Very Original! 1951 MG TD

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MGs get regular coverage here on Barn Finds and the TD has made an appearance as recently as last week. Many of the TDs that we have featured have been in either very nice original or excellently restored condition. Most of my MG coverage has been than of MGAs, MG “B”s, Midgets, GTs, and a Magnette, all in questionable condition. Well, continuing in that vein, I’ll throw my hat into the ring and cover a TD that could use some help. This 1951 example is located in Elizabethtown, North Carolina and is available, here on eBay for $5,001, reserve not yet met.

MG’s “T” series was produced between 1936 and 1955 with the “TD” holding court between 1950 and 1953. The interesting thing about the TD is that out of the almost 30K that were produced, only about 1,600 stayed home, the rest were all exported – most to the U.S.

The seller refers to the condition of hins MG as “Used“. Yes, I believe that would be the case. The seller has owned this 61K mile TD since 2007 and has kept it stored indoors. Besides the obviously faded finish, the body looks to be in sound condition. There is no mention of rust or underside corrosion, and the images aren’t very revealing, but on the surface, this TD looks like a good foundation. Even the canvas top and side curtains appear to be completely usable. The bumpers are aligned, which is frequently not the case with this vintage MG, though the chrome is typically weak. The prominent grille looks OK but one or two of the teeth appear to be misaligned.

Moving inside we find cracked and worn leather seating surfaces and a faded wooden dash panel. That said, a basic refinishing should bring it back to good nick and all of the gauges appear to be clear and in place along with the appropriate switchgear. There are no clear images of the floors so those would require an inspection, one that should include the underside too. Being stored inside for fourteen years is clearly a benefit, but there is no indication of what its pre-2007 residency was like, and typical for most MGs, rust can be their undoing. There is no reason to suspect that in this case, but a close inspection is always warranted.

Power is provided by a 1.3 liter, in-line, four-cylinder engine. What is not disclosed is whether or not this engine is the standard 54 HP version or the slightly more robust 57 HP, Mark II variant. Whatever the case, it’s a non-runner as the engine, according to the seller, “does not crank“. What does that mean? Hard to say, it could be a wiring, a bad starter, or worse, a seized engine – a potentially significant problem. Gear changing is the responsibility of a four-speed manual transmission. I found one performance report that put the ’51 MG-TD’s 0-60 MPH “sprint” at 20.6 seconds – more like a stroll than a sprint I guess, but acceleration is not what this era’s MGs were all about.

I couldn’t begin to put a value on this MG. I found many, in nice shape, from the mid-$20s on up but the reserve on this example is unknown. Nevertheless, this example appears to have basically good bones for a continuation. It would be interesting to hear from any readers that either own or owned, an MG-TD; do you have any stories or remembrances that you can share?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Al

    When I was 14 I built a scale model from scratch of this car.

    I loved the look then and still do, however I can not get in one.

    I can sit sideways on the passenger seat with the door open and my feet on the ground.
    Alas such dreams of youth can not always be achieved.
    I still have the scale model, but I can’t sit in it.

    Like 11
    • Stan Marks

      Al, two words….. Slim Fast. LOL!!!
      I should talk…….

      Like 1
  2. Geoff

    Seller seems to be a bit cagey and sketchy about condition issues with this car. I doubt there are many who expect it to be a turn key but it would help if the seller were a bit more forthcoming about underlying condition. That said at the current bid or not much higher its a steal.

    Like 2
    • Phil

      The big concern with these cars is usually the Ash wooden frame. Can’t tell if that’s good or not here.

      Like 1
      • Solosolo UK SolosoloMember

        It has a very strong frame (Chassis) it’s the wooden inserts to the doors and body that you have to worry about.

        Like 1
  3. Charles Sawka

    These engines are not difficult or that expensive to rebuild. My memory isn’t great but I believe the floor boards are just that.

    Like 3
  4. Jim Hanna

    My dad had a 55 TF 1500, and something was always breaking on the damn thing. Rear axle, input shaft to the tranny (expensive part to buy and royal pain to replace), gaskets cracking and leaking, to name a few. If you have lots of money, and have a good mechanic near by, they are ok cars. Otherwise, I’d say stay away from them.

    Like 0
    • Solosolo UK SolosoloMember

      I would say that the reason for the rear axle, input shaft etc. breaking was because your Dad had a lead foot. They are supposed to be driven as a cruiser not a drag racer, and if done so they will last forever with only rudimentary maintenance, as mine did. I didn’t have problems with gaskets breaking, other than the valve cover leaking because it always gets over tightened and when it starts leaking it gets tightened again, but oil leaks, Yes!

      Like 4
      • Jim Hanna

        Funny thing is that my petite mother (a feather foot at best) who knew how to drive a manual was driving when the axle broke. I was driving down a street at about 35 mph when all the sudden no torque to the tranny. We babied that TF. Those cars are just fragile…

        Like 0
  5. Ynse Kwadt

    I did restore 2 TD,s and 1 TF.
    Not good restored and with bad or rotten woodconnections (body is build arround wooden frame)the fitting is a big problem and closing doors will remain a problem. In modern traffic a 5 gearbox (Ford T9 conversion)is almost necessary so you can keep up (sometimes necessary miles on the highways .
    Furthermore nice easy cars to restore but with this little info of the TD now for sale. The current bid is allready reasenable high. They are in Europe totale not asked for anymore and hard to sell aspecialy in the (corona) perod

    Like 0
  6. Daniel Gavin

    The TF model was so much prettier than the TD. I’m a big fan of the TF not so much the TD. This one looks pretty tired and in much need of some TLC.

    Like 2
  7. CarbobMember

    From what I can see of the battery; it will never “crank” anything again.

    Like 0
  8. Ricardo Ventura

    Beautiful car.Combination of colors very happy.
    Here in Brazil I also think that ” be friends with a mechanic ” ‘.
    My first car was a Rover model 75 1952 and English cars
    these years had some similar characteristics.
    But for this car in question I would just restore the mechanics and the electronics. Aesthetically it seems to be very original. A good cleaning and nothing more.

    Like 3
  9. Paul R.

    I love the look of these old MGs.
    What a great VIN plate.
    Not trying to be snarky here, but is the use of the word “affecting” grammatically incorrect , should it not be effecting ?
    All those British collectors with public school education will probably know !

    Like 0
    • ivan schneider

      Come on Paul we are not at school here ,we are enjoying talking cars.
      Paul get with the program……………..

      Like 0
  10. Paul R.

    Upon investigation, I guess I’m wrong. Affect is the proper use of the word as a verb.
    That was an affectation on my part.

    Like 0
  11. bobH

    I had a TD in the 60’s… As noted above… VERY FRAGILE. I’m a very conservative, feather-foot driver, and both the trans and rear end broke. And, it had no capability for highway driving, lacking power and ability for today’s typical road speed. Non-the-less, a cool car.

    Like 0
  12. Warren JohnsonMember

    I had a 54TD back in the 70’s that had a corvette 283 fuelie and 4 speed trans coupled to the corvette straight axle. At first glance it was hard to tell, a couple bulges in the hood and the reversed offset rear wheels. Bought it from the original builder. Definitely would move down the road.

    Like 0

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