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MG TD TF 1500 - Next on my 'bucket list' - Top bow color

As the title said, the next item on my “bucket list” to restore my car TF #1414 is the elusive - difficult to put in plain words - the hue, tint, tone, the “beige – light tan mixed with a little rosy – pinkish” “whatcha-call it” color of the top bow and side curtains to the TF.

Matthew and Colin both have provided great pictures of their nice examples they have on their car. I’ve seen their pictures and read the archives on how people try their best to describe this color. I’ve downloaded these pictures and studied them… but as everyone knows how the pictures were taken ( in direct sunlight, with or without camera flash, photos taken indoors) can give different color results. Color can vary on computer screens… it is nonstop and never-ending.

Never seen this in person I did have the opportunity to see for the first time in the flesh a very nice survivor TF at the GOF in NY this year. Todd who is the owner of this car has granted me permission today to view the car again so I can compare color chips to try to get a “close match” to the surviving top bow color not exposed to direct sunlight under the hood. What is also great is he lives an hour north from me in NH. This is awesome because I don’t expect to be attending a rally in Michigan or in Australia anytime soon.

My strategy is to bring a color flip chart and hold it directly next to this surviving paint and get the closest match. It will never be FACTORY EXACT due to age and some wear but it will be close top bow / side curtain color the best way I can.

I will share my findings for everyone since not everyone can be this close to an original TF.


Frank Cronin

Frank: That's a great idea. I used the Dupont Spectramaster flip book at my paint supplier. When you get the code please email as I don't see every post. I can then update the code in the formula list here:

Also check out the color I chose for the TD at the same time. Its rumored to be less pink than the TF but I would like to make sure.
Chris Couper

"Factory exact" is probably unattainable now as it was then.

There are stories told by former Abingdon factory employees of running out of paint on the production floor and having a runner go out to a local store to fetch enough to get through the work at hand.

This certainly seems to be a case of close is good enough.

Bobby Galvez

Hi Frank. Just tossing in my 2 cents worth. My understanding was that Abingdon intended to have the bows etc match the colour of the top. As nobody in their right mind would fit a "duck" top, most people go for the Stayfast from Moss. Thats what I did. I then took the top to the local paint supplier & had him match the frame colour to the top in a semi gloss outdoor enamel. Sure.. it aint gonner be original( neither is the top) but it will match, which is what I believe M.G. originally intended.
Peter TD 5801
P Hehir

I had a great visit today. We talked cars, shared experiences, and stories growing up with a TF. Todd and I have similar stories how the car was acquired by our parents in the late '50's. I know we will meeting again and hopefully soon when my car is complete. Many thanks to Dave Sander for assisting me to get in touch with him so I could view his car.

Everyone has made some very good points. There are so many variables when it comes to paint and color matching -- time, exposure to the elements, previous owners, wear and tear, and to echo what Bobby said about Abingdon employees doing a emergency run to refill an almost empty barrel of paint to finish a job.

The results today is I have two colors that closely resemble the color of the top bow. The color is in the red and brown color spectrum with a white tint to get a beige- light rose color. I talked with the painter and he said it would be possible to mix a blend to "compromise" of these two chips I decided upon .... in other words, as Bobby said, close is good enough.

This project will be on-going. I will follow up on my progress.

Best, Frank
Frank Cronin

Probably nit-picking here, but if there was any variation in colour then it would have occurred at the suppliers before they reached the bodyworks, not at Abingdon.

This pic of mine showing the factory paint we have seen before. Some of the wear points I have touched up with a brush.


M Magilton

This is an interesting thread that I think will be even more-so over time, fellows!

Does anyone out there have the "connections" to have the eventual color-approved paint put into an aerosol form? If I'm not a simpleton (no aside comments, please), my thoughts are that each of us would purchase a can quickly and keep one on hand from "now on!"

Comments pro and con, please.



Jerry Chandler 1951 TD

Jerry. Its dead easy here in Oz. Just take a sample to the local auto paint supplier & they will put it in a spray can for you. Lacquer or enamel. The hard part is getting agreement on the colour.
Like I said on the earlier post, for me the smart thing to do is have the bows etc match the hood (bonnet) fabric. This was the original design intent. Can't see the sense in agonizing over the original colour if you aren't going to use the original material.
Peter TD 5801
P Hehir

Yes even in environmental Calif you can get a spray can mixed, but don't try to buy a quart and spray it yourself :-)
Chris Couper

There is an all original, 5,000 mile one owner TF 1500 not too far from you. This car has never even gotten wet. It has the original oil filter, top, tires, etc. 4 of the five tires still have the factory air in them. This car was the inspiration for the survivor challenge, but was unfortunately not able to attend at the last minute. Email me and I can give you the coordinates.
D. Sander

I am skeptical that there were great variations in the color-every original TF top frame that I have seen looked about the same- it is just difficult to get consistency in photographing in varying conditions and viewing on varying monitors. (IMHO) Peter's comments about the original intent being to match the top fabric color also has a lot of merit along with the fact that it should be a simple matter to take an original sample-if available- to the paint supplier and have them match it,although I was too lazy to do that myself and found that Rustoleum light taupe (satin finish) was close enough for me when sprayed next to the original paint and went with that.
J K Barter

Great idea to match the original. Keep in mind that the paint has aged many years. I just repainted the inside of my office which was only 13 years old. The same brand/paint code was used, and the old paint had really darkened and yellowed in some areas. Of course with all of the good toxic stuff in paint back then, it may not have changed so much. George
George Butz

Brown and Gammons in the UK list a spray paint that they call tan for hood frames. The code used is CCC HP1.
I have a can I brought from Moss a few years back but they don't seem to list it anymore.
Mick Cook

Moss USA has it listed as Part No. 220-520. 12 oz. spray can.


Bobby Galvez

The Moss color is not even close :-(
Chris Couper

Thanks for all you do Matthew sharing your original TF.

It goes to show how color can vary in with different lighting conditions if the camera flash was used or if it was taken with no flash with natural light. Colors seem to change under different light conditions. Ideally it would be best to use a studio light for control but that isn’t possible for photo amateurs like us taking pictures contributing to help those better understand the originality of these cars.

I also collect vintage classis American Side by Side shotguns – Parker Bros., L.C. Smith’s, and Lefever’s. So if you think what the color of the top bow color discussion is contentious, you should read discussions in the gun forums when it comes to original case colors and case color restoration work! To help someone who has a vintage SxS but has faded or no surviving case colors on the frame, gun forum members would share pictures – just like we do here – of a gun with high condition to show examples of original bone charcoal case coloring. A recommendation I’ve learned it is best to take up close photos of firearms and engraving to get the best vibrant colors when the sunlight is weak. Sunlight / daylight but with overcast clouds to filter. The problem too is that daylight and sunlight are not a constant source depending on the weather, time of day, season, etc. This changing daylight or an object taken under low light but with a flash can alter the apparent shapes, colors, and tones. To get the best example, weak, directionless sunlight provides vibrant, well-saturated colors.

Below is the picture taken yesterday with filtered sunlight with scattered overcast sky. No flash was used. Certainly looks different than the photos we have all seen before. In fact, when I first saw this car at the GOF NY the clouds were thick that look like chance of a rain shower and the sky was very grey. Yesterday the color looked different then than it did in sunlight. I hope Matthew and Colin don’t mind me posting these top bow picture examples.

I will continue to pursue to try to get a close match and post my results. Once completed, current and forthcoming TF restorers who want to have their top bow painted similar how it was from the factory, they can try this paint formula I researched or choose what Mr Hehir suggested. Both methods are acceptable in my opinion and at the end of the day it’s your car and if you are satisfied with the results.

Frank Cronin

A previous picture I believe is Matthew's.

Frank Cronin

Colin's car.

Frank Cronin

Frank, I never mind anyone posting MG pictures! Good shot you got there (no SxS pun intended).

M Magilton

This thread was discussed between 03/11/2013 and 05/11/2013

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