Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 5
Naylor Brothers MG Restoration
Production of the original MG TF from MG's Abingdon works ceased in 1955
, but such was the aura that surrounded that car that a Yorkshire based car builder, Naylor, created a TF replica in the 1980s so faithful to the original that you could have (almost) been forgiven for thinking it was the real thing. The main concessions extended to a more modern engine, plus some chassis modifications and modern-day safety requirements.
Unlike the countless (and mostly best forgotten) MG replicas that pre-dated the Naylor, the TF 1700 followed very closely the construction of the original, with a virtually identical chassis and ash framing to support a steel body indistinguishable from 1955
. As well, the Naylor TF came from a company with 17 years of history in MG restoration - Naylor Brothers, which operated an MG spares and restoration service which was then known to MG enthusiasts throughout the world.
Naylor Brothers intended to build 200 of the cars a year, with a price tag around $20,000 on the road. Unfortunately the quantities did not quite meet with expectations, with only 100 being made. And the price topped out at £13,950 - around $10K more than originally hoped for.
National Type Approval
It wasn't easy to obtain full National Type Approval yet retain the character of the original TF. Naylor had to make 21 alterations or additions to original specification. Strangely, while the knurled knobs on the original folding screen were knocked out on safety grounds, similar knobs which held the side-screens onto the doors, and which were mounted inside the cabin of the car, were judged acceptable. Such were the legislators.
On the Naylor car, the badges had to be made flush with the panels, and the doors had to be hinged at the front. Unfortunately too there were no knock-on hubs - or anything else that protruded. Gone too was the old-style screen which were evident on the original TR 1700 prototypes
and in some promotional images. That screen was banned. Instead, production models came with a fiush-fitting, rigid frame. Thankfully the distinctive parking lights on the guards remained, but they no longer doubled as turn indicators - the latter inserted in the front and rear bumpers.
An Ash Framed Steel Body
The ash-framed steel body, the spare wheel mounting and the fuel tank were identical to the original TF's, being replacement items already in production in the Naylor MG-restoration business. Naylor's good relations with Austin Rover helped to source much of the new TF's mechanicals. The engine was the 1695cm3 variant of the O-series mid-range engines introduced in 1978
as successor to the venerable B series. The block was very recognisably derived from the B, and was still cast in iron with five main bearings. The head, however, was a gravity die-casting in aluminium alloy with a belt-driven single overhead camshaft, in-line valves
and all porting (non-siamesed) along the near side.
Old TF vs. Naylor TF
With an output of 57.5 kW at 5180 rpm and 125Nm of torque at 3840rpm, the O-series engine was almost 50kg lighter than the original TF's XPEG, as well. In its final (1460cm3) form, the XPEG produced only 47kW. Not surprisingly, then, the Naylor TF had a claimed maximum of 153 km/h against the 137 km/h of the original, ran from zero to 100 km/h in a claimed 11.5 seconds (18.1 seconds for the old car), and was geared at 31 km/h per 1000 rpm in top gear against the 24 km/h of the original. Despite this, Naylors' claimed similar fuel consumption of 10.8 litres/100 km (26 mpg). We have no data to back up the Naylor claim.
The O series cars were also used to source the Naylor TF's radiator
rack and handbrake. Austin Rover's Ital
provided rear axle and drum brakes
, front uprights and discs. Using an almost exact replica steel chassis, the TF 1700's steering
and front-end geometry were designed to provide minimum variation of front roll-centre, and to reduce dive under braking. To incorporate the required location points, an entirely new front cross member was used. There were also some departures from the original semi elliptic springing layout at the rear, where the Ital
axle was located by four trailing links and a Panhard rod, and was sprung by coils with concentric telescopic shock absorbers, as used on the front.
The engine was placed 50mm further back in the frame than original, to improve weight distribution and gear-lever position. Out went the legendary scuttle-mounted tool-box - and in its place Naylor incorporated a modern heating / ventilation system - something of an improvement over the original. The narrow bell-housing, and the use of Ital
pedals mounted further forward than before, allowed better leg-room than the original TF, although a 6 foot driver would still have needed to hunch a little when the canvas hood was in position. But with the extra leg-room they would find plenty of comfort from the new, better-formed seats (which had adjustable squabs), and from a lovely leather-bound three-spoke steering
wheel (36cm diameter, against the almost 42cm of the original spring-spoke, plastic-rimmed original).
A Safer MG
The inertia-reel seat-belts were located on tubular mountings which double as body mountings and which were welded directly to the chassis. Safety legislation ended all hope of using the original octagonal-pattern instruments and the 1950's-style switches, even though Naylor's had them all in stock for restoration of original MGs. Instead, there was a "traditional" wood-veneer dash with additional instruments and a modern warning-light system, plus a radio/stereo tape cassette unit mounted in a special tunnel console.
Instrumentation was modern but sympathetic, with white-on-black speedo and rev counter with a warning-light cluster between, flanked by smaller water temperature and oil pressure gauges, and with the fuel and voltage dials mounted centrally above an ashtray. There was also a clock - located over on the passenger's side. While the Naylor restoration business only restored about a dozen MGs a year during the early 1980s, production of the TF replica was handled from a separate factory.
The Hutson 1700 TF
The TF 1700 came with a warranty from the Austin Rover Group
. Naylor moved to a new factory in April 1985
, after which production was ramped up. Naylor worked steadily to improve the car and to make its handling characteristics close to those of the original, depending on Lotus' chassis expertise. About 100 cars were built by Naylor until the company went bankrupt in 1986
, in some part due to the company's not being able to shake the kit car image.
This was in spite of Margaret Thatcher allowing herself to be photographed driving a Naylor in front of 10 Downing Street, part of an effort to inspire small British manufacturers. The car in question had licence plate D414HYG and was the 100th TF 1700 built. The Naylor venture helped establish the pattern of cooperation between Austin Rover and the British Motor Industry Heritage which led to the production of the RV8. The project, factory and all, was passed into the hands of the Mahcon group in 1986
. They created the Hutson Motor Company and sold the car as the Hutson TF 1700. About 61 more cars were built by them. A small number of kit car versions were also sold, under the name Mahcon.