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MG TD TF 1500 - Evidence of bolt painting

I got a new book today (Making MG's) that covers MG from the MGA to the end. It does have a TD in one picture and it is an interesting picture.

Look at the bolts holding the firewall on. Some appear to be painted and some appear to be black. So this would reasonably confirm that there was bolt painting during assembly.

Also, look at what appears to be the top. It is dark, not lite as I would have expected from a tan top.

So a lite color car with a black top?

Bruce Cunha

That is a very early picture of TD production. No scuttle hoop (fitted at TD0351 Dec 49. Also solid whwwl centres.
Ian Fry


I notice in your Factory photo of the TD that the Battery Box was not painted out in black. TFs had the Battery Box painted in black.

I had thought previously that TDs also had the Battery Box painted with black paint ? I would be interested in what your TD research has revealed on this point of detail.

Rob Grantham
Rob Grantham


Were the sides of the battery box painted black or just the inside? Was the paint some type of tar-like coating to protect against battery acid?

The TD photo is an early model with slotted wheels. Paint details may have changed later in production(?)

LM Cook

Hi Lonnie,

Just the inside of the Battery Box.

I am not sure of the type of black paint/sealer used.

TDs had a few detail changes during their manufacture.
Perhaps the black was added in the later years.

Rob Grantham
Rob Grantham

A few comments:

Aren't the bolts on the firewall that are black the ones that the dash supports are on and also the steering wheel bracket? Can't tell with this size. So perhaps these were added after painting and would need to be touch up after the dash was in place and body bucket bolted up to steering wheel etc.

I don't think that is the top that we are seeing that is black. I would suspect some sort of tarp that is draped over the back to keep that area clean (assuming the top had been installed).

I am not aware of any TD's that had the battery box black. The wooden tray under the battery was painted black though.
Christopher Couper

The conclusion I am coming to relating to the painting of the TD is that few individual parts were painted in different colors. This would make sense for a production line car.

My observation is the motor was totally assembled and painted. It appears they put on the oil filter, the generator (with some kind of mask over the body). I am unsure about the starter. The firewall was attached to the body and the car was painted inside and out in black primer. This includes the inside of the toolbox.

They did paint the underside of the toolbox lid black, and this could have been a semi-gloss or just the primer black. The toolbox lid appears to then have been put on prior to the body being painted.

The underside of the firewall was painted body color, but just up to the wood. Why they went to this trouble, I have not determined. The MGA painting picture I attached shows the car on a stand. That may have been what was done for the TD. This would allow someone to get under to paint the firewall.

The other one I am not clear on is the horizontal plate behind the seats. This was originally not carpeted but was it in primer black or a semi-gloss?

Rattle cans were invented in 1949 in Chicago Il. So I am not sure they would have been used in 1950 England. If not, this would mean they would have had to have a separate pot of paint for semi-gloss black. Possible, but questionable if you would spend the time and effort for a small panel that was behind the seat.

The Making MG's book I got has a photo of an MGA being painted. The caption says "Though most bodies arrived at the works already painted, some spraying was done at Abingdon on occasion. Here, in Nov 1961, a tourer body is being painted white."

They are using large stationary paint pots that are feeding the paint gun. This uses a lot of paint and is not as easy to change colors.

Bruce Cunha

This photo shows the empty bolt holes for the black bolts. The rest of the tub would have been painted in one go.

M Magilton

A TF photo showing the rear s/screen box floor where the tool box lid was painted. Paint shadow matches the lid. This is for TF's.

M Magilton

The empty holes in the firewall would indicate to me that the tubs are not predetermined to be either RH or LHD until they reach Abingdon’s assembly line. The missing bolts would be securing the the upper steering column brace. The bolts would then be dabbed with paint at some point before completion.

The photo could also potentially suggest that head markings on these bolts may not match the rest of the perimeter hardware coming from different batches ie the coach works vs the MG plant.

Bill Chasser
W A Chasser

I came to that conclusion as well, but what I find interesting is the tub behind it that looks as if the bulkhead has yet to be installed. I was under the impression that they came to Abingdon with it attached and sprayed as a unit.
L E D LaVerne

Matthew: Nice find of the picture with the missing holes.

Bill: Great observation about the bodies not being made right or left until set onto a R/L chassis. That means that the steering support bracket (the missing holes) would not be installed until then. Not sure why I did not reach that conclusion myself. :-)

As far as the toolbox lid being black: Some cars had their toolbox lid painted on the toolbox and some on off. You can tell by looking at the inside lip. If yours is black on a non black car yours was painted in place. If the resting lips are body color yours was painted somewhere else.

IMHO painting chassis bolts with black paint from a bucket is different than trying to do the same with body bolts of color. To many cans of color that would need to be supported across the line. And there are some colors that were not produced for weeks at a time. And even the popular black, green and red would have to be kept open during the day.
Christopher Couper

I asked the question on bolts to Tom Metcalf. His shop has done a number of TD restorations. Tom said he has seen fender bolts that were painted but many that were cad plated. He thinks as cad plating became more common, that they replaced hand painted bolts

Bruce Cunha

I would agree with that observation. But even though I have done about 40 or so T series cars, I must admit I never bothered to look into that aspect. When I did these restorations CAD bolts were what every restorer did so I just followed suit.
Christopher Couper

That could be a good explanation for the rusted bolts in your original MG pictures. Plating tends to rust over time whereas you usually can see some bits of paint even through rust.
Bruce Cunha


"But even though I have done about 40 or so T series cars...."

Are you saying you have restored/rebuilt 40 or so cars !?

Rob Grantham
Rob Grantham

Yes, sort of. I have been involved in complete restorations of about 15 (TB, TC, TD, TFs) and did restoration work on another 25 or so. I concentrated mostly on the finish side where some others took care of the mechanical, soft goods and electrical aspects.

Of all those cars that I worked on maybe about 30 or so had never had major painting or disassembly so you could tell a lot about much of the originality.
Christopher Couper

This thread was discussed between 24/12/2020 and 31/12/2020

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