Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Best Car Review Ever?

Well Optioned MG TD
c Flying Debris

Okay so the annual Road & Track April Fools issue and many a Car and Driver review could fall into this category but what have they done for me lately? Of course the R&T April issue should be in the mail any day now. Car Talk’s latest “test drive” is Test Dive Notes: Tommy’s 1952 MG TD Roadster and it has got to be one of the funnier pieces of the genre. If you’re not familiar with “Car Talk” on NPR, then it must be explained that the two brothers, Tom and Ray, razz each other well enough to have been on the radio every week for years. They have a garage in Cambridge, Ma. and I think that they may have gone to MIT; at least that’s what I’ve been told by folks who listen to NPR a lot more than I do.

I’ve driven the MG TD Roadster and I must say that it makes you appreciate old time drivers and racers. When you see old photos from Watkins Glen and Elkhart Lake you usually see some of these old MG “T” series cars racing around the courses. Check out this photo of a TC at Daytona or this photo of a TD leading a parade of bikes at Sturgis in ‘53! The MGs were dramatically less expensive than the Jaguars, Ferraris and Maseratis that made up the top tier of the continental competition. They were also less expensive than the then rare Porsches, especially the 550 Spyders. In all fairness the TD is a fun car to drive, it just takes some getting used to for those of us who spend so much time in modern cars. An example of its quirkiness would be the electric turn signal that is actuated by a switch on the dashboard; that is odd but it definitely beats an arm out the window!

I say that I like the TD because it brings both the driver and the passenger so close to the driving environment. Actually, I think that the real reason that I like the TD so much is that if I was dropped into Pittsburg or Cleveland circa 1885 tomorrow morning, I would have amazing teeth and I could probably build a “T” series MG from scratch.

The difference between the “T” series of the MG and the following “A” series is pretty dramatic as far as handling and drivability goes. The “T” series really is a throwback to a different era; it shows us how our Fathers and/or Grandfathers drove cars. If they were lucky. If they happened to drive better cars I say “God Love ‘Em.” When it was new the MG was considered one of the sportiest cars on American roads, excepting the relatively rare and expensive Jaguars. The story of MG in America is a post WWII story that has always centered around the military personnel who first saw those little cars while stationed in or passing through Britain on their way to points east. Frankly the casual observer would be hard pressed to tell whether they were looking at a ’36 MG TA or a ’55 MG TF.


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