∙Nut and bolt restoration to the highest standard ∙Engine rebuilt and yet to even be run in ∙Immaculate presentation ∙Sure-fire show winner
The MG Midget sports car produced from 1936 to 1955 is known as the MG Series T-type Midget, with each version being labelled TA, TB, TC, TD and TF. A two-seater open-top body-on-frame sports car, it was popular both before and after the war both domestically and in the US, where it gained a significant following despite initially being only available in right hand drive. Each version moved on the specification although the TD was mechanically very similar to the TF that followed, the main difference being a slightly uprated engine.
The TD chassis was shared with that of the Y-type saloon and tourer and was one of the first British cars to feature independent front suspension, an innovation which improved the handling considerably from previous T-types. The engine was a twin-carburettor 1250cc XPAG overhead valve unit, the tunability of which was a big part of its popularity over the pond, while the styling was essentially in the same pre-war vein but scaled up to the dimensions of the larger chassis. In all nearly 30,000 TD’s were built but the vast majority went for export with only 1656 remaining here in the UK. Today, they remain a popular classic with an enthusiastic club scene.
First registered in 1953, the car has had a variety of owners across the UK. It was acquired by the current owner in 2017 as a restoration project. A retired senior automotive engineer, he had previous experience restoring a pair of MG Y-type tourers with a cover story on MG Enthusiast magazine (who described them as ‘perfection’) to prove it. This time he wanted to have a crack at the closely-related sports car, and set about a nut and bolt restoration with no expense spared. Although it came with the original gearbox (which is also included in the sale), the popular conversion to a Ford Type 9 gearbox had already been carried out and he decided to retain the later unit for usability. The full details of the restoration are as follows:
The body was removed and the ash frame and plywood panels repaired or replaced where required. All the sheet metal was repaired, blasted and painted with 2-part epoxy black primer. The tub panels were then refitted to the ash frame and, along with loose panels, dry fitted to the chassis frame for accurate alignment. These were then removed and all exterior surfaces polyester primed with the underside of the wheel arches, wings, running boards finished in dead coat and then finished with 2- pack epoxy “Regency Red” colour coat.
The chassis frame and all the bolt-on chassis components were blasted and repaired where required and finished in black 2-pack epoxy. All painting was carried out by a renowned classic car specialist.
The front and rear suspension assemblies were stripped and components repaired or replaced as needed. Everything was then repainted and rebuilt with new bushes and fixings, track rod ends, wheel bearings and seals, rubbers, etc.
The XPAG engine was rebuilt to the following specification: re-bored to 1380cc, new three ring solid skirt pistons, crank crack tested and re-ground to -030”/-030” with new shells; lightened flywheel 8” clutch, all balanced; lip seals front and rear; new billet steel fast road camshaft and bearings; new timing chain oil grooved cam followers. The cylinder head was machined to Stage 2 and unleaded seats, large valves, Metro stem seals, bronze guides, improved porting installed along with a new high flow water pump and pulley.
The carburettors were refurbished by an SU expert restorer and new flexible fuel hoses and inline filter added.
The distributor has been rebuilt and correctly calibrated by an expert restorer and new spark plugs, leads and period caps fitted.
A new period style Lincon battery and tray has been fitted with new cotton-covered battery leads and terminals.
The radiator was re-cored and refinished with all new hoses and clips.
The Ford 5 speed Type9 gearbox was re-fitted using Hi-Gear components including prop shaft and bell housing and a new clutch actuation mechanism fitted.
A new stainless steel exhaust system was sourced and fitted.
All electrical components have been inspected and rebuilt/ replaced as required and a new cotton covered electrical harness, including flashing indicators has been installed.
The brakes have been rebuilt with all new slave cylinders and shoes, replacement drums fitted to the front, new cupro-nickel piping all round, fittings where required, and a new master cylinder.
All the instruments were rebuilt, including the clock.
New floorboards have been installed, and a complete interior trim package including new carpets.
An all-new deluxe mohair canvas hood with matching side screens and tonneau was acquired and fitted, the frames refinished in the correct colour and new chrome finishing strips fitted on the side screens.
All chromed components re-chromed or replaced, including the interior trimmings
The windscreen has been rebuilt with re-chromed parts, seals and fixings. New wiper arms have been added with blades and tie rod.
Correct fog and driving lamps were fitted
New correct fixings were used throughout, many stainless steel and all rubber components and piping were replaced.
The build is now complete and, insisting that’s where the fun is, the vendor wants to let someone else enjoy the fruits of his labours while he attempts to resist the urge to do it all again with another project.
Accompanying the car is a thick folder containing a treasure trove of invoices and photographs covering most aspects of the restoration process down to the purchase of the correct nuts and bolts. The original log book is also present.
Completely retrimmed in beige leather, a colour chosen for its originality, the interior literally looks brand new. The seats, which have had new foam as part of their rebuild, are very comfortable and the dashboard is exactly as it would have been in-period, save for the addition of the US-spec self-cancelling indicator switch and repeater. The centre panel is the correct colour, while the chrome edging strips are the correct MG rolled section! The dials are all pristine and everything functions as it should. Behind the seats is a fully trimmed cubby hole in which to store the tonneau which is new and fits a treat over the cabin. The roof fabric is also all new and it goes up and down with no problem and when erected it does a decent job of keeping the rain out. However, that’s not how the car is mostly likely to be used and it’s best enjoyed with the roof down when it’s a joy to be in.
Given the advances made in paint technology since the 1950’s, it’s no exaggeration to say that the paintwork looks better than it would have done when new. Starting with well-prepared and straight panels obviously helps too, and the result is a very impressive finish with a deep lustre. Similarly, the chrome is absolutely immaculate. It’s equally fresh underneath and, having had a tour round the car from the owner, we would be surprised if the quality control at the MG factory in Abingdon was quite as fastidious as the standards that have been applied here. In short, it wants for nothing and is sure to wow MG enthusiasts and the general public alike.
With the fresh battery, the engine fires on the button and ticks over smoothly with good oil pressure. As it’s yet to be fully run in we only experienced it up to around 2,000 revs but it pulls well and the gear change is smooth up and down the box. It stops smartly and there are no untoward noises from anywhere, just a lovely rasp from the exhaust. It is just the right size to thread through the country lanes that are its natural hunting ground, and it garners smiles from everyone you encounter.
The engine bay, it will come as no surprise, is absolutely pristine and includes accurate details such as the MG embossed dipstick, tool box lined with the correct specification white felt and a period Purolator Micronic oil filter decal, sourced with great effort from the US
The restomod movement has been gaining a lot of traction lately, taking classic cars and applying modern knowhow and technology to improve them. There’s a sliding scale of modifications and this one doesn’t really count as a restomod per se, the only change to the mechanics being the Ford gearbox. But where it can claim to have links to the scene is by taking a senior automotive engineer’s career's-worth of experience and applying it to a full restoration. Not only does the vendor have an eye for detail and quality but he also brings a lifetime of knowledge and expertise of how to bring together the different components of a build like this and to make a compelling finished product.
It’s an output of which he can very deservedly be proud, and it’s sure to make the next owner proud too. It’s been built so that it can be driven and enjoyed but in doing so, you’d want to make sure that the condition was maintained as it should be a show-winner with presentation like this. So, if you want what is surely one of the very best examples of an MG TD that money can buy then get your bid in now, as chances like this don’t come along very often.
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