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Little Red MG: 1953

Little Red MG: 1953

From 1953 comes this 35mm Kodachrome of hot-rodder and finer-things-appreciator Don Cox in a Tabasco-red MG at the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego. Wanna race? View full size.


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1953 MG TD

My parents bought this one in 1958 in St. Louis, Missouri. Photo is in Dunedin, Florida around 1961.

Long Drive in a Small Car

Don Cox is a pretty interesting guy and worth an internet search. Among other things he raced cars on the salt flats and co-authored the 2003 book "The Birth of the Hot Rod." At some point he lived in Oceanside, which suggests he may have just completed a 45-mile trip down to Coronado Island. His little MG TD might get up to 70 mph in places but San Diego traffic would have taken care of any speed records.

Well, nobody's perfect

The Hotel Del is perhaps best known as the setting (ostensibly in Florida, not Coronado) for much of the movie Some Like It Hot.

The Hotel Del Coronado

Mentioned below, in 1973 was used as the setting of a campy horror-thriller film called Wicked, Wicked using a gimmicky technique called "Duo/Vision" or split screen. On the left side of the screen you'd see someone opening the door of a room while on the right screen you'd see the darkened interior of the room as the door quietly opened to sheer horror. The attic contained the still barely alive female victims of the mad floor-show camera operator who had a mommy complex strung up in grisly fashion. It was a gimmick that didn't last long because it added nothing to the movie. By the way, gorgeous MG TD, hope it is in the collection of some proud collector today.

If tterrace's uncle was wearing red socks

... then we have a pretty cool pairing of photos (ignoring the Cadillac).

My first MG

The first one I ever saw had my Uncle Albert in it.

MGTD 1950-53

What a beautiful auto. MG started export production in January of 1950 and lasted until 1953 (actually late 1949 but they only made 98 cars that were right hand drive). It was fitted with a 1250cc 4 cylinder engine and total production totaled 29664 cars.
It was preceded by the MGTC and followed with the MGTF 1953-55. The redesigned curved body MGA followed in 1955 and production of this beauty ran until 1962. The MGB followed the MGA until British Leyland ceased production in 1980.

Ya gotta love an MG TD...

I certainly do. I have one just like it!

The MG TD was the car that started the entire British sports car craze in America. Many returning GI's brought these inexpensive cars home and began racing them, and an entire industry grew up around them, supplying parts and accessories. Even the legendary Carroll Shelby had an MG TD - it was the first car he ever took racing.

The UK needed to improve their balance of payments after the war, so to encourage even more auto production to go overseas they charged "home market" buyers in Britain an exorbitant tax on car purchases, as much as 66%. The combination of these high home market taxes and eager American buyers made for a huge post-war boost to the UK economy.

Other UK manufacturers followed MG's path, and soon America became the UK's largest market for their sports cars, with Triumph, Austin, Austin-Healey and Jaguar becoming among the most popular brands in addition to MG.

A Gilded Age Wonder

The Del Coronado was opened in 1888 as the then largest hotel in the world. Incredibly, it never burned down (the fate of so many of its contemporaries) and remains the largest surviving example of the Gilded Age wooden beach hotels so popular with the well heeled of the late Victorian era. The Del is still in business and has a list of famous guests longer than my arm including a slew of US presidents, starting with Benjamin Harrison.


Given the apparent lifestyle and cars, the Dude was obviously the inspiration for Kookie on 77 Sunset Strip, a few years later.

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