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MG TD TF 1500 - Grill Slats Color Survey

After reading the thread "another ebay car- wow", I know that there are a lot of detail men on the list and I would like to do an informal survey. I am nearing the stage of installing the grill on my restoration of a 1953 TD, which is painted Ivory with a red interior. I know that the experts say the grill slats should be red also. I also know that as a teenager when these cars were new, I never saw red or green grill slats. I assume the dealers repainted them in order to sell them, as they were always silver like the wheels or black. Anyway, I have a nice chrome re-pro, or my original, which I can paint. I personally don't warm up to the red, but thought I would get a majority consensus. I know, "it's my car, and I can do what I want". The rest of the car is being restored correctly, except I am also debating the dashboard as to whether I want a solid walnut, or red vinyl covered plywood as original.
What do you think - original, or good taste? Off list opinions are also welcome.
Dallas Congleton

I agree Dallas, I'll send an e-mail

Steve Wincze

I was very much like you Dallas, when I started the restoration process. I even justified my preference for Chrome Slats by their durability. In reality I am just used to how they've looked on the car for the past 25 years. In contrast, my car has always (to me) had a black interior and top. I'm so sick of black, and the red body that when I discovered my car was originally ivory, I decided to go that route. I selected green for my interior, so I will paint the grill green and install the green vinyl dash. Ironically, the black interior was the best feature of my car, it had stood up very well to time.

The things which won't be original are some of the natural finishes on the sump, bellhousing and other engine things. I'm also keeping my solid aluminum rocker cover. I've restored my Moto Lita steering wheel, and I changed my rear end to 4.3. I've also cad plated a bunch of my bolts, and as such didn't paint them satin black with the rest of the chassis.

In the long run, I thing the original designers had a pretty good idea of the elegance of simplicity of the little cars they built. It seems to me that too much gilding makes them look like we are trying to make them something they are not. My car will be striking but plain, no excuses, and fun on wheels, just like Cecil would have wanted!

Dave Braun

Grill is same color silver as wheels. Until installing my new biscuit seats a couple months ago, the interior was black. The grill looked really ugly in black (tried it years ago), hence the silver. Craig Seebrook walnut dash is sitting in a box in my bedroom waiting until I restore the car- the heck with vinyl! Man, would my car get pasted if I ever listed it on e-bay! George
George Butz

My car is green with a black interior and black slats. The slats do match the interior, albeit in a color never offered by the factory. I think the black grill looks great ! Someday when I upgrade to a Bisquit colored interior I think I will probably leave the grill black. To me it looks normal. The interior colored grills look funny to me, making the car look like a toy, in some cases. Just my opinion/feeling.

My car has a wood dash and I love it. To me a wood dash is part of the British sports car experience (That and leather seats). It looks great, and I don't care if it wasn't original. I bought the car with the walnut or mahogany dash. Who in their right mind would tear that out to put in plywood and vinyl ?

I'm sure that wood dashes were available as a period upgrade, and since earlier T series cars had them, we must assume that they were removed for cost cutting reasons only. I would almost bet that if you lived in England, and ordered it special you could get a wood dash from the factory for a price, either that or the dealer would install it for you before you picked the car up.

The bottom line is that you have to live with the car, and should put in what pleases you most. At the west coast GOF this summer many TDs had wood dashes. I didn't pay attention to grill slats though.
Larry Ayres

The Brits never put wood finished dash's in Roadsters, only Drop-Heads and Coupes got the fancy finished dashes. Reason, weather concerns. Greg & Grimm
G.J. Cenzer

Cream with Black interior and black slats here. If I were to change the interior to it's original green (I think) I would do the grill green.

I do like the black grill. I also used black piping.
Bruce Cunha

It's interesting to see the number of black interiors that show up here. TDs were never produced with black interiors so black grill slats would be an anomaly. IMHO, the grill should match the interior color.
Bud Krueger

Dallas,as so often said on this list, its your car so do as you please. I did not like the red grill at all so opted for chrome, I do get picked on by a concourse winning owner but I dont care.
My silver grey is not original either and TDs did not have black tops and curtains.
Have a look here,
Incidently, mine wears a Western Australian Jarrah, dash .
Gordon W
Gordon Wright

Black must have either been a popular color for replacement or less expensive. I am suprised with the number of T's that have or have had a black interior.

Does anyone know why Abbington never did black interiors?
Bruce Cunha

I have to agree with the "it's your car" school. Our '52 TD came to us with chrome slats and chrome headlight buckets. I installed a burl dash. Not close to original, but a striking combination with the "BRG" body and biscuit interior.
Enjoy your car.
K Martin

Gordon Wright
Nice 1950 wheels
Jay Dyck

Slats came chromed and chromed buckets.

R & A Budd

Only Mk11 or TDC cars came with chromed slats originally and not all the buckets were chrome, some were painted the same colour as the body. This was during the Korean war when chrome was in short supply.

I do agree that it's your car and you can do what you like with it as long as it is reversible for the next owner.


Paul van Gool

Jay, thanks for your comments.
When my TD arrived as a basket case and LHD,
I only had four rims and they are slotted.
I friend in Adelaide got these older style rims for me, I have since obtained a fifth slotted rim but not fitted the set as I am quite happy with the present appearance.
The car is April 1952 build and ex USA.
Gordon Wright

My MKII is fitted with brass mesh, which sports my racing number.

My car originally came with a black exterior and a green interior and grille slats. When I did the car over I continued with the black exterior but went with a tan (no not biscuit but tan) interior and silver gray grille slats. The headlights buckets are chromed and the top, tonneau and side curtains are are an canvas. I did do a mahogany dash to match the mahogany Les Leston steering wheel with a matching mahogany shift knob and emergency brake handle. I also installed chrome wire mesh stone guards for the headlamps and driving lamps and had made a matching custom chrome wire mesh grille cover. As for originality, I know that my car deviates but after it is my car and is the way I prefer to have it finished. The judges or spectators may see my car one day a year but I see it 365 days a year it is is done to my likes and tastes.

I'm very happy with the way things turned out and that was done in 1970. It is still holding up very well today.

E mail me for photos if you wish.

George Herschell
George R Herschell

Sorry, E mail linked here.

George Herschell
George R Herschell

Bud.K .... I sent you some pictures of a original 53TD (very late build) that has silver rad. slats. Can you get those on this site?
Colin Stafford

When I got my car it was black, black interior and black slats. Waaayy too much black! Went to red interior red and red slats. I love it. Personally, I think a cream car with red interior and red slats is sharp. I'm not a big fan of chrome slats, but would like to put in a brass mesh like Pauls car. I also have a walnut dash (made by yours truly) that turned out pretty well. I wouldn't go with Rexine (vinyl), and, as I have been told numerous times by "experts" that don't have TDs that are running, "that is not correct". Hmmm, so what?

My 2 cents. Dallas, do what makes you smile and tell the know-it-alls to go away.

Larry Thompson

Thanks for all the replies regarding opinions on grill slats color, and the photos of some nice looking cars. I realize this is a subjective topic, but I found the replies interesting and wanted to get opinions rather than just those of the concours police. On this less than scientific survey, there were 14 replies(some off list). The majority (11) have either changed or inherited a different grill color. 4 silvers; 3 chromes; 2 black, 1 gold and 1 painted ivory which is also body color. The remaining three ( 2 red and 1 green) were painted to match upholstery. This is not to mention the famous black and white race check grill. :>)
As you can see people like some personal touch and originality, just like when the cars were new.
The wood dashes are popular also. Of the 14 replies eleven replies mentioned their dashboard - 1 original vinyl, 8 made of various woods.
I have observed that when people do a complete restoration, they tend to bring it back to original, at least initially. I will probably do that also, but I love those wooden dashboards!.
Dallas Congleton


If you really want a to fit mesh you should buy some of the honey comb stuff from Vintage Wings and Radiators in Manchester. It's made purposely to fit prewar MGs that have had the original honeycomb radiator replaced with a modern film type. It's very authentic looking

Jan T
J Targosz

Colin, I did receive the images of the 53. I'm just not certain of what you want me to do with them. It's an interesting car. A bit customized. I wonder if the original puchaser had the grill painted when he had the extra rubber strips installed on the fenders. Is the radio still in the glovebox? It's odd to see the antenna installed on the left quarter panel. It's usually on the right side by the radio. Do you know what the Car No. is?
Bud Krueger

Colin, the images are at
Bud Krueger

Our 1952 TD Mark II is red with red interior and red slats. Later Mark II's had chrome slats and additional badging to designate Mark II. When I bought it, the interior was black and functional, but rather shabby. I reupholstered back to the original red. Whoever installed the black interior also covered the dash in black. I have the material to re-cover it in red, but have not torn the car apart to do so. I like driving it and have never had it judged.
John Masters

Where did you get those wild wing mirrors ?? Never saw any thing like them !!
Steve Wincze

Thanks for the pointer, Jan. I'll give them a shot.

Larry Thompson

This is not my car. Being a TF guy myself.....I did not pay that much close attention to this paticular TD. It showed up at the Battle of the Brits Car Show last fall. All in all most of the TD'ers thought it was pretty straight.
Do not know about the radio. The chrome disk on the glove box is an ashtray. Don't know about the rubber stuff.
Colin Stafford

Colin: This is a fairly straight car but it has chrome headlamps for a 53 which I have never seen. Also the grill is just silver, a very popular thing to do in the 50's, the extra running board strips, the antenna on the wrong side, the tonneau, the mirrors, a heater, the ash tray, windwings.

Anyway its far from factory fresh. But most of these are period add ons so perfectly respectable car.

Looks like the spare is an older (original) tire but cannot tell from the small size pics.

If you have bigger pics email them to me please.
Chris Couper

Chris, I have the higher resolution originals. Check your mail for them.
Bud Krueger

Black is the colour of death. Also neigh-impossible to keep clean.

The only time I would pay for a black car is from my estate!

As we say here in Québec " ... chaque à son goût".

Gord Clark
Rockburn, Qué.
Gordon A. Clark

I believe that is only in Japan Gord.... Thought about restoring the original "Ivory", but just can't give up the black....!!!!
gordon lawson

My 1951 TD registered in california 1951 with licens number Fgg 609 and imported to
Norway 1999 is now painted BRG with
same color on grill and headlight buckets
tan interior and same material on dash
I have no idea of the original color
t g sorensen

This thread was discussed between 09/01/2006 and 28/01/2006

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