun parts are virtually obsolete, it’s more usual to fi t a VW system, for just under £1200 although it’s has been criticised for being too light so speak to a specialist fi rst.

A fi ve-speed gearbox (Ford Type 9) can be fi tted to all models. To buy all the parts you’ll pay around £1400+ plus fi tting – changing the rear axle is much cheaper but the MG’s leisurely performance will notably suffer. Happily this can be compensated by orthodox tuning but a bolt on blast is supercharging, a popular mod when new, is worth considering.

At least 20 per cent more power is for the taking even if it’s not cheap at around £2500-4000 – but it’ll sound great and give the car a lot more go. The lower fi gure is a modern repro blower while the higher fi gure is a genuine Shorrock unit. If the engine is past it then why not buy a tuned rebuild unit? George Edney can supply 1350cc XPAG unit or stroke it to 1.5-litres but it comes at a cost.

Maintenance matters

An easy, uncomplicated car but you need to keep on top of these MGs and you can spot a professional restoration a mile off. Condition could well count the most when looking around, other than insisting on a specifi c model, simply because most experts say that while there’s plenty around, the majority are in average condition. Cosmetically many look really great but mechanically are “a bag of nails,” as one specialist put it to us, although due to their rising values, more owners are prepared to spend the appropriate sums on them to make good.

More good news is that the design fi gured virtually on later MGs, like the TF and MGA, so spare parts either new or used, can easily be sourced; NTG Motor Services of Suffolk, Andy King, Barry Walker (cars) MG Automobile Company (parts) Moss Europe and Barrie Carter are your fi rst ports of call.

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). Biggest rot spots are around the suspension points, the rear fl oor and the windscreen scuttle so keep a watchful eye on this. The timber outer frame rots of course, so keep it well treated. The TF featured more metal than the others, to add stiffness to the structure. It’s the wood that causes the greatest problems, and most of it is hidden from view.

Mechanically, parts are attainable but some prices are high; XPAG engines cost as much to overhaul as an XK and certain jobs are specialist. TA units the weakest using white metal crankshaft and bearings.

If you’re buying a restoration project, ensure that all the instrumentation and switchgear is present and correct. Again, you can ultimately track everything down should you need to, but some parts are now very expensive.

The car’s timeline

1936 TA launched with traditional chassis but the previous tubular cross members are replaced by channel sections and the front. For the first time for an MG, hydraulic brakes were fitted although the adoption of a tuned Morris engine displeased some MG drivers.

1939 Looking identical, the TB benefited from a new 1250cc XPAG engine, allied to a closer ratio synchromesh gearbox.

1945 TC has slightly wider body plus the running boards were smaller sized.

1949 TD retains pre-war look but sports new stiffer chassis featuring rack and pinion steering and fully independent front suspension. There’s improved comfort too.

1949 TD/C sported a works ‘Special Tuning’ engine producing almost 60bhp, and equipped with twin fuel pumps, and uprated suspension.

1951 TD 11 version launched sporting 57bhp through bigger carburettors and a higher compression ratio. Dampers were special additional types.

1953 The TF introduces a more modern look, with fared-in headlamps yet is little more than a TD with a modified bodyshell.

1954 The TF finally gets its new powerplant with the introduction of the TF1500 in November. The most usable of all the T-Series MGs, just 3400 of these bigger-engined TFs are built (325 for UK market), compared with 6200 examples of the TF1250. Production of the TF ceases in 1955, to make way for the MGA.

What to pay…

There isn’t a massive spread of values between the different models. TB, TC and TF1500 are the most valuable; for a decent runner you’ll need to spend £20-25,000 while the best cars change hands for £30-40,000. The best TAs are worth a little less – about £30K. The best value of the lot though is the TD, which fetches between £18,000 and £25,000 in really superb condition. One thing that keeps TA and TB prices pretty buoyant is the fact they’re eligible for VSCC competition, whereas the TC and onwards are not. If you’re on a budget, for £15,000 you can buy a tatty TD that’s roadworthy but will need money spent on it in the coming years. But you have to be incredibly careful buying at this end of the market as these cars can be in a worse condition than you think warn experts.

Buying Tips

Body & Chassis

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 the wings, doors and bulkheads, particularly the rear one due to water leaks and traps located by the fuel tank.

Later cars were based upon 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 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 properly correct.

Engine

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.

Here’s six of the best reasons to buy one

  • Vintage looks
  • Fun to drive
  • Wide choice
  • Easy maintenance
  • Superb owners club
  • Great specialist support


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