A TD(?), the DVLA and a tale of woe

(or to mis-quote the Bard, TD or not TD?)

As John James will confirm, I had drooled over owning a T-type for many years.  The usual obstacles of family, work and limited finances, had reduced MG ownership to the more affordable MGBs and latterly modern MGTFs.  Family circumstances had seen us move from Brixham in Devon to Oswestry in Shropshire; (yes, I know people usually go the other way in retirement, but I was doing what I was told!).  Whilst dealing with the logistics of the move, a friend of mine in France, persuaded me to part with the 2005 MGTF.  So, we arrived in Shropshire without a MG for the first time in many years.

The new abode boasted a garage but the daily driver – big Volvo estate – wouldn’t fit.  Also, the dear lady wife, who WILL be obeyed, wanted a utility area and a new kitchen.  The kitchen upgrade was fair enough but, she had designs on the garage!!  Lockdown arrived and plenty of time for DIY occurred.  A new kitchen and then creation of a utility area in a portion of the garage was constructed.  The utility area in the garage was carefully designed to leave exactly enough space for a T-type – funny how that happened?

Early in August I was made aware of a TD for sale at a price just within my limited budget.  The wife, who had sat in Mike Inglehearn’s TD at the 2019 Circuit des Remparts in Angouleme, France and declared that it was more comfortable than the 1954 TF I had been loaned – who am I to argue when she’s giving the green light to a TD? – eased the lock on the purse strings and TD8205 was mine.

The car was delivered 12th August and as far as I was concerned was beautiful.  About two weeks later the new V5C arrived.  It had my correct name and address but as for the car details…..well, basically it was a MG, type unknown and green in colour.  First registered in January 1953 and built in July 1953 – no that’s not a typo – and wait for it…..had a 2600cc engine!  The DVLA website also showed the MOT expired January 21st 2021.

Since the car was all original with engine and chassis numbers matching factory production records, that cubic capacity was a puzzle.  No trace of the January 2021 MOT could be found either.  The records that came with the car had a current MOT that expired Sept 2020.  MG production records showed the car being built 12th June 1951 not 1953.  For the purists among us – yes, I’m an “anorak” too – the car had the early type chronometric instruments and a single oil pressure gauge typical of TDs built before October 1951.  With such a low chassis number and an engine number original to the car of 7777, this clearly couldn’t be a 1953 car.  The number on the front dumb iron also matched the chassis plate.

A call to the DVLA followed and a chat with a very helpful lady, who listened carefully to my tale of woe.  When she checked the details on file, she expressed surprise that the vehicle had been registered with so little detail when imported back from New Hampshire USA.  When I queried the difference between the registration and build dates, I was told that they always use 1st January when the registration date is unknown.  I pointed out that this was seven months before the car was built according to their records and surely couldn’t be accurate.  I was advised to collate as much information as possible to evidence what I had told her, plus photos of the car, chassis plate and engine plate.  Then came the crunch – fill in the section of the V5C to state when I had changed the engine!!  Impasse was reached.  As much as I told her the engine had not been changed, she became more insistent that it must have been or else her records would show otherwise.  When I pointed out that this was another error along with the others that the DVLA had on record, the air became very frosty indeed. Polite, but frosty. (I have to say that on all occasions when I spoke to the DVLA they were polite throughout).  They would correct the errors I claimed but only with positive evidence such as that from the manufacturer.  End of call!  Well, how to get evidence from the manufacturer that they fitted a 1250cc engine when they don’t exist anymore? – (sob).

So, after some banging of head against the garage wall – I’ve since repaired the cracks in the brickwork! – brainwave, speak to John James!  In his usual calm manner John took it all in his stride.  He’s clearly used to wading through treacle and punching porridge!  He provided me with the necessary records and an official letter proving the details.  So, all information and photos, together with the incorrect V5C was sent off to the DVLA 18th September 2020.

Now I’m aware that things aren’t as “normal” as they might be and the DVLA are asking people to be patient.  But two months later – nothing.  So, another polite call to DVLA and another very nice lady told me the matter was in hand.  It hadn’t been dealt with yet because of limited staff due to Covid.  Give it another 3 weeks and just keep an eye on the DVLA Vehicle Check website.

To be polite I left it until 1st December.  This time I was told they had no record of my paperwork at DVLA and I would have to resubmit.  Also, since I had lost the V5C, (protests that I hadn’t lost the V5C – they had! –  fell on deaf ears), I would have to pay £25 to obtain a replacement.  Once I had the replacement, I could go through the whole process again.  I pointed out that the replacement V5C they would send was going to be wrong and surely there must be some way of dealing with the problem without them sending out another incorrect V5C.  OK, so I made the mistake of linking logic and common sense with a government department).  I was told I could fill in a form V62, stating that I had lost the V5C (!!!!) and send it together with all the copies of the paperwork and photos – plus the £25 fee and they would investigate.  It would take another 6 – 8 weeks!!

After I got my blood pressure under control – I didn’t want to repair the garage wall again – I discovered that the Royal Mail has a facility for delivering mail to people who claim they didn’t get it.  Not just recorded delivery but next day guaranteed and tracked.  Amazingly, the details on the DVLA website were updated within 3 working days after receipt of the re-sent data!  Within a week I had a new V5C which clearly showed all the correct details – except it wasn’t a TD???  Two days later a letter arrived from the DVLA which stated that as none of the information I had supplied quoted the DVLA/SMMT code – whatever that is? – they could not amend the model description.  Therefore, it remains only as a MG. To quote the letter – The model can’t be changed unless the manufacturer (not the original dealer), (sic), agrees with the description I had given.  Please ask the manufacturer to supply this information together with the correct codes.  Then I can resubmit the data and go through the whole process again!

At this point I finally lost the will to live!  After some thought however, I have decided not to bother.  I’m very happy that I have a very rare unknown MG.  So, according to figures there were 29,664 TDs produced.  Perhaps that should be amended to 29,663 and 1 unknown.

As for the TD?  Well, she has kept me sane during Covid-19 lockdown.  New solid state fuel pump, (from previous experience I hate SU pumps with a passion), with auto shutdown in the event of an accident, new fuel lines and filters, carburettor overhaul, fitting modern indicators, (she who WILL be obeyed didn’t like sticking her arm out into oncoming traffic when turning right – TD8205 is still LHD).

A complete brake overhaul was carried out, as well as fitting out the garage with all the necessary tools and spares that a T-type requires.  Swivel pin rubbers were also changed as they looked a bit past their best.  TD8205 was then taken for a new MOT.  She passed with flying colours and no advisories!  My new neighbours are becoming used to me tinkering with the TD – I have told them that T-type ownership is a work in progress – Colin next door is convinced that I go under the car for a snooze.  Let’s hope that 2021 allows us to get some club events and International Rallies organised.

My grateful thanks to John James for the supply of information and letters, pleasant chats on the telephone and an outstanding magazine.

John Murray.

John Murray’s ‘extremely rare unknown MG’.

Editor’s comment

In the last issue I commented on the seemingly inefficient system of vehicle licensing, prior to it being centralized with the establishment of the DVLA. I added “that one is almost grateful that the DVLA was established – but no, hold your horses! – based on my experience of many dealings with this organisation, I hesitate to endorse this sentiment!”

Dealing with the DVLA on behalf of the MG Octagon Car Club is extremely challenging. One can write and wait, and wait, and wait for a reply. Use of the Royal Mail ‘Signed For’ service is now obligatory to prove they’ve got it!

Matters came to a head when a file went missing, which they claimed to have sent back to an Octagon member in Malvern in 2020. Of course, it wasn’t their fault!

They have, until the recent past, been sending applications back to the applicant for the slightest of errors, which could be resolved over the phone, or by e-mail by me.  In an attempt to stop this nonsense, I asked applicants to sign a statement authorizing me to deal with any queries. Did they take any notice of this? – of course not!

After one particularly frosty exchange of correspondence when I said ……..

I am not going to accept this and will now go through the complaints procedure – not that it will do much good as the pyramid always supports itself. However, at least I will have the opportunity of telling your Chief Executive what a dreadful, incompetent and unhelpful organisation she heads up.

……It was suggested that I forward applications with a covering form V997 used by Dealers/Fleet Companies. This would ensure (I was told) that papers would always come back to me. Well, it has taken some time, but I think we are getting there.

5 thoughts on “A TD(?), the DVLA and a tale of woe

  1. Ray White says:

    This reminds me of a conversation that I had with an official at the DVLA with regard to historic vehicles being exempt from V.E.D. (vehicle Excise Duty). I wanted to know why I still had to fill in a tax form (and at the time display a tax disc) – even if there was no payment required. I was told I still had to “tax” the car even though it was exempt from tax. I maintained that as tax was a payment his argument was illogical. They insisted I still had to tax the car although it was exempt from tax. Such is the confused state of DVLA thinking.

    Don’t even start me off on the S.O.R.N. fiasco.!

    Ray White.

  2. Thierry SUCHIER says:

    Good day to you gentlemen,
    John, you explain your misfortunes in a splendid way and believe well that I understand you. We also have this kind of problem with our administrations.
    Sincerely, Thierry from Ardèche, South of France

  3. Mr Tim Parrott says:

    When I studied French in the 1960’s, I was advised that “functionaire” was a devastating insult. It is the equivalent of calling someone a Civil Servant. My wife and I have been paid £200 each for the winter fuel allowance on the basis that we each live alone at the same address! I wrote to tell them three months ago with no response; I have no intention of chasing up their response!

  4. Ron Benson says:

    The car looks very much like the one that Drew Pritchard from Salvage Hunters and some other bloke restored. Another one of those car “restoration” programs.

  5. Matt Sanders says:

    No surprise here, I have a 1930 MG Special with what I now know to be an XPJM engine from a 10/4 Morris which I thought at the time was from an early MG TB I mistakenly as a result put the cc as 1250, when it is a 1086 as I had not discovered until some years later on my engine rebuild it was 1086 and DVLA refused to change it.

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