Nice Summer Driver: 1953 MG TD

I’ve owned a few MGBs, and even an MGA, but the TD is still on my bucket list. A few years back I took a look at a very nice low-mileage TD that was all original, but didn’t make the move. I’ve regretted that one ever since. I’d like to get this nice ’53 to make up for my mistake, but it’s too far away so I’ll have to let someone else fulfill that dream. It’s located in Mahopac, New York and is listed here on eBay.

The seller claims that the 54k miles showing on the odometer is correct. That may be hard to believe, but the car that I regret not buying had even less and looked even better. The upholstery in these can hold up well if not subjected to years of sun or moisture. It does look like it could have been redone in the photos, but that’s something that can only be verified with an inspection. Upholstery can be classified as a consumable anyway though and it’s easily sourced and replaced on these cars.

I’d be more worried about things like the paint and frame condition. The paint has some nicks and chips, but looks good in the photos. I checked the firewall tags for overspray and couldn’t find any. That doesn’t mean the car hasn’t been resprayed, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the original factory applied coating. Normally the undersides of these are covered in grease from multiple oil leaks, but this one looks surprisingly clean. The floor boards are made out of wood, so the only areas you need to worry about is the frame and the lips around the perimeter.

Well, that and the wood structure under the body. As long as there isn’t any rot, there shouldn’t be any problems here. The 1.3 liter XPAG four-cylinder is claimed to run just fine. I would want to swap out that fuel pump and wooden block for a proper SU unit and maybe peel the stickers off the Nampa battery. The clear fuel filter might stay in place though just to make sure the tank isn’t getting too rusty. There are a few things that need sorting here, but overall this looks like a nice driver quality car.

There are still a lot of TDs out there. It was the quintessential British sports car in the fifties and a ton were produced. The challenge today is finding a good one. Many were driven hard and few are still original. There’s wood in the body structure so that can cause problems and rust is always a concern. These cars aren’t super valuable either, so it is usually best to hold out for a nice one rather than buying the first project that comes along. From the looks of it, this particular TD might be worth some serious consideration. What do you think?

Fast Finds


  1. jdjonesdr

    I just looked (and placed a bid) and it’s at $500, not 5K

    • fred veenschoten

      Looks like an older restoration to me. Lots of overspray in matt black underneath.
      Fred V

  2. Bill

    Same seller as the Ghia in the background. Wonder what other cool stuff he’s going to sell.

  3. 86 Vette Convertible

    Could be a lot of fun and it has left hand drive. Probably more fun than the Spitfire I once owned.

  4. Per Member

    Nice car, but the electrical wires at the battery look like a dangerous spider web

  5. Rob Rose

    I still hate those wire hubcaps.

  6. BronzeGiant

    Wire hubcaps? Are you looking at the same car I am?

    • Rob Rose

      The ghia in the background pics.

  7. Paul

    Nice one … popped a bid on.

  8. Rex Kahrs Member

    What is that oddly proportioned car in the background? The front end was stolen from the Volvo 1800 (or vice-versa), and the wire wheels just don’t work on that body. Is it an ISO, or a Fiat? This is gonna bug me all night.

  9. Paul

    I like that.. nice and unusual

  10. MGgezer

    I’m with you on the bucket list for the MGTD. But my wife said no until i get rid of the 59 MG A coup and 64 Triumph spitfire

  11. puhnto

    Nice MG! When I was just little my dad took me over to a friend’s house in Mountain View, CA, who had a brand new MG-TD. Cream with green leather. He gave me a ride in it. Zooming along with the top down and those low-cut doors, I was both thrilled to death and scared to death! (Ni seat belts.) I doubt we went over 35 but when you’re a little kid and it’s the first time you’ve ever been in a convertible and the doors are almost not there — it seemed a lot faster! I have always had a soft spot for these because of that day.

    Anyway, the experts may be able to tell us for sure, but I believe no MG-TD came with chrome grille slats from the factory. They were always a contrasting color. Chrome shell and then this one might have been red, like the interior, on the grille slats.

    • Dave Wright

      And all with no ABS, disc brakes, airbags, or 5MPH bumpers…… is a wonder any of us survived!!! This looks like a great car…..lots of fun for the dollar.

      • Rex Kahrs Member

        Dave, dare I say that “back when” there were fewer distractions, and fewer drivers watching TV as they’re driving.

        Which leads me to a topic…I would be VERY interested to see the insurance companies’ statistics on rear-end collisions since the advent of texting. I see 2 or 3 rear-enders per day, and you can be sure that texting is the culprit. Hell, even the auto makers realize this, and have installed systems that brake for you in case you’re not paying attention! Of course they don’t admit that it’s texting they are tying to counteract, but you know that’s the reason they came up with such a fail-safe. Discuss.

      • Dave Wright

        So……why is it that motorcycle insurance is still so cheep? If the actuarials were that high, no one would be able to afford it. How many cars do you see in a day…….10,000 on a normal urban commute? 3 is a pretty small number. The rate of accidents was higher with horse drawn carriages than it is today.

  12. Cargirl

    @Rex Kahrs

    Not the place unfortunately to get into a big discussion but the Simeone Automotive Foundation has been trying to get their teenage distracted driving program into local schools and no one wants to talk about it. Like running into a stone wall. Apparently there are statistics that claim driving programs for teens are ineffective. They make no real impact and so are not supported. Belies logic. Besides the teachers can’t give up the time – if there students don’t perform well on state testing the school loses funding. Not their fault. Just the way it is.

    • Dave Wright

      There have always been plenty of distractions. I remember a conversation about making car radios illegal when I was a kid because people were driving off the road while changing stations………I crashed my 10 speed in jr high school while looking at a girl with a short skirt on the sidewalk…… one can protect us from ourselves reguardless of the decade we are from.

  13. Rex Kahrs Member

    OK I’m Rex Kahrs, not @ Rex Kahrs, and that’s part of the problem.

    We need to disconnect from social media, and Cargirl, I’m not talking about teenagers when I mention all the wrecks I see. And, why isn’t this the place to stoke this discussion? What’s the harm? My freshly-restored ’69 Volvo 1800 was totaled by a 30-something on his phone. Luckily I was OK. But this is serious stuff, so why not discuss it?

    I don’t have a smart phone, and I don’t have cable TV. But I don’t miss much, especially the dumb stuff on facebook and the expensive monthly bills. And I don’t need no stinkin’ GPS!

    • Dave Wright

      So, you are one of the 1%………… I had a buddy that sold cars with me in a high end foreign car dealership in the early 70’s. He bet us that he could identify a Volvo buyer as they came in the door……..he never missed….it was uncanny and we learned not to bet against him.

      • Rex Kahrs Member


        Are you referring to me as one of the 1%? Not sure what you’re implying. I drive a Ford pickup and spent my work life as a carpenter.

        Maybe you mean I’m in the 1% who doesn’t need to tweet out every thought/insult that crosses my mind, or post a photo of every meal I eat, then yeah I’m in that 1%.

        Maybe you’re implying that Volvo guys are somehow elitist, but I couldn’t comment on that. I’ve also had T-birds, Bel Airs, VWs, Novas, BMWs, Darts, Skylarks, Caravelles, MGs, and more pickup trucks than you could count on two hands.

    • kman

      I agree wiyh Rex Kahrs 100% all the way to the smart phone, social media, cable tv and GPS.

  14. Bob C

    If i had the dollars i would love to be able to bring it home. Beautiful ride in my opion.

    Hope it finds the right home.

  15. Dolphin Member

    I agree with a lot of the comments here, but here is a comment on the MG TD, or any other car you think you want to own but haven’t driven. And a warning: free advice ahead.

    I thought I wanted a TD—-until I drove one.
    I’ve said it before, and here it is again, unfortunately: high, exposed, windy driving position, very slow, noisy and what some people might call agricultural—lots of gear noise, poor brakes compared to today’s cars, and so on.

    I like MGs, and have had a few….A & B, but not a TD.

    OTOH you might really like TDs and the way they drive, but one thing I’ve learned from owning, or not owning lots of cars is, if you think you want to own a particular car, the first thing to do is drive one—and make sure it’s a good example of that make/model.

    • Jesse Staff

      Good advice Dolphin!

  16. Ric Parrish

    My neighbor kids parents were in Florida, we had made a duplicate key in advance to a cherry 1952 TD. We got caught though, because we got a speeding ticked in that little thing.

  17. MIke Hogan Member

    My first car was a ’53 TD (in 1964), it was a sweet ride to be a first car.

    • rapple

      Mike, me too and at the same time. Great fun and an education in mechanics by necessity. Drove it from Massachusetts to Illinois for a semester at school.. and back again! I also drove it through a winter but never had snow tires like this one does.

  18. Craig McAllister

    I too thought I wanted a TD…
    At the impressionable age of 13, I read Don Standford’s The Red Car. It forever changed my life… I started out lusting after a TC but realized I could never afford one (though the prices have definitely gone done since). Found a ’51 TD a state away so my wife and I made a mini vacation to see the car. Though a complete, albeit older restoration, the car looked good but definitely lacked decent brakes and needed lots of tweaking to make it a dependable driver. I initially talked myself out of the car but after getting home and thinking it over, I decided to go ahead with the purchase. The seller was heavily into Model T Fords and after I got the TD home and found out what all I had to rebuild, I made a mental note to never again purchase a vintage car from a person whose restoration standards were based on working with Model Ts. Within a few weeks of getting the TD home, three wheels starting leaking copious amounts of brake fluid. So the brakes were the first system requiring a major overhaul. Later on it was the Lucas electrical system followed by a snapped axle shaft that was shattered while backing down our steep driveway. Then there was the head gasket that failed while the car was parked on the street in front of the house. Every other time I made a major fluid change, ponds of oil or antifreeze were found the next morning on the garage floor. Poor restoration work coupled with funking British engineering made for an interesting 5.5 year ownership. So the old axiom does still apply, “Be careful what you wish for, you may get it.” So after the TD, an early MGB, a Triumph TR4A, and a Morgan Plus 4 4 place, I will never do another British car. My ’29 Model A beats them all in terms of reliability.

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