Sunday, May 22, 2022 |
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LIHU‘E — Just before he turned 18 years old, Dan Teter bought a 1953 MG TD from his uncle for $850.
“I drove the legs off it and in 1960 sold it for $250. It was the most fun car I ever owned, but it was extremely high maintenance,” Teter recalled.
The ‘53 TD had two single-throated carburetors that had to be continually adjusted against each other and that was a weekly chore which took a very long time. The carburetors were filled with 20-weight motor oil for the little float inside that needed to be checked on weekly. If the oil ran low in the carburetor, the car would backfire and a huge black cloud of carbon would blow out the back, scaring the passenger quite out of their unmentionables.
While attending North Hollywood High School, Teter had the only MG TD in the school and because of all the maintenance required Teter took his car to a repair shop on Ventura Boulevard run by a “cracking” good British mechanic.
At first, the repairman accepted payment for the maintenance, but eventually he encouraged Teter to maintain his own car. The elderly Brit instructed Teter in the fine points carburetor maintenance, how to adjust the valves and various other helpful tips.
When Teter decided to get married, he sold the MG to purchase a 1960 Ford Fairlane 500, which immediately turned out to be the biggest road dog he ever owned. A faulty coil gave birth to an ongoing nightmare of visits to the repair shop and a continual battering of his precious checking account.
“I always regretted getting rid of that MG,” Teter said. This mantra stayed on his lips for many years until the lucky day in 2002 when he was casually browsing the Internet and discovered a 1952 MG TD for sale at www.oconnorclassics.com.
The story behind Teter’s newly discovered MG goes something like this. The original owner of O’Conner Classics had a son who was promised an MG TD upon graduation. When that special day finally arrived, the young graduate rushed home excitedly expecting to find a bright and shiny sports car parked in the driveway.
However, after arriving home and discovering no car in the driveway, O’Conner junior turned to his father and asked, “Where’s my car?” O’Conner senior bid his son a warm congratulations and told him he would find his graduation reward out in the back yard. Sure enough, the car was behind the house just as promised. The little British classic was however, laid out in a fully disassembled state, including tires and rims.
This gift became a valuable learning lesson for O’Conner junior, who wisely and passionately threw himself into reassembling his classic TD. It took him three years to completely rebuild the ’52 classic, creating a beautiful sports car that ultimately was better than any original MG TD driven off a showroom floor.
When the elder O’Conner eventually decided to retire, he allowed his son take over the business and the son chose to let go of his old TD. That was the day Dan Teter made that lucky choice to go browsing for a classic MG TD online and realized his mantra-mobile had finally found its way home.
When O’Conner the younger rebuilt the TD, he replaced all the parts with either original or with top quality replacement materials. The Morris engine is an original 1,300-cubic-inch four-cylinder, including the metal MG insignia stamps and brass registry plates. All wiring and harnesses are original and the two single barrel carburetors have been replaced with a single barrel after market supercharger.
Dry rot and mold is the silent enemy of the classic MG TD. The chassis is solid steel but the framework is either white oak or ash covered in sheet metal. Unless great care is taken, rain will, over a period of time, find its way into the frame and eventually rot out the wood.
So Dan Teter does what any classic car owner would do before rolling out of the driveway and cruising down the highway. He walks out of his garage and checks the sky for the color blue that allows the pristine rarity to go to car shows and casual runs.
There is one small foot note about the origin of the MG TC and the MG TD that needs to be revealed. Morris motors originally conceived building a sports car to be used only on weekend drives to the country for picnics. It was built strictly as a pleasure car and not as some 9 to 5 drudgery workhorse, or a “Hop in and I’ll drive you to my place to view my etchings.” At least that’s the way Dan Teter tells it.
But there is something truly youthful and free spirited about Teter’s MG TD that touches the heart the moment you stand next to it. Like a siren’s song, it seems to call out to the spirit of the single man or woman within and say, “Hop in and I’ll drive you wherever you want to go and perhaps we can check out a few of my etchings later.”
Just be sure to check the oil in the carburetor before you leave.
Anyone wishing to share their classic auto may find out more information by contacting Richard Aki at 482-0688 or Harvey Maeda at 651-2813 or email@example.com. Watch video
of Dan Teter’s 1952 MG TD in action as part of The Garden Island’s recurring series on Kaua‘i’s Classic Car Club and check back each week for a new classic.
• Leo DuBois, reporter and videographer, can be reached via news editor Nathan Eagle at 245-3681 (ext. 227) or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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