Tseries FAQ list.

The MG T-Series


In 1936 the MG Car Company made a dramatic change in the design of their sports cars. In this year they introduced the MGTA Midget. The MGTA originated the familiar T-Series design element and to the casual observer, it is hard to distinquish from the MGTC. The MGTA sported the famous radiator design, the swept wings, running boards, folding windscreen, and large accessible bonnet. It was a two seater sports car with a foldable hood and side curtains. Just over 3,000 MGTA's were produced in three years of production. The MGTA suffered from a poor performing engine and in 1939 the MGTB was introduced with the now famous XPAG engine. Only a few were produced as in a few months World War II broke out.

During World War II production of MG's ceased as the MG Car Company was put into service for the war effort making tanks and airplane parts, and other military items. When the war ended the the MG Car Company was anxious to get back to making sports cars. They revisited the MGTB and made a few subtle changes. These were in the form of a wider body and shackles replacing sliding trunnions for the spring mounts. The Nuffield Organization also made another drastic change. They started taking an active interest in selling their sports cars in North America. It appears that during the War a number of American GI's had an opportunity to experience the T-Series MG's. When the War ended a number of these cars were imported and then formally sold into North America, especially the United States. The MGTC was produced from 1945 to 1949 with a total production of about 10,000 cars.

Due to the fact that the United States had much more cash available to spend on entertainment and sports than did war torn Britain, the Nuffield Organization made a drastic change in their marketing, focusing on North America. In 1949 the MGTC was fitted with many elements to make it more North American such as front and rear bumpers, twin horns, and dual tail lamps. Even by making these changes only a fraction of the MGTC's were imported into North America. There were still too many issues with a car of this type for different North America conditions. Amongst those were driving on the right hand side of the road rather than the left, more high speed maneuvers such as freeways, a softer ride, and some additional creature comforts. What was needed was a total redesign of the MGTC if the MG Car Company was to capture a significant portion of the North American market. What was missing was a total commitment from the Nuffield Organization to do so.

The Legacy of the MGTD
In 1949 a small group of MG leaders, headed by John Thornley, got together to try to create a car that was acceptable to the North American marketplace while at the same time would limit the investment of the Nuffield Organization. Clearly it would be impossible to completely create a new car, not only from a financial point but from a timing standpoint as well. What was needed was a little of the old, sprinkled with a little of the new. Another key factor was to borrow or incorporate features found in other Nuffield cars of the time that were more up to date than the MGTC.

First it was decided to start with the MGTC. It was felt that the MGTC still provided a favorable brand image to the North American marketplace. Many elements of the MGTC were still believed to be important such as:

The styling
Safety Fast engineering
The powertrain
The familiarity of design
What was missing was:

More futuristic styling
Better turning and handling
A smoother ride
Left hand drive
More creature comforts such as an optional heater and radio.
Quickly a team of MG personnel took inventory of the components of the Nuffield Organization that they had to work with. They discarded the TC's frame because it was to light and not rigid enough. They found what they wanted in the Y types. A small modification to the frame was to have it sweep over the rear axle rather than under. This gave them more travel in the rear springs so they could increase the damping. In addition they adopted rack and pinion steering and front coil springs and wishbones. This and the change in rear end suspension allowed for a smoother ride and better handling than the MGTC. One of the major changes was to reduce the wheel size from 19 inches to 15 inches and increase the tire width to 5.50. All of these changes made the MGTD a superior riding car over the MGTC.

Because of the use of the larger frame the body became 5 inches wider. Although the body increased by 5 inches, only one inch actually found it's way into the cockpit so there is an indiscernible difference in the seating width. The biggest change that people notice about the MGTD from the MGTC is the lack of wire wheels. As part of the Nuffield cost cutting challenge the more expensive wire wheels of former T-Series cars were replaced by solid steel wheels. For the entire production run of the MGTD the factory took heat for this decision. They constantly tried to create implausible technical reasons why wire wheels would not work but their reasons were never accepted by the marketplace. In fact wire wheels were one of the most popular aftermarket accessories at the time. Nuffield itself had to offer an upgrade kit to wire wheels during 1953 because the essentially identical 1954 MGTF chassis sported wire wheels as an option.

Other changes between the MGTC and the MGTD were more stylized wings, partially due to the smaller wheels. A dual production capable LHD or RHD model, better brakes, adjustable steering column, and an interchangeable dashboard for left or right hand driving were also incorporated. An optional radio and heater, as well as many accessories designed to improve the performance of the car were made available.

The MGTD Models
The MGTD was produced from 1949 to August of 1953. During that period the MGTD saw many subtle changes, but nothing drastic. See the pages on production for details on the changes of the MGTD over the years. The MGTD was offered in three basic models although no more than two were ever available at one time.

TD
The original MGTD was first produced in late 1949 and had it's formal introduction in January of 1950. There were a total of four model years; 1950, 1951, 1952, and 1953. The first model set the stage for what the MGTD was. Because of the short amount of time from the inception of the MGTD to the delivery of the first cars, not everything was quite as the MG Car Company would have liked it. In fact they were still making MGTC's on the production line when the first MGTD's were produced. Other models were also being made on the same assembly line at the same time. This says something of the flexibility of the Abingdon work crews and factory.

Most changes to these early MGTD's were unnoticeable from the untrained eye. One exception to this was the change from solid wheels to slotted wheels. Still steal and not wire, but a change nothing else. Most of this seems to be precipitated from the fact that the brakes were fading due to poor cooling. Another change was to stiffen the body by adding an internal under firewall tubular frame. It helped but the MGTD body bucket still seems to flex quite a bit when pressed into corners.