Little MG, big heart for Paris

2013-05-20 08:06

It was interesting to read about the upcoming 2013 Peking to Paris long-distance endurance race due to start at the end of May and end about a month later.

The car with the biggest engine for the event will be a 1917 LaFrance tourer with 14.5 litres beneath its bonnet. The smallest will be an MG TD with its modest 1250cc - which brought back good memories of my very own TD that I sold only about five years ago while living in KZN.

Back then MG, which incidentally stood for Morris Garages, made very good cars - especially their 'T' range of lightweight sports cars. I'm not sure the same could be said today, what with the company barely limping along under Chinese management.


That 'T' range lasted for close to 19 years after starting with the TA from 1934, graduating to the TB in 1939 just before the outbreak of the Second World War; but the car that really put the Oxford automaker on the map globally was the TC, an anachronistic but very likeable sports car very much in the mould of a Morgan four-wheeler.

The TC was aimed fair and square at the American car market and became a much-loved vehicle bought by many a Yank returning to the US when hostilities ended.

In 1950 the celebrated TD (see illustration) came into being. Any criticism levelled at the TC was finally addressed: a decent chassis, steel disc wheels (although Dunlop spoked wheels could be ordered as an option), a set of decent brakes, much roomier human accommodation and a really lively 1250cc twin-carbed motor that developed 43kW - remember this was the early Fifties!

By then many of these soft-topped convertibles were to be seen running around South Africa; indeed, they were assembled right here in Cape Town at the Blackheath Assembly Works from semi knocked-down kits.


I think there's every chance of the diminutive MG TD doing rather well in the Peking-Paris race because I travelled all over with my TD and it simply flew up and down the 1000 Hills area of KZN. On the open road it would maintain the national speed limit with ease - two up and that with a fair amount of luggage.

Talking creature comforts, meanwhile, was quite a quite different matter. Fitting a car radio was pointless - you'd never be able to hear it.

I do remember investing in one of those Smith's aftermarket heater systems to get me through the KZN winter; it was grey and one opened one of two semi-circular doors down by your feet to feel the heat. It certainly proved more than adequate.

I do hope the entrants to the Peking Race have something similar fitted as they trek their way across Europe and Asia!

Engine: Four cylinders, 1250
Power: 43kW at 5200rpm
Transmission: Four-speed manual
Chassis: Steel box frame (with separate body panels)
Brakes: Hydraulic, drums all around
Top Speed: 130km/h
0-100 km/h: 23 seconds

  • Riotous Ramohlale - 2013-05-22 08:25

    The car in the picture looks beatiful. And for a 1250cc with 43kw in 1950 one was 60 years ahead of the carbon taxing mafia. This must have been some far car to drive in the fifties and one classic machine to be seen in this morning.

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