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Sporty Patina: 1948 MG TC

This MG was in storage over 40 years. The listing on eBay doesn’t tell us anything about condition but the pictures do tell a story. It appears mostly complete but needs full restoration. Even the TCs exported to America were right hand drive so this is likely an American version as it appears to have sealed beam headlights and bumpers that were once chrome. Bidding is over $4,000 with the reserve not yet met. 

It looks pretty grim, but at least it was stored inside. The dash looks complete.

Things look complete under the hood. Hopefully the engine is not seized.

It appears this TC will need a full rebuild. The parts are available from Moss Motors and others. If the wooden body frame needs to be replaced it’s also available. What do you think this might be worth as it is? You see restored TCs for sale for $30,000 and more, but when you check completed listings, even restored cars sell for less than $20,000 like this listing on eBay that sold for $17,300 or this listing for $22,750. I hope someone buys this and restores it, but the price will need to be very reasonable.


  1. Howard A Member

    We, as Yanks, always see these in pristine condition, but I bet in England somewhere, I can just see some poor bloke, down on his luck, and this is what they’d be driving. Kind of like our beaters here. Same thing here, $10g’s + $20’g’s for a $20g car. Coo-Coo, Coo-Coo.

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    • RayT Member

      I’ve seen several TCs that were nearly as knackered as this one, Howard, and all of them were being driven on a more-or-less-regular basis. These spindly little machines are definitely tougher than one would think!

      In fact, I nearly bought a TC looking much like this one when I was in high school (which was too many years ago). Someone else came up with a couple hundred dollars before I did, and spirited it away. A paint job and some upholstery later, it looked shiny and new….

      Ten grand is too much for me, but I still think a TC would be a heckuva fun project. The bidding suggests I’m not alone in that! Though they’re not the quickest cars in the world in stock form, I’d resist the impulse to replicate Phil Hill’s “2 JR”….

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  2. Ken

    Right hand drive cars don’t do well around here

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  3. Frenchy

    While T series MG’s are not fast in today’s numbers they feel so fun and sporty you don’t mind
    Yes they strain to run at freeway speeds but on the backcountry roads they are absolutely brilliant.
    Not to mention the social aspect of ownership. Because they are most often driven with the top down everyone smiles, nods, or tries to strike up a conversation
    Not to mention the club. Happy friendly people who are interested and interesting.
    So leave the faster cars to those who are need others to tell them what to buy
    Own a T series MG just for fun

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  4. Frenchy

    Right hand drive MG’s are narrow enough (50″ wide) and so open that it’s a really not an issue

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  5. Joe Haska

    It seems to me unless you would just enjoy restoring it ,and that if the math is correct , you would be far better off buying a finished car! Oh!, now that I think about, I guess that’s almost always the case, isn’t it?

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    • Frenchy

      The real reason to restore over buying a restored one is to learn how to work on your car
      Knowledge is power and when you know how restore one you also know how to repair it
      That confidence is worth every cent you spend

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      • Dave Wright

        You are correct……..but add into the equation that even if you have the same money in it when you are done as you could buy a finished car for, it can be done out of your pocket over time as funds come available. There is no reason to go into debt to purchase a restored one.

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  6. Alex

    I was just discussing this with my wife, joking she needed a car to replace her commuter bike, and said “Okay, $4K plus you throw a couple grand making it driveable then another ten to fifteen making it nice…..”
    Then I clicked on the link. Up to $11,800 and still not met the reserve.

    As someone else said, “Coo-coo, coo-coo……”

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    • Howard A Member

      Hi Alex, yeah, that was me. I do, however, understand, as Frenchy sez, sometimes the fun (?) of redoing a car might be worth it to some. I’ve restored a car, and it’s not all fun. Many times, you sit and wonder if it was worth it.( as the budget goes haywire) I can say, there is a huge satisfaction in driving your classic after restoring it. Certainly not the same as signing your name and loading it on a trailer. With restoration costs today, I hope it’s worth it.

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    • Wm Lawrence

      Your wife sounds like a keeper…

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  7. Scott

    My dad had a ’52 TD in ’56. I had a ’52 around 40 years later. Was just as reliable then as now. Just because you buy a restored one doesn’t mean you will not get close and personal with it.

    The TC is a bit more fragile than the TD. Then again you can get them going again with some bailing wire and a swift kick.

    No, not all parts are easy to get.
    No, you will never get your money back restoring this.

    Yes, you can always find a way to get these running and looking good.
    Yes, they are some of the easiest and most satisfying projects to work on.

    These and TR3’s are some of the most fun for the dollar or sweat equity that I know.

    To me this is the best car for a parent and child project.

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    • Ross W. Lovell

      Greetings All,

      Scott, this a parent and child project………only if you are NOT teaching them the value of a dollar.

      Better examples out there for much less, why throw money away?

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      • Scott

        Well Ross,

        I wrote it was a good parent and child project when it was $5k.

        At these prices I think the learning is a bit different.

        For me it is a good time to remind us all that auction prices are not the average selling price of something. There is only one winning bid and it is higher than anyone else thinks it’s worth.

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      • Frenchy

        There are countless people who know the price of everything but the value of nothing
        What good would it do to buy a car like this and not be able to repair it when required?
        Sit on the side of the road until someone with knowledge comes by and gets you running again?
        A restoration teaches you that.
        Or you can leave it on display, unused for others to envy.
        Which is sad

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  8. Milt

    How many of you got hooked on sports cars while a teenager reading the book “The Red MG”. If memory serves, the kid found a beat up MG TC in a barn and began the restoration fun. Nothing like traipsing down memory lane!

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    • Frenchy

      The Red Car
      Hap bought a wrecked MGTC and with the help of Frenchy got to race it in the local sports car race

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      • TR6guy

        Yes, by Don Stanford

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  9. Tom Metcalf

    I have owned many sports cars over the years but my red/red TC is my absolute favorite. It’s gets driven by far the most and has been super reliable.

    Nope, not inexpensive to restore but with the windscreen folded there’s no better ride for me.

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  10. Derek

    I have a TF. Not as spindly but still a lovely thing to hustle along at speed.

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  11. Ross W. Lovell

    Greetings All,

    The price as it sits now, has no room to allow you to be right side up on this car.

    I’ve had my share of “labor of loves” and the one thing they didn’t share with this was the sheer commonality. These are easily available and by no means rare and the numbers were substantial.

    Good Luck, but when someone tries justifying why this car is worth restoring at that price, I’ll be excusing myself to do something more useful like contemplating my navel.

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  12. Bruce Best

    I have either restored or help restore up to 30+ of these cars and I suspect that the wood frame is near perfect. A friend and I restored one of these in similar condition in 10 days. Now that being said we had the interior sent out to be done by a shop that had done many of them for us in the past and all the mechanical parts were near perfect and needed no work.

    If you have a friend with a soda blaster and he is both gentle and sober you can clean off all the rust and old pain in a couple of hours after you and a friend take the body off of the frame. You will find that the oil leaks from the engine will have prevented more rust than you can believe. YEAAAAA English gaskets. Moss Motors has a full electrical wiring loom that will look exactly like the one from the factory and as for the wheels and tires soda blasting will do them as well. To balance the wheels we had a local bicycle tuner do them and even though he was 18 he did a perfect job on all 5 wheels.

    Give the gas tank a very good inspection as that is something that over the years can rust out. Not difficult to repair but if the on this car is bad that is time consuming. The TC, TD, and TF are about the easiest cars in the world to restore. With a Morris Minor, MGA, TR-2 and 4 in close second. Everything bolts together and most of the work can be done by a single person.

    I know that both air force and commercial pilots are required to know where most of mechanical and electrical lines go in the planes that they fly so they can become part of the machine. Restoring one of these is like that. It could cost more but the looks on all the faces when you say I restored it is something you can never pay for.

    My friend went on to restore aircraft and a year ago won best restoration at Oshkosh EAA Fly in. It helps to work with the best.

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    • ACZ

      Aren’t you forgetting the “Lord of Darkness”?

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      • Bruce Best

        NO I have not, the new loom and modern switches solve almost all of the electrical problems. English cars had natural rubber insulation when they were made and in the British Islands they worked just fine. Here with the extremes of heat and cold they deteriorated very quickly and caused much of the problems.

        But not all, points, for fuel pumps, ignitions and everything else had their problems also but over the years those materials got better and better. Especially when american suppliers got involved in making reproduction parts or demanding better quality from the original English suppliers.

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      • Ross W. Lovell

        Greetings All,

        Bruce, most of the Lucas in British cars were composed of braided cloth wrapped with color code woven into the cloth, the wire soaked in paraffin to keep watertight. North American heat and cold tended to go beyond the limits of its design. Lucas adopted rubber/plastic insulation late in the game towards about ’66.

        Switches that were made to be rebuilt using kits didn’t go over well with North America dealers. Still have many “new in the box” renewal kits urchased back when I worked in the U.K.

        My 1965 Jaguar MKII, not an inexpensive car at the time of origin, has only two fuse by design.

        No, the Lucas reputation was well earned by that industry.

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    • Frenchy

      Fuel pump is a classic example of lack of knowledge causing issues
      Normal treatment when the fuel pump quit was to wack it
      That would get it running again, for a while
      The correct solution was to drag a piece of ultra fine emery through the points. Then put a few drops of oil on the pivot points of the points.
      If done at every oil change the fuel pump works flawlessly for decades (mine is on its 6th decade)

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      • Scott

        I remember being quite surprised at the amount of regular maintenance recommended in the owner’s manual of my TD. Was used to it from my motorcycles but not cars.

        Guessing that much of the bad reputation came from not following the recommendations.

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  13. Dave

    FWIW, I have been driving and restoring T-series MGs since the 60’s. This car has neither bumpers nor headlights that make it an exported version. Those headlights are 8″ with convex lenses and lord knows where those bumpers came from. If the car was made for America, the car # should have “EXU” in the designation. The USA version would have 7″ sealed beams and bumpers (as well as a few other subtleties) as in the following attachment… http://classiccardb.com/uploads/postfotos/1949-mgtc-roadster-rare-exu-code-concours-restoration-owned-42-years-1.JPG
    IMHO, Restoring this would be truly a labor of love, and even at that, you (as the restorer) would need to posses a good set of tools, great amounts of talent and patience plus $25K+ to do it correctly. GLWTS

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  14. Norman C Golm

    I have restored 4 in the last ten years don’t spend over $10,000 for this beast or you will end upside down. $10000 is even pushing it. I have spread sheets on all my cars.

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  15. David Gittings

    I would keep the beautiful patina, priceless.

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  16. Speedy D

    $15,001 — Reserve Not Met — Wowsers!!!

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    • Ken bolan

      I am the guy that bought the car,all I can say is watch this space,I doubt that anyone will have the opertuinity again to leave a car in found condition,which is what I will do with this one ,conserve the whole look and gently restore the mechanics will still leave his car with soul! I wouldn’t want to drive an over restored version as for the the money cost that’s not the point of ownership..
      Extremely happy with my purchase

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      • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

        Awesome to hear from you, Ken! Please keep us informed of your progress!!

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  17. MG-bakka

    Yep! Great Idea!
    Thats what I thought, would be a possibility with this car!
    Too many are restored to “better than new” condition.
    In a while there will be no more original ones left anymore…
    Not that a complete restoration is something bad, not at all, but preserved in its “as is” state isn t either!

    Best of luck with Ur TC and keep us updated on Ur progress, please!


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