Would-be owner with Newbie questions

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This topic contains 6 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  billnparts 2 days ago.

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    Hello everyone

    Having lurked around for a while, and been impressed by the helpfulness of all, I have just signed up to this site.

    I am looking for a TDr, but don’t really know where to begin, so though maybe someone can give me some tips?

    First I need to say that I am not a ‘classic car enthusiast’, nor am I a mechanic, nor a ‘motor head’. I am pretty good at fixing things, but it is not what I want to spend my time doing. I am just an ordinary guy who has been admiring the beautiful lines of the TD for years. As such, despite the internet crawling I have done, I don’t really know a great deal about them. However, finally I have decided it is time to buy one before my 60th birthday. But I don’t want an original, as I don’t want to deal with 70 year old technology.

    What I really would like is the body styling of a TD, but with 21st century engineering and safety featurs – roll bars, intrusion bars, disc brakes, airbags etc. My desire is to have a great looking car that I can drive around town as my day to day car. Ideally red or ivory with a white, cream or tan interior (so it is not too hot in the sun). Since my wife has been t-boned twice in the last ten years by people driving through red-lights, both times writing off her vehicle, improving the safety of these old cars is definitely on my mind. I need a car that is reliable and is not going to require me to fix things every other time I take it for a drive. As I said, building and restoring cars is not my interest, I just want to drive a nice one.

    The closest I have found seems to be the TD2000’s (http://mgtdclassic.com) that were built in Australia and Malaysia, but those are no longer being built, are mostly RHD, and are very difficult to track down. I have emailed Ross Marshal, who is now 80 and so unlikely to start up production again. So that seems to rule those out.

    So then it looks like I need a North American replica from the 80’s – the fiberfabs, MiGis etc. which, in themselves, are already 35 years old themselves. I know it is like choosing blondes over brunnettes, but does anyone have a recommendation of a brand I should really consider or, conversely, not consider, given my requirements as above. I am presuming I would probably be safer looking at a factory build rather than a kit car?

    I am 5′ 10″ and 170lbs, so I don’t think fitting into one should be an issue, even with a front engine? I do also like the idea of an automatic rather than a stick shift, again just for ease of driving around town. What is the drive quality like for the VW vs. Chevette, vs Ford? I do want to be able to drive at a good speed so that I am not annoying the long line of drivers stuck behind me on the single-lane highway.

    The next problem is that I have never sat in or driven one. So I don’t know what the differences are between all these replicas, or what to look for in buying one. We had a car show in town just this weekend (I live in Vernon, about 5 hours inland from Vancouver), with a couple of hundred nice looking cars (most of them concours condition) but, sadly, no TDs. Indeed, only one MGB (brought back memories of my student-days Midget), a handful of VWs, and the rest were mostly American muscle cars or Ford model A’s and 1950’s pickups.

    And then, of course, the vehicles for sale are scattered all over the continent. So how does one go about buying one? Do I have to fly to all the different sellers?

    So here are some other questions, in no particular order, and if anyone can provide any other tips or suggestions, all would be welcomed.

    Many of these cars are listed as having under 10,000 miles on them. Given that they are thirty plus years old, are these numbers real? That would amount to just a few hundred miles a year. Do people not drive them routinely? Why not?

    What does one need to look for when inspecting these old cars? Are there particular features that commonly cause problems and one wants to make a point of checking? What issues would be a major pain and expense compared to other issues that are easily fixed?

    How honest are dealers such as Gateway Classic Cars, Streetside Classics and Volocars? I.e could one rely sufficiently on their descriptions to buy one sight unseen, or would they be likely to pull a fast one in their eagerness to make a sale?

    How difficult would it be (for a local bodyshop) to replace the bench seats with modern bucket sets with headrests? Does this depend on the make of the replica? Really don’t want a whiplash injury.

    Likewise, how hard would it be to install roll bars behind the seats?

    And three-point retracting seat belts? Or do they have those already?

    Are the cars painted? Or is the coloring just the gelcoat of the fibreglass? I would imaging that old gelcoat would be pretty faded  and oxidised in the sun.

    Do they drive on modern unleaded fuel without problems?

    Please forgive my naive newbie questions, but who else can I ask? Maybe I am overthinking this and I should just phone GatewayClassics and buy that nice looking red Duchess they have listed http://www.gatewayclassiccars.com/ORD/892/1952-MG-TD-Duchess–Tribute or the MiGi here https://www.volocars.com/auto-sales/vehicles/14638/1952-mg-td-roadster

    Thanks in advance





    Welcome aboard! And wow! That’s a heck-of-a list of questions.

    At this point, I don’t believe manufacturer of the original kit weighs in too much. Build quality and condition are likely more important. that said, there is a manufacturer comparison thread here:


    You will find some automatics out there, but limiting yourself to only auto’s will limit the availability. These cars are the most fun on back roads, where a manual transmission enhances the fun. Just my opinion, but I would go manual, not auto.

    All TDr’s I have seen are highway capable, be they VW, Chevy or Ford based. Frankly, the wind buffeting on the highway is a more significant speed limiter than power. 😉 I’ve driven my TDr on round-trips from NJ to Indianpolis and Cincinnatti and from Pennsylvania to Virginia Beach. Much of those drives were on interstates. The car kept up with traffic with no probem.

    As far as buying, just search the country. Ebay, classic car retailers, etc. If you find likely “buys,” post here and ask if there is anyone nearby that might be able to inspect the car for you. If that’s not possible, search for auto inspectors and you may find a pro nearby. of course you’ll have to pay for that.

    Advertised mileage is quite likely the mileage since the TDr was built. It will likely be impossible to determine the actual mileage on the chassis component sand drive train unless the seller as receipts for rebuilds.

    Inspection should include everything you would normally look at for any antique. Nothing really jumps to mind that would be different for a kit.

    I can’t really comment on dealer reputations. I have seen some members here who have purchased from  Gateway Classic Cars and seemed pleased with their transaction.

    The biggest challenge with installing bucket seats is the interior space, primarily the width. The interior shop would have to fabricate mounting brackets.

    Installing a roll bar will depend on whether the TDr is front engine or VW based. and for front engine cars, much will depend on the chassis. Hard to provide a more specific answer than that.

    I have not seen a TDr with three point belts, unless it had a full roll bar. There’s really no place to attached the shoulder mount.

    You will find both painted a gel coated cars.  Gel coat is thicker than paint. so an old, faded gel coat finish can withstand a serious wet sanding and buffing.

    I use a lead substitute in all my old cars. with relatively low annual mileage, I have not had a problem.

    Now to your last question. Yes. I believe you are overthinking this.

    Bucket seat or not, roll bar or not, you have to accept that you are driving a small, lightweight, fiberglass bodied vehicle. I any major adverse situation, the bucket seat and roll bar really won’t do much.

    Treat and drive the car as if it is a four-wheeled motorcycle, not a Ford F150, and you will be fine.

    My two cents (likely more!).


    Paul Mossberg
    1982 Classic Roadsters Ltd. Duchess (VW)
    2005 Intermeccanica Roadster

    If you own a TDr and are not in the Registry, please go to http://tdreplica.com/forums/topic/mg-td-replica-registry/ and register (you need to copy and paste the link)




    The charm of the replica TD is that it IS 60+ year old technology. No power steering, no power windows (windows?), no locks, no air bags, no ABS, no crash bumpers, no crumple zones, no computers. Ah, the allure of the simplicity of the past.

    Bill Ascheman
    Fiberfab Ford
    Modified 5.0, 5sp., 4:11
    Autocross & Hillclimb
    "Drive Happy"




    Welcome to the family and good luck with your search! That’s half the fun!!!

    I thought in our world, the windshield was the air bag! LOL!

    Another thing to be aware of is the registration requirements for your location. If you can find a car that’s registered Pre 75′, if you’re here in California, then you’re smog exempt…If not, you’re pretty much SC%#@#D! I had a 29′ Gazelle and it was registered as a 99′ Special construction vehicle…When the DMV (Department of Mentally Vacated), sent me my renewal notice, they said I needed smog…The smog shop laughed and said “It’s a VW…If it’s not Smokin…It’s Brokin! Lol! I ended up parting the car out, since it wouldn’t pass smog…

    My Classic Roadsters LTD Duchess is registered as a 69 Duchess and I could put a Will E. Coyote Jet Pack on the back and the state can’t do anything about it…That is until the Kum Ba Ya millennials get into office and make all of the cars “Moo” and eat grass!

    As far as safety precautions…I look at it this way…God knew where I was going to be conceived when the car exited the assembly line and he knows what it’s going to look like when I turn this body in (Well Used!)…Personally, I want to enter Heaven CRASHING and SCREECHING through those Pearly Gates (Preferably in The Penny Marie) Yelling “YAAAAA HOOOOO!!!!!! I WANNA RIDE AGAIN!!!” St. Peter will roll his eyes and say “I’m AMAZED that he lasted this long!”


    thoughts and opinions expressed by our Village Idiot do not reflect those opinions of the Founders of this wonderful Site. And they should never be taken seriously…That’s why he’s The Village Idiot! Instead, look at his postings for entertainment mostly and rely on the more responsible and intelligent thinking members…Like Bill and everyone else on the site! Also, please don’t respond, to him, as that only feeds the Beast and encourages his Mayhem! LOL!


    Be Blessed, MY Friends…

    Your Village Idiot…

    Rick and The Penny Marie




    I’ve got to naysay, Noel.

    Nothing any of us drive would even remotely fill your bill of particulars.

    Whether Chevy, Ford or VW-based, if you own a TD kit car now, you HAVE to tinker with it to keep it going. Most of us like it that way but it’s not everyone’s cuppa. If you can’t do basic maintenance and mechanical trouble-shooting you’re just not going to love a TD replica assembled 35 years ago in a dude’s garage.

    Also, these cars are just not safe, and can’t rightly be made safe in the way that modern cars are safe. There are no door bars, and if you inserted one, there’s nothing metal to attach the ends to. No roll bars, no shoulder belts, no ABS and certainly no airbags. Trying to put almost any of that stuff in one of these kits would be an engineering challenge of Benny Hillian proportions. Cue Yakaty Sax.

    The TD2000 or TG might have some (or all!) of the features you desire and since they’re made with Toyota and Miata drive trains they’ll also be reliable and unfussy compared with any of our ’70s-era VW/Chevette/Pinto-based contraptions.

    If I were you I’d scour Hemmings Motor News and, ebay and Craigslist looking for a TD2000 or TG for sale. They’re very rare, but there’s at least one TG in Canada. You probably won’t find an automatic but they’re as close as you’ll ever find to a T-series shaped vehicle that meets your needs.

    Good luck, and please report back!

    • This reply was modified 2 days, 10 hours ago by  edsnova.



    Thanks Ed.   I was trying to figure out how to say exactly what you said.  Now, no need.  Ditto!

    My car is (unadvertised) for sale but I didn’t want to tell Noel because his expectations are not realistic (for a TDr).




    There is a Facebook Page “Homebuild Cars” you might want to check out. Projects range from scrap to artwork.

    Here is a link to current kit manufacturers.



    Bill Ascheman
    Fiberfab Ford
    Modified 5.0, 5sp., 4:11
    Autocross & Hillclimb
    "Drive Happy"

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