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					Alternative TG May   11/4/07   11:12   Page 56

              in                                 The 1953 MG TF has been a hugely popular target for
                                                 replica manufacturers the world over for many years
                                                 but it’s taken until now for a replica to emerge with the
                                                 pedigree, power and poise to truly excite as a sports
                                                 car. Ian Hyne tries a Kiwi a long way from home.

                                                                 trangely, for a car that has    drawn to it.

                                                     S           sparked so may imitators,
                                                                 the MG TF wasn’t a
                                                                 particularly great car.
                                                  Already obsolete at its debut as the last of
                                                                                                      Over the years, the home market has
                                                                                                 chiefly enjoyed the Herald / Spitfire
                                                                                                 based RMB Gentry. RMB are the initials
                                                                                                 of Roger Blockley who worked on the
                                                  the warmed over pre-war designs used to        Spitfire production line where he planned
                                                  get MG back on its feet after the conflict,    his aluminium skinned plywood body for
                                                  it was also underpowered with its original     the car which was finished off with GRP
                                                  1,250 cc engine and didn’t achieve a           wings and scuttle. The continued
                                                  great deal more when it was replaced           availability of genuine MG TF parts aided
                                                  with a 63 bhp1,500 in 1955. Despite            his search for authenticity and the car was
                                                  such potential for failure, the three post-    a great success. It passed from Roger to
                                                  war MG models of TC, TD and TF were            TG who re-engineered it for Ford Escort
                                                  enormously successful and appealed most        parts but neither car was ever a moving
                                                  to US servicemen still stationed in the UK     experience to drive.
                                                  and they shipped them home in droves.               Other Gentry builders went for more
                                                  They loved them and they provided              power by using the Triumph six-cylinder
                                                  Americans with a love of British sports        engine and while it solved the problem of
                                                  cars they have never lost. And while the       performance, it ruined the TF’s chief asset
                                                  TF may have enjoyed a limited production       by pushing the radiator grille forwards
                                                  life as a stop-gap model prior to the          and destroying the car’s perfect
                                                  introduction of the MGA in 1955, it was        proportions.
                                                  also a sales success with 9,800 cars                We also had the VW Beetle based
                                                  manufactured of which the 1,500 models         Daytona Moya from South America and
                                                  are the most desirable. In addition, the TF    offered to UK buyers by Fordham
                                                  was undeniably pretty which is the main        Engineering of Ely, Cambs and while the
                                                  reason replica manufacturers have been         country was awash with Beetle based

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                                                                   teeth on his own car during his National          powerful Nissan engines. Then in 1991, the
                                                                   Service days. He eventually sold the car but      company designed its own chassis with
                                                                   saw it in the street years later and chatted to   Nissan power prior to the advent of the MX5
                                                                   the owner who said it was still giving great      based car is 2003.
                                                                   service.                                               The chassis is a massively strong, semi-
                                                                        David and his wife, Sally, greatly           monocoque design with anti-intrusion door
                                                                   enjoyed the Naylor and, as a direct result of     beams designed to meet the rigorous
                                                                   owning it and participating in club events        Australian ADR rules and which also satisfy
                                                                   and tours in the UK and Europe, have visited      the requirements of SVA. In fact, it’s not so
                                                                   many places they would never otherwise            much a kit as a turnkey minus as the chassis
                                                                   have seen. They have also greatly enjoyed         is fitted to the body, either painted or
                                                                   the social side of ownership but David is too     unpainted, and comes complete with the
                                                                   much of an instinctive and intuitive engineer     dashboard, trim and everything else
                                                                   not to have noticed the shortcomings of the       necessary to complete it save for the
                                                                   Naylor design, chief among which at 6’ 4”,        addition of the Mazda parts.
                                                                   was a lack of space for someone of his size.           David’s car is built on a Mk2 MX5 which
                                                                   Add to that the dated design of the chassis       shares an identical kerbside weight with the
                                                                   and suspension and the less than scintillating    MX5 (1040 kgs) and which has 128 bhp
                                                                   performance of the 1,700 O-series engine          from the DOHC, 16-valve, Efi engine to
                                                                   and David saw many areas in which the             deliver a power to weight ratio of 125 bhp
                                                                   design could be improved. He did quite a          per ton which no TF replica has ever come
                                                                   bit to the car himself adding a five-speed        close to in the past. The result is a car that
                                                                   box from a Sherpa among various                   brings all the refinement of modern
                                                                   modifications aimed at creating a more            automotive technology, which can really get
                                                                   driveable car. They were successful too but       a shimmy on when the mood takes you and
                                                                   would never make the car perfect.                 which is ultra smooth in its ride and
                                                                        He then came across the TG from              transmission such that long distances are no
                                                                   Alternative Cars of Auckland, New Zealand         barrier to its use. It’s also a top quality
                                                                   and based on the Mazda MX5 which was              package of design, execution and period
                                                                   being used over there as a kit car basis well     authenticity.
                                                                   before UK manufacturers cottoned on to its             It’s got suicide doors that make entry
        The radiator grille is unmistakeable but the TG emblem
                                                                   attractions as donor cars became available        easy and when you close them, a buzzer
        proclaims the gar’s origins. When MG reused the TF
        suffix, G was the next letter and was adopted.             at sufficiently attractive prices.                sounds until you push a bolt to double-lock
                                                                                                                     them. He’s also recently had the dashboard
                                                                                                                     recovered in highly polished wood veneer.
        kits, somehow a Beetle-based TF just didn’t                   [ Start her up and the                         That too is a classy job with no plywood end
        seem right.                                                                                                  grain on show. The instruments are nice.
             The final tilt at a credible kit-form copy               engine whispers                                They’re American and comprise a
        came in the form of the Hutson and Mahcon                     ignition. Select first and                     speedometer, rev-counter and a combined
        TFs. These cars were offered in kit form in the                                                              instrument giving fuel level, water
        wake of the Naylor TF, a fully Type                           the very easy and                              temperature, oil temperature and pressure.
        Approved car famously driven a short                                                                         He returned the speedometer to the US
        distance outside 10 Downing Street by Mrs                     fluid pedal action has                         maker to have a new face and recalibration                                                                       The New Zealand emblem proudly proclaims its land
        Thatcher. But once again, the car used                        the car moving off with                        to show miles instead of kilometres.              The Mazda twin-can 16-valve is a tightish fit but at last      or origin while the air intake behind the louvers
        already obsolete parts with a Marina live-                                                                        The seats are the MX5 ones recovered         provides a TF replica with enjoyable and exhilarating          creates a gorgeous exhaust note on the move.
        axle on leaf springs and the 1,700 cc                         ultimate grace ]                               and are extremely comfortable and though          performance.
        Marina / Ital O-series engine. Again the kits                                                                the car is more spacious and more                                                                                                                                      The interior is comfortable and well equipped. David
        didn’t sell well but even that failed to destroy                                                             comfortable than the Naylor was, David                                                                             The steering is pin-sharp and instantly             has just had the dash redone while his Tom Tom sat-
        affection for the TF.                                          Alternative Cars was started by Russell       could still do with a bit more legroom.           the slipstream of 70 mph.                                   responsive. It’s almost kart-like but without the        nav is an indispensable aid.
             Indeed, David Parkin’s introduction to the            Hooper who had always wanted an MG TF                  Externally, all the TF trademarks are              Start her up and the engine whispers                  twitchiness. It really is beautifully obedient to
        TF came via the Naylor. David is retired after             throughout his 30 year career in medical          present; the beautiful chromed radiator grille,   ignition. Select first and the very easy and                the wheel and you can position it with
        a career in car dealerships interspersed with              sales. So eventually, he followed the             bumpers, bolt-on wire wheels, chrome on           fluid pedal action has the car moving off                   millimetric perfection.                                urgent exhaust note and general feel creates
        the design, development and production of                  example of Roger Blockley and decided to          brass windscreen frame and tank straps.           with ultimate grace and going up the box in                      The brakes comprise an all-disc system            a unique enjoyment that reflects well on the
        a range of clever machines and devices that                make his own. Like Roger, he settled on the            Deviations from the authentic TF are to      effortlessly smooth changes. In fact, it would              that provides the excellent stopping power             effort that has been invested in its design and
        achieved great success in applications as                  Triumph, in this case the Herald, as a donor      be found in the rear lights, high-level brake     be hard to jerk a gearchange in this car. But               one would naturally expect from the                    development.
        varied as photo-copier demonstrations to                   of both the chassis and engine and in 1983,       light housed in the stainless steel luggage       it’s not all docility and decorum. Put your foot            unaltered donor system and in between, grip                 Honestly, if you’re a TF fan, you’ll love
        putting the serrated edges on containers for               the company was established and the Mk1           rack, sire-repeater lights and bonnet locks as    down and from 2,500 onwards, the engine                     and handling are spot on.                              this car. So how do you get one?
        kitchen foil. In fact he’s only semi retired as            car produced.                                     well as David’s own polycarbonate                 emits a glorious gargle from the intake to the                   If you were a blindfold passenger, you                 Well Alternative Cars doesn’t have a UK
        he now has another machine he’s been                           The Mk 1 was gradually modified               sidescreens. These are very nicely made and       rear of the engine bay just by the rearmost                 might think it hard to tell the difference             agent even though the company has
        asked to design.                                           through to the Mk4 with chassis                   fix to a bracket at the top of the screen via a   louvers. It’s got some pace too as well as the              between being in the MX5 and the TG but                exhibited at three Stoneleigh shows.
             He’s a self-taught engineer who cut his               improvements and the option of more               small magnet which holds them securely in         handling to go with it.                                     not so. Somehow the TG with its flat screen,           However, there’s no bar to ordering direct

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Alternative TG May      11/4/07      11:13     Page 60

           [ Put your foot down
           and from 2,500
           onwards, the engine
           emits a glorious gargle
           from the intake to the
           rear of the engine bay ]

        from the company in Auckland and they’re
        well geared up for satisfying export orders.
              The body is mounted on its powder-
        coated chassis with many other parts ready
        fitted and the rest carefully packaged and           Suicide doors make entry easy while the polycarbonate
        stored in the tub. The whole lot is then             sidescreens are of David’s own design and execution.
        mounted on a very secure wooden base and
        encased in a wooden crate measuring
                                                                                                                     Further information:
        4,300 x 2,000 x 1,140 mms and                     finished TG. However, you get the picture in
        weighing 800 kgs. This then arrives on your       respect of the ease of build and there’s                    Alternative Cars
        doorstep in return for £9,995 + vat. All you      plenty more on the web-site as well as the                  PO Box 13207
        then need is the requisite MX5 and you’re         build instructions so you can see exactly                   Onehunga
        away.                                             what will arrive and what’s entailed in                     Auckland
              Alternative Cars reckon a few weekend’s     putting it together.                                        New Zealand
        work will see the job done but realistically,          I thoroughly enjoyed David Parkin’s TG                 Tel: +64 21 939436
        it’s going to take longer than that to overhaul   and am sure many a kit enthusiast will                      Web:
        and recondition the MX5 parts as well as to       welcome the advent of a TF replica that at                  Email:
        enjoy the experience of doing justice to the      last does justice to the sports car tag.

        60        KIT-CAR

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