History of the MG TD



In 1936 the MG Car Company made a dramatic change in the design of their sports cars. In this year they introduced the MGTA Midget. The MGTA originated the familiar T-Series design element and to the casual observer, it is hard to distinguish from the MGTC. The MGTA sported the famous radiator design, the swept wings, running boards, folding windscreen, and large accessible bonnet. It was a two seater sports car with a foldable hood and side curtains. Just over 3,000 MGTA's were produced in three years of production.

MG TA factory prototype.
Image used with permission © Bill Davis, http://billdavis.org/MGTA/

MG TA factory prototype
Image used with permission © Bill Davis, http://billdavis.org/MGTA/

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The TA's chassis was of traditional MG design, but the tubular crossmembers seen in previous models had been replaced by less stiff channel sections.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.

MG TA 1936

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 which had another first for MG - synchromesh.
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.

MG TA 1936

At first, two-seater open and closed (Airline Coupe) were offered, but the Airline Coupe was shortly dropped with the advent of the Tickford Coupe. This had a drophead body style with a three position folding soft-top that provided the protection of a closed car in bad weather, but allowed open air motoring when it was fine.

The TA became very popular and, inevitably, found its way into competition where it acquitted itself well. However, the engine was not happy being run at high revs because of its unsuitable valve timing and weak bottom-end. To overcome this, the factory developed methods of tuning the unit and supplied the information to those who wanted their TA's to go faster.

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