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MG TD TF 1500 - How come

How come you never see a fiber glass Volks Wagon with an MG motor. Or a Volvo with and MG motor?
Every time I see a Fiber-Fab kit I have to wonder why would you want a car that sort of looks like a great car only to have to tell everyone " it's a fake ".
I want to look like I have class but dont want to do the ground work.
I know I am nuts but part the fun it going for a ride and not knowing if you are going to make it back.

Back in the 80's there was that mgtf1800 that used all MGB components, Looked like the original. Then Kougar of England did a cool Allard type of cycle fendered kit car using all Jaguar S type components. Two of my favorites.

I've never fully understood the VW based MG replica thing myself, but, then, there were TD's in my family back into the early 60's, so I knew a real one from a fake. Most people didn't.

There were also a ton of cheap, used, Beetles around, as as the kit car industry took off, it was not unusual to find replica bodies for Beetle chassis based on the Ford GT, Lamborghini Miura, Bugatti, Mercedes SSK, Frazer Nash, and many others.

The idea was to replicate the style of those vehicles without the problems or difficulties of owning the real thing, by basing them on a cheap, self contained chassis, that had bulletproof reliability, inexpensive and easy parts availability (everything MG's didn't). Given the fact that most Americans wouldn't know a real one from a fake one, a pretty good deal for the guy who wanted a cool looking car and was willing to do the work. Many were sold to the not so discriminating, most were never completed due to incomplete engineering, poor dealer support, and shoddy business ethics of many of the manufacturers of the time.

As far as Volvo engined MGs, or vice versa, the Volvo to MG swap was a common one back in the day (a period swap, if you will) as a way of keeping a cheap, fun sports car on the road for little money.

T series MGs, especially TDs and TFs, were inexpensive sports car, built to a price, aimed primarily at the U.S. market. It was also severely under engineered for the U.S. market where long trips at relatively high speeds were the norm. Chassis lubes and changing oil every 500 miles on an MG just didn't cut it and a lot of time didn't get done.

Add to the equation, the long service intervals and trouble free operation that Americans expected, and it was not unusual for a TD engine to spit the bit within 40 or 50,000 miles. Also MGs had scarce and expensive parts availabliliy and a sketchy dealer network, and as a result, very poor resale value. When I was in high school in the late 60's, a decent running MG or Austin Healy could be had for 500 bucks or less.

Why spend a grand to have your MG engine rebuilt when the car was only worth half that, and a Volvo engine that fit, looked the same to most eyes, ran better, with much better durability could be had for a couple of hundred, if that. If you keep the bonnet closed, nobody knew the difference, and fewer cared. Its only fairly recently that originality and period accuracy means anything, and that's pretty much tied into the "classics as an investment" market.

Putting a Volvo engine in an MG made a lot of sense for somebody looking to keep a car on the road, and indeed improving it's chances of staying there for a while. Putting an MG engine in a Volvo makes absolutely no sense at all.
Peter G. Whelan

"...not knowing if you are going to make it back."

I have never left the drive, with that as a possibility, or even a thought.

My first car was a TD and the second thing I bought, was a copy of the Ball-Autobook workshop manual. A couple of experimental looks under the valve cover, followed by a succession of pokes around the dizzy and a crawl or two under and about the car from the OZ side and we were off.

20 years later and only 3 weeks before I was required to deliver my MKII to the dock in Elizabeth, NJ for the Cicuit of Britain, the car was in bits, across the garage floor. Hadn't been run in 2 years and still bore the scars of the radio-blaring-chippy-driven firebird that pranged the front end but good.

The car made it to the dock and travelled some 2500 miles over the moors and along the craigie shores from Land's End to John O'Groats. Only problem was a balky fuel pump.

They are simple cars and with a basic understanding and a spartan tool kit, they will take you anywhere. The cars more prone to issues, will be those who; only run of a Sunday afternoon/never saw rain/never had the top up....

Do the ground work as it relates to getting to know the car and the latter will not likely come to pass. As is oft said in the racing circles, if I am going to be running this thing at speed, 'I don't want to strap myself into someonelse's paint job.'

Enjoy and trust them as is,
Safety Fast

Very well stated Paul !!

Steve Wincze

There was also the performance crowd. People who raced the cars or just appreciated good performance. My first ride in a TD was with a school teacher who had put a TR3 or 4 engine in his when the engine died.

To him it was a "no-brainer" the engine was readily available (in the 60's) and was a lot faster. I remember being scared of the speed/acceleration; but I was in my low teens then and with the doors cut down it seemed real fast watching the road fly by.

Today I am glad that my car has the original engine though.
Larry Ayres

Very well said Paul. On the subject of replicars, I would take it as a compliment. These days, it's hard to find an authentic T-Series, and a lot of people will settle for something easier to find and much less expensive, which has similar lines. Myself, I looked for several years before I found a TF 1500 restoration candidate in my price range. It turned out to be far more expensive and time-consuming to restore than I planned on.

I don't begrudge someone wanting to have the good looks without the expense and rarity of the an authentic car. It would be fun to drive a VW chassis TF replica to the movies, be able to leave it parked in the lot outside, and not worry too much about it being banged by someone's door. It might happen, but who cares? When I take my TF somewhere, it either has to be parked somewhere where I can see it, or parked somewhere where I trust people, like at a car show.

Maybe in a few years, I'll calm down. But right now, after 4 years and several hundred hours invested, it's not all that much fun to leave the car unattended.
Mark B.

Well Said Paul!
IMHO... replacars will always be with us, if that's what you "want" ..fine go for it...(they also make and sell "blow-up women" at most truck stops these dayz..but I don't care for those much either!)
Here comes the part where I vent.....
You don't see a lot of guys out to dinner with their "blow-up-babe" but you do see a lot of people at car shows sporting "MGTD" / "65 Cobra" /"36 Mercedes"/"40 Willys" ect, plates on them....I,personally, find that as irratating as I would to dine next to someone who has not "washed their date" for several months!
I have a little rubber "Gumby" that hangs on to the dash mirror on the TF with a caption that reads "I ain't no replacar, damnit..if you ain't steel, you ain't real!" (Just because i'm sick of answering the "who built your replacar" question!)
I think the Cobras are sharp....but quit entering car shows as a "1965 427 Cobra" if you are really a 2004 model with a 351!
There...I feel better now......
Cheers & Best Regards,
David 55 TF1500 #7427
David Sheward

Mark B.,
A friend of mine parked his recently restored 53 Ford Sedan at a local car show this summer, and went off to view the parts vendors, grab a bite to eat, etc. While sitting alongside his car later in the day, a spectator asked him why he would restore the entire car and "not restore the hood ornament"? Perplexed the owner looked at the hood of his car to discover that while he was away from it, for say 45 minutes, someone had unbolted his beautifully chromed unit, and replaced it with an unrestored piece. So much for trusting others at car shows!
Gene Burgess

Some people have no idea as to what is or is not real. A few years ago I was driving a friend's TC that had just won AACA Grand National in San Diego. A beautiful Porsche Carrera driven by a bearded ignoramus pulled along side and stated "My wife has a Duchess just like yours".my only comment was "and your driving a VW too". What else could be said?
Sandy Sanders

A "Favorite" to date:
Parked next to, (according to lisence plate), a "54 TD", shag carpet in the bonnet, and a gent telling his son (compairing the 2 cars) "I had one of these once, a REAL one, like this one, with the engine in the rear".
David 55 TF1500 #7427
David Sheward

Many years ago I was at a car show with my TD when "Joe know it all" and his lady friend came walking along. He told her "This is a MG TD but I don't like them. They look too much like the replicars". I forced myself NOT to hit him.
The TF replica made in the 80's was done by Victor Motor Coach and I was part of that group. (on the fringe) They built their own chassis, used an original TF for molds and used MGB engines and running gear. Thus the distinction TF 1800. There sales pitch was it was a way to recycle an MGB whose body had gone to rust. They were a pretty car and very well done. From the outside (without looking at the interior) the only tell tale that this was not an original TF was the location of the exhaust pipe. It was on the opposite side. The cars were great and having an original TF it was quite a shock to drive one of these with the B Motor. It went like crazy and handled very well. It's too bad they went the way they did because it really could have had a market.(However a small one but still a market) They decided to build an Airline Coupe version and I designed the body for that but somewhere between the design and the actual buld I lost track of things. Many years later I got to see it and they had stretched it out and put in a V-8 and it lost so much in the transition.

I still see them come up every once in awhile for sale and one sold just recently here for a pretty good piece of change.

George Herschell
George R Herschell

Have heard of the TF1800 but never actually seen one...(that I knew of at the time). Mind a couple of questions?
How many were made?
Did they all have front disc brakes?
Fiberglass or metal wings/body?
Were these 5 speed gearbox?
David 55 TF1500 #7427

David Sheward


If you send me your E mail address Ill send you an E Mail copy of a couple of pages from their brochure. The TF 1800 had discs in the front and drums in the rear. All the rest of the running gear was from the MGB, as well as suspension, hydraulics, engine gearbox, heater, wiper motor, headlights, fuel pump, wheels and tires, instruments, switches, steering column, emergency brake, oil cooler, and drive shaft. Wheelbase was the same. Track (front) was 1.5 inches wider, rear track was inch less and the overall weight was 1605 pounds vs 1930 for the original model. The body was all fiberglass and the parts were so good that they could be interchanged with the originals with no apparent problems. Dan (the owner) used to make a good comparison to the original and the replica. He would take off his shoes and walk up one front fender to the hood, walk across the hood and down the other fender of one of the 1800s. Then he would ask the owner of an original TF if he would do the same to his car. I never saw any takers. The hood was hinged at the rear (windscreen area) and opened as one piece from the front. Im not sure but I think the molds might have found gone to Naylor Brothers in the UK and possibly were used for the Naylor version. But do not quote me on that as I cant be sure. This all took place in the early 80s. Hope this sheds a little more light on the car.

George Herschell
George R Herschell

Thanks George...
Left my email on this of late I had been taking it off...seems everytime I posted here with it on I have recieved a bunch of "Nigerian Lotto / Banking" offers.
David Sheward

As I recall there were 3 versions on a similar theme in the mid-80s - all TFs.

One was made by Hutson (UK), and I believe may still be available, Another by Naylor (UK), which as I recall, was a set of glass-fibre TF panels and grill mounted on the MGB monocoque, and the third was by a small company in Rochester NY. I, at one time, had a brochure on the latter and lent it to someone. I should have known better, I never saw it again. Again, as I recall, they all had dropped the suicide doors.

I thought this Rochester unit was well-made (I saw one at a show in Syracuse in (abt.) 1985), and if anybody can add anything, I am curious as to the demise of this effort.

Gord Clark
Rockburn, Qué.
Gordon A. Clark

Gordon & David,

The TF I am talking about was made in Rocheser NY. Actually Victor NY which is a suburb of Rochester.
It was in the mid 80's and the donor car was a TF that a member of the local MGCC loaned to them for mold making. I'm sending you both an article I wrote about that car for our local newsletter. I did that rather than put it here as it is a bit long to put on this site. If you have any other questions let me know. I still have the origiinl sales brochures as it was my company that did the printing on those brochures. I'll also attach some of the photos of that car and the specs that came with the brochure.

George Herschell

George R Herschell

George, I'd be happy to post the letter on Ttalk if you don't mind. Just send a copy to me. The Victors do show up once in a while One usually show up at MG Day at the Larz Anderson Museum in Boston.
Bud Krueger

George's article is on Ttalk at
Bud Krueger

George, I too sent away for the Victor NY TF brochure back in the early 80's. I have it around here somewhere in my stack of stuff. It was a beautiful replicar and probably would do pretty good these days. Thanks for the "rest of the story".

A couple years ago I drove the TD to the local Nissan dealer to pick up a part for my 280Z. A tech looked at the front suspension and said "nice- no tortion bars-its real". Nice to get an anti- replicar compliment for once. George
George Butz

George Herscell,,
I met your " Joe know-it-all " friend also.
I was showing off that I could start my TD with the crank. I joke about it saying " it starts with less effort than my lawnmower". My wife chimes in with "thats because it has a smaller motor than the lawnmower!" Ha Ha Ha , smack!
Any way Joe askes me where I got the kit to install the crank set up and do they make kits for the real MG TD's with the motor that is in the back like his fathers.....Smack smack smack.


Interesting that you should own both a TD and a 280Z, as do I. Talk about worlds apart. Mine's a 78 5 speed with 115k showing on the clock. I bought it from it's second owner in upstate NY, back in 99, who bought it to restore and never touched it in the 2 odd years he owned it. He got it from the original owner in San Diego.

Having spent the majority of it's life in the California sun, the original silver paint was just about baked off it, as was most of the upholstery. Fortunately, it had next to no rust, but was covered with dings and dents, even on the roof and tops of the fenders. A total body restoration was completed in late 2000 and the interior redone a year or so later.

The car was also bone stock when I got it, even down to the original exhaust, wheel covers, AM-FM radio, and, strangely enough for a Califonia car, no dealer installed AC. The underdash wiring was also unmolested.

Since getting it back on the road, I've kept it pretty much the same. I did add larger tires with aluminum wheels, headlight covers, a BRE chin spoiler, and dumped the gov't required cow catcher bumpers in favor of the early 260Z blade style. Very handsome, but useless even in the slightest collision. Ugraded exhaust and cold air induction system pretty much completes it.

I don't drive it much lately, but it is still a impressive car when i do take it out. Hard to believe how nice a design it was, considering it's almost 30 years old. One of the reasons I don't drive it much is the constant gas smell problem they all seem to have.
Right now I'm working on correcting that and getting ready to restore the suspension this summer.

Peter g. Whelan


Sorry but there is some misunderstanding. I do not nor ever have owned a 280Z. I own at present a TD, a TF, and a 1966 mgb roadster. Our family car is 2005 Buick. At one time I did also own a 1956 Austin Healey 100/M and a 1967 Healey 3000 MK III. My oldest son had a Toyota Celica at one point, and my youngest son still owns a Healey Sprite MK II but that's it.

Sorry for the misunderstanding.

George Herschell
George R Herschell

No, I'm sorry...this message was meant for George Butz, in response to the message three replies back from this one. He has a 280z.

You should get one, too You'd like it.

Pete W.
Peter Whelan

This thread was discussed between 20/02/2006 and 23/02/2006

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