Simanaitis Says

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MY LOVE AFFAIR with the MG sports car continues here with details of the MG TD, which followed the TC in 1950. By February 1953, Road and Track promised “Four Big MG Features,” and actually delivered five: “The First MG Midget,” an “MG TD and MG TDC (Mark II) Road Test,” the editor’s report on “35,000 MG Miles,” a marque history “The Past of Safety Fast,” and an article about the “1937 MG Tourer.”

Images that follow are from Road and Track, February 1953.

A bit of magazine history: R&T’s “&” didn’t appear until 1954. In February 1953, Robert Dearborn was editor; John R. Bond was technical editor and co-publisher.

The MG Midget was introduced in 1929, several years after the first production MG, the initials standing for “Morris Garages.” As noted in “The First MG Midget,” the magazine wrote, “Generally known as the ‘M’ type, a 1931 catalog refers to the car as ‘the 8/33 MG Midget Sports Mark I,’ a rather presumptuous designation for a small (but mighty) car.”

Above, the M type had a modified Morris four-cylinder engine displacing 847 cc and producing 20 hp. Below, a comparison of two MGs, years apart.

The TD versus TDC Road Test gave a sense of the state of enthusiast fiddling in 1953: “Both owners did their own tune up work,” the magazine noted. One of the tested MGs had 1 1/2-in. lowering blocks to its rear springs and dual mufflers; the other had a custom airscoop on its bonnet adjacent to its twin SU carburetors.

Also cited was another TDC owner, a factory service rep named Ken Miles. Yes, that Ken Miles, years before his international racing career.

The two-car Road Test contains tidbits galore. For instance, “Both cars made their timed top speeds with the side curtains in place and the tops erected…. One timed run on the TDC was made with the top down and the windshield folded flat (but without benefit of a full-length tonneau cover). The top speed was exactly the same as before.”

Both cars buttoned-up with tops and side curtains.

The TDC’s engine enhancements (e.g., higher compression ratio, bigger valves, larger carburetors, twin electric fuel pumps) added 11-percent more power (60 hp versus the TD’s 54). This in turn permitted slightly taller gearing: 15.2 mph/1000 rpm in top (fourth) gear versus the TD’s 14.4. Accordingly, the TDC had a slightly greater top speed, a fastest 82.9 mph versus the TD’s 79.6.

The TDC reached 60 mph from a standstill in 16.5 seconds; the TD took 19.4 seconds. Though these seem lethargic to us 66 years later, the magazine observed that “a TD is quicker than many American cars.”

“By sports car standards,” the article noted, “the MG rides very well. Rough roads at low speeds do not give the slow motion characteristic of most family cars—in fact, under these conditions some people would say the bumps were very noticeable…. At high speeds the driver and passenger are very comfortable and the car takes rough surfaces, dips, and ‘thank-yoo-ma’ams’ in a safe and exemplary manner.”

“Safety Fast,” a good company slogan.

35,000 MG Miles by editor Robert Dearborn also contains interesting tidbits: He cited the view that “MG is the only car in the world that sells personality.”

“The Editor and wife were happy with MG’s durability and economy,” the article’s caption reads. Note too the spiffy spare-tire cover.

Their MG was a late 1950 TD, with about 5000 miles when the Dearborns bought it from “a retired railroad man from Pasadena,” really. “At 21,000 miles,” Dearborn wrote, “I sold the car to a close friend—Mr. Milton Eliades—who put the remaining 14,000 miles on the odometer.”

Dearborn recalled that Milton would invariably announce “his several-times-weekly visits with a full-bore second-gear, tire-screaming victory circle in front of my home.”

You’d like to hope the neighbors were Road and Track subscribers. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2019


  1. Gary Perser
    January 21, 2019

    The TD was a better car than the TC in every way except anachronistic charm.

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