The 1954-1955 MG XPEG engine was an enlarged version of the dear old
XPAG engine. For MG's managers, this was the one last despairing
effort. With a new cylinder block plus an extra 5.5 mm/0.22 inches in
the bores, it displaced 1466 cc/89.5 cid. Having already been run on
the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah in MG record cars, like the EX179,
the little four-banger was easy enough to tune for everyday use.
The 1955 MG TF 1500 engine only marginally
MG engineers must have known that this engine could only serve as a stopgap, and would only be able to keep the TF on life-support for a limited period. Even though the XPEG engine was 17 percent larger than the XPAG, it developed only 10 percent more horsepower and 17 percent more torque. Such were the TF's barn-door aerodynamics that top speed rose by a mere five miles per hour.
XPEG engines became available in the autumn of 1954. The first up-engined cars, installed in what was called the TF 1500 and badged as such on the engine bay covers, were produced in November of that year. Once the pipeline had been cleared of TF 1250s (as they retrospectively became known), the TF 1500 took over completely, and until the last examples were built in May 1955, the vast majority were exported to the U.S. Compared with the original TFs, the 1500s were sold at the bargain price of $1,995.
Amazingly, the British public was never told about the existence of the TF 1500, and no press advertisements ever appeared. In the end, just 144 TF 1500s were delivered to British owners when new, though many more of the 3,400 copies built have found their way back to the UK in recent years.
As already noted, acceleration (or lack thereof) was the major weak point of the TF. Road & Track tested both the 1250 and the 1500 versions, obtaining a 0-60 time of 18.9 seconds for the former, 16.3 for the latter. That put it about on par with a six-cylinder Ford with Ford-O-Matic, although the dedicated TF driver had more fun getting there.
The 1955 MG TF 1500 engine was upgraded as
a stopgap before the whole car was redesigned.
Despite the low curb weight of just under 2,000 pounds, the 63 net horsepower of the TF 1500 just wasn't enough to keep pace with other cars of the mid-Fifties, even with what Americans considered economy cars. What the TF needed was a good two-liter engine like the TR2, whose 90 horses could scoot it to 60 mph in just 12.5 seconds. Still, with the top down and the driver involved with rowing the gearbox, the TF felt faster than it was, and the handling made up for a lot.
Even five months before the TF 1500 went on sale, MG had finally convinced the bosses at BMC that a new model was desperately needed. Once again, the smooth shape of EX175 was offered for approval, and this time it was accepted, with the proviso that it be powered by BMC's new B-Series engine and transmission units.
Thus it was that the MGA was finally born. When it went on sale in the fall of 1955, MG buyers were ecstatic, and Abingdon production would soon be booming as never before. But don't sell the TF short. Not only had it served its purpose of buying time for MG, but to many eyes it is the most beautiful MG ever built.
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