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I Want! 1935 MG TA Survivor Find


Isn’t this a breathtaking photograph? Wow. Especially for those The Red Car lovers like I am (my copy is sitting on my desk in front of me as I type). Actually, this is a 1936 MGTA, not a 40’s TC as in Don Stanford’s book, but the “drop dead” look is still there for sure! This find was stored from 1980 until this summer, when it was carefully woken back up. It’s for sale here on eBay at no reserve in Lexington, Kentucky, and trust me when I say that if I had any money at all to spend, I would have begged Jesse not to post this on the site so I’d be bidding. This car is absolutely the MG I’d love to own, and this is coming from a British car fanatic! After reading this post over, you’ll see that passion coming out throughout.


It is so nice to see a car photographed well. And this one has just the right amount of wear, just the right amount of shine, that it absolutely stands out as a car to drive and enjoy, not park! The seller has done enough to get the car running and to be able to evaluate it, but you’d want to do some more things (such as replace the ancient tires) before driving the car on the road. Wow, what a beautiful car!


These MG TA/TB/TC cars have a look that is unequaled to me–doesn’t it look wide-eyed and eager to be driven? Now, a TA is a little narrower than a TC, but it’s just as if not more rakish in appearance. And how often do you get the chance to get one that has been so obviously loved? The seller does tell us that some body panels, in particular the running boards and rear fenders, appear to have been replaced with TC or later TA components, so no, it’s not going to win the next MG Car Club concours competition. But that’s not what this car is for. This car should be driven!


Here’s the driver’s door open to invite you in! The seller tells us all the wood and metal are good, with doors that don’t sag (common in older T-Series cars). I wish it were me that was going to be sitting in that seat!


There’s the view out that long bonnet. I think I’d wrap the old steering wheel in cord, make the car safe and stop right there. Or actually, I’d go!


The engine is a TA engine, although not the original one. As you can see, there’s some exhaust work to be done. You can get an entire stainless steel system right here, which I would order the day I won the auction. Dream on, Jamie–I would love it if one of you bought this car, though–and if you do, I want a ride!



  1. OhU8one2

    Man,I can feel the passion. How can any car lover not know that these older cars “had a soul”. I have alway’s said,when modern robot’s started to assemble today’s car’s,that none of them have any soul. Maybe because long ago,true craftsmen built and assembled automobiles. Once they took the human touch away,the individual personality went too. I’m sure all the young kids think that this ol man gas lost his marbles. Does anybody know what I’m talking about?

    Like 2
    • Milt

      Amen. Fortunately, the folks over at Morgan in Malvern still do everything by hand, including the ash wood base for the body panels.

      Like 2
  2. geomechs geomechs Member

    I well remember The Red Car. One of my favorite books. All the T-series cars are highly desirable but I have to say: If I had a choice out of all of them I would take a TF any day and twice on Sunday. I must be a lone wolf because I sure don’t seem to find a lot of people who agree with me…

    Like 1
    • waynard

      I agree with you. Love the styling and the little extra oomph it has.

      Though this TA is fantastic and I’d have it in a moment. If only.

      Like 1
    • David

      I think the TF loses a lot of character with those headlights mounted in the fenders.It’s just not an eager face on the TF.

      Like 0
      • geomechs geomechs Member

        Hi David. Others definitely agree with you. Myself, I preferred the lights molded into the fenders; it just works better for me. Of course I sure wouldn’t kick a TA, TC, or a TD off my driveway. They’re all great cars.

        Like 1
    • Peter

      Re: “If I had a choice out of all of them I would take a TF any day and twice on Sunday. I must be a lone wolf because I sure don’t seem to find a lot of people who agree with me…”

      You mean like this one?


      I’m with ya…I like the faired-in headlight buckets–sort of a “missing evolutionary link” between the earlier, completely-separate headlight “pods” and the modern, fender-in-headlight design, as we currently know it, generally.

      But I must admit I DO love the “flat top” lines of the 1936 MGTA Jamie posted! It screams “The Golden Age of Aviation” (i.e., the 1930’s) for me!

      Also LOVE the 1936 TA’s COLOR–and I’m not a “maroon guy,” normally.

      Okay–there’s more. LOVE the vertical lines in the original headlight lenses, and the radiator shell, and grill. (Chrome almost looks TOO good, you know?)

      And that “banjo” steering wheel! Too right!


      Like 0
  3. Black Cat

    ‘Don’t think you’ve “lost your marbles”, but I don’t think all is lost, either.

    There are still traces of craftsmanship to be found. As an example, I recall walking the Jaguar XJ assembly line some years ago, and chatting with the man who hand-stretched and fitted the leather for XJR shift knobs. He rotated every so often to another task, as the finger strain of stretching and fitting the leather required frequent breaks from that tedious work. I’d say there’s a bit of his soul in those cars, even though much of their manufacture was automated and computer controlled.

    Conversely, a great model from the classic period, hand-crafted to a large degree, is of more interest if it has a history to go with it. All the Ferraris purchased as investments, parked in capsules and seldom or never driven in anger, are of no interest to me. But a derelict with a story will get my attention every time because it’s acquired the character of a life “well driven”, in addition to the craftsmanship with which it was built.

    All that said, not all cars are created equal, and those coach built and with more hand assembly are certainly imbued with more “soul”. Time to run, I seem to have some loose marbles to collect on my way to the garage…

    …oh, and I agree, the pre-war T series and the OHC engines are special, indeed.

    Like 1
  4. Rev Rory

    Oh yes- the original “coffin on four harps” – nice example. Bog-slow, creaky; just right. I’d have to dig out my Nigel Shiftright Founder’s Edition string back gloves…

    Like 2
  5. waynard

    Everything doesn’t have to go fast. And the sounds it makes is music to a car lover. This is a slow down and enjoy life car.

    Like 1
  6. Dolphin Member

    I agree with those who would prefer this over a TD or even a TC, even with the RHD. And love that fold-down windscreen. Didn’t Nigel S. usually have driving goggles on?

    The concession to modern times that I would make would be to choose the times and places to drive it very carefully.

    Like 1
  7. stillrunners

    was just looking at one I’m sure here in Dallas….thought it looked different….it’s at a locale re-sale shop…

    Like 1
  8. That Guy

    That is a fabulous photo, I agree. Worthy of an artsy car calendar.

    I also remember “The Red Car.” I checked that book out from the library multiple times as an elementary-school kid. I feel an Ebay search coming on…

    Like 1
  9. Alan Brase

    I thought the name was Nigel Setright, but always suspected his real name to be Smith or Jones and Setright was just a pen name.
    Drive it safely? Surely you jest. Would you trust those tires? They have been outgassing for 60 years.
    Not as cool as a 3 wheel Moggy, though,

    Like 1
    • Ted Crum

      Nigel Setright was a British author who wrote, among other technical volumes, the definitive book on piston aircraft engines “The Power to Fly.” I’ve always assumed that the name of Frank and Troise’s “Nigel Shiftright” was inspired by him

      Like 1
      • Rev Rory

        LJK Setright, I believe.

        Like 0
  10. Peter Atherton

    Where oh where has Henry Manney gone,just when we need him most…..

    Like 0
  11. Alan (Michigan)

    The only type of car I think looks good with 20″ wheels…..

    Like 1
    • RichC

      19″ wheels
      Dunlop X287, to be precise.
      Kimber’s design is perfect. I don’t think the lines and proportions could be any better.

      Like 1
  12. Rev Rory

    He’s out there with Innes and LJK observing the level and tone of discourse and rolling his eyes…

    Like 0
  13. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    I’m sitting here sadly watching this auction end. With exactly 10 minutes to go, bidding is at a very low (in my opinion) $20,405. Sigh. I hope it’s one of you folks!

    Like 1
    • Alan (Michigan)

      Not me, unfortunately. But I sincerely hope it winds up in the hands of someone who will at least occasionally drive it!

      Like 1
      • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

        Me too. Sniff!

        Like 1
  14. Tom

    Yes it is a pretty car, just like the TB and TC. Then horrors struck with that TD and TF. Not sure that is a TA engine, though. They are rare as hens teeth. Hardly any exist, as it was NOT the XPAG engine, quite different.

    Like 0
  15. Christian Cid

    I am the lucky one who bought this car, this article was one of the reasons for bidding.
    The car is on the way to Chile, were I live, and yes, I will drive it as soon as possible!

    Like 3
    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      That’s awesome Christian! Please keep us updated on the car once it arrives. Where are you? I loved lived in northern Chile for a while.

      Like 1
      • Rev Rory

        I think Jesse meant to say “Lived”, but knowing Chile it works either way…

        Like 2
  16. Christian

    Hi Jesse, I live in Santiago, but I know the north very well!
    I hope you had spent a wonderful time “loving” in northern Chile… ha ha ha…
    When the car arrives I will decide if going for a total restoration, or just doing what it’s necesary to make it road legal and keep the patina… at least for a while…
    Rev Rory… Thanks for your note, I though for a minute I missed something on my trips to north of my country!
    Wish me luck!

    Like 2
  17. paul newbold

    I hope that Christian installs the speedo back in it’s correct position, in front of the passenger. Tachos for driving…..speedos for scaring.

    Like 1
  18. bo danenberger

    ……careful revving…..2 main bearings…..

    Like 0
    • Christian Cid

      Very hard to repair engine, no bearings inside and down here no one remembers how to refill and machine the metals. Car is working fine but it does have a ‘hammer’ noise from the engine that is from worn-out crankshaft or crancks.
      I don’t want to take the easy way by changing the engine for a easy repairable TD engine…
      Any suggestions are welcome.

      Like 3
      • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

        Christian, I am writing up another MGTA and, as usual, I return to this post when I think of an MGTA. Were you able to get the engine sorted? I’d love to see an update!!!

        Like 2
  19. Christian Cid

    Hi Jamie,
    I have been able to get the engine repaired, now it’s running fine.
    I preserve the patina on the car, focussing on the mechanics.
    It is the second oldest MG down here in Chile, the older one is in a museum, so it has appeared in one classic cars TV show, a MG commercial and other events.
    I participated in a few expositions and in one Historic Rally, in the rally you had to be dressed according to the car’s year, so I got a RAF uniform and won the best characterization award.
    The little MG has given me some headaches, but also a lot of fun!

    Like 4
    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      Oh how wonderful to hear!! Thank you so much for the update!!!

      Like 1
  20. Rob De Witt

    MUCH later…..
    “Nigel Shiftright” was a creation of Phil Frank, the source of “Travels With Farley” in the SF Chronicle. I met Phil one afternoon in Sausalito on my walk up from the ferry after work – playing with interior trim on his ’48 TC MG. When I recognized the car he invited me over that Friday evening for cocktails.

    A great guy and a breathtaking car, unrestored since he said he wanted it to be like an RAF guy’s weekend ride.

    Like 0

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