Ahhh, a TD in the Fall

A roadster can provide relief from muggy weather. It can transform a tedious errand into a little adventure, but there are considerations: Seats that roast buns, temperature gauges that threaten, carbs that boil, insects and haze—all of these can be the ingredients that are the makings of adventure. I prefer a temperate autumn day, clear and dry, and cool enough to endear me to the heat that enters the passenger compartment.

Mist seems to be the catalyst that sensitizes one’s retina to the vibrant fall foliage. It’s in the way the brightly colored light radiates through the translucent leaves, in contrast to the velvety black of the wet bark. The big, freshly fallen leaves cover the roadsides and swirl like giant snowflakes as the low-slung roadster barks back at them when downshifting at the approach of a curve. The huge chromium-plated headlights bend the geometry of the passing overhead branches and motley clumps of vegetation into a sort of non-Euclidean impressionism. Could M.C. Escher have gazed at such curved reflectors while driving in the fall?

Jack Frost was considerate enough to drop by early last year for a brief visit, turning fall in Illinois into a major attraction; beauty was just outside of the door. The little TD was able to light up a few more smiles this year because the weather remained quite mild, but low temperatures cannot suppress MG-philes. Whenever the streets were dry and the sun was shining many grins were exchanged by the top-down crowd. On very cold days the car’s foul weather gear and a little sun kept the frigid blast away, and enough air leaked in to ensure safe visibility. Ladies of all ages are willing to brave the chill in for a ride in such a spirited car.

January in Northern Illinois affords few of such opportunities, and by February it’s time to be installing a few of the parts that I should have ordered months ago.

But it’s supposed to be clear next weekend.

I bought the car in May of 1982 as a rolling chassis with body tub remounted. The rest was in a nondescript heap in a dark corner covered with the standard hue of body-shop dust—a sort of graymaroon.

It caught my eye that day, suspended in the midst of a restoration. Although the little roadster was undergoing a metamorphosis, it appeared that the going was slow. It was during one of those moments that Jim Hills decided to unload some of his toys—too many irons in the fire. I always wanted a TD and Jim drew me into a rather impulsive purchase that I’ve never regretted for a moment with the “I know you would do it right and I’ll be around if you get stuck” rationale. After a few six-packs and hours of inventorying what amounted to a rolling chassis and a parts heap disassembled a year before, we struck up a deal. My buddy Jack Tweedle, the owner of a British shop, might have preferred Jim sell it to someone from out-of state. Incidentally, my carefully detailed inventory missed a small part—the spare tire and wheel!

At any rate, the engine was fresh and crisp, the drive train was in order, and much of the new wood was installed. It was more a matter of paint, wiring, and fitting the body parts, upholstery, and foul weather gear. Merely …

With the help of a professional crew, and whoever else meandered in, I was on the road by the next February, grinning like a 1951 Buick. I installed the hood and side curtains at home, where it was clean. The only snags in the process involved fitting the front apron, getting the headlights to look even, and making and welding on the little nubs that hold the hubcaps on. The wood was a lot of fun.

Most of that is behind me now, and it was well worth the effort. Everybody loves my car. Many admirers check to see if it’s the genuine item and break into a big grin upon inspection. A couple of purists take exception to the dirty undercarriage (only occasionally cleaned), and the not original color scheme, but I drive it almost daily while their toys sit and consume their energies. If there is such a thing as right or wrong, I consistently gravitate towards the wrong anyway.

By Roderick Padilla

Story was originally written for Abingdon Classics.  It appeared in March of 1985. The TD has been recently overhauled a couple years ago. It and I are ready to snort through the Morton Arboretum, a really nice facility not far away with the most beautiful fall leaves.


'Ahhh, a TD in the Fall' have 8 comments

  1. October 16, 2012 @ 3:03 am Robertking

    I like your story! I drive MG for my work up and down the east coast—1979 MGB Roadster. You can’t let them sit. I also have a 1979 MGB GT I drive most of the time when I am home in Ireland.

    All the best

    Bob King


  2. October 16, 2012 @ 7:29 am Judy Wrobel

    Surely a couple in love! I am so with you on driving. I will never let my Agatha be a trailer queen, at least not as I long as I have my faculties physical and mental. I was without her for most of the summer – long story. Now that she is purring so am I. I will drive her until the snow flies then a few mechanical things will be done and I will just polish, preen and angst until the snow is gone and we are once again on the road. I wish there were more photos but then I love photos. I don’t remember faces and sometime have trouble with names but I never forget an LBC.


  3. October 16, 2012 @ 7:41 am Matt Smith

    Very nice job! I’m in the midst of restoring the ’53 TD that Wife and I bought the week before we got married (in 1956). Best we can remember, its original color was called “Almond Green”, very closely resembling what we see in your photo, and we’d like to go back to that color. Any suggestions as to 2012 paint designation and supplier? – – Cheers! Matt & Elma


  4. October 16, 2012 @ 8:33 am Edward Wesson

    Great story…Love the two-tone…I’m doing “Rocky” , my ’52, in two tone…I know it’s not “concours”, but I think it looks terrific and , separates you from the rest….Good luck with your restoration, and enjoy driving your TD.


  5. October 17, 2012 @ 10:00 am Dangerous Dave

    Great TD!
    I have a 52 TD need a lot of love and wood and……………………..

    Almost sold it twice… but the gents couldn’t talk the wives into it.
    Oh well, some day she’ll see the road again… D. Dave


  6. October 17, 2012 @ 3:22 pm Mike

    I drove a TD right hand drive when I was 16. A wonderful car but I bought the 56 MGA he had for sale. That was 1967. I agree that the driving of these time machines is the best. The Lady in Red has just undergone a 2 1/2 year restoration. She has over 1700 miles on her since June 2012. I am 62 now and am fortunate enough to have my first car in better than new condition. I truly understand the great feeling you get when driving a vintage sports car especialy in the beautiful fall weather. My wife and I, we had our first date in this car in 1969, often drive 80-100 miles to get a soda and then turn around and go home. I did not know how much I missed driving the A. Keep them on the road and off the trailers.


  7. November 16, 2012 @ 1:21 pm Noel Miller

    My wife and I put about 200 miles on our ’53TD on November 10 and 11. This is our first year with the TD, and over 4000 miles were clocked this summer. The ’70 MGB took a back seat in the garage, poor thing.
    Highlight of the year was taking the TD to the Put-In-Bay Road Race Reunion in September.
    Google Put-In-Bay road races reunion and see what the story is, and I will see you there next year!
    I will surely miss the TD exhaust note this winter! Think Spring everyone.



  8. November 27, 2012 @ 3:26 pm William

    I enjoyed the story as well. I’m the second owner (My Grandpa was the original owner) of my 51 TD. I bought it in 64 for $700 and have spent tons of money and time with her since. My wife saye’s she’s (TD) my mistress, as I couldn’t afford another woman in my life. I’m not sure, if that’s a threat or promise? Either, way I don’t intend on finding out. We just just finished a major restoration project. It should hold us for a week or two. LOL

    Always, making upgrades, the next item is to upgrade the distributor to a Petronics Electronic system. Better reliability is the goal, or at least I certainly hope so. It is a joy to drive year round, especially when she’s running right and the weather cooperates too!


Would you like to share your thoughts?

Please note: technical questions about the above article may go unanswered. Questions related to Moss parts should be emailed to moss.tech@mossmotors.com

Your email address will not be published.

© Copyright 2022 Moss Motors, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.