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The Story of MGTD 19629

Nuffield Export Windscreen Card MS Taranger MGTD 19629 was born at the MG factory in Abingdon, England in early September of 1952. She saw England for the last time on the Samuel Williams Wharf, Dagenham, England where she was lowered on board the S.S. Taranger1 for the long trip to LA, California, USA. With her were many other TD's including 3 red and 2 black TD's, all with red interiors. The Nuffield Export Company handled the export of TD 19629 and was received in LA by Gough Industries. Gough Industries worked in conjunction with the Hambro Trading Company of America, Inc.

Sometime in late September of 1952, a young man walked into the MG sports car dealer of Wells Motors, in Van Nuys, CA proclaiming that he would like a red TD with a red interior. Despite the fact that the dealership was an old converted gas station at Sherman Way and Van Nuys Blvd., the dealer asked for no down payment and would carry the loan himself. Probably because of this dealers good faith in people he went out of business six months later.

The question that the dealer posed was whether the young man wanted a 1952 or 1953 model. "What's the difference?" the young man asked. The dealer responded that the 1953 models had electric turn signals and would cost an additional 300 dollars. The young man determined that he could continue to use hand signals as he had done all of his life and would use the money for some needed accessories. A call was put out for a red on red 1952 TD down at Gough Industries and TD 19629 was called upon to fill the position. She emerged in all her original glory to be readied for her new owner in Early November, 1952. A few accessories were fitted such as windwings, a full tonneau and spare tire covers in tan canvas, and a Porter straight through muffler that replaced the sputtering little exhaust she came with from the factory.

Other items such as a radio that fitted in the Author and father. November 1952.glove box at $250 and a luggage rack at $40 had to be omitted. This was an economy purchase with the price before accessories at $1895. After all, this was a daring purchase of a sports car for a familyman with a station wagon, a wife and four children at home. One of which was just a few months old. A change from the original English Quartz Iodine semi sealed beams to sealed beam headlamps was made to comply with California State vehicle code. TD 19629 was now ready to greet her new owner.

It was a rough start for TD 19629. Within two weeks after delivery Brand new 1952 MGTD. Note the missing rear overrider.she was rear ended on Sepulveda Blvd. and sustained damage to her posterior area. Luckily the damage was confined mainly to the rear bumper. A new bumper and tail pipe were installed but do to a parts shortage, the left bumper over-rider would have to wait a few weeks. During the break-in period the dealer suggested that the car be kept under 40 mph. The big American cars would swoosh by TD 19629 with their passengers laughing and smirking at the funny little toy car moving so slowly. Big cars were constantly picking on TD 19629 and three times within the first year a new front bumper had to be replaced. This was because the large cars would not see her and back into her in parking lots.

Not everyone laughed and snickered though. While waiting for her owner to finish work, people would come out to take a look at her. They would look her up and down and some would even open up her bonnet. Generally they would scrape the paint from the headlamps with the bonnet while they did this. Later when her owner came out to drive her home he would have to stop after a few blocks to fasten the bonnet latches. It seems these curious lookers could open the bonnet but could not figure out how to re-latch it.

Merry Christmas 1952Even though TD 19629's owner was very careful with her and broke her in just as the dealer told him to, it appears that the factory boys did not give her as much attention. At about 500 miles the bypass valve in the oil pump 'failed' and caused TD 19629 to 'throw' a rod. Quite a lot of damage was done to her cylinder walls and crankshaft. The dealer chose to repair the engine by grinding only one journal and boring out the cylinder to 60 ths over.

Other problems developed early in TD 19629's career. The battery was quick to give out and spill acid over the passengers' legs. The original tires lasted only 18,000 miles and when replaced with American tires lasted over 45,000 miles. The side curtains had windows made of celluloid, which yellowed and fogged within a year. The paint seemed to be affected just as did the side curtain windows. When purchased new, the dealer informed the new owner not to scrub the top with detergent or it would leak when it rained. With the top up and the side curtains in place on a warm day the stench was overwhelming.

Despite these problems the car was still fun to drive and made the long drives to and from work a pleasure instead of an ordeal. In about three years the paint was in desperate need of refinishing and so a repaint was arranged. This time a much darker, maroon color was chosen. After the new paint job TD 19629 was accessorized with complementing plaid tonneau and tire covers.

After her first few glitches, TD 19629 performed beautifully 1961 Changes with big Buick bumpers and chrome spare tire coveras a school bus, taxicab, and long distance commuter from LA to Santa Barbara many weekends during the year. Over the years more paint jobs, interior work, and accessories were fitted. These included such things as an aluminum valve cover that always leaked, a chrome spare tire cover, and a luggage rack purchased from a co-worker who was selling his car. A 1953 shop manual was thrown in with the deal at the same time. A trip to the wrecking yard produced a set of large Buick bumpers that resembled the original TD's in shape. It was hoped that these massive devices would reduce the amount of bumpers that had to be purchased each year from careless Detroit Iron.

In the late fifty's the original engine with its crazy crankshaft and piston imbalance was in need of a rebuild. The job was put to North Hollywood Engine Rebuild. Due to the savings in time an engine swap was performed instead of a rebuild of the original block. Because the car was registered to the engine number the brass engine ID tag was removed from the original block and transferred to the rebuilt block. Today TD 19629 has a different block number from her original engine ID tags. This of course was a fairly normal practice during the hay days of MGTD motoring.

19629 goes camping in Yosemite in 1964.Like many TD's that were a part of a family, 19629 was relied on to perform more than sports type of activities. Not only was it used as a commute car during the week, but it could even be pressed into service as a camping vehicle from time to time. 19629 even had its own single wheeled trailer.

In 1955 when the MGTF came on the market there was a strong urge of the owner to transplant the TF 1500 engine into TD 19629. This was an attempt to try and keep up with those speeding large cars on the LA freeways. The engine swap never materialized but in the sixty's, a part of the TF 1500 made its way to TD 19629. It seems that the one item that TD 19629's owner really wanted from the MGTC, that was missing from the MGTD, was wire wheels. He was not alone based on the shear number of aftermarket wire wheel kits that were available during the MGTDs period. Finally, the shear realization that these were available on the MGTF made him jealous. A few trips to various wrecking yards produced a set of TF brake drums and five wire wheels and knock offs. An extra wire wheel spline and an additional TD spare tire carrier was all that was needed to make a wire wheel compatible spare tire carrier. The spline was simply welded on where the original studs were placed. Today TD 19629 could easily be swapped back to the slotted steel wheels in a weekend since all the parts were retained from the original configuration.

The new owner wasn't alone and along with his wife, growing up with the car was a family of three girls and a boy. The boy was just a few months older than TD 19629. The girls named the car "iMoGene", after the popular actress of the time, Imogene Coca. TD 19629 taught four young children how to drive, albeit while losing a few pounds of gears in the process. There were constant arguments as to who was going to take the car where and when.

In the late sixty's the boy she grew up with took possession of her from the original owner, his father. Tired of competing with the faster and faster cars of the day, the father opted for a MGC/GT with its creature comforts and large six cylinder engine. Although the young boy loved the car its care was obviously not high on his list of priorities. Shinny paint became dull and dirty. The interior was stained and soiled. Its engine was not maintained and after a few years of misuse she couldn't go any farther. She was retired to the corner of the garage and replaced by a shinny new car without the drafts, leaking roof, oil smells, and the problem of where to put more than one passenger.

After a few years of absence the young boy realized that the MG was more than four wheels and an engine to him. It had much more personality that the new car he was driving, although it could not compete as a transportation vehicle. Restored in 1975The young boy decided that TD 19629 needed a complete transformation. Without ever having done more than replacing spark plugs and radiator hoses on cars before he decided that he would tackle a complete restoration himself.

After three years of experimenting, being trained on the job, with the help of others, and shear luck, TD 19629 was completely restored from the ground up. Every part was taken apart, cleaned, inspected, repaired and refinished. The paint was matched from a number of hidden and protected areas of the body and fenders. A piece of original fabric was saved from the interior. Every attempt was made to put the car back together in as original condition as the young boy was able to do. A few exceptions were in a number of modifications/accessories done over the years that were deemed a part of the cars character. These were a wooden dashboard, steering wheel, gearshift, fender mirrors, the aforementioned TF wire wheels, full-length tonneau and spare tire covers.

At the time no exact replacement could be found for the interior covering so a reasonable vinyl material in the original red color with matching leather was used. Joe Namnam of Hawthorne, CA carefully restored the interior and the body was repainted the original MG Red in acrylic lacquer. Finally in August 1975 the restoration was complete. TD 19629 had its first public showing at GoF West in 1975 where it won second place in the MGTD category. Over the years TD 19629 won various GoF West awards and took home a Premier Award in San Diego in 1977. TD 19629 attended many invitational concours d'Elegances during the period where she received many awards. One of the highlights was when she won the Best Sports Car in Show at the Long Beach Grand Prix concours d'Elegance in 1977.

MG at authors wedding, July 1980In 1980 TD 19629 was able to participate in the wedding of the young man who grew up with and restored her. She paraded along the highway in South Lake Tahoe, California, regally carrying the bride and groom to their destination. Everyone along the way stopped to wave, shout and admire the car and the young couple. When a new addition to the family came along in 1989, TD 19629 was there just as she had been when her original owner showed off his new car and son in November of 1952.

TD 19629 has had a varied and exciting career over the past 61 years. She is still owned by the young boy (who is not so young anymore). She may not have tasted victory in races like some of her peers, or covered as much territory as others. She certainly wasn't pampered in her early years and has logged over 250,000 miles in her lifetime, most prior to 1970. Much of her existence in the early years was trying to keep up with and challenge the freeway traffic of LA.

In 2012 TD 19629 underwent the start of a second restoration. There was a lot of garage rash that occurred over the 40 years since her first restoration and it gave the owner a chance to fix items that were not done properly the first time around. Lacking a website such as this and various BBS's and forums made it difficult to do everything originally the first time. With the help of many individuals, part suppliers, eBay and other sources, many of this prior issues could be addressed. But there were still 1000's of hours of labor put into the second restoration, mostly in finishing. In October of 2013 she once again was back on the road showing herself at the Serrano Concours d'Elegance where she took best in class for the pre 1956 sports cars.

TD 19629 has seen both rain and shine and through the years she was never totally abandoned. She was always in sight beckoning her owners to come out and play. Today she mostly sits in her garage aching for the chance to stretch her wheels and ride the winding roads of Northern California's backcountry where she lives. When she does get out she holds her head higher than ever before, knowing that she has something that most other cars will never dream of. That is class, and the admiration of all that view her. Not a bad story for a car of over 61 years. If she is lucky there is another generation that is waiting till she comes of age to drive. The two of them can continue this saga for years to come and hopefully for future generations as well.

All of this from a company who made a little car called an MGTD and a gallant young man who desired a piece of adventure from his urban existence back in the Fall of 1952.

  1. According to the Lloyds Register of Shipping 1951-53, The SS Taranager was owned by the Westfal-Larson & Co. A/S of Bergen, Norway. Built in Germany in 1940 as the Ulanga, it became the Stornes in 1946, and the Taranger in 1947. Perhaps war reparations. (from Fred weber).

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