Garage Find: Supercharged 1951 MG TD

This bashful 1951 MG TD has been owned by the same gentleman since 1983 and has been hiding out, covered, in garages the entire 37 years of its ownership.  Lucky for us tipster Chuck Foster spotted this Virginia Beach based beauty here on Facebook Marketplace, with an asking price of $13,000, just listed.

The photos are all inside the garage so please excuse the non-photogenic wooden post, etc. The seller is offering the car at this asking price because storage has not been kind to the brakes, battery, fuel lines, or tires, which are reportedly suffering dry rot.  Nonetheless, the pretty little sportscar certainly doesn’t show its 69-year age cosmetically.  MG manufactured and exported 5,756 of these metal-clad wood-tubbed sports cars in 1951 and it may come as no surprise to some to see the B & W photo below…

…of our 35th President seated in an early 50s MG. In the Facebook posting for our subject car, there is no mention of the condition of the wood floors or framing but from the condition of the rest of the bodywork, can we assume that the wood is OK on a pensioner-aged MG?  The rear shot of the car reveals some evidence of leaking gasoline that has eroded the paint at the back of the car:

As to the rest of the sheet metal and frame, it does not appear that there is any significant body flaking or rot other than these gas wrinkles. The MG for 1951 was equipped with rack and pinion steering, 15″ ventilated steel wheels with hub caps, and a 1250 cc engine pushing out 54.4 hp through a four-speed manual transmission. Fun to drive, but be careful about brake fading. This car is hardly a threat to a muscle car in a race so long as the race is in a straight line. It takes a full 20.6 seconds to reach 60 mph from a standing stop unless we factor into our conversation this interesting gem:

Not the typical right-side engine room of a stock MG TD.  Our subject car has been equipped with a Progressive Engine Products Company (PEPCO) supercharger that added significantly to the horsepower output of the little four-banger.  Mind you, one could buy a Harley Davidson motorcycle in 1951 that provided more displacement than this little car, so pushing 2,066 pounds of little-car body and mechanical parts around was a pretty heavy lift for the little MG mill.  The supercharger helped.  Seller opines that this may have been a factory supercharger, but we weren’t able to readily find evidence to support a factory-installed PEPCO supercharger.  (Some readers may have better info so we invite comments below.) This easily could have been a dealer install–the seller originally bought the car while stationed in Hawaii.  Just imagine what a fun bunch of spare-time drives that duty must have provided in this MG TD. While we are all thankful for the seller’s military service, can’t say we aren’t a bit envious of the sports car excursions–just a bit.  There is an interesting tidbit found in a 1950s brochure promoting PEPCO blowers, the full brochure (though just a poor photocopy) is found here:

If I am reading this old chart right, the PEPCO-powered MG engine may have realized an increase of about 16 hp or about a 30% advertised boost.  Looks a lot like a GMC 6-71 in the photo on the right of a VW engine.  The GMC and PEPCO blowers are both positive pressure Roots-type systems.

The interior of the listed MG TD is clean and the upholstery is in very good condition. The dash doesn’t appear to be original–there is no glove box, and the wood is not fitting closely to the curves of the cowl. Note the strategically placed “Oh God” handle right where we expect the glovebox to be. If the original exterior of the car is Ivory/Cream, then the 1951 MG offerings for upholstery in the MG TD were either red or green (Biscuit may have been available).  No question this car presents well even if the upgrades to the interior and engine are probably not original. For further readings on MGs, the factory offerings, and details of paint and upholstery, they are available here.

All told, a solid, very lovely, and complete example of a 1951 MG TD.  Unfortunately, the recent trend in MG pricing has been downward since 2018.  Hagerty prices the 1951 MG TD (non-supercharged) at $14,200 for one in good condition, $21,900 for an excellent example.  Is this car just a few bushels of dollars and a lot of elbow grease away from “Excellent”?  It doesn’t seem like anything terribly involved like a body-off resto or a complete engine overhaul is needed to get there.  No info on matching numbers in the posting. But for an enthusiast who is looking for a really sexy ride as a weekend driver and possible dinner partner magnet, this car surely fits that bill just as it did in the ’50s (which certainly was the principal reason for buying an MG TD in the first place).  So if you’re reading this in the Midwest or Middle Atlantic states right now (the last days of November) and are looking forward to next summer possibly with that breeze-through-your-hair experience, perhaps a little Virginia Beach road trip may be just the thing.

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Comments

  1. doug

    No idea of value but I like it. Anything with a blower gets extra points.

    Like 6
    • Bob Roller

      The year this MGTD was built I worked at a dealership that sold them and one of our customers INSISTED in a S.C.O.T.supercharger and we reluctantly installed it which killed the factory warranty on the spot.The NEXT day that MG was hauled in by a tow truck with a broken crankshaft.There may be a reason this car was stored for so long and it could be gross engine failure because of the blower.These were not high quality engines and are relics of the 1920’s and the motor blocks were very soft.I have seen more cylinder wear @ 10,000 miles on these engines than would be seen at 40,000 on an American engine of the same time frame.

      Like 4
      • MattR Member

        Hey Bob – I’ve been following your comments on these cars with interest. Love being what love is, I still want one. Is it possible to get one of these past the 10k milage mark without major failure if you take it easy on them or were there no exceptions in your experience?

        Matt

        Like 2
      • Bob Roller

        Matt,
        I don’t remember any that went to 10,000 miles without a problem of some kind/As I said earlier,the motor blocks were soft and one automobile machinist of long experience said they wouldn’t make a decent skillet.I was involved with these cars and the Model J Duesenberg for over 3 years as well as the Morris,Jaguar and Riley cars.IF I were going to restore one I would consider seeing if cylinder liners could be used to eleminate premature cylined bore wear.
        I am now almost 85 but still well remember these cars and they were fun when they worked but I don;t think they were ever intended to be driven the way we did here in the USA
        and that was hard and fast.
        By the way, a new one was $2175 and that is $1.00 a pound.

        Like 5
      • MattR Member

        Thanks for the tip on the cylinders Bob. I will definitely keep that in mind.

        Like 1
  2. Michael D. Rogers

    There’s ALWAYS something faster, these were widely road raced in the fifties and of course would be welcome in vintage racing circles There is massive club and parts support for any MG!

    Like 1
  3. MattR Member

    Cool to see the PEPCO brochure. Nice find Mike.

    Like 2
    • Bob Roller

      Matt
      Looking back across the decades,I don;t think anyone drove the
      TD;s in a sensible way back in the “day”**.Probably if rebuilt and driven as most people do they should last a long time.The oils we now have would be a big benefit as well.I think we used Valvoline oil because we also sold Ashland Oil gas and the oil was theirs as well.** Most of the TD owners also had an American car that they used for long trips and they drove the MG hard and tried to make them perform like a big 8 cylinder Lincoln or Cadillac.There were no V8 Chevy’s or Plymouths in that time and the MG was a toy to some people then,
      I do remember dirt track races and sometimes a TD was in one
      and badly abused in the process.They are not hard to work on
      and would be a good hobby car if you buy one.

      Like 3
      • MattR Member

        That’s encouraging Bob. I’m sure I would baby it. I live near the pre-highway main drag – a straight-away for many miles – and would just cruise it in a high gear most of the time.

        Thanks for the context.

  4. bobhess bobhess Member

    Original rear bumper gone but still a nice car with a decent price.

    Like 1
  5. Tom Lange

    Only ONE TD left the factory with a supercharger (not this car), and it would have been a British Marshall-Nordec or Shorrock, not an American PEPCO. There is a lot wrong with this car, as noted: wrong rear bumper, wrong dash, gas tank leak, etc. The interior is typical 70’s AMCO vinyl, both seats and door panels.
    But not noted is that the front fenders have been bobbed, which really affects the value and originality. TD values have plummeted way below what Hagerty lists. Right now you can buy a quite nice TD for less than $10,000. As it sits, needing everything it does and full of unknowns, IMHO this is a solid $7k car with a $2k supercharger.

    10k miles (above) is really far too low today on an XPAG engine; mine get about 50-60,000 miles before the engine is worn out. Cams and lifters go much more quickly, but are easily replaced.

    Like 2

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