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Common Mistakes and Misconceptions

In this section I attempt to deal with those items that commonly appear on MGTD's that really aren't supposed to be on an original car. Not that there is anything wrong with accessories, my car has a number of them, but to make sure that we have a starting point on what was original to the car. You can then decide if you like a particular change to suit your personality, life-style, or aesthetics.

Radiator Grill Color
One of the most often noticed mistakes that unknowing MGTD owners make is to have their grill slats chrome plated. It seems a natural thing to do after viewing numerous cars such as Packards and Duesenburgs as well as the sister MGTF that have chrome grill slates. From a practical standpoint it makes perfect sense. No more rock chips to have to worry about. The truth is that only the very late MGTD Mark II's had chrome grill slats.
The other misconception is the color of painted grill slats. Generally you follow the interior color but there were exceptions. For green and red cars with tan interiors, the body color could be used as the grill color instead of tan. See the section on finishes form more information.
Black Interior
In the past black interiors were much more prevalent on restored cars. This was because of the lack of high quality interior kits from the parts suppliers and a general acceptance of black interiors on current production sports cars. The truth is that MGTD's were not offered with black interiors originally.
Black Top and Tonneau Covers
Original Tops and Tonneaus were tan canvas. Black vinyl is a common mistake.
Vinyl Tops (Hoods)
Vinyl was not available when the MGTD was produced. The hoods and tonneau covers were made out of a canvas like material, always in tan. Today the most popular top material is a softer, more water proof cotton material. Stick with the tan cover for originality although it is offered in other colors as well.
Trimmed Carpeting
The carpeting on the Original MGTD was not trimmed. The same is true with putting carpeting back behind the seat. This was not done originally. When I show the car I pull it out. It then makes a great display mat for your tools, manuals, and other MG related stuff.
Full Tonneau Cover
Everyone has one. It makes perfect sense and the factory should have provided one. It may be that in England you either had the hood up or you were top down. Interestingly the original half tonneau cover had a slot in it that accommodated the rear side curtains. This was to allow motoring with the side curtains in place but the hood down. Sort of like those folks who drive modern convertibles with the top down, windows up, and the heater going full blast.
Chrome Headlights
This one's a lot tougher because in some cases it is correct and in others it's not. Also there is no definitive date that I am aware of where the production of the MGTD switched from chrome to painted headlamps. On top of that the factory reinstated chrome headlamps again in later 1953 cars. Clearly if you have a 1949 to early 1951 TD you should go chrome. If you have a very late 1951 through mide 1953 TD then painted headlamps are for you. Somewhere in the middle is your guess. Until we can find more definitive information either way would be OK. If you have large round rivets on the base plate of your headlamps they should be chrome too. This started somewhere around car 25000 but no definitive number is established.
The chrome headlamps are certainly easier to maintain. The biggest fault with the MGTD in my opinion is the fact that if you are not extremely careful you will scratch the painted headlamps when opening the hood. On the other hand chrome can be quite a glare hazard when the sun shines just right and could cause safety problems. Many race cars today sport black components where their street brethren have chrome. Others have cited the lack of chromium during the Korean war as a reason but I have a hard time buying that. There are plenty of other places on the MGTD where they could have saved on chrome and did not do so. Most likely the headlamp suppliers orders for chrome headlamp buckets dwindled and MG had to go along with it.
Exterior Piping Color
Here is one of the most often made mistakes. Some of it is due to the fact that the piping available from most parts houses is limited. The cars always had the color of the piping match the exterior color. It was not painted afterward. You may need to have some custom made to match your car color. Don't forget to make the front splash piping a size smaller than the rest of the body piping.
Wire Wheels
Clearly the most controversial item that is faced in the restoration of many a MGTD. Were wire wheels available as a factory option or not? The truth is that they were not available during the production of the MGTD from the factory. The factory was constantly bombarded by requests to offer wire wheels on the MGTD but never did during the production years. Later when the MGTF came out with wire wheels the factory may have offered an upgrade kit that basically provided the MGTF drums and wheels to be used on the MGTD. An adapter was also rumored to be a part of the kit for the spare tire. To date I have found no evidence of this kit or the adapter.
Wooden Dashboards
Yes the MGTD has a wooden dash but it was never uncovered. It always sported the same covering used in the rest of the interior made of Rexine. Wooden dashes were, and continue to be, a very popular accessory. My car has a custom made quartersawn mahogany dash, steering wheel, and gearshift knob.
Non XPAG Engines
Quite simply the answer is NO. To be original you must sport the correct engine type. You can even identify if your engine is correct by cross matching the engine serial number on the block and ID tag with the builders plate on the firewall.
During the heyday of the TD people were always trying to get it to go faster. Some even resorted to swapping out the engine. More than one article was written to tell you how to replace the weak little 4 cylinder engine with a V-8. Another popular engine swap was to use a Volvo engine. I would say if you want this type of performance you should consider the MGTF 1500 or perhaps one of the reproduction MGTD's available. Save the original car for the purists.
By the way. Having an original type of engine in your MGTD is generally a prerequisite to membership in most MG car clubs and organizations.
Mounting the Windscreen Motor Upside Down
A very common mistake seems to be mounting the windscreen motor upside down. The windscreen motor should not stick above the level of the top windshield frame.
Mounting the Rear License Plate Lamp Upside Down
A very common mistake is to mount the rear license plate lamp upside down. The license plate lamp is on the top, not shining from underneath. The license plate bracket can be used either way depending on the size of your license plate. It was generally used with the license attachment slots at the bottom.
Chrome Door Hinges and Door Checks
The door hinges were painted the body color. It is easiest to paint the door with the hinges in place and then secure this assembly to the body bucket when dry. The door checks were either black or more likely the body color. Since the door checks get rubbed a lot on opening and closing the doors, many like to plate these. They also do not show much so this is very acceptable in my opinion.
Missing Door Checks
Many times I see cars restored without the door checks. This is not only incorrect but very dangerous to the door. If the door is allowed unchecked freedom it can easily open into the rear fender and cause serious damage to both the door and fender.
Handbrake Lever Bolts on Wrong Side
When re-assembling your handbrake after restoration ensure that your bolts are on the correct side. The bolts are on the right hand side of the car and the nuts and washers on the left.
Brass ID Plates
While the ID plates were made of brass, this was not the standard finish. They were all nickel plated. See the finishes pages for details.
Left and Right Float Bowl Lids
The regular MGTD only had right handed float bowl lids. The MGTD Mk II and also the MGTF with 1 ½" carburetors had both right and left float bowl lids. See the manuals pages for the MGTD SU manual.
MG Car Company Threshold Plates
These look beautiful but they were not original to the MGTD, but were for the MGTA. The TD had plain threshold plates.

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