MG TC: Classic

By: John Wright

Classic: MG TC Classic: MG TC Classic: MG TC
Classic: MG TC Classic: MG TC Classic: MG TC
Classic: MG TC Classic: MG TC Classic: MG TC
Classic: MG TC Classic: MG TC Classic: MG TC
Classic: MG TC Classic: MG TC Classic: MG TC

The spindly TC was more fun than fast, and sold better in the US...

MG TC: Classic
Classic: MG TC

From Unique Cars issue 342, October 2012


I Think it was sometime in 1963 that I was in bed ill savouring a Wheels special called ‘World’s Fastest Sports Cars’. There was a great yarn which depicted a lumbering American sedan being overtaken by a tiny British sports car, circa 1948. The latter was an MG TC. It seems that a few US servicemen took the cars back to the US and demand grew. This was not among the World’s Fastest Sports Cars but behaved as if it was.

More than any other car, the 1250cc MG helped to change the way American enthusiasts thought about motoring. American writer Warren Weith summed it up well, saying:

"It was a way of life. A wildly different car that you jazzed around in on weekdays and raced on weekends… A moving spot of colour on a still-drab post-war landscape." Perhaps this was the true genesis of the Chevrolet Corvette?

MGs had never previously been sold in huge numbers. Only 3003 TAs were sold from mid-1936 to late 1939, but 10,000 TCs found homes, most of them outside impoverished Britain.

It was the success of the TC in the US that dictated the changes for the TD: independent front suspension, tough steel wheels instead of expensive wires and bumper bars as already fitted to US-delivered TCs.

With its rack-and-pinion steering, the plainer looking TD offered a superior driving experience. Strangely, many TC owners derided the TD, as the MGB was later derided (for its creature comforts and, God help us, those wind-up windows!).

The TC was a cobbled up TB with four inches of extra width. It was officially introduced in October 1945. Purists with memories of the KN Magnette – with its 1271cc six-cylinder overhead-camshaft engine – doubtless disapproved because the TC was distinctly low-tech by comparison.

But there could be no questioning the mass appeal of the essentially pre-war TC in the gloomy aftermath where petrol was rationed and had an octane rating of little more than six. One British customer incurred his future parents-in-laws’ disapproval by taking his girlfriend for wind-in-the hair rides. His name was Prince Phillip of Greece and Denmark.

Hard to believe, but the true top speed of the TC was little more than 120km/h. Its acceleration from zero to 60mph (97km/h) was about two seconds slower than the Holden 48-215 (FX).

But people just fell in love with its looks and the simple fun it delivered so mightily. Here was the true predecessor of the Mazda MX-5/Miata. The saying ‘it’s not what you do but how you do it’ could almost have been invented for the TC, but suits the TD even better.



More reviews:

> Classic: MG TF

> Past blast: 1933 MG K3 Magnette recreation

> Buyer's guide: MG Midget (1961 - 79)

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