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MG TD TF 1500 - Radio

I've been reading through the archives on the subject of radios. It seems many TD's were fitted with radios (as shown in the driver's manual)... sadly, not mine.

A Motorola 401A is mentioned as an appropriate period radio that was installed on TD's, also a 3-section Pye radio. By the way, I found a 1951 401A on ebay, working, for $35 if anyone is interested - I'm not ready to commit yet.

I'm trying to decide on whether I'd like to put an authentic period radio in the car some day, or just hide a modern radio in the glove compartment.

A common theme about the radio seems to be that you can't hear them on a TD anyway. Well, I think that's true insofar as you can't hear anything that well on a convertible on the road; I would think that a TD wouldn't be much worse than a Miata or any modern convertible, top down, for listening to the radio. It's about the speakers, and their placement, I would think...

So I've got a couple of questions. Firstly, were there ANY radios in 1951 that would have received FM as well as AM, or was that a later arrival?

And second, I'd love to hear what owners have done to get at least decent-quality sound on their TD's... modern or antique radios...

Thanks, Geoff
Geoff Baker

I don't know about other areas of North America, but in the mid to late 50's, the only FM I ever heard was in dentist's offices...and elevators/public buildings...

Car radios, those ingenious pieces of mobile audio technology that are often installed in the dashboards of cars and trucks, were first produced in the 1930s. Brothers Paul and Joseph Galvin, who owned the Galvin Manufacturing Corporation, gave their first car radio the brand name "Motorola." FM was developed by Blaupunkt in 1952, and FM stereo became standard in 1961. Car radios would remain AM/FM stereo until the turn of the twenty-first century.

If your car is still pos ground, then the older radio would have to do...if you changed to neg ground, anything is possible...

Most of the radios that were in TD's wer hidden in the glove box.

Frequency modulation (FM)was patented in 1933 however, commercial FM broadcasting was not authorized until January 1, 1941.
In the late 1950s, several systems to add stereo to FM radio were considered by the FCC. Included were systems from 14 proponents including Crosley, Halstead, Electrical and Musical Industries, Ltd (EMI), Zenith Electronics Corporation and General Electric. The individual systems were evaluated for their strengths and weaknesses during field tests in Uniontown, Pennsylvania using KDKA-FM in Pittsburgh as the originating station. The Crosley system was rejected by the FCC because it degraded the signal-to-noise ratio of the main channel and did not perform well under multipath RF conditions. In addition it did not allow for SCA services because of its wide FM sub-carrier bandwidth. The Halstead system was rejected due to lack of high frequency stereo separation and reduction in the main channel signal-to-noise ratio. The GE and Zenith systems, so similar that they were considered theoretically identical, were formally approved by the FCC in April 1961 as the standard stereo FM broadcasting method in the USA and later adopted by most other countries.
David Sheward

geoff, if you need something to complement the melodic sounds of your XPAG why not get a splitter for your ipod/mp3 player and enjoy. that way you keep the glove box and don't have to figure out where to cut in speakers. regards, tp
tom peterson

In a TC/TD/TF it doesn't matter if the top is up or down, you can't hear the radio over the road and engine noise when moving. We tried with a modern AM/FM/CD radio withh auxilary speakers on the rear deck and under the dash. Sounded fine when stopped. Finally gave up and took it out.
(Note even got around the positive ground problem vrs negative ground radio)
Conclusion, it ain't worth the effort!!!
Don Harmer


Do not underestimate the noise produced by the aerodynamic equivalent of a flat plate as opposed to something that actually has a curved windscreen and faired fenders into a sloping bonnet.


p.s. Interestingly, instead of choosing an AM stereo standard in the eighties, the FCC elected to leave it to market forces. As a result, no AM standard emerged, and the idea whithered on the vine.
Dave Braun

When driving my TF back in the 1980's I used to wear a genuine original 1980's walkman which seemed to resist the interference from the ignition.
If going for a classic radio, dont forget the hassle of setting up an antenna.
The TF cardboard glove box inserts have a perforated line cut into them to allow the fitting of a radio.

Matthew Magilton

When I had the radio in mine (I took it out), I found a 'powered' antenna at a 'Sound' store... was a little plastic box, and took power from the 'blue' wire (automatic antenna lift). It double sided taped anywhere you wanted and wasn't seen...worked surprisingly well.
I just put it over behind the top bow attachement position.

IMHO....Radio is a wasted effort. Can't think of anything I would rather listen to than the classic sound of a lil' XPEG (or XPAG).
Then again ...I listen to my M.G. when I'm cutting the grass, have for years....made a Mini Disc recording of her "note" years ago and still use it.
Better to spend (less) money on a nice period resonator for the tailpipe that enhances the experance! I love mine.
Started the lil' darling up yesterday (taking some pic's for another thread on this BBS) and could not resist going for a spin....28 degrees, should have put the hood up...bur was still worth it!
David Sheward

Gordon, I must say I liked your ingenious radio installation, and I especially liked the octagonal MG speakers!

But I guess if you took it all out, it wasn't that satisfactory...?
Geoff Baker

Actually it worked quite well...the speakers were a bit small (4" ones the store said were the best 'in the world' and would be fine)...anyway, I have pos ground and I insulated everything extremely well...I knew I couldn't use the hand brake, but hadn't anyway... I glued a thick piece of cork on the bottom of the radio and had a leather cover over the metal handbrake!!! Anyway, the cork must have moved and the corner of the radio touched the hand brake lever (through the leather) and 'Poof'...I lost all the smoke out of the radio's power line... I decided that everyone on this forum was correct when they said how well anything requiring negative ground needed to be.
I'm leaving the TD pos ground 'just because' but will change the Wolseley around so I can mount a hidden sterio in it...that you can hear at any speed.

I was hoping for a more complete discription of the history of Amplitude Modulation and Frequency Modulation. I highly value your rather thin explanation of the technical proclivities of the systems and stand ready to receive from you a more definitive story as you might find time.
With most warm personal regards,
Dick Thomas
Wooster, Ohio
Dick Thomas

Hey Dick ...Check your email.
Only covers Frequency Modulation (FM) ...let me know if you want info on Amplitude Modulation (AM) and RF and / or inbedded signals as well!
Merry Christmas & Best Regards,
David Sheward

It strikes me that there are plenty of places to hide most of an audio system in a TD ... toolbox, glove compartment, under the dash, even the rear box for the side curtains! Daydreaming away, I was thinking you could install a powerful subwoofer and once you've done that you can use *very* small directional speakers for sound, much like the Bose systems... which might well help cut through all the ambient noise generated by the TD on the road...

But definitely, all neg ground...

not that I'll ever get around to any of this, more than enough work just getting #10467 ready for the road...
Geoff Baker

This thread was discussed between 07/12/2009 and 08/12/2009

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