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The T Series MG's

At the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, production of cars at MG in Abingdon had given way to production and maintenance of machines of war, as it had at most other engineering plants over the whole country. A very wide variety of jobs were undertaken, ranging from servicing guns and production of aircraft parts to overhauling tanks. No job was too large, too small, or too difficult for the workers at MG.

With a return to peacetime in 1945, thoughts at MG turned once again to building cars, but things were never to be the same again. A socialist government was in power, bombing had ravaged the countrys industry, and wartime shortages had led to rationing of just about everything. Although there was a considerable demand on the home market for any form of personal transport, raw materials were in short supply.

With the urgent need for the country to earn foreign income to aid reconstruction, priority was given to supplying raw materials to those companies who concentrated on exporting their products. The phrase "export or die" had a very real meaning. Since little development work was carried out during the war on the post-war generation of cars, so most manufacturers simply dusted off their pre-war models, tidied them up and wheeled them out. MG was no exception to this, but in the pervading atmosphere it was clear that the big luxury saloons of the pre-war era would not be looked upon with favour. Consequently, it was decided to concentrate initially on the car which had been the mainstay of MG's reputation as a manufacturer of sports cars - the Midget.


TA Midget

It was before the war, in the spring of 1936, when the replacement for the MG PB appeared. The Cowley inspired TA Midget used many components of Morris origin and, at first, was not popular with the "hardy" MG enthusiasts. However, this resistance was soon overcome and the car widened the appeal of sports cars, which had previously been looked upon as being temperamental and difficult to drive.

The TA's chassis was of traditional MG design, but the tubular cross members seen in previous models had been replaced by less stiff channel sections. Also, the forward portions of the side rails had been made as box sections to stiffen them, which was needed as the engine mountings were of rubber. Suspension was by the now familiar leaf springs front and rear, but the brakes were hydraulically operated for the first time on an MG. The engine had been changed too. Gone was the neat, but demanding, ohc unit and in its place was a 1292cc, pushrod, overhead-valve, four-cylinder engine. This was essentially the same as that used in the Morris 10, but the MG was equipped with twin SU carburettors and produced around 50bhp, which was a significant increase compared to the PB. This was mated to four-speed transmission with synchromesh, which was also a first for MG. The mechanical specification of the TA made it a much easier car to drive, whilst still maintaining the reputation of its predecessors. This opened up a whole new appeal of sports cars to a much wider market than before.


TB Midget

In the summer of 1939, as the war clouds were gathering, MG announced the TB Midget. In terms of chassis and body options it was essentially the same as the TA, but the TB had a new engine, which was a 1250cc, ohv, four-cylinder unit. Taken from the new Morris 10, and known as the XPAG engine, it had a much stronger bottom-end than the previous unit, better valve timing and a better-designed cylinder head. These design features combined to give a power output of 45bhp. The engine was backed up by a dry clutch and a better set of ratios than before with an improved synchromesh. All of this meant that the little car looked very promising indeed, but the onset of war stopped production as MG had other, more important, tasks to carry out.


TC Midget

Before the war, MG had offered the TB model. Which, after the war, was to receive a few modifications to become the first post-war MG. The TC Midget had a chassis which was essentially the same as its predecessor, however the sliding trunnion spring mountings were dispensed with in favour of more conventional rubber bush shackles. The engine was the now familiar twin-carburettor, 1250cc, pushrod, ohv XPAG unit. The transmission was also the single-plate dry clutch and four-speed synchromesh unit as had been seen in the TB. The brakes were 9 inch hydraulic units and the wheels the usual centre-locking wires. The TC was only offered in one body style, this was an open two-seater that was very similar in appearance to the TB model.


TD Midget

The TD Midget was the replacement for the TC and was announced in 1949. While it followed the traditional styling of its predecessors, it was very much a different story below the surface. The TD had a totally new chassis, this had been developed from the chassis of the Y Type saloon and was a much sturdier and stiffer frame than that of its predecessor. It had box section side rails and cross members and was of an all welded construction. One change that did not impress the hardy MG enthusiasts was the change from the old 19 inch wire wheels in favour of 15 inch pressed steel wheels which had a much more modern appearance. The engine was the same as the one used in the TC as was the body, however the body of the TD was a little wider and the wings were slightly different to contrast with the new wheels. The TD was the first of the MGs to be equipped with front and rear bumpers.


TF Midget

This was to be the last of the T Series cars and today, many enthusiasts and collectors would say it was the most desirable of the T Series. The MG TF Midget was introduced in 1953. It was essentially the same as the TD, having the same form of chassis, suspension, brakes, steering, engine, and transmission. However it was the bodywork where most of the changes could be found. It still had the unmistakable MG styling, which by this time was becoming somewhat old fashioned but there were a number of obvious changes which had been made.
The most obvious of these changes were to the front end where the radiator grille had been lowered and raked and the front wings were shaped so that the headlights could be faired into them rather than being separately mounted. At the rear there was little difference compared to the TD, although a valance was provided to fill the gap between the bottom of the fuel tank and the bumper. In terms of performance, there was no change in comparison with the TD, and despite the new body style, MG were kidding no one but themselves. The sales figures for the car reflected this. By 1955, the TF was seen even at Longbridge to be a flop, but all that could be done in the short-term was to increase the engine to 1466cc, and the car was called the TF 1500.