MG TD Midget

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The MG TD can justifiably be called the most popular of all the T-series Midgets, closely followed by the TC Midget, which was the car that put MG on a firm footing in the United States.

While Americans were still buying the TC in large numbers, there were calls for a bigger and better, updated car. So Syd Enever, Alec Hounslow and Cecil Cousins with a small design team began to develop a prototype. This was done in a fortnight without so much as a pencil being put to the drawing board.

5″ was removed from the centre section of the chassis of a YA saloon and the two halves welded together. A TC body was disassembled and sewn together and placed on the chassis and the end result was a rough and ready prototype acceptable to the Nuffield organisation. The drawing office at Cowley then produced accurate drawings of the prototype to put the car into production.

TD 4

The famous XPAG Engine

The design team would undoubtedly have liked to produce something more sophisticated, but given the financial constraints on development, the end result was a car that made sense both technically and in terms of product planning.

Under the body, the origins of the Y-type were fairly obvious: the large, boxy chassis rails provided a very stiff platform for the independent suspension, which was an exact copy of the Y-type but with larger dampers. At the rear, the chassis diverged from its saloon ancestor as the frame extended up and over the rear axle rather than subordinating itself.

The car was hailed as the first MG since 1936 to feature some major styling changes. Each trim was different from that of the TC, and the dashboard, although new, remained strictly traditional, as did the separate flowing front wings, running boards, separate headlamps and the distinctive MG radiator with vertical fins. A centrally hinged bonnet and an exposed fuel tank with spare wheel carrier at the rear completed the package. Other features still considered important and in keeping with MG tradition were the removable doors, the folding windscreen with wiper motor bolted to the passenger side top rail, and the simple slotted side window weather protection.

A controversial step was the fitting of smaller pressed steel disc wheels instead of the TC’s traditional wire wheels. This was done because special wheels would have had to be made to accommodate the arms and joints of the new rack-and-pinion steering, and Nuffield would not have approved of this for use on a single model.

mg 1950 td-2x

The TD was certainly less lively than its predecessor, largely due to its weight being almost 200lb heavier and the fact that the engine produced the same peak power and torque as the TC, 54hp @ 5,200rpm. 641 lb/ft @ 2,600rpm. Even with a lower gearbox, the lowest of any T-series car, independent road tests of the time showed that the TD was slower than the TC. Despite these minor drawbacks, potential customers flocked to buy the car when it was introduced in late 1949. In the four years that the car was in production, 29,664 models came out of Abingdon, which was more than three times the production of the TC.

Despite its success story, the TD was a controversial car in its day, leading to much debate in specialist magazines and enthusiasts’ pubs, yet it has earned its place in history as a highly desirable classic British sports car.

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