1952 MG TD

Richard Skidmore has owned this car since 1978. He tells me it took him 25 years to get it. He was about 17 and hitchhiking to school when he was given a ride in an MG TD. The memory of that car never left him and he was determined to have his own someday.

The MG T series is a range of body-on-frame open 2-seater sports cars with very little weather protection. They were produced by MG from 1936 to 1955. The series included the MG TA, MG TB, MG TC, MG TD, and MG TF Midget models. The last of these models, the TF, was replaced by the MGA. Nearly 30,000 TDs had been produced when the series ended in 1953 with all but 1656 exported, 23,488 of them to the United States (US) alone. The main complaint that US owners had with the MG TD sold in the US was the British 12-volt electrical system, which was hard to service when most US cars were still using 6 volts. Also, they had minor complaints over the lack of water temperature and fuel gauges. But in general in surveys, owners of the Americanized MG TD had more positive remarks than negative. 

An example tested by The Motor magazine in 1952 had a top speed of 77 mph (124 km/h) and could accelerate from 0–60 mph (97 km/h) in 18.2 seconds. A fuel consumption of 26.7 miles per imperial gallon (10.6 L/100 km; 22.2 mpg US) was recorded.

This is a beautiful running MG TD and has the standard twin SU carburetors. Richard says he can balance the SUs himself – although he and I agree, it isn’t all that easy to do. This engine ticks over quietly at idle – very smooth.

When I was asking about the engine cooling system, Richard showed me the red vanes inside the radiator shell and pointed out they can be set (like aircraft wings) to direct air past the radiator core to maximize cooling. Such a simple idea to help the fan keep things cool. These MGs are simple mechanically and Richard pointed out how he jacked the car up at home and did his own front end alignment without a fancy alignment machine. I didn’t see any tire wear!

The MG was located at an RV dealer in the Hamilton Ontario area where it had been part of a trade-in on a motor home. Seems like one extreme to another? Since Richard bought it, he rebuilt the 1250 cc engine and generally drove it and fixed it as necessary for 18 years or so.  Then in 1995 did a cosmetic restoration.

He figures his MG has about 371,000 miles on it – which probably isn’t all that much if you consider it is from 1952.

1950 Mercury Eight

The first postwar Mercury was introduced in the 1949 model year. The engine was a flathead V8 that produced slightly more power than the then also newly designed 1949 Ford. A new overdrive system was optional, activated by a handle under the dash. The styling of the Mercury Eight, when it was released in 1949, adopted the “pontoon” appearance, and was successful in both ending the monotony of warmed-over pre-war style, and differentiating Mercury from its comparable Ford cousin, a trick that spelled sales success. Sales figures for both Ford and Mercury broke records in 1949. The new approach to styling was also evident on the completely redesigned Lincoln and the all-new Lincoln Cosmopolitan. The Mercury Eight used full instrumentation.  An 8 tube radio was an option. The Mercury was an up-scale car and quite a performer in its time. (Extracted from Wikipedia)

There are very few preserved Mercury’s of this era to be seen today. This body style became very popular with customizers – the shape somehow stirred their imaginations and many variations show up at car shows across North America. Years 1949, 1950 and 1951 show gradual design feature changes until a major redesign showed up in 1952. In Canada a virtual clone was called the Monarch. Most of its variations were trim designs.

This Mercury Eight Sport Sedan from 1950 is a remarkable and accurate restoration – the exception being the striking colours. The owners Linda and Dave Goff just won another Best-In-Show award at a car show in Ontario. Linda picked the colours and interior while Dave looked after the outside – restored in 1997 including new fenders, rocker panels and a rebuild on the 255 Cu In. Flathead V8.

Dave says the overdrive kicks down a cog if you need passing power – push the accelerator to the floor and it drops down to regular third gear, let the pedal up and it shifts back to overdrive. Overdrive works in second gear also but is seldom used that way. Linda laughs at the vacuum wipers – step on the gas and the wipers slow down – not good for passing slower cars in the rain!

The other shortcoming was pretty normal in the 50’s – no synchromesh in first gear. So, rolling stops before shifting into low gear are not preferred.