Pure British: 1953 MG TD Roadster RHD

The MG Midget series, established in 1928 with the M-type, needed a successor after WWII. But budgets were tight, so the first post-war Midget was the TC, a pale evolution of the 1939 MG TB. Changes to the XPAG engine resulted in slightly higher horsepower and the TC body was 4″ wider than the TB. At least 2,000 MG TCs arrived on American shores via export from the factory. This little car – always right-hand-drive, sparked the sports car boom in America. But the TC was aging rapidly, so MG renovated the TC to create the TD. With left-hand drive available, suspension and chassis from a Y-type, an improved gearbox, and rack and pinion steering, this car was a winning formula. About 30,000 examples were sold before production ended in 1953. Here on craigslist, is a 1953 MG TD with an asking price of $14,000. The car is right-hand drive, and it is located in Newport, Oregon. Thanks to Matt H. for the tip!

The seller indicates that this car was purchased at an estate auction and that it may have been shipped to the U.S. from the U.K. by a serviceman. The car was apparently running four years ago until the demise of its owner. The car is “all original”. However, TDs had an aluminum manifold that supports an oil-bath air filter and housing. This has canister-style air filters. The “fingers” are present on the intake manifold to support the original apparatus. The 1250 cc OHV inline four-cylinder motor would make about 54 bhp; unfortunately, since the TD was heavier than the TC, it was also slower. The transmission was a four-speed with no first gear synchro. As these were early days for synchromesh, transmissions tended to wear quickly, turning them into “gravel grinders”.

The chassis ID plate on this car is a mystery to me. It indicates the model as a TD, but the engine number is prefixed by “TC2”. To my knowledge, TDs were designated “TD” in that space, or “TD2”. Was this a misprint? Maybe an MG expert can weigh in. The “EX” in the space below the car number confirms that the car was exported.

The interior photos are skimpy but the seats do look serviceable. The car comes with a top, side curtains, and several other parts (maybe the air cleaner housing?) as well as a service manual. The overall look is of a car with few modifications that’s been fairly well kept. But – RHD. That’s going to keep a lid on the upside here. Maybe take a toolbox and a few spares to Newport and see if she’ll run?


  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    Don’t have details but the ’53 TD we had looked like it could be transferred to left hand drive without too much trouble. Any experts out there? Car looks pretty solid to me.

    Like 1
    • Ynse Kwast

      The MG TD TF and MGA can be transfered to LH drive because the firewall has LH an RH possibility.
      You need a LH steering rack and LH Dashboard and a LH pedalbox.
      Very easy to find in the USA I think
      Good Luck
      Ynse Kwast

  2. Graeme I

    Nice write-up on this MG. But can’t imagine why someone would start this project. Possibly it makes sense for a home restoration project, but be prepared to shell out a heap of cash for parts. I wonder how many cars like this ever make it back onto the road?

  3. Tom Lange

    If the number on the engine itself matches the one on the Guarantee plate, it’s the original TD2 engine, with the larger flywheel and 8″ clutch. Nobody should buy this car for $14,000, and even at 10k it will be a hard sale. RHD cars are not terribly popular over here, and this one does not run; with non-original upholstery and probably needing at least brakes as well, I would say it is fairly priced at $7,500.

    Like 2
    • Ynse Kwast

      often the chassis number is stamped on one of the front bumper supports

      Like 2

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