The traditions that dominate the evolution of MG sports cars include the company’s reluctance to introduce radically new styling while its existing models still have a steady market. All kinds of technological developments might take place under the hood or in and around the chassis, but visible changes suggest annual tweaking rituals rather than re-styling ambition. MG’s ‘T’ series was introduced in 1936.
A new engine, hydraulic brakes and synchromesh on the top gears justified the new designation, but the styling was itself an evolution of the 413B’ series it replaced.
Its successor (after ‘TB’ and ‘TC’) the MG TD still belonged to the same archetype of prewar ‘British-look’ sports cars. It was a two-door roadster, wider and sleeker than its narrow, straight-backed forebears, but with the same big grille and sporty, flowing lines.
The running boards were tweaked a little further forward as a civilizing gesture, and other changes (like the bumpers, newly mandatory in the US, MG’s prime market at the time) all demonstrated MG’s awareness of its customers’ developing stylistic sophistication and demand for comfort. Within a few months, the MG TD Mk II included yet more improvements — but the essential driving experience remained the same.
It was fun. It was fast. It was reliable. It was a car to fall in love in (and very often, with). With or without a passenger, it was a racer. Many owners did race — especially in the USA, which gobbled up roughly 23,500 of the 30,000 TDs ever made (only 149 right-hand drive cars were made for British buyers) — but it’s exhilarating road holding and nippy characteristics were equally evident on the open road. Though an improved ‘TF’ followed, the ‘TD’ was the most popular of its series. It stands proudly on the cusp of old and new, in the place of honor.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1950 (until 1953)
1,250 cc Straight Four
A 1952 road test by The Motor magazine saw the MG TD achieve a top speed of 77 mph (123 km/h), and 0.60 mph (97 km/h) in 18.2 secs.
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
This beautiful, classic car has such a perennial hold on motoring enthusiasts’ imaginations that in 1998, all manufacturing and associated rights in the MG TD were vested in TD Cars company in Malaysia, to reproduce the original as TD2000.