Perfect Race Car Project: 1953 MG TD

A few years back I had the opportunity to test drive a low-mileage MG TD in the mountains of Wyoming. The drive was short, but the memory will forever remain. Since that day, I have dreamed of owning my own TD and maybe even turning it into a race car. It would be a shame to race an all original car, so this project is very tempting. It’s located in Harvey, Louisiana and is listed here on craigslist for $4,200. Thanks go to Matt R for sharing the tip!

The seller believes that the engine may have been rebuilt, but they haven’t tried to get it running. That little engine may have only displaced 1,250 cubic centimeters, but it was tough and proved to be competitive in its class. It’s wild to think that these ran against Porsche 356s in the early ’50s! Then again, I was greatly impressed by the agility and crisp shifter of that TD I drove.

This MG is going to need some work before it’s going to see any track time. It looks like all the important pieces are there though and replacement parts a readily available from multiple sources. The seller is also including a new interior and top. It would look great with some cycle fenders and painted British racing green. So, do you think this could be the perfect way to go vintage racing? Either way, someone needs to buy this before I do!


  1. Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

    1,2500 CC’s?!!?!??
    WOW! A 4922 c.i. Motor in a TD!! That’s STONKIN’!
    Seriously, Jesse, you’re dead-on about the fun factor a TD has to offer. A friend of ours in the Mid-California region has a 1952 she bought from the first owner in 1960 while she was going to college; being a frugal girl of Scottish heritage (redundant, I know..) she kept it thru the years. It needed a rebuild along the way and was convinced by her family mechanic that a transplant from a wrecked 1800ES would be far easier to work on later-I had to replace the drivers seat cover I’d been sitting on(sucked it up) when I drove us up and over Mt Tamalpias!
    This would be a hoot-you should buy it, Jesse. You’ll not regret it, methinks.

    Like 1
    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      Thanks for catching my typo. If it were closer, I would have already bought it!

      Like 1
  2. Matt R Member

    Distance keeps my money in the bank. I just cleared a 10×20 space in our garage and I am dying to get an old MG in there. I’ve been set on an mgb mk1 but the TD and TF have been getting a lot of my attention lately. This would be a fun project.

    Like 2
  3. Richard Richer

    That’s a steal at that price. Assembly is not a challenge and parts supply is plentiful. Use the opportunity to repaint and verify the wood around the tub is intact and solid. I had a ’53 with a Ford 260 V8 in it and soooo regret selling it!

    Like 3
    • Matt R Member

      That must have moved with that motor Richard!

      Like 2
  4. Will Owen

    Volvo 1.6 and 1.8 engines are apparently easy to drop in there, and were not an uncommon mod back in the Sixties. Any way you’d get this back on the road would give you a fun little car. The TCs may have a more appealing look, but I’d rather live with 16″ wheels and wishbones instead of a cart axle up front. I did know a guy in Anchorage who actually raced a TC, the only obvious mod being 16″ TD wheels, and he apparently did pretty well … though competition venues up there were mostly parking-lot autocrosses, special-occasion street races and hillclimbs.

    Like 2
    • Ross W. Lovell

      Greetings All,

      Best part of the Volvoconversion is pre-68, I believe they were running an SU variant, not a Zenith-Stromberg.

      First time I popped the hood on one it made me smile because they were familiar from British Car days.

      Like 1
  5. Will Owen

    Ross Lovell – My first Volvo was a B16 544 with two SUs, and my second was a 122 B18 with the same. I never got really good at fiddling with them, but it wasn’t hard in those days to find plenty of guys that were.

    One of the main reasons I’d be tempted to do a B16 or B18 conversion on a TD would be how familiar I am with them, versus zero familiarity with the Morris-sourced XPAG engines.

    Like 1
    • Jeric

      Go right for the Volvo B20 engine no replacement for more displacement! Lol,

  6. Bob Hughes

    Just do it!!!! I built my TD with a B engine, hot cam, high compression head and side draft Weber. Also built cycle fenders and lots of other things. Look for it in Moss motoring. The title was “How not to build a TD. It’s a lot of fun.

    Like 1

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