Not Sold. Sorry, no longer available
“A breathtaking blend of power and beauty. The ‘MGA’ is surely the loveliest sports car on the road today.” MGA Sales Brochure, 1958.
The MGA, launched in 1955, was a perfect example of immediate post war ingenuity from the Abingdon based company. Necessity meant keeping a traditional ladder frame chassis that had underpinned all MGs up until then but the invention was wider chassis members and a lower floor allowing lower a lower seating position and hence a dramatically sleeker machine than the Company’s earlier, well, pre-war offerings, lovely though they are. Conventional suspension was updated with rack and pinion steering and the all new ‘B Series’ engine took over from the venerable XPAG unit. A smart suit of clothes put considerable distance between the ‘A’ and its upright, separate winged, running boarded predecessors; pretty as a picture, the ‘loveliest sports car’ stands scrutiny against vastly more expensive then, and valuable now, contemporaries such as the ‘Big’ Austin Healey and AC Ace. All the style and looks with plenty of change left over for picnic hampers, tweed caps and headscarves. It was the 1950s, time to let your hair down (or at least remove a pin or two) and start enjoying yourselves again.
As with so many MGAs (in fact the largest proportion of all the British sports cars), this originally 1500 cc engined machine was sent to the USA as part of the ‘export or die’ strategy fundamental to the British manufacturing industry in the 1950s. Its Chassis Number confirms it was a North American market car, originally finished in Old English White (cellulose if you must know!) and registration documents on file from 1974 confirm it spent at least some of its time in the colonies enjoying the car-friendly climate of California. As a result it was found to be in remarkably solid shape on its return to the mother country in the early 2000s. Having said that, over the next few years it was still treated to a ‘chassis up, body off, nut and bolt’ (or whatever terminology you prefer) restoration, extensive photographs of which can be found in the car’s history file. While the intention was to rebuild the car to ostensibly original specification, usability was the watchword and a few sensible modifications were incorporated, all selected to make the MGA "fit for purpose”, which in this instance was extended tours around continental Europe. More ‘poke’ came from an MGB sourced engine – obviously a straight swap as simply a developed version of the MGA’s lump with a few hundred additional cubic centimetres resulting in both more power and torque. This extra oomph was better utilised with an overdrive gearbox effectively giving the MGA five forward ratios – something that never rolled off the Abingdon production line but a useful addition for long legged continent crossing. Front disc brakes and rear Spax adjustable telescopic dampers were fitted along with a later tube-type axle, again sourced from a ‘B’, further enhanced the car’s on-road capabilities to great effect, all in the interests of improved usability without in any way compromising the original ethos or purity of the MGA. Converted to right hand drive for ‘every day’ use in the UK at the same time, the beauty of the upgrades is that the components employed are for the most part MG items sourced from machines just a few years younger (and hence more developed) than the base car; no Mazda five speed gearboxes, Ford engines or rear axles here. All the modifications are of course completely reversible though with the car driving so nicely (in a very slightly ‘vintage’ sort of a way though less so than many MGAs), we can’t for the life of us understand why one would want to.
Though it is now some years since the restoration was carried out, the MGA still looks more than presentable. There is no doubt that separate chassis cars tend not to have quite such perfect panel fits as unitary construction machines – just park a Triumph Herald against a current Audi A4 and you will see what we mean – but overall this example hangs together quite well though there may be some room for improvement by careful adjustment of the doors; there is no denying it is for driving rather than admiring, unless perhaps there is a pint of something brown and frothy in the foreground. The chassis appears to still be in very good shape indeed with its satin black finish a little dusty but still intact aside from the odd chip and scratch. The same can be said of the MG’s bodywork with no apparent dents or dings and just the odd localised area of slight rust staining to the paintwork in the car’s less accessible areas. That the ‘A’ still looks so good is probably a testament to the benefits of sourcing a base car with a fundamentally rust free body and chassis. The wooden floor sections also still look to be in perfect condition and it is worth spending a few minutes examining the photographs of the cars’ underside in the gallery.
The Old English White paintwork is similarly holding up very well considering it was applied some fourteen plus years ago and it is a testament to the standard of the work carried out. The most noticeable blemish is a fine crack in the paint on the boot lid as shown in the photo gallery; if you can’t spot it, it is in the picture of the MG boot badge.
The chrome-work is reasonably free from pitting but the grill is a little deformed and could benefit from the skills of a good panel beater; replacing it might be more cost effective and then you’d have a nice ornament for the mantelpiece. The painted wire wheels are in very fair order though their chromed spinners are a little ‘used’ – charming to some, scruffy to others – and well-treaded tyres complete the picture.
Refurbished as part of the restoration program, the MG’s trim is in very nice condition throughout. Black leather seats are piped in white to compliment the paintwork and show little if any wear at all. The black carpeting is also virtually perfect though the section covering the rear battery access hatch is missing, doubtless easily replaced for minimal outlay. An original ‘banjo’ style steering wheel is in place sporting a protective, grip enhancing cover. Less original but welcome none the less is a dash mounted ‘Face off’ CD player. A tonneau correctly configured for right hand drive keeps the British weather out of the cockpit (mostly) and wind deflectors provide a surprising degree of protection for its occupants.
The engine fitted at the time of the restoration decodes as a 5 bearing UK specification, high compression MGB unit (we need to get out more!) which was given a +30 overbore for 1834cc. The cylinder head was converted to take unleaded fuel while the crank needed only a first grind (+10) on the main bearings with the big ends simply polished and left at standard. Electronic ignition is fitted and the SU carburettors, fed by a solid state fuel pump, sport open trumpet air intakes which coupled with the Falcon stainless steel exhaust, give the MGA an appropriately ‘fruity’ soundtrack. Sporting an aluminium rocker cover, the engine sits in a very neat and tidy engine bay with good paintwork that could be easily detailed if so desired. A neatly fitted electric fan sits in front of the radiator - new at the time of the car’s restoration. A braided wiring loom is a nice, original finishing touch though the single 12 volt battery is a welcome improvement over the standard twin sixes. The factory optional heater, not always found on US cars is a useful item for when one is not floating down the Cote d’Azur on an August evening.
This really is a very solid, smart MGA with a little room for some light cosmetic improvements but frankly we would rather just jump in and drive her and feel the next expenditure should definitely be via the petrol pumps! With a reserve set, we feel, very realistically at well under £20,000 this is definitely one to buy and enjoy.