By Vern Parker
Steve Sayer admits that he has always kindled
an affection for early MG sports cars with their sweeping front fenders.
A few of the English sports cars passed through
his hands before he learned of a 1949 TC model that was available.
The car had been restored in Great Britain
before being shipped in 1978 to the United States. The restoration, Sayer says,
was somewhat less than ideal.
"It was just awful,” Sayer says.
Sayer purchased the 11-foot, 7.5-inch-long MG in
1987 with, he says, the cutaway doors about to fall off.
At that time the little car was wearing a coat
of red paint, which had replaced the original Old English White.
The diminutive MG is only 4-feet, 8-inches wide
and rolls on a 7-foot, 10-inch wheelbase. An ash frame supports the steel body.
Beneath the slender engine hood, ventilated on
either side by 21 vertical louvers, is a four cylinder, overhead valve engine
with twin S.U. carburetors generating 54 horsepower.
The top three gears of the four-speed
transmission are fully synchomesh. The shift lever sprouts from the floor near
the emergency brake lever.
Although the optimistic speedometer tops out at
105 miles per hour records from more than 60 years ago indicate that 73 miles
per hour is a more accurate achievable top speed.
When the MG TC was new a timed period from zero to 60 miles per hour was
registered in a scant 22.7 seconds.
In the cozy cockpit the passenger – seated on the left side – is eyeball to
eyeball with the speedometer while the driver is faced with the 6500 RPM
tachometer which has no red line.
A pair of electric wipers suspended from the top of the windshield keep the
glass clear unless the driver has opted to fold the windshield down over the
engine hood. If that is the case the driver has a clear view of the moto-meter
radiator cap registering the temperature of the coolant in the engine.
Sayer acquired the MG TC in August 1987 and within three days, he says he had
the body off the car. Only 21 months later the restoration was completed and he
took his MG TC to its first antique car show.
He chose a green on green combination for his car with an Almond Green
exterior. In front of the driver is the four-spoke banjo style steering wheel on
a telescopic steering column.
The 4.50x19-inch tires are wrapped around the 48-spoke wheels, which are coated
with silver/gray paint. The wheels are secured to the car with chrome plated
On the firewall, under the hood, is the 12-volt positive ground battery
adjacent to the tool kit and tire changing equipment.
At the front of the bumperless MG TC is the horn and single fog light. Crowning
the front fenders are small parking lights.
At the other end of the car can be found a single taillight accompanied by one
"For 1949 hydraulic brakes,” Sayer says, "they work very well.”
The spare tire is mounted vertically against the 61-liter gasoline tank. With
the top in the raised position the car stands 4-feet, 5-inches high. The MG is
equipped with four side curtains, one for each door and another pair to be
fitted into the quarter panel area behind the doors.
Sayer admits to straying from originality during the restoration process.
The original 1949 TC dashboards, he explains, were covered in black vinyl.
He opted, instead, to finish the curvaceous dashboard like much earlier MG
automobiles with unfinished plywood.