Originally launched at the 1953 Motor Show, the TF was introduced at a time when other manufacturers were producing very sleek and streamlined models, which later earned this model a title ‘the last of the square riggers’.
As popular now among enthusiasts of traditional British sports cars as it was in its heyday, the TF was mechanically little different from the outgoing TD II, retaining its predecessor’s body centre section while featuring a changed front end with shortened, sloping, radiator grille and headlamps faired into the wings, plus an improved interior with separately adjustable seats.
The TD’s 1,250cc, XPAG engine was retained at first but the need for more power prompted the swift introduction – in November 1954 – of the TF 1500 (with 1,466cc XPEG engine) which accounted for more than half of total production.
With the larger engine, top speed improved by some 8km/h and was now within a whisker of 145km/h, with 100km/h coming up in around 16 seconds, more than two seconds quicker than the 1250. This made the TF 1500 a much better-performing car on the freeways and tollways of North America.
Externally there were no visual clues other than engine numbers to distinguish the two power units (XPAG/ XPEG engines) and there was little on the car to give away its identity as a TF 1500, other than two discreet ‘TF 1500’ motifs on each of the bonnet side panels and the addition of two rear reflectors. The larger power unit did give the TF a boost in sales mainly in the United States, with 9,600 being produced between October 1953 and May 1955.
But by April 1955 something more modern was required, so after only 18 months in production, the TF 1500 was retired and the factory geared up to start producing the MGA. Production ended at chassis number TF10100 on 4 April 1955 after 9,602 TFs had been manufactured, including two prototypes and 3,400 TF1500s.
MG TF 1500 Midget technical data:
XPEG 1466cc, 4 cylinders in line
Bore & Stroke 72mm x 90mm
Compression ratio: 8.3:1
Max power: 63 bhp at 5,000 rpm
Max torque: 76 Ibft at 3,000 rpm
Carburation: Twin semi-downdraught constant vacuum SU HS4’s
Clutch: Single dry plate
Gearbox: Four speed manual with synchromesh on 2,3 and 4.
Steel box section overslung at rear
Track: front; 3’ 11.4″ rear; 4′ 2″.
Front; independent wishbone and coil, rear; half elliptic springs with live axle
0-60 mph 16.3 secs
Max speed: 88 mph
Number built: 3,400