51 Years in the Barn! 1953 MG TD

After an incredible 51 years in storage, this 1953 MG TD outside Vacaville, California could make a splash on the Preservation Class tour after a modicum of cautious refurbishment. Even the bias-ply tires hold air, according to the seller! I’m no British sports car expert, but the $8500 asking price here on Craigslist seems like a reasonable starting point for a car that may need little more than maintenance and safety items to get back on the road and achieve its maximum potential value. It’s not every day you can buy a car that would have its value diminished by every possible “improvement.” Thanks to reader MattR for spotting this brilliantly preserved roadster.

Twin carburetors grace the inline four-cylinder engine. Whether you consider a car that comes with a toolbox in the engine compartment to be genius or some sort of wicked foreshadowing, it’s a nifty touch.

Gorgeous from any angle, the TD carries pre-war styling nicely into the ’50s. American soldiers developed a love of English sports cars while stationed abroad, and the combat-proven Yanks snapped up thousands of the little buggers upon returning home, enjoying their nimble handling and stark contrast from the mostly ponderous American cars of the day. While the top material is intact and complete, the stitching is deteriorated, according to the seller. I’ve re-stitched sun visors before in this situation, re-using the original holes, and I suppose it might be done with a top as well. At least you won’t have any trouble removing the gas tank to have it re-sealed; that’s it just in front of the spare tire.

After proper care and feeding (and maybe a patch on the driver’s side), these glorious green leather seats may well entertain the posterior of your choice. A skillful upholsterer could support the torn leather from below, leaving the original material on top of a functional layer beneath.

While some classics look like a day at the beach on top, only to reveal an undercarriage from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, this one demands little attention below, in terms of rust repair anyway. Another picture shows what looks like a patch panel in the driver’s footwell. Would you fix the minimum necessary and drive this long-parked MG in as-found condition?


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  1. MattR Member

    Thanks Todd. When I submitted this one, I thought it was the same car from last year that was found in a barn: https://barnfinds.com/barn-stored-for-50-years-1952-mgtd/

    But now I can see it’s not. This looks like a fun and rewarding project.

    This 1953 is tempting and only 1 town over from me. It’s probably out of the cards for me, but if someone is curious, I can go take a look at report back.

    Like 4
  2. Euromoto Member

    Got some class there with the Alfa and Porsche in the background.

    Like 2
  3. bobhess bobhess Member

    Good solid car but lots of work ahead. Fun when done. Really enjoyed our red ’53.

    Like 5
  4. Andrew S Mace Member

    “Another picture shows what looks like a patch panel in the driver’s footwell.” Seeing as the floorboards in this car literally ARE just that, I suspect what you’re seeing is the footwell “inset”? Anyway, neat car! :D

    Like 5
  5. Solosolo Member

    In 1976 I bought a 1934 Austin 10/4 car that had a tool box compartment and a battery compartment under the bonnet. The tool box was a wonderful idea as all the spanners required were close at hand, and the battery would last more than ten years! I sold it in 2004 to a guy in UK and when I went to visit him in 2009 I got it running for him by jump starting using the same battery. He hadn’t started it since he acquired it in 2004!

    Like 2
  6. Frank

    Jack up the radiator cap resto.

  7. MarkO

    I had a ’51 TD. I always left my tools “loose” in the under hood tool compartment,(ie:not in a roll) The rattling noises they made drowned out the screams of anyone brave enough to ride in the passenger seat!
    The rattling also added to the effect that the car could self destruct at any moment: sort of like the uphill ride at the beginning of a rollercoaster!
    Great fun!
    A friend once gave me a dollar for gas to take him for a ride.Someone cut us off: we did a 360 degree spin and landed inches from the curb. My friend was a pale as a ghost(and likely Sh*t his pants). The first thing out of my mouth was “BEST RIDE YOU’LL EVER GET FOR A DOLLAR!”
    That was 25 years ago: He still talks about it!

    Like 2

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