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MG T Type

Published: 19th Jun 2013 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

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A popular candidate for modification to use on the road or in competition, the terrific T-types can be hotted up easily and effectively. Sam Skelton shows you how

If film crews for period dramas ever feel the need for a 1940s/early 1950s sports car, the MG t-type (Midget) is the default choice. The raffish Dam Buster pilot looks befit a truly entertaining car. Speed isn’t everything with a classic – but options are there for those who feel a need for a bit more
pace perhaps for road or competition work.

BEFORE YOU START:

It’s wise to make sure your T-type is okay for any performance uprating before you start. T-types were metal bodied on a wooden frame, and this has been known to rot. The easiest place to check is the crossmember under the dash – the last place to go, if this has begun to go you’ll need to replace a lot of the hidden framework too. TDs and TFs have a box section chassis, and it’s important to check this has been cared for – water can become trapped inside the box section, and subsequent rust will weaken the whole car.

There are some other things to check. Make sure there’s no rust around the fuel tank; the felt pads sandwiched between the tank and body absorb water and many cars will have new metal here. The hood and frame are readily available but expensive – make sure the bits are all there and all go together properly to save expense later on. Keep an eye on the history file too – MG T types need a lot of maintenance to stay sweet, so if the previous owner has spent a fortune it’s a good sign. If your prospective purchase comes with fewer bills than a dodo colony, walk away and find another.

HOTTING UP

As the XPAG/XPEG unit it an old fashioned engine old fashioned tuning is the order of the day, which any machine shop can assist with.

Removing 3/32” from the head face will increase the compression ratio to a more efficient 8.6:1 – but don’t forget you’ll need washers packed under the head nuts to compensate. Up to 9.3:1 can be achieved by grinding 1/8” off, but a bit of blueprinting and port polishing can go a long way, as can simple things like re-jetting the twin SUs. More ardent fans of modified MGs would elongate the inlet ports by grinding away some of the inlet port outer separating stud boss. Period superchargers such as a Shorrock will give useful extra oomph whilst staying true to the ethos of a 1930s-1950s sports car design – whilst Steve Baker MG will sell a full Eaton M45 kit including ancillaries for £3300. This promises a 45 per cent power increase. Peter Edney also has his own supercharger conversion plus also markets a special camshaft his father designed, not dissimilar to the famous ‘731’ A-Series profile. In fact, now all Edney rebuilt engines feature this camshaft as it improves power appreciably yet doesn’t effect tractability.

HANDLING THE POWER

Ford’s wonderful and wonderfully adaptive Type 9 gearbox is a common upgrade for those who want a fifth gear in their T-types. Hi-Gear offer two types, one for pre-TD type Midgets and one for TDs and TFs. You’ll need to supply your own gearbox, but it includes a quick-shift gear selector which will mimic the throw length of a standard gearchange. There are kits to fit Type 9s to just about anything – so if you’re changing your engine, it’s no issue. Bob West Sportscars approve of this conversion for the regular user, being relatively hassle-free and offering a usefully high motorway cruising gear with much better spaced intermediate ratios. Expect to pay up to £925 for these benefits.

Wider wheels aren’t really an option so make the most of what you have by buying quality tyres – specialists such as Longstone Tyres are your best bet for quality rubber. Regardless of the tyre brand, if you don’t know how old your tyres are (or if they’re over five years old) bin them and buy some new ones. Not only will your car grip better on tight bends, but it will be safer should you use it in adverse weather or need to stop in a hurry!

TA, TB, and TC spec cars feature a steering box that’s heavy and frequently mal-adjusted. Volkswagen Beetle steering boxes are a common solution and there are countless guides as to how to effect this conversion online. Not only is it useful for cars which have had their steering boxes over-adjusted to the point of no return, but the VW system is usefully lighter for those who find the original steering a little slack.

Standard brakes are reasonable on the later car and perfectly acceptable for both road and light track work. These can be retrofitted to TAs, TBs and TCs, or you can add a set of Alfin drums for better heat dispersion for about £250 per drum if supreme stopping power is necessary. There again for the same cost you could add MGA disc brakes with fair ease.

XPAG Engineering also sells uprated drums, but George Edney feels these are only really vital for race spec cars. “A decent set of linings in the original drums will be more than adequate for road use!”

Telescopic shock absorber kits are available for MGAs and MGBs, but not for the T-types. With suitable brackets though, the MGA and B kits can be adapted to fit the T-Type. http://www.ttypes.org features a guide by Ian Linton as to how this can be done although for road use it’s questionable.

There’s a lot to be said for keeping the T-type original. But if you really want to make it hotter or induce more cornering thrills than Abingdon intended, it can be done – and more easily than you’d expect.

B IN THE BONNET...

The B—Series engines can be fitted, but it’s an involved process requiring custom engine mountings fabricated to mimic an MGA (For example, the front engine mounting in a T-type is right at the front of the block, for a B it will need to be to the side), a modified steering column to clear the new mountings, plus a modified MGA exhaust manifold.

For the performance you’d reap and the time you’d put in, we advise you work with what you have instead. George Edney of XPAG Engineering agrees. “We can bore the XPAG block out to 1350cc (70mm) and use a steel crank in place of the cast-iron original, stroked to 96mm. This effectively creates a new XPAG 1500 unit.” Brand new XPEG blocks are available for £4000, this is more comprehensive and half the price.

Full engines can be supplied from £3850. Laystall aluminium cylinder heads can be sourced for £1250 – or a refurbished original modified to run on unleaded is £385 from XPAG Engineering.

Keen MG spotters will wonder why we haven’t mentioned the early TA, with the MPJG unit. Because none of the work mentioned involves engine-specific parts or modification, the principles are applicable equally to either unit. However, with more XPAG/XPEG engined variants on the market, it makes sense to aim the article at owners of cars with these units.



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