Did you ever drive a 1953 MG TF or later model? Not just cruise in it,
but drive it properly and hard, and truly fling it about? If you did,
do you remember how taut it felt, how it thrilled every nerve in your
body until it reached 80 mph -- and then ran out of steam? Afterward,
didn't you just end up beating your hands on the steering wheel,
cursing, and wishing the performance could match the handling?
The British-made 1955 MG TF 1500 was mostly exported to
the U.S. See more pictures of classic cars.
Today, just like all those years ago, these impressions are as strong as ever. It's still amazingly frustrating, isn't it? Here's a great chassis with hairline steering, an engine that sounds as if it could rev forever, and a gearchange so slick it makes you want to sell your Microsoft shares to own an MG TF.
There now. In two short paragraphs, we've summed up the TF, forever and a day. It should have been better, but because of its square-rigged shape and small engine, MG couldn't make it any faster; not even the engineers at Abingdon could overcome the laws of aerodynamics. As the last of the famed T-Series breed that was nearly two decades old when finally discontinued, the TF had no choice but to live on borrowed time (and MG's fine reputation) throughout its short two-year lifespan.
In the late mid-Fifties, when the TF was announced, self-styled experts all sang the same tune. They harped that the TF was obsolete from the day it was announced and that it looked old-fashioned at a time when everyone was looking for futuristic "envelope" shapes.
More telling, they made it known that the TF was far too slow to keep up with Triumph's new TR2. Although TF sales held up well at first, the public soon came to agree with the critics. Thus, within two years it was all over for the TF, and the 100-mph MGA took its place.
The 1955 MG TF 1500 was never even advertised in Britain.
But if the TF was such a disappointment, why have classic values held up so well? Instead of buying a well-restored TF 1500 today, a collector could acquire two TR2s or two MGAs. Amazing isn't it? No matter what complaints the pundits made back in late 1953, today's enthusiasts couldn't care less what they said. If dollars talk -- as they most assuredly do -- then the TF is the most desirable of all the MG Midgets.
MG's first two-seater Midget, the M-Type, was launched in 1928, and for the next three decades a series of Midgets was designed, built, and sold from the Abingdon on Thames factory. A recognizable style was settled upon in the Thirties: upright radiator grille, flowing fenders, cutaway doors, canvas-framed side curtains, fold-flat windshield, and a skimpy soft-top mechanism. This basic formula changed little, and only gradually, through 1955.
The M-Type gave way to the J2 of 1932, and the PA took over in 1934. The first of the T-Series cars, the TA Midget, arrived in 1936. MG clearly liked the letter "T," because the TA was replaced by the TB in 1939, the TC took over in 1945, and the TD bowed in 1950. The TF, the last of the distinguished breed, appeared in the fall of 1953.
On the next page, learn about the fascinating origins of the MG TF.
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