The 1954 MG TF received a friendly reception when it was introduced,
but no one -- neither media man nor customer -- ever went into raptures
over the performance. If looked at as a more highly developed TD, then
the TF was acceptable, but it wasn't the new MG that most enthusiasts
had been awaiting. This, incidentally, didn't surprise or dismay MG's
managers because they agreed with every sentiment, although they were,
of course, very discreet about the comments they made in public.
The 1954 MG TF Roadster looked more graceful
than the TD it replaced.
The fact was that the TF, priced in the U.S. at $2,250, was no longer a performance bargain. It might have looked more graceful than the TD it replaced, but it was no faster, and it was a bit less economical at that. The new TR2, which could honestly claim a top speed nearly 25 mph faster than the TF, sold for very similar money, and offered more space, more modern full-width styling, and threw a sizable luggage locker into the deal as well.
No matter, the British seemed to like the TF. The Autocar magazine stated that it "has been restyled to produce a much cleaner external appearance though retaining the MG Midget characteristics," while The Motor opined that "the MG Midget open sports 2-seater has been very much improved for 1954."
The 1954 MG TF Roadster was actually little
more than the TD warmed over.
Opinion-makers in the U.S., however, were particularly scathing. Perhaps because of that, sales began to dry up after the first rush of customers had been satisfied -- those who will always buy a new model, even before knowing whether or not it's better than the old.
Mechanix Illustrated road tester Tom McCahill's famous retort, "Mrs. Casey's dead cat, slightly warmed over," was joined by Road & Track's more sober judgement: "The new TF is an anomaly, a retrogression. ..." Even so, R&T admitted that "the fact remains that the entire staff of R&T vied with each other to produce the best reason for using the MG."
The 1954 MG TF Roadster was less popular
in the U.S. than in Britain.
So it wasn't that the TF was a bad car. It was actually a good car, well-built and thoughtfully equipped by the standards of the Thirties -- but not the Fifties. Not even the return of wire wheels, and all those wonderful octagonal touches, could save it. If, like the Morgans that followed in the Sixties, a lot more horsepower had been available, sheer brute acceleration might have made up for the lack of top speed, but with only 76.3 cid/1.25 liters and 57 horsepower up front, there was no chance of that.
On the next page, learn about the engine that powered the MG.
For more information about cars, see: