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
- Black Top and Tonneau Covers
- Original Tops and Tonneaus were tan canvas. Black vinyl is a common
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
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
- Mounting the Windscreen Motor Upside Down
- A very common mistake seems to be
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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||Page last updated on
April 7, 2015