Daily Driving Fun: 1953 MG TD/C Mark II

MG TD Front three quarter view

After World War II, the British car industry struggled mightily to recover from the widespread destruction of factories, shortages of materials and of course, a struggling economy, that did not allow many Britons to be car buyers. For most of Europe, sports cars were the farthest thing from people’s minds and pocketbooks. Britain rationed raw materials to manufacturers, favoring those that made goods that could be exported, especially to the relatively well of United States. So companies like the Nuffield Organization, that manufactured MG (originally, Morris Garages), focused on products that would suit the massive North American market.

MG rear three quarter view

Simultaneously, many American GI’s, both during the war, and shortly after, experienced the joys and pleasure of top down motoring in many wire wheeled, under-powered but exhilarating to drive British sports cars, including MGs. Quite a few MGs, Triumphs and Jaguars were exported by enthusiastic American soldiers on their return to the states, thereby introducing British sports cars to a much broader audience back home.

MG TD Driver Side Interior

Nuffield saw this opportunity and put considerable effort into making their cars attractive to American drivers. Since no development work had been done on cars since 1939 or earlier, like other manufacturers, MG dusted off their prewar designs, gussied them up and shipped them off to America.

MG TD Rust Spot

The first model to have significant success was the MG TC, followed quickly by the significantly improved and more modern TD, which was made from 1949 through 1953 in various models culminating in the one shown in this ad here on craigslist in Weston, Connecticut, the MG TD/C (for Competition) Mk II. This car had an improved frame, 15 inch steel wheels, and a significant increase in horsepower through advanced tuning from the factory.

MG TD Under 1

MG TCs and TDs have been popular in the US for a long time now, and despite their propensity to rust and rot (there’s a significant amount of structural wood in the frames, much like the still manufactured Morgan), their popularity has kept a large number of them on the road, in restoration shops, and in plenty of sports car competitions.

MG TD Number Plate

This particular example is relatively rare, as the Competition model was apparently made in low numbers only in 1953 (seller claims around 1,700), and it looks pretty good. The car is clearly an everyday driver, not a show queen. It appears to have been rebuilt at some point The seller points out that there are a number of non-original features, including a wood dashboard, Pertronix ignition, aftermarket aircleaners and an aluminum valve cover.

MG TD Under 3

There are some rust spots and bubbling places which are both described and shown in the pictures provided. The price actually appears reasonable at $16,500; there are doubtless experts in these cars among our readers who know better than I do, but based on some research, there are not many daily drivers as good as this one out there for this kind of money.

MG TD Engine

A buyer will want to find out who did the body and frame work on the car previously, and verify that everything is as it should be. But this might just be a bargain on a car you can jump into and drive right now without significant work. Here is a very complete history of post war MG, with lots of great information and pictures. The MG Drivers Club looks like fun too.

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Comments

  1. Dolphin Member

    I don’t know much about the Competition model, but Wikipedia says these were made in 1950 for the No American market and had a raised (8.1:1) compression ratio for 57 HP.

    These looked very cool back when I was a kid, and I wanted one…..until I got to drive one that I worked on for a guy. Having an MGA as a daily driver back then didn’t prepare me for driving a TD, which was tall, very noisy, and had very limited performance. It was the most vintage driving car I had ever been in by far, and let’s just say that I never owned one.

    But I still think they look really good, even in the light/dark chocolate paint of this one. I’m just not sure it looks $16.5K good. I notice the seller emphasizes that that’s his asking price…..

  2. Matt Tritt

    I’ve always considered the TD to be the “perfect” sportscar, but not as good looking as the TC. Like many post war cars, not only British ones, they are underpowered for today’s frenetic freeway traffic but extremely fun to drive on country roads; the twistier the better. SU carbs require frequent tinkering, the wipers are amusing and the heaters only semi-effective, but so what? These are warm weather machines that still are a joy to drive. This one, it’s hard to say judging by the body problems, but the mechanicals sound right. Love the colour combo on this one!

  3. Carl Fritz

    Once PROPERLY set up, SU carbs will stay in tune for years, IF YOU DON’T TINKER with them!!!
    Heaters were after-market items, most often US- made, and NOT not the fault of MG. (If you really need a heater, find yourself a SouthWind, a gasoline-burning miniature furnace that will roast you out, regardless of how cold it is outside!!
    It’s true, all the Ts are under-powered, but blame the UK’s ridiculously-high taxes at the time.
    TDs are cute (like puppies), but TAs, TBs and TCs are beautiful grayhounds !!

    Like 1
  4. Mark E

    Everybody else likes the TC but I’ve wanted a TD for nigh onto 50 years! Just about time to put that dream up on the shelf next to all the cars I wanted in the ’70s that now command 6-digit prices! Sigh… -_-

  5. Rob j

    Why do I always think these should only be red or BRG? Or as a last resort, yellow…

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