BUCKET SEATS for an MG T-TYPE                                                                         

by Stanley Daamen, Netherlands, (member # 1508).

When the restoration of my MG TC was completed in 1980, I restored it to its original state as it was once delivered by the MG Abingdon factory in 1947. The only extra accessories at the time were a set of Brooklands Racing screens because I loved them when the windshield of my TC was folded down. Since this five-year restoration, I have won many national and international concourses with my MG. In 1990 I was even presented with the prize from Jean Kimber Cook, the daughter of MG Car Company founder Cecil Kimber. She was then present in the Netherlands during an international MGCC event and had brought ‘Old Number One’, the car built in 1924 to her father’s instructions for use on the 1925 Land’s End Trial.  This of course offered an ideal opportunity to take a picture with this unique MG together with my own TC.

Stanley’s TC3392 with ‘Old Number One’ (1990)

But during long holiday trips through the French or Italian Alps, I started to get annoyed by the fact that the TC XPAG engine was not very powerful, and that the seats were not very comfortable either. On the winding mountain roads, you shifted from side to side for hours and I could still hold on to the steering wheel, but my wife almost pulled the grab handle off the dashboard. I had already made a self-built center armrest for a number of years after a design from an old American MG folder (pictured below); this part was marketed as an accessory in the late 1940s. This modification already offered more support on winding roads and it also offered some extra storage space because the lid could be opened with a hinge.

Ed’s note: For the benefit of readers who subscribe to a printed copy and may have difficulty in reading the text of the advertisement, it reads as follows:

This beautifully upholstered center armrest provides support for driver and passenger. Instantly mounted in place, or detached, it is finished in a dull black to harmonize with all interiors. The hinged top opens to reveal a spacious, fabric lined glove compartment. A chromium plated positive closing ash receiver is mounted within easy reach on the front of the unit. Made solely for use on the TC model MG.

Stanley’s central armrest (minus the chromium plated positive closing ash receiver!). This was made and fitted before the acquisition of the bucket seats.

Personally, I have always been a fan of time period accessories and adjustments. But my opinion is that a TC should always look like a TC, because this model is super beautiful. I will never mount cycle wings and a rollbar on my TC, these are too striking accessories.

Around the year 2000 I started to change a number of things on my MG to make it faster, safer and more comfortable. The engine was tuned to a stage 2 level with 1½” SU carburettors. An improved profile camshaft was mounted together with bigger valves, and an extractor manifold system from Peter Edney. I also improved the steering by applying Michael Sherrell’s idea from the book TCs Forever. I fitted new Alfin Brake Drums, and the lighting was greatly improved with Lucas Tripod lenses and Halogen lamps.

After that I ordered the new MG K3 style bucket seats in England by the Company Compound Curvatures from Nottingham. They produce, among other things, the replica body components for a MG K3 replica or a Q type. The owner, Ray Pettet also made for me a special air inlet that I designed myself. Because I had mounted ram pipes on the larger carburettors, the front carburetor hit the bonnet side and this didn’t give good airflow. I applied this streamlined air inlet to a spare right-hand bonnet side that I still had in stock. The whole thing looks very good after spraying, especially because the stainless steel mesh is of the same type that is now in front of the radiator. While driving you get extra pressure on the carburettors, which in turn produces extra horsepower.

Above: Close-up view of the air intake on Stanley’s TC. Below: The air intake shown on the car.

But now back to the bucket seats; some adjustments are needed to adjust the seating comfort to your personal taste.

The bucket seats fitted to Stanley’s TC prior to being upholstered.

Here are a few tips if you want to mount these bucket seats in your MG T-Type. You actually only buy the steel frame; the bucket seats still need to be upholstered. I did notice that the backrest is a bit too straight when the chair with the slide is flat on the bottom. Personally, I like to sit slightly back with the backrest. This has been adapted again by installing long hardwood wedges between the seats and the slides. This will raise them about 1½” higher at the front. It also gives you more support for the thighs. However, it also has a disadvantage in that the space between the steering wheel and your thighs becomes a bit smaller…… but by mounting a 15.5″ Brooklands steering wheel this problem is also solved.

The seats are also very narrow, but they are only available in one size, so I made them slightly wider with the help of a jack. Then I tested the seat height and comfort with various types of foam rubber. After this they were covered with leather by my favorite upholsterer in South Limburg. This company has been making new upholstery and convertible tops for decades, especially for MG club members. Most of the new types of leather he uses are actually too smooth in texture, which is nice in a modern car, but not in a classic MG. Fortunately, he still had a roll of original Connolly leather in stock in beige and enough to upholster the seats. The shade of beige matched the piping of the dashboard and the side panels perfectly. After a few months, my bucket seats were ready and having mounted them in my TC, I made the first test drives. I immediately noticed a great improvement in seating comfort.

The seat cushion has been made removable, which makes it easy when it needs to be cleaned. But due to the disappearance of the original backrest, the possibility to mount the tonneau rail on which the tonneau cover is mounted also disappeared. To overcome this, I initially clamped a loose round bar behind the seats between the body, but this was not a good solution because it quickly came loose. Also, during braking, loose luggage parts fell forward because the backrest which normally would have prevented this was no longer there.

I then cut a flat plywood sheet to size to serve as a plate to shield the luggage compartment. It fits exactly between the wheel arches. However, about 1 inch of space should be left at the top of both sides for the hood frame when folded down. This plate was then covered with black carpet fabric and secured at the bottom with two corner profiles. The top can be attached with the original seat adjustors. The tonneau rail can also be mounted on this. This adjustment has provided my wife and me with extra seating comfort for many years during long holiday trips in the south of Europe. I did, however, keep the original TC bench seats I once bought from Mike Collingburn in England in my storage room. So, if I ever sell my TC the next owner can rebuild it back to the original factory specification.

A good example of a ‘hairpin’ bend on an Italian mountain pass.

Ed’s note: K3 style bucket seats (designed by Steve) are available from Steve Baker in burgundy, green and tan/brown leather.

The following details have been lifted from Steve’s website https://www.stevebakermg.co.uk

These seats are slightly wider than they might have been in the 30s, reflecting the changing shape of the modern enthusiast.

They measure approximately 41cm wide, 49cm from the front to the rear of the squab 60cm tall and 59cm deep from front to back (as the rear leans at a slight angle).

These seats are made to order and lead times can vary depending on our trimmer’s workload, please contact us for more details and colour samples.

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