The ex-New York International Motor Show, Lee Majors
1953 MG TD MIDGET FOUR SEATER SPORTS
COACHWORK BY J.S. INSKIP OF NEW YORK
Chassis No. TD 26606
Red with fawn leather interior and fawn soft top
Engine: four cylinders, in-line, pushrod overhead valves, 1,250cc, 55bhp at 5,200rpm; Gearbox: four-speed manual with synchromesh on top three gears; Suspension: independent front by wishbones and coil springs, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs; Brakes: four wheel hydraulically operated drum. Left hand drive.
The MG TC Midget was an exquisitely shaped and detailed miniature. With its lengthy narrow bonnet, slender tires, and with beam axles all round, it was the final flowering of a school of sporting car design that began perhaps in 1914 with the likes of the Grand Prix Peugeot. The TC's successor, the chunky 1954 MG TD Midget, was an entirely different matter and looked forward to the splendid sporting cars of the 1950s. It was endowed with an excellent independent front suspension system, which dictated a much more substantial chassis frame and wider section tires on smaller diameter wheels. The body offered more space, and the engine ultimately more power. The little MG factory in Abingdon, also tasked with making Riley saloons and dropheads and later, the big Austin-Healey roadster, really felt it could not be expected to produce variants on the MG Midget theme and resisted all overtures to do so. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic in New York, J.S. Inskip Inc., a company that had been importing characterful automobiles from England since the 1930s, took over the importation of MG cars for the United States in 1948 and in 1950 became the New York distributor.
The company perceived a market for a long wheelbase four seater version of the TD to fill the gap left by the demise of the traditionally-shaped MG Y-Type four seater, which in general specification it would resemble. To provide the necessary legroom for the rear seat occupants, the TD's wheelbase was stretched by ten inches, a matching section being set into the parallel chassis side rails, drive shaft and brake lines being lengthened to suit. It was a fairly straightforward operation. Inskip's neat solution to altering the body was to move the back section from the rear door pillar aft to suit and make longer wooden body frame members and a new door hung, it was said, on Rolls-Royce hinges. Apart from the seats, most other fittings remained pure MG TD. Inskip's clever four seater attracted favorable attention and twelve were built altogether.
This example was the model Inskip used at the New York International Motor Show exhibit in 1953 (although at present titled as a 1955 model) and was subsequently purchased by a Mr. Harmon of California, a writer for the entertainment newspaper, Daily Variety, for his daughter Joy Harmon who was with a play on Broadway. She was sixteen at the time and the MG was both a reward and a birthday present, and she drove the car to California, keeping it until 1963 when she sold it to actor, Mr. Lee Majors (The Six Million Dollar Man). Mr. Majors kept it for the next thirty years, mostly storing and periodically driving it. A handwritten record written by Mr. Majors, signed and dated 1993 confirms the above and is offered with the car as well as photographs of Mr. Majors with the car. The original color was red and Mr. Majors had the car repainted first in light blue, then black over brown to match a Rolls-Royce he also owned at the time. The next owner returned it to bright red and retrimmed it throughout when he purchased the car for display in his private collection. Along its flanks is the long chrome spear characteristic of this variant and it also has the prized option of Rudge-Whitworth style center-lock wire wheels.
This is a very rare open four seater MG with a combined motor show and show business history.