TD 14678 rolled off the production line at Abingdon on the 27th March 1952. It was one of 32 TDs built that day, which included 4 TD MK II models. All were exported to North America and were therefore, left hand drive cars.
I acquired the vehicle in May 2016; it was in a somewhat dilapidated state as can be seen from the photograph, taken when I collected it from a lady who had re-imported the car from a classic car dealer in the United States.
Further photographs show how much deeper the deterioration had progressed.
The second owner, whose family I am in contact with, bought the car on December 22nd 1954 and used it daily, until he became ill and was unable to drive the vehicle. The car was garaged for a while, until the owner bought another suitable vehicle, that he was able to drive.
The car was pushed outside and placed under a tarpaulin following the acquisition of the replacement vehicle, for some forty years.
There it remained until July 2013 when it was sold to a classic car dealer in New York, when the owner needed funds for a care home.
The MG was last used in the 12 months between April 1964 and April 1965, the windscreen sticker details this period, but unfortunately the tag number issued to it during that period is unreadable.
The car was purchased by a lady in Crewe, Cheshire, England in June of 2014 and shipped to the UK, with the intention of restoring it. Her husband was however deeply involved in restoring his very early E-type Jaguar and, the decision was made to sell on the MG.
I bought the car in May of 2016 and transported it to my home in Hampshire.
Its condition left much to be desired.
Much to my surprise, on fitting a battery to the car, all the electrics worked, the woman from whom the car was purchased stated that she had run the car for a couple of minutes, with no adverse noises.
There were only two real areas of rust, at the bottoms of the front and rear quarter panels on both sides. I made the decision, albeit erroneously, to replace all four quarter panels, if I had known of the skills of my coachbuilder then, I would have got him to cut out and rebuild the rusted areas, but, Ho Hum, the lack of experience in restoration.
Many of the screws and bolts securing the panels to the ash frame, were corroded to the extreme and had to be cut away to enable access. The wiring loom had rotted through and needed to be replaced completely.
The car had suffered some bumps and bruises during its use, storage and shipping. All surviving panels would require media blasting and reworking, to recover the original shaping.
Much of the ash frame crumbled when touched and, the area in which it was stored, obviously contained oak trees! How do I know this? When removing the seats and parts in various other areas, there were literally hundreds of acorn shells.
The actual colour of the paintwork was indecipherable, due to the amount of weathering on the panels, even the insides of these panels were faded. But with the assistance of the colour code lists, for the original TD, the opinion was that it had been Autumn Red.
The upholstery was beyond recovery, from the seats to the door and general trim cards.
As the strip down progressed, I made a list of the likely parts required.
The strip down begins:
My garage is of the standard modern integral type, much of it used for the storage and operation of household white goods, therefore barely room for anything else, but I just managed to squeeze the MG in, enabling me to work on one side only, then turning the car around to work on the other side.
On my driveway, we had a small trailer, which was utilised for the storage of large panels such as wings and bonnet (hood to our US cousins who will be reading this).
The list of spares was getting longer, I added up the likely cost of spares alone, good job I was sitting down at the time!!
Having stripped the car, I found that the whole of the underside was covered in a thin waxy grease which had hardened over time. Having scraped it all off, I found that the chassis was in perfect condition, black paint with area of bright steel showing. All the suspension rubbers were perished, the shock absorbers were fully serviceable to my amazement. The steering rack gaiters were perished and full of tears. All the brake wheel cylinders were seized solid and the master cylinder showed signs of corrosion internally. The thermostat housing was corroded, and the thermostat itself corroded even more so, to the extent, that it was impossible to extract it, the radiator was choked solid.
The fuel tank rusted internally, and the side screen box fell to pieces as I was extracting a squirrel nest. The carpets were rotten.
The period of some 48 years under a tarpaulin in the open air, and use of the vehicle as a storage facility for the squirrels had taken a toll of the old car.
The side screens were covered in a kind of sap from the trees and were impossible to clean effectively, the material from which the screens were made had rotted so new ones required. The soft top/hood had received much the same degradation and would also require renewal.
Brake linings and lines were age damaged and corroded respectively well beyond recovery.
The chassis was wire brushed and sanded, then painted with a long lasting weatherable paint.
Refurbished original master and brake wheel cylinders were fitted along with new brake lines and flexible hoses. New parking brake cables replaced the seized originals. New brake linings all round.
A replacement clutch kit was fitted.
The steering and suspension was re-assembled with new rubbers and securing bolts.
The wheels were taken for blasting and painting, along with all the body panels.
With the wheels back, along with new tyres sourced locally, (the ones fitted when I bought the car looked to be the best part of 50 or more years old and were of the cross-ply variety, the new ones were radials, 175/65 15s) I now had a rolling chassis.
Having fully serviced the engine and had the cylinder head upgraded for unleaded fuel, I jury rigged the engine and it ran on the third attempt, smooth and relatively quietly with a lovely note from the new stainless-steel exhaust system.
Radiator away for re-coring, heater (yes there was one fitted) flushed out and flow checked. A replacement heater tree connection sourced from Graham Smith.
New horns as the old ones failed to work at all.
Much of the chrome work was in a poor state, all removed and taken to a re-chroming business not too far away. Very expensive, but I did want to retain as much originality as possible.
All media blasted panels off to the coach builder (John Holden), for reassembly following assessment of corrosion levels, so new battery tray and toolbox made and fitted to the bulkhead (firewall). A little re-working of the positioning of panels was required. New fuel tank purchased as the old one was rusted internally.
All the rotten ash frame was replaced including the floorboards.
Once satisfied with the set-up, off to the paint shop next door, (Sean Watson, who has done some big and excellent work which has been displayed at Pebble Beach).
With some difficulty, we traced the original colour as Autumn Red. I decided to keep it original, with some surprises, as once prepared and painted, the shade of red changed, dependent on the lighting that it was subjected to:
Each panel was prepared, painted and then fitted separately.
Next to get it home for fitting out externally.
The sealed beam headlamp units were for left hand drive, so had to be changed, the new ones incorporated parking lights within them, a plus as far as I was concerned.
The chrome arrived back and the new wiring loom, with indicator wiring added. Minor rewiring alterations made and all systems operating.
All ready for the motor trimmer (K.L.F. Automotive, Micheldever, near Basingstoke, Hampshire) to fit the carpets, seats and covers, and to cover the dash panel and exposed areas with the material supplied along with the seats.
New side screens, hood and additionally half and full tonneau covers.
The car drives beautifully, the tyres are great and hold the road well, even at speed, initial tyre pressures I set at 25psi, but having driven it a few times, adjusted them to 28psi, which work well.
The steering is precise. The only drawback is the noisy gearbox, which I will have refurbished in due course.
I still have a problem though.
That is trying to wipe the grin off my face!
Postscript: This picture shows the car when it was relatively new in the US before it was employed as a store for the squirrels.