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1954-1955 MG TF

MG TF Origins

The origins of the MG TF are easy to trace. But one question remains: what happened to the TE? After all, logic would suggest that TE should have been next in the progression of names, but supposedly the schoolboy-humor connotation of "tee-hee" ruled that out straightaway. From there, it was, of course, a simple step up the alphabet to arrive at the TF title, which was immediately adopted.

1955 MG TF 1500
The 1955 MG TF 1500 featured 63 horsepower
and independent front suspension.

Along the way, gradually and without fanfare, Midgets grew longer, wider, and heavier. Engines, meanwhile, were expanded and became more powerful: from 20 horsepower in the M-Type, to 63 horses in the last of the TF 1500s. Independent front suspension and rack-and-pinion steering arrived in 1950, but almost every other Midget feature remained traditional.

MG originally was owned by William Morris (later Lord Nuffield), who had founded the marque bearing his name in 1913. In 1935, MG -- which stood for Morris Garages -- was sold into the Nuffield Organization. The T-Series was the first of the rationalized models following that corporate change.

Earlier Midgets had featured high-revving, overhead-cam engines and gearboxes without synchromesh, but the TA ditched such traditions. It ran instead with a conventional, less sophisticated overhead-valve engine, but adopted the smoother-shifting synchromesh for the gearbox. Enthusiasts who delighted in exhibiting their driving skills via double-declutching were horrified. Progress, they complained loudly, was something they could do without.

Describing the TF's layout is simple enough, but digging out the origins of the running gear takes a little longer. The bodyshell was modified TD in detail, but 1930s-shape in styling. The four-cylinder engine had its roots in a late-Thirties Morris sedan, while the chassis and suspension were derived from a postwar MG sedan, which was itself derived from a 1939 Morris. Who said that only Detroit went in for such complex mix-and-match, off-the-shelf operations?

1955 MG TF 1500 interior
The interior of the 1955 MG TF 1500 was little
changed from previous models.

Basically, therefore, the TF featured a separate box-section chassis frame with coil-spring independent front suspension. The overall layout stemmed from the MG YA sedan of 1947, which had been designed before World War II. The front suspension itself, little changed, would be used on the MGA and MGB until the end of MGB assembly in late 1980.

The TF's bodyshell was little more than that of the TD wearing a different nose and tail, the facelift having taken place in a very "fast-and-dirty" operation in 1953. The engine, familiarly known as XPAG in the original TF, was an old favorite at Abingdon, for it was a tuned-up Morris unit that the TB had used as long ago as 1939, and there had been little change since then.

Many design elements, such as the sloping front grille and the handsome semi-integrated headlamps, were new to the TF -- but they made the styling no more modern than, say, a '37 Ford. In any case, the new lines hid a chassis that was deeply traditional even by MG standards. Worse, the aerodynamic qualities of the upright shell were truly awful, which explains the very limited top speed and the (relatively) poor fuel mileage achieved by most owners.

On the next page, find out about the 1945-1949 MG TC, which led to the MG TF.

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