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MG TD TF 1500 - 1953 Headlamps

On another thread a number of forum members posted that 1953 cars came with Chrome headlamps. At some point in 1951 MG started issuing painted headlamps. I am trying to figure out if there is a pattern or some date we might be able to determine when the factory started issuing chrome headlamps again.

If you have a late 1952 or 1953 TD can you post if it has painted or chrome headlamps along with your car number? Also only post if you are pretty sure your headlamps left the factory that way. ie you opened them up and noticed rusty chrome inside even though they are painted now, or the car has not been restored ...

For example:
TD 19629 has painted headlamps.
TD 20377 has chrome headlights.
Christopher Couper

TD 28929EXL/NA was built with chrome headlamps, no KOTR emblem and the chrome base was rivited on. These are not the same as the early chrome lamp with the spot welded base and the KOTR medallion.
D. Sander

TD29885(Aug 17,1953) and TD28690(June 9,1953) have chromed headlight buckets and riveted bases. No KOTR emblems. Near as I can, tell going back to 1964, they are original. Since the cars are close to one another in production dates, I suspect that they were from the factory that way. Interestingly, almost everything that I have looked at and worked on is identical from one to the next. Only a few weeks apart and at the end of the run so no more changes were implemented. Mark
Mark Strang

TD23816, born on Dec. 31, 1952 had/has painted headlamps. No sign of chrome except for the rings. No KOTR emblems. Hadn't been touched since 1972. Bud
Bud Krueger

TD29744 has chrome buckets, riveted base and no KOTR emblems. Jan
Janson Hurd

TD 23004 - 11 December 1952 - has definitely original painted headlight buckets. Joe
Joe Olson

TD24953 untouched since 1972 like Bud's. It also came to me painted and without emblems.
Kirk Trigg

1951 TD8986 came with painted headlamps. Date of manufacture about July 1951. It has since been upgraded to chrome ones.
John Quilter (TD8986)

This is great. We are honing in. Can someone with a chrome, riveted headlamp snap me a picture of the riveted base?
Christopher Couper

TD21742 painted buckets, spot welded base, no kotr. Two left brackets, one reversed... Never realized it until I went to assemble the car.
Blair Weiss

Late '53 chrome headlamp, no KOTR emblem and a rivited on base.

D. Sander

from above

D. Sander

Here's my take on it: if you have headlights with riveted bases then they should be chrome over brass. If the base is spot welded in place then the headlights are steel and would have been painted.
I've always assumed that there was no orderly pattern for the type of headlight the factory used but took what they could get from Lucas on any particular day (probably at a good price!).
Hugh Pite

H.D. Pite

TD 8105 had chrome headlights with the KOR emblem.
Tom Maine

Thanks Dave. I will post it on the production pages.

The numbers are not showing up exactly to some point because I have at lease one riveted/chrome earlier than welded/painted but it looks like if you have a car around 28000 or later you can be pretty confident it should be riveted/chrome.
Christopher Couper

A car I restored TD28860 had chrome buckets, no emblems.
F. Driver


TD26350 built in 1953 had chrome buckets, no emblems.


Dave Runnings

The buckets on TD25009 (Feb 1953) are chrome with (I think) rivets (see pic attached) with no KOTR emblem. Based on the pitting in the chrome and some signs of rust around the edges, I suspect the chrome is over iron/steel. The buckets may have been replaced back in '74 when the car was restored but I have no receipts for new buckets. Perhaps the PO had the painted buckets chromed.


J K Chapin

This headlamp is the spot welded steel headlamp. The headlamp with a riveted on base has a different base, that is riveted on over the bottom of the bucket. This lamp has the base spot welded on the inside of the bucket
D. Sander

Thanks D. Guess I don't know my rivets from a hole in the...:-). Still working on how to spell MG. Jud
J K Chapin

Car#24570 born 1/28/1953 has painted buckets with no KOTR emblems. I have owned this car since 1964 and buckets have never been changed.

Bill Brown

TD 23935
I have known the car since it was new!
Len Fanelli

Dave Runnings: Are yours riveted or welded?
Christopher Couper


MG 28897 chrome. Back in 1959 had an other TD, number unknown, also chrome shells.

Jim Haskins
J. M. Haskins

So do I take from this that because Jud's car has steel with spot welds that it would likely have originally had painted shells rather than chrome? His TD25009 and my TD24953 share the same build day of Feb. 11,1953. As stated above, mine came to me spot welded, steel, painted, with no emblems. Just curious (and slightly jealous of Mr. Chapin's chrome headlamps!)


Kirk Trigg

Kirk: Still trying to sort out the chrome for any car with welded buckets and KOTR. So far it sounds like original chrome on the rivet 53 buckets.

As Jud stated the PO could have plated the buckets. This was common as painted ones scratch so easily and the earlier cars had plated buckets.
Christopher Couper


Thank you and especially thanks for your tireless efforts in regard to chasing down and documenting every detail in regard to what was original on these cars. Even when we stray from what is "correct" it's nice to at least know that we are.

Kirk Trigg

TD4834 with build date 12-7-1950 has painted housings and no KOTR medallions
W. A. Chasser Jr

By the way, there is a pair of chromed light buckets for sale now on ebay. First I can recall seeing.
Item number 301248039074
Price seems reasonable to me. Guy has them listed under MG TF parts for sale. Wrong location.

'54 TF
T Norby

TD28423: 11 June 1953,chrome, riveted, no KOTR
James Neel

TD 22069, build date in November 1952, has welded buckets, painted and no KOTR badges.

Bobby Loughridge
McKinney, Texas
B. F. Loughridge

Chris, does your research thus far suggest any kind of recognizable pattern? If inconclusive, perhaps Hugh may well be correct in his assumption. Once painted buckets were introduced, (it seems sometime between Tom Maine's TD 8105 & John Quilter's TD 8986 of July 1951, with the obvious & very early exception of WA Chasser Jnr's July 1950 TD 4834), thereafter they simply used what they could get from wherever they could get it, post war austerity being what it was. I believe chrome buckets have always been held in higher regard than the painted version, which explains why some originally painted & welded steel shells were subsequently chromed. Perhaps there was also a customer backlash to the painted variety? If so the factory would prefer to fit chrome over brass as & when they became available. It's also possible some markets may have insisted on chrome? Almost all of the TD's I've seen here are the chrome version, but I must admit I had never bothered to determine if these were all riveted. I'll check this out late next month on All British Day, as this is the largest annual gathering of T Types in Sydney. My car was built on the 1st Feb 1951 & has lamps with a riveted base, chrome over brass & KOTR emblems. Cheers
Peter TD 5801
P Hehir

The pattern so far appears as David Sander pointed, very late 53 (ie 28000). I am waiting for a number of 27000 26000 before we call it so if you can poke around shows that would be great.
Christopher Couper

TD 3983 Built October 24th 1950 chrome riveted with KOTR.

Rich (TD 3983) Taylor

Inside shot.

Rich (TD 3983) Taylor

It would be interesting if we can identify another British car in 1953 that used the same headlamps. It may be that the factory ran out of the welded ones and refused to enter a new contract so they just jumped on someones elses production knowing the TF was just around the corner.
Christopher Couper

TD 4139 Oct 1 1950 Chrome, rivets, KOTR. Unsure why 4834 had painted.
Bruce Cunha

1953 TD # 22367 has had painted buckets with no medallions since new. Having restored many TDs, I have always associated 53s with painted buckets. The exception to my rule was the Mark IIs, even the late cars always seemed to have plated buckets.
Tom L. care to weigh in on this one?
Cheers, Terry
A Peddicord

Ive seen many MK IIs with painted buckets, and every late TD Ive seen has the chrome headlamp with the riveted base and no KOTR button. Rick Smith may know at roughly what number they switched to chrome in '53. I'll ask him
D. Sander

I don't know why mine are painted either but they do have the same layers of paint that the body panels have. Could be they were replaced by a PO but doubt it as the original ivory color is the first topcoat layer
W. A. Chasser Jr

22367 would be consistant for painted buckets. It was the late '53 TD that had the chrome lights. The question is, at which chassis number did this change take place?
D. Sander

Spot welded
W/o kotr

Spot welded
W/o kotr
Vincent Pia

To add or perhaps confuse, there are two sets of headlamp buckets on eBay this morning. Remembering that what is stated on eBay is "Not Necessarily So"

111415981469, Chrome, spot welded, with KOTR, stated as coming off a 1952 TD?

221502106792, Painted black, spot welded No KTOR (AFAICS), stated as coming of a 1949 MG-TD

Jim B.
JA Benjamin

Per Totally T-Type 2:

TD 26639, 10 April 1953, chrome buckets.
James Neel

OK. We are now into the 26,000's
Christopher Couper

I removed from my TD, #17659, last year, headlamp buckets, chrome over brass with KOR emblem, both had riveted bases. They had been on the car for the past 38 plus years.

I have a matched pair of fender mirrors, both with Bakelite bases, in excellent condition. They were rolled up in a rag in the tool box of the car when I acquired it several years ago.
R C Flowers

Hi Chris,

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you as i was out of town for a week. They are riveted.

Dave Runnings

So, it appears that TD25009/ 11 Feb '53 (mine) had painted/no KOTR buckets (assuming the PO simply had the originals chrome plated) and that TD 26639, 10 April 1953 (James's), had chrome buckets. Can we infer that the change over was around TD 2600 somewhere in the March, '53 timeframe?

J K Chapin

"Can we infer that the change over was around TD 2600 somewhere in the March, '53 timeframe"
D. Sander

That's where I have it set until we see more evidence, but this seems to be close enough for now. I updated the production page.
Christopher Couper

TD/C29438 chrome, KoR, riveted.

Pretty certain they are original, certainly they are as was bought in 1964.
Ian Bowers

Chris -

Perhaps this applies to chrome on TDs ...

Nickel was in short supply in the U.S. during the Korean War. Nickel is plated under chrome.

Chevrolet trucks switched from chrome to painted bumpers, grilles, and hubcaps in mid-1951 and didn't return to chrome until 1954. Some US autos used a flash chrome plating on parts during the period, then top coated with clear to protect it -- no nickel was used under the chrome. The car owner's manual gave instructions to avoid abrasives on the parts.

Do you think that TD headlights faced the same nickel shortage in '51-53?

LM Cook

Lonnie: That is the most widely subscribed to rumor but I have not done any real investigation to verify it.
Christopher Couper

In 1951 I worked for Radiart, a division of Cornell- Dubilier, making auto antennas for U.S. auto companies. The Korean War shortage that affected the auto antenna business was about brass. Brass tubing was first plated with nickle and then with chromium. The substitution was for steel tubing that was first coated with copper and then nickle, followed by chromium. I have no idea how this played out in the UK.

I think this topic is also in the archives. I recall getting a few guffaws over describing my position of auto antenna inspector as 'rod puller'. Bud
Bud Krueger

Our 53 Dodge fire truck has no chrome, all is painted silver. I've been told this was due to the Korean War. I have received the same explanation for the painted headlamps on the TD.
D. Sander

From the April 27th, 1951 issue of the Engineer (a British trade publication).

THE Minister of Supply, Mr. Strauss, made
a statement in the House of Commons last
Friday morning about the grave shortage of
nickel, tungsten and molybdenum and, consequently,
of alloy steels He said that everything
possible was being done to obtain greater
supplies but there was immediate need to make
savings in the civil use of these metals to
provide for the very heavy requirements of the
rearmament programme. To make it possible
in respect of nickel, the Minister continued,
certain other nickel uses must be cut immediately.
Nickel supplies had not fallen but the
heavy defense demand coming on top of a
rising civilian demand had produced an acute
shortage. As an emergency measure, therefore,
as from May lst, the amount of nickel supplied
for stainless steel production would be cut to
70 per cent of the 1950 level and supplies of
nickel anodes for plating would be cut to 50
per cent of the 1950 level. Those cuts would
be followed by the prohibition of less essential
uses of nickel.

So there you have it.
Christopher Couper

This thread was discussed between 12/07/2014 and 26/07/2014

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