The T.G.Sports (1955)
Kit Car USA Magazine January 2004
New Zealand manufacturer combines traditional looks with modern performance.
By Harold Price
It seems ironic that the MGTF is now regarded as a classic design worthy of imitation. When introduced in September 1953 it was a light facelift on the previous MG the popular but outdated TD. The only major changes were a revised slanted back grille reshaped front fenders optional wire wheels and bucket seats that replaced the old TD bench. The addition of a hotter 1500(actually 1466cc) engine in July 1954 made the TF a capable performer in the right hands, but only a few were raced (most notably by Ken Miles and Pat Moss, Stirling Moss’s extremely quick sister).
TF sales were in the basement compared to its predecessor. MG had sold 29664 TD models since its introduction in 1949, but only 9600 TF’s rolled off the lines at the Abington, England MG plant from 1953 to 1955. The TF was a stop-gap effort to keep cars in the showroom until the much improved MGA appeared in 1956 but the TF suffered when compared to the faster and better built Porsche 356 and the streamlined Austin Healey 100.
The passage of time has helped the TF. The raked grille and wire wheels give the TF a more sporting appearance than the TD and the 1500 engine makes it quicker. Today collectors actually prefer the TF 1500 to the TD model that preceded it and its lack of popularity when new has made it more rare to boot.
Today nice TD's sell for $15000.00 to $25000.00 with TF's bringing about $5000.00 more.
KIWIS TO THE RESCUE
Now that the TF has acquired a newfound respectability Alternative Cars from New Zealand has introduced a high quality replica, the TG Sports, based on running gear from another sports car classic, the Mazda Miata. In the past MG replicas were mostly VW or Pinto based TD clones along with a few nice TD copies based on MGB running gear. However the TG brings the classic TF shape into the next millennium with modern performance and Mazda’s legendary reliability.
By utilizing Matai mechanics the TG becomes a practical fun car for sunny day cruising without having to carry along a toolbox full of spanners and a spare SU fuel pump. The TG uses a galvanized steel ladder frame that mounts Miata suspension and running gear. Either the 1600cc or 1800cc engines are okay along with manual or automatic transmissions (decide on your donor car before ordering the kit so they can adapt the wiring harness and such to match up). Since the TG weighs about the same as a Miata it has similar performance potential, of course there are a ton of go fast parts available for the Miata so those with a penchant for performance can transform the TG from traditional to tiger.
The hood is Zintec steel while the rest of the body work is gel coated fibreglass. The grille is chrome plated brass with stainless steel slats and a solid brass octagonal cap. The doors have double action burst proof catches and stainless steel burst proof hinges.
The TG is a development of the T Car MG TF replica designed by Russell Hooper in 1983. The first T Cars were built on Triumph chassis but a custom built frame was added later. It has been in production in New Zealand since 1984 using Nissan and General Motors of Australia running gear. The TG takes the same basic design and adapts it to more readily available Miata running gear.
The TG is being sold in turnkey minus form with the major body work assembled onto the frame. The suspension running gear windshield gauges and wheels must be attached and the paint squirted on. You can choose black red green blue or tan for the vinyl door panels and carpets to go with your fave exterior hue. For a little extra Alternative Cars will factory paint your TG red, green, or cream (other colours available at extra cost). The doors have side impact bars and the steering column collapses to protect the driver in case of an accident. There is even a frontal impact area built in to the front of the frame to satisfy strict New Zealand vehicle regulations. Alternative Cars estimates the average home craftsman can assemble a TG in around two weeks without modification.
There are a number of changes from the original that would drive purists to distraction but should not upset more practical builders. Most obvious are the TGs somewhat clumsy tail light mounts which are boxy and mount modern rectangular taillights (the TF had small round tail lights and separate reflectors) The old lights do not meet current DOT standards. The TG bumpers look spot on but the sporty folding windscreen of the original TF has been replaced with a fixed screen on the TG.
The quality of the plating and metal work is excellent (vastly better than on those old TD replicas of the ‘80s). Inside the standard body colour TG dash is not identical to the original but the optional English burr walnut dash is a more attractive alternative for non purists anyway. Of course the small diameter Mazda steering wheel gives it away as a replica but could be replaced with a larger wheel that would have more of a classic look. Opt for the optional old fashioned low back bucket seats if originality is your goal but Miata high back seats should be more comfortable and safer.
Like with all kit cars how authentic you make your TG is up to you. For a classic slant go for painted wire wheels tall tires low back seats and a big moto-lita steering wheel. Or you could affect a “vintage racer” look by adding your own roll bar, twin “Brooklands” windscreens, wood rimmed steering wheel, and Minilite-style (or stock Mazda) spiked mag wheels. If that doesn’t turn your crank then go as modern as you like the new Morgan Aero 8 comes immediately to mind.
The TG kits offer the potential for a reasonable priced traditional sports car. Options include leather upholstery, a badge bar for up front (a very popular accessory in the ‘50s) bumper overiders, wind wings, side curtains, paint, wood rimmed steering wheel, stainless steel luggage carrier, and chrome wire wheels.
The TG Sports fills a niche in the kit car market that has been largely abandoned…… it’s a reasonable priced true sports car that utilizes good handling and responsiveness to kindle the fun factor rather than a tire smoking gas guzzling V8. Much like to MG that inspired it and the Miata that powers it the emphasis on in fun not flash. We wish it well.