Wife’s surprise: Out-of-town husband brings home 1954 MG
The iconic style of the early MG sport cars has always appealed to Johanna Covel. She recalls seeing the MG for the first time while attending high school and later, after college, another one. As she later learned both sightings were of the same car.
“I always thought they were so cool,” Covel says. Her husband, Jerry, has long known of her affection for the early MGs. In the autumn of 2012 he was attending the annual antique auto extravaganza in Hershey, Penn., when he spotted for sale a red 1954 MG TF.
“It was restored,” he says, “but had not been driven in 25 years. It was absolutely gorgeous.” He knew this was a car that his wife could not help but love.
A deal was made and soon the 12-foot, 3-inch-long MG was on the back of a truck headed for Vienna, Va., to give his wife the surprise of a lifetime. The seller had informed him of a few deficiencies, so he wasn’t surprised when the truck delivered the MG TF it could only be moved in the reverse gear.
Under the engine hood, which opens from either side, is the 76.28-cubic-inch, four-cylinder overhead valve engine. It sips fuel through a pair of S.U. carburetors from the 14.4-gallon gasoline tank and rolls on a 7-foot, 10-inch-long (94-inch) wheelbase. Under the engine hood the battery is mounted on the firewall.
The nimble little car has a 31.3-foot curb-to-curb turning circle. The diminutive 1954 MG is a mere 4 feet, 11 inches wide and with the tan top raised the height is 4 feet, 4.5 inches.
The TF model is the final MG that still had the traditional appearance of the early roadster. The headlight housings on the TF model were faired into the front fenders with each light protected by a stone guard.
Even the radiator was no longer vertical but instead was sloped. Atop the sloped grille is a faux radiator cap. The functional radiator and cap are hidden behind the aerodynamic versions. Still, the cooling system has a 12.25-pint capacity.
Both doors are hinged at the rear so in order to protect the finish of the running boards and front fenders three chrome strips are mounted where the feet of careless passengers might scuff the finish.
A dozen louvers on either side of the engine hood help direct cooling air. Both front fenders are topped by parking lights. At the other end of the car is a luggage rack by the gasoline tank.
At the center of each 48-spoke wheel is a knock-off hub. Inside the cozy interior are the tan leather bucket seats and black carpeting. At either end of the dashboard are doorless glove compartments near where the horn and turn signal controls are located. Sprouting from the floor is shift lever to operate the four forward gears. The lever, of course, is capped with an MG octagon signature. All of the instruments on the dashboard are also octagon shaped.
The three-spoke steering wheel, with each spoke ventilated by five holes, is adjustable by sliding it up and down on the steering column. An overly optimistic speedometer tops out at 100 mph while the tachometer has a limit of 6,000 rpm. When the top is raised the interior has a tendency to become claustrophobic.
The MG TF definitely has a “cute factor,” says Covel. “I’m going to have to get something English to wear when I’m driving it,” she says.
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