1937 MG TA Tickford Drophead Coupe

The arrival of the T-Type Midget marked a significant turning point in the history of MG Cars. As a pet project of W.R. Morris, MG was a boutique manufacturer, and chief designer Cecil Kimber had near-total autonomy to develop his world-class sporting automobiles. However, in 1935, Morris sold his interest in MG to parent company Morris Motors, who had a rather dim view of sporting cars and motor racing in general. Thankfully, Kimber managed to keep enough control over operations to develop new MGs using Morris-based components. He made fine work of it, too - even within the new corporate overlords looking over his shoulder.

The first model produced under the auspices of the new leadership was the T-Type Midget. The most significant change was under the bonnet where Morris Motors eschewed Kimber’s advanced but costly overhead-cam engines in favor of the simpler, cheaper Wolseley 10/40-derived 1,292 cc pushrod four-cylinder. While some MG loyalists lamented this change, the new TA generally outperformed the overhead-cam PB while offering improved cockpit space and passenger comfort, and friendlier manners for daily use. The TA was quite successful in the home market, setting the stage for MG’s future success through the 1940s and beyond, particularly in the USA. The TA was available as a standard roadster or with the optional Tickford drophead coupe coachwork, built by Salmons & Sons Coachbuilders of Newport Pagnell. Of the approximately 3,000 TAs produced, just over 250 wore the handsome and luxurious Tickford coachwork.

This lovely TA Tickford is a rare surviving example of MG’s elegant coachbuilt special. Restored to show-quality standards by a devoted marque enthusiast, it is handsomely presented in two-tone Cambridge Blue/Oxford Blue livery over blue hides, accented with subtle red coach lines. It is beautifully detailed throughout, as demonstrated by the AACA Senior National First Prize badge from 2015. Details include 19-inch wire wheels finished correctly in silver, Lucas headlamps, horn, single fog lamp, and trafficators. Brightwork is used sparingly on the body, though the chrome radiator shell, lights, and trim pieces are restored to a high standard, maintained in excellent order.

Whereas the standard roadster cockpit was relatively spartan, the Tickford was positively luxurious, with ample leather, wool carpet, and polished wood trim. As with the exterior, the cabin is beautifully restored to a high standard. Light blue hides with dark blue rugs mirror the exterior color scheme, and the upholstery is superbly finished. The woodwork on the dash and door caps is polished to a beautiful luster, and all the proper switches and dials are in place. The padded and insulated three-position top adds another layer of luxury, allowing for roll-up glass side windows and superb comfort in virtually any condition. It is, of course, in exceptional condition, finished in blue canvas with a gray broadcloth lining.

The Morris-derived 1,292 cc inline-four is a torquey and spirited little unit, brimming with character. Particularly in this car, it is also a pretty engine – finished in bright red with plenty of polished aluminum alloy, copper, and brass fittings. The engine is fed by twin SU carburetors breathing through a proper factory air cleaner, and all the clamps, hardware, and plumbing are period-correct. It benefits from a recent oil and coolant system service and runs quite well. The engine compartment is impeccably tidy, with notable details, including the restored tool kit, properly stowed in the scuttle storage box.

With its spirited performance and miniature-Bentley looks, this rare and desirable MG is undoubtedly one of the more charming sports cars of the era. This example boasts a superb restoration and is sure to bring many years of enjoyment to a discerning enthusiast.


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