The MG sports car is now back on sale in Britain. The company’s story is an amazing one of survival since the birth of the marque in the 1920s. It survived ownership by BMC, British Leyland, BMW and is now in Chinese hands. Yet, this nifty little sports car is still there bearing its badge with pride. So with the rebirth of the brand in Britain, it is perhaps appropriate to look at the model which drove MG into modern times.
The MG TD was arguably the most popular of all the T series cars. It followed the success of the TC Midget which made inroads into the United States market. Underpinned by the success of the TC, the TD answered calls for a bigger and better equipped car.
MG was then owned by the Nuffield Group and as the 1950s were about to dawn, major changes were taking place at the MG Abingdon factory, with Riley models also being produced there. The development of the TD was done on a shoestring because there was a shortage of investment in the brand. But what appeared was inspirational in the cash-strapped circumstances.
Based in part on the Y-Type tourer, the TD had independent front suspension and rack and pinion steering. It was much more comfortable and the traditional wire wheels were replaced with more modern disc designs. It was a classic transitional design, feeding in the best of the old with new ideas.
The TD body was considerably wider than earlier models to give more elbow room. The fascia, although new, remained traditional as did the separate flowing front wings, running boards, separate headlamps and vertical slat radiator. Paying homage to tradition, the TD kept the cutaway doors, folding screen with wiper motor bolted on plus basic side screen weather protection.
Coach built body panels were mounted on a traditional ash wooden frame.Again, underlying its ‘hairy’ sports car past, the TD had no heater or a radio. Plus there was no individual adjustment on the front seats. It really was one size fits all.
It was heavier than the old TC and slower, but customers flocked to buy it when the wraps were thown off in 1949. It was produced over four years and 29,664 units were built. The TD set a new production record for MG with a staggering 10,838 being produced in 1952 alone.
But its 78 mph top speed was becoming sedate by emerging standards and the TD was eventually replaced in the short term by a face-lifted and more modern version called TF. But the real change came in 1961 when the curvaceous 100mph MGA put the brand on course for decades.