1938 MG TA Tickford Drophead Coupe

The mid-1930s were a time of many changes for boutique sports-car manufacturer Morris Garages, particularly following W.R. Morris’ sale of his interest in MG to parent company Morris Motors. Thankfully, MG’s chief designer Cecil Kimber retained the necessary autonomy to continue developing new MG models. The first MG model developed and produced following the company’s change of ownership was the TA Midget, the first of the famed British marque’s definitive T-Series sports cars, produced from 1936 through 1939.

Lower and wider than the previous PB, the two-seater TA proved very popular with buyers, thanks to its more spacious and comfortable cockpit, good handling characteristics and smoother ride. In contrast to the previous overhead-cam MG powerplants engineered by Kimber, the TA was powered by a newly adopted and very responsive, pushrod-type OHV 1,292cc engine derived from the Wolseley 10/40.

Upon release, the TA was well received and appreciated for the style, comfort, and performance it delivered at a most reasonable price. Importantly, as related by Mike Allison in his book, MG: The Magic of the Marque, “…even the highly critical trials fraternity accepted the new T-type Midget as a good car which achieved everything the P and J-type cars did in standard tune, with a good deal less fuss.” Capable of approaching 80 miles per hour at full chat, the TA could accelerate from rest to 50 miles per hour in about 15 seconds – excellent performance for the prewar era.

The TA was a strong commercial success for MG, with 3,002 examples produced in all, according to published figures. While the two-seater Roadsters were most numerous, 252 Tickford Coupes were produced, with handsome coach built bodies supplied by Salmons and Sons. Featuring elegant and versatile Drophead Coupe coachwork, the TA Tickford bridged the gap in MG’s model range between the TA two-seater and 1.5-liter VA.

Additional features characteristic of the well-appointed TA included a telescopic steering column, a snug three-position insulated convertible top with elegant landau irons, wind-up windows and wood-trimmed full-height doors, a handsome wooden dash, and a windscreen that could be opened for additional ventilation as required. The TA’s modern 1,292cc OHV inline-four engine was paired with a four-speed manual transmission and the chassis featured boxed rails up front, a front and rear sliding-trunnion suspension system, and the stopping power of four-wheel Lockheed hydraulic drum brakes.

Numbered TA/2831, this 1938 MG TA Tickford Drophead Coupe was restored approximately 10 years ago by noted MG specialist Steve Crowley, with only an indicated 35 miles accumulated since completion. Finished in Grey with a matching canvas top, the Tickford features a Burgundy leather interior restored by Mike Collingburn. The engine bay and inline four-cylinder, twin S.U.-carbureted engine are restored and finished in keeping with the rest of the MG, including period correct accessories, components, and finishes throughout.

A study in prewar sporting elegance, this TA Tickford is well accessorized, consistent with its upmarket stature and presence. In addition to a chrome horn, single driving light, and body-colored cooling shutters up front, the TA’s radiator is crowned by a striking, Art Deco-inspired Midge – a factory-approved accessory mascot for the Midget in period. To the rear are a slab-style fuel tank, spare wheel and tire, tail lamp, and U.K. registration plate.

Of all the great British sports cars produced, the MG TA is particularly historic as the foundation of a dynasty that included the short-lived TB that was halted in 1939 due to wartime, followed during the postwar era by the progressively updated TC, TD, and TF – the final classical MG models. Rare, elegant, and well-appointed, this Tickford Drophead Coupe exemplifies the coach built pinnacle of the 1936-39 MG  TA model range.


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