Classic MG Cars: The MG T series

MG TA and TB

The MG T series are some of my favourite classics. I love the look of that classic pre-war sports car and MG nailed it to perfection with the T series. Pretty slow and a terribly harsh ride by today's standards but I would suffer for the joy of the looks.

First released in 1936 to replace the P-series the first of the MG T series, the MG TA, had a 1292cc engine giving 50 bhp for a top speed of 78 mph and 0-60 mph in 23.1 seconds. Fuel consumption was likely to be around 28 (imperial) MPG. Only 3,000 were made between 1936 and 1939 and most would have been two-seater roadsters with a few Airline coupes or Tickford drophead coupés.

In 1939 the TB was released with a new engine, the 1250cc XPAG unit with 54 bhp. This is the rarest of the MG T series with only 379 being built before Adolf Hilter got in the way. Performance figures are barely different from the TA.


MG TC and TD

The MG TC is my favourite. With 10,000 built in five years from 1945-1950 it retained the early MG T series good looks (and engine) and was exported to America as well, but only ever in right-hand drive form (approx. 2,000 cars). Performance figures again are pretty identical to the TA and TB. Buying one in England in 1947 would have set you back £527, in America it was $2,238 (and that's without a heater - which wasn't even available as an option!). It would cost you a damn sight more than that to buy one today. I have seen immaculate ones going at £15,000.

The MG TD got a revamped body which I don't think looks anywhere near as nice as the earlier MG T series cars but that didn't stop MG building 30,000 of them in three years, from 1950-1953. This model got a left-hand drive option and an allegedly (in other words: MG publicity) five inch wider track which improved cockpit comfort (independent measurements show it to be closer to two inches). In fact out of the 30,000 less than 1,700 stayed in the UK and over 24,000 went to America, the rest went to the rest-of-the-world for export. There was also a TD Mkll which was slightly more highly tuned, but still only managed 81 mph and 0-60 mph in 16.5 seconds.

MG T-series
MG T-series

MG T Series Tuning Kits

In fact by the early 1950s the MG T series had a range of tuning kits for the XPAG engine, taking it from the standard 54 bhp, to the 61 bhp of the TD Mkll, but also 64 bhp from a Stage 2 kit, or 66 bhp from a Stage 3 kit, and the Stage 4 kit gave close on 70 bhp. Shorrock supercharger kits were also available but I can't find any figures for them.

However, a 'sprint' 1250cc XPAG unit with supercharger (and 30lb of boost) and methanol fuel was quoted at 213 bhp at 7,000 rpm, but the 'endurance' version of the engine with only 10lb of boost and a lower compressio ratio gave 'only' 92 bhp at 5,400 rpm.

Also in the early 50s an XPEG 1466cc unit was built in 'sprint' and 'endurance' versions but without the supercharger. It gave 97.5 bhp at 6,500 rpm in sprint spec, and 84 bhp at 6,500 rpm in endurance spec.


MG TF and TF1500

The MG TF and MG TF1500 (don't ask me why there was never a TE, 'cos I have no idea) came out in 1953 and was basically a face-lifted TD to tide MG over until the all new MGA was released in 1955. It had the TD MKll 'hot' engine as standard. In 1954 they enlarged the engine to 1466cc and gave it the XPEG designation. It now turned out a whopping 63 bhp at 5,000 rpm and became known as the TF1500. There were 9,600 TFs built with 3,400 TF1500s. The MG TF1500 was good for 85 mph with 0-60 mph in 16.3 seconds.

In 1955 the MG T series was replaced by the all new MGA.

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