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MGA: Buying guide and review (1955-1962)

MGA: Buying guide and review (1955-1962) Classic and Performance Car
MGA Twin Cam roadster MGA Twin Cam roadster rear MGA Twin Cam roadster interior MGA Twin Cam engine
MG has made some cracking cars since it set up in business in 1924. Arguably the best-looking of them all is the MGA, which ushered in a new era for the Abingdon-based company when it replaced the ancient T-Series in 1955. Sleek and beautiful, the MGA isn’t the fastest sportscar around, but it is superb to drive thanks to its agility, lively performance, sweet gearchange and light steering.
 
To look at the MGA, you'd never guess that under the relatively modern and sleek exterior sits many of the same mechanical parts as the TF, including the 1489cc B-Series engine and four-speed gearbox along with drum brakes all round. It's this technical simplicity that really makes the TF a joy to own. 
 
Now the MGA has been out of production for many decades, it’s well served by clubs and specialists that make the owning process that much easier. With a lively social scene and ready parts availability, whether you’re buying your first classic car or adding to a collection, the MGA makes a huge amount of sense. 
 
It's amazing just how good the parts availability is, with many companies out there specialising in reproducing many of the interior trim items and mechanical parts that wear out over the years, making restoration generally very easy.
 
Which one to buy?
 
There are more choices to make than you might think, as there were 1500, 1600 and Twin-Cam engines along with roadster and coupe bodystyles. Open-topped MGAs are worth a lot more than their closed counterparts, but there’s little difference in values between the 1.5 and 1.6-litre editions. The Twin-Cam fetches a lot more, but they’re also far rarer and running costs are much higher too, particularly if you need to undertake an engine rebuild.
 
Because roadsters are worth more than coupes, they tend to be the subject of the best restorations – which is why finding a truly superb coupe can be a thankless task. It doesn’t help that restoring a closed car also costs significantly more than reviving an open one.
 
Just 6,000 MGAs were sold new in the UK, of the 101,082 cars built – more than 80,000 went to the US. A lot of left-hand drive MGAs have now been converted to right-hand drive and these cars can be worth less than genuine UK models. However, the conversion is straightforward and there’s no need to mess with the bodywork (a new dashboard, steering rack and pedal set is all that’s needed), so problems are unlikely.
 
Finding an original unmolested car might be a bit more of a problem though, as the vast majority of MGAs have undergone some modifications, replacement mechanical components such non-matching engines or upgrades. This isn't a problem if you're looking for a car to enjoy, but as a collectors' item, finding a completely original and matching numbers MGA is often a difficult task. 
 
If you’re buying a project tread very carefully. These cars are more complicated than you might think, especially the bodywork,  and restoration on an amateur basis can lead to disaster – but buy a good MGA and you’ll never look back.
 
Performance and specs 
 
MGA 1600 MkII
Engine 1622cc, four-cylinder
Power 90bhp @ 5500rpm
Torque 97lb ft @ 4000rpm
Top speed 102mph
0-60mph 15.5sec
Fuel consumption 22mpg
Gearbox Four-speed manual

Dimensions and weight

Wheelbase 2388mm
Length 3962mm
Width 1473
Height 1270
Kerb weight 927kg
 
Common problems
 
• If buying an ex-California car that was imported years ago, don’t assume it’s still rust-free, as many such cars are now rotten. Start by checking the sills and A-posts which are tricky to repair. The wings rot too and while replacements are available they’re tricky to fit. Also check the door bottoms and boot floor.
 
• The door, bonnet and boot lid are aluminium over a steel frame. The latter two feature a wooden stiffener which rots while electrolytic corrosion is a problem too.
 
• Accident damage isn’t rare, so check the panel gaps, the panels for rippling and the chassis too. A sharp knock will distort the chassis beyond repair, so analyse the front and rear chassis legs for distortion.
 
• The B-series engine is easily rebuilt and durable if maintained; used replacements are easily sourced too, if not necessarily from another MGA. Look for blue exhaust smoke signifying wear and expect oil pressure of 50-60psi at 3000rpm.
 
• Cylinder heads can crack, leading to coolant loss and overheating, so check for signs of a blown head gasket.
 
• Oil leaks because the scroll oil thrower on the back of the crankshaft wears, as does the block that it acts upon. Once worn a new block and crank could be needed, but an oil seal conversion is an option.
 
• The twin-cam engine is fragile and very expensive to rebuild; everything is unique to this powerplant. Amateur rebuilds can create all sorts of problems, so see who has done any maintenance.
 
• Because the gearbox is weak, most have been overhauled already, often with used parts which leads to premature failure. Check second gear synchro for baulking and listen for chattering in first and reverse.
 
• Diff casings get damaged when the hub nuts are left loose. They need an eight-sided 1 61/64” socket which is unusual – but available. Loose nuts lead to the bearing spinning against the axle casing, damaging both, so look for signs of the diff leaking oil onto the brakes.
 
• The trunnions need greasing annually, but they’re often overlooked, which leads to kingpin wear and MoT failure. Also look for leaking lever arm dampers – another MoT failure point.
 
• Cheap rear springs are common; they provide the wrong ride height, destroying the ride and handling. Sometimes 10-inch springs are fitted up front, in place of the correct 9-inch items. These spoil the handling too.
 
• The steel wheels can crack around the mounting holes, while wire wheels can suffer from worn splines and rusty spokes. Some owners fit 72-spoke wheels, when the narrower 60-spoke items look more authentic.
 
Model history
 
1955: MGA 1500 roadster goes on sale.
1956: MGA coupe arrives.
1958: Twin-cam debuts, in roadster or coupe forms.
1959: MGA 1600 MkI replaces the 1500 edition, in roadster and coupe forms.
1960: The 1600 De Luxe appears, while the twin-cam is killed off. The De Luxe uses the Twin Cam’s chassis, with disc brakes all round; this is now the most sought after A after the Twin Cam.
1961: The 1600 MkII arrives, offered as a roadster or coupe in standard or De Luxe specifications.
1962: The final MGA is built.
 
Owners clubs, forums and websites
 
• www.mgcars.org.uk
• www.mgownersclub.co.uk
• www.moss-europe.co.uk
• www.scparts.co.uk
• www.mgocspares.co.uk
 
Summary and prices
 
For what is actually quite a desirable and iconic British sports car, the MGA is actually still relatively affordable. While projects are a bit of a risky proposition, £3000-£4000 is enough to find a coupe, while roadsters tend to cost about £6000-£7000. While some prefer the coupe's looks (and stiffer body) there is a tough decision to make, as a roadster is much cheaper to restore than a coupe, and will be worth more when it's done, making quality coupe restorations harder to justify. 
 
Cars that perhaps require a little bit of fettling, but not quite a full restoration, then budged upwards of £8000 for a coupe and £12,500 for a roadster. You should obviously use caution while looking at cheaper cars, especially coupes, as could end up needing a full restoration anyway due to poor quality work.
 
Increase your budget to £20,000 and you are looking at good condition roadsters, or the very best coupe models. For a  top condition roadster, then be prepared to shell out more than £27,000. 
 
If it’s a Twin Cam that you fancy, open cars top out somewhere around the £32,000 mark, with closed models still worth around 25 per cent less. Average examples are £13,000-£22,000 for a drophead or £10,000-£17,000 for a fixed-head. 
MGA Twin Cam roadster MGA Twin Cam roadster rear MGA Twin Cam roadster interior MGA Twin Cam engine
Last updated: 5th Apr 2016
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  • MGA 1600 MKII De Luxe 1962

    POA POA

    SOLD / VERKAUFT / VENDU / VERKOCHT MGA 1600 MKII De Luxe 1962 fully restored Only 313 examples of the unique MGA 1600 MK2 De Luxe were delivered. The De Luxe Version was built on the chassis of the Twin Cam. This MGA was built in 1962 and fully in detail restored. The MGA was delivered in the original colour combination Alamo Beige with grey soft top, new chromeparts and the original Twin Cam wheels. The MGA De Luxe is provided with disc brakes all around and drives great. The interior has burgundy red leather and extra comfortable seats. Even the dashboard is provided with leather and this is a great combination with the chrome clocks. This unique and rare MGA De Luxe drives perfect and is a real collector’s item. Car has European title and document importduties for every EU country are paid by us. Documentation is complete for registration in every EU country. You do not need to pay any importduties. We can help with transport. Trading in, buying and consignment possible.

    • Year: 1962
    For sale
    POA POA
    E&R Classic Cars
    +31 416 751393 View contact number
  • MG MGA Roadster 1959

    POA POA

    MGA Roadster 1959 fully restored This MGA Roadster is fully restored and provided with new black paint and new chrome wire wheels. The interieur has cognac leather upholstery and the fabulous dashboard with chrome clocks, very chic in combination with the exterior. This MG is ready for lots of driving fun. Car has USA title and document importduties for every EU country are paid by us. Documentation is complete for registration in every EU country. You do not need to pay any importduties. We can help with transport. Trading in, buying and consignment possible.

    • Year: 1959
    For sale
    POA POA
  • 1959 MGA Roadster Uprated

    £34,995 £34,995

    This is one of those special cars that do not often come onto the market. To rebuild an MGA to this standard, with the impressive range of upgrades should cost well in excess of £50,000. This is an excellent opportunity to purchase what has to be one of the most exciting long distance touring MGA Roadsters we have seen in many, many years at a price substantially less than restoring one to this standard. This home market RHD MGA is finished in the desirable combination of Old English White with Red leather upholstery, riding on chrome wire wheels and with mohair hood, sidescreens and tonneau cover. We first sold 1354 WU in 2001 to a Yorkshire Dales based couple who have owned the car for fifteen years. Prior to 2001 the MGA was subject of a full nut and bolt rebuild between 1996 to 1998. The body was totally stripped down and the car built up with new chrome, a brand new interior and rebuilt mechanical components. Many of the parts came from MGA specialist Bob West and from 1998 to 2001 the MGA covered around 1250 miles. We sold the car in 2001 as one of the finest MGA's we had seen. From 2001 to 2008 the A covered a further 2500 miles, including some overseas touring prior to bein

    • Year: 1959
    • Mileage: 1250 mi
    For sale
    £34,995 £34,995
  • MG MGA 1961

    POA POA

    *** THIS CAR HAS BEEN SOLD *** Please contact us if you were interested in this car. Our inventory is constantly changing and we will have similar examples of this model becoming available soon. ----------------------------- MGA 1600 cabriolet Old English White in topcondition 1961 MGA cabriolet in topcondition. The car is fully restored. Paint is Old English White with burgundy red interior. This English roadster has a 1588 cc 80 hp engine. The car has leather interior, chrome wire wheels, wooden steering wheel, wooden dashboard and a beautiful mohair softtop. Car has USA title and document importduties for every EU country are paid by us. Documentation is complete for registration in every EU country. You do not need to pay any importduties. We can help with transport. Trading in, buying and consignment possible.

    • Year: 1961
    For sale
    POA POA
  • MG MGA Cabriolet 1958

    POA POA

    *** THIS CAR HAS BEEN SOLD *** Please contact us if you were interested in this car. Our inventory is constantly changing and we will have similar examples of this model becoming available soon. ----------------------------- MGA 1958 Cabriolet chrome wire wheels 1958 MGA convertible. This English Roadster is in a relatively good condition with some traces of use. The car has the original 1489 CC 60 HP engine. Runs and drives very well. So a nice and good driving car to drive the way it is and make even more beautiful in the future.

    • Year: 1958
    For sale
    POA POA
  • MG MGA Cabriolet 1962

    POA POA

    *** THIS CAR HAS BEEN SOLD *** Please contact us if you were interested in this car. Our inventory is constantly changing and we will have similar examples of this model becoming available soon. ----------------------------- MGA 1622 MKII 1962 black, with red leather interior in very good condition The MGA was produced from september 1955 till september 1962. This MGA 1622 is from the 2nd generation (MK2), built in 1962. This last generation had the powerful and popular 1622 CC 93 HP engine instead of the older 1558 CC 80 HP engine. The car has very beautiful black paint and beautiful chrome wire wheels. This is a marvelous combination with the red leather interior. The paint, chrome and interior are in a very beautiful and very well maintained condition. The car also has high beam headlights. So a very beautiful and great driving MGA ready for lots of driving fun. Car has Holland title and Holland mot/tuv. Easy to register in every EU country. You do not need to pay any importtaxes. We can help with transport.

    • Year: 1962
    For sale
    POA POA
  • MG A 1600 Roadster

    POA POA

    to the vehicle overview MG A 1600 Roadster Year 1959 Colour Chariot red Leather Leder schwarz PS 107 Hubraum 1600 Kilometerstand 473 Meilen - fully restored - matching colors - documented restoration - since 25 years in BRD price 44.500,- Get in contact

    • Year: 1959
    • Mileage: 293 mi
    For sale
    POA POA
    Movendi
    0049 211 7888 016 View contact number
    Movendi
    0049 211 7888 016 View contact number
  • MG A 1,5 Roadster

    €19,000(£0) €19,000(£0)

    MG A 1,5 Roadster Equipment: Chok tilbud Velkørende MGA Flot farve kombination Komplet med Sideruder Tonneau cover Kalesche Trådhjul Sælges Engros ring for info

    • Year: 1957
    For sale
    €19,000(£0) €19,000(£0)
  • MG A 1600 Roadster Red '60

    €41,500(£0) €41,500(£0)

    The MGA is a sports car produced by MG division of the British Motor Corporation from 1955 to 1962. The MGA replaced the older T-type cars and represented a complete styling break from the older vehicles. The car was officially launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show of 1955. It was replaced by the MGB when production ceased in July 1962. Through that time, BMC sold 101,081 units, the vast majority of which were exported with only 5869 cars sold on the home market, the highest export percentage of any British car. The design dates back to 1952 when MG designer Syd Enever created a streamlined body for George Philips' TD Le Mans car. The problem with this car was the high seating position of the driver because of the limitations of using the TD chassis. A new chassis was designed with the side members further apart and the floor attached to the bottom rather than the top of the frame sections. A prototype was built and shown to the BMC chairman Leonard Lord. Lord turned down the idea of producing the new car as he had just signed a deal with Donald Healey to produce Austin-Healey cars two weeks before. Falling sales of the traditional MG models caused a change of mind and the car, init

    • Year: 1960
    • Mileage: 7097 mi
    For sale
    €41,500(£0) €41,500(£0)
  • MG A 1500 Roadster Red '60

    €33,950(£0) €33,950(£0)

    Lowered price from €37.950 ->€33.950 The MGA is a sports car produced by MG division of the British Motor Corporation from 1955 to 1962. The MGA replaced the older T-type cars and represented a complete styling break from the older vehicles. The car was officially launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show of 1955. It was replaced by the MGB when production ceased in July 1962. Through that time, BMC sold 101,081 units, the vast majority of which were exported with only 5869 cars sold on the home market, the highest export percentage of any British car. The design dates back to 1952 when MG designer Syd Enever created a streamlined body for George Philips' TD Le Mans car. The problem with this car was the high seating position of the driver because of the limitations of using the TD chassis. A new chassis was designed with the side members further apart and the floor attached to the bottom rather than the top of the frame sections. A prototype was built and shown to the BMC chairman Leonard Lord. Lord turned down the idea of producing the new car as he had just signed a deal with Donald Healey to produce Austin-Healey cars two weeks before. Falling sales of the traditional MG models caus

    • Year: 1960
    For sale
    €33,950(£0) €33,950(£0)
  • 1962 MG A Mark II Deluxe Coupe

    POA POA

    This “Deluxe” model has the distinction of being one of the rarest MG’s, and one of the prettiest sports cars ever made. Blessed with delicate, flowing lines, the MGA's endearing form is the reason behind its magnetic appeal. We purchased it from its 2nd owner, who had only owned it from late 2013 until now. The original owner passed away, but had used it for his daily transportation where he lived. The 2nd owner did not drive it very much as he was too big for this car, and thus it was passed along to our care. It displays nice patina, and is in its original color combination of Chariot Red over Black. It would benefit from a cosmetic restoration, but it still shows well today. It comes complete with its: original Drivers Handbooks, BMC Maintenance Covenant, Accessories book, several MG magazines, the original Bill of Sale, a file of receipts, its tools, and a jack. You are welcome to buy the car “as is”, or commission Classic Showcase to restore it for you in any color combination you wish, and with which ever amenities your desire.

    • Year: 1962
    • Mileage: 55434 mi
    For sale
    POA POA
  • 1957 MGA 1500 Roadster

    £29,995 £29,995

    This outstanding MGA 1500 Roadster was exported from the Abingdon factory to South Africa in 1957 and is an original RHD example. In 1993 the MGA was subject of a body off rebuild to show standard condition and then placed on exhibition in a Port Elizabeth motor museum for many years. In 2000 the MGA sold to a West Sussex Country Hotel owner who purchased the car whilst on holiday in South Africa. The car spent twelve years with its first UK owner and since 2012 has been owned by one of our regular customers in Scotland. Since rebuild the MGA has only covered 2500 miles and has arrived with us in exceptional condition. We have photographs and documentation confirming the MGA was stripped down to the bare chassis and rebuilt from the ground up. The body was sandblasted, fitted with various new body panels and floor panels replaced. The body was re-aligned, gaps set and prepared for a full re-paint in Orient Red. All chrome work was replaced, the dashboard re-furbished, new lights and windscreen glass fitted and the upholstery beautifully re-trimmed in leather. The MGA was fitted with full weather equipment to include tonneau cover and wheels were re-furbished and tyres replaced. The

    • Year: 1957
    • Mileage: 2500 mi
    For sale
    £29,995 £29,995
  • 1958 MG-Projects MG A Coupe

    POA POA

    (SOLD) Classic Showcase is scheduling the restoration to be of a Show/Driver level, however, depending on the date of purchase, we may be able to accommodate your build sheet and wish list to create the MGA of your dreams! This is a solid car that is showing surface rust in the photos, but there is no hole rust in the car. It had been sitting for 25 years and is 99% complete, and is not running. Included in the restoration process the vehicle will be stripped to bare metal, placed on a rotisserie, metal finished, leaded, all body parts fitted to the car and chrome, prepared for primer, sealer, paint, base, clear, color sanded and buffed to a fabulous finish. All systems will be gone through and the engine will be rebuilt back to factory specifications. The fuel, electrical, cooling, and hydraulic systems will be restored. All components will be rebuilt back to factory specifications, including the engine, transmission, rear end and suspension. All chrome will be re-plated as needed. The car will receive a complete new custom tailored and fit interior in the correct materials by our upholstery department. A DVD of the restoration process will accompany the vehicle. Upon completion o

    • Year: 1958
    • Mileage: 99063 mi
    For sale
    POA POA
  • 1960 MG A Coupe

    POA POA

    (SOLD) This 1960 MG A 1600 Coupe has had a recent esthetic restoration, full mechanical service, major tune up, and full vehicle detail inside and out. New interior, new windshield, recent engine compartment restoration, new brake system, new front suspension bushings, new lower control arm mounts, new pinion seal in the rear end, and a new cable on the emergency brake. Runs and drives very well.

    • Year: 1960
    For sale
    POA POA
  • 1958 MG A Roadster

    POA POA

    (SOLD) The car was shown extensively when first restored and still presents in very good condition and can be shown and driven with pride and quite possibly take home some awards. This MGA is a wonderful collectible vintage sports car. This MGA Roadster was restored from the ground up and has been in a climate controlled storage since the restoration. The car was shown extensively when first restored and still presents in very good condition and can be shown and driven with pride and quite possibly take home some awards. This MGA is a wonderful collectible vintage sports car. Recent full service and detail have been performed. The car has been fitted with a black convertible top with beautiful wire wheels.

    • Year: 1958
    For sale
    POA POA
  • 1956 MG A Roadster

    POA POA

    (SOLD) It was a body-on-frame design and used the straight-4 “B series” engine from the MG Magnette saloon driving the rear wheels through a 4 speed gearbox. Suspension was independent with coil springs and wishbones at the front and a rigid axle with semi-elliptic springs at the rear. Steering was by rack and pinion and was not power assisted. The car was available with either wire spoked or steel disc road wheels. This MGA is an older restoration that is still in very good condition. It runs and drives very well and was a sport car produced by MG division of the British Motor Corporation from 1955 to 1962. This classic has been upgraded to a Weber carburetor for better performance. This very well maintained and serviced driver level MGA is a collectable model with aluminum doors. This MGA is a very stylish and collectable classic to drive and show.

    • Year: 1956
    For sale
    POA POA
  • 1959 MG MGA Roadster

    POA POA

    (SOLD) This MGA Roadster was a very solid and original car when we purchased the car from its 30+ year owner. It has been sitting for several years in a project condition in a Southern CA garage so we decided it deserved to be taken back to its former showroom glory. It was a great candidate for restoration as it was rust free and straight as an arrow. The car also has removable windows on the doors that were restored, ore replaced, and will accompany the car. These removable windows came standard in this model. Included in the show/driver level restoration process, the vehicle was stripped to bare metal, metal finished, leaded, all body parts fitted to the car and chrome, prepared for primer, sealer, paint, base, clear, color sanded and buffed to a fabulous finish. All parts were painted off the car individually. All systems were gone through and the engine was rebuilt back to factory specifications. The fuel, electrical, cooling, and hydraulic systems were all restored, or replaced as needed. All components were rebuilt back to factory specification including the engine, transmission, rear end and suspension. All britework was re-plated as needed. The MGA received a complete new

    • Year: 1959
    • Mileage: 25332 mi
    For sale
    POA POA
  • 1959 MG MGA Twin-Cam Roadster

    POA POA

    It's not everyday that you find a rare and unmolested MGA Twin Cam that is one of only 2,111 examples ever produced, but Classic Showcase has found such an example and is pleased to offer it here! This sought-after model that has benefited from very limited ownership, and an extensive, highly detailed restoration by it's previous owner. The car was fully stripped, both the engine and body were removed from the chassis in order to undertake a full restoration, which utilized correct parts - many of which were sourced directly from the U.K. Great care was taken by MG restorers to achieve a flawless restoration, and the results speak from themselves. Following its exhaustive restoration, the roadster took part in many MG club events, where it always received attention and numerous awards and accolades. The Twin Cam comes documented with an article that chronicles its restoration (along with photos of the work done), a British Motor Industry Heritage Trust Certificate, and its original driver’s handbook, operation manual, luggage rack, carpeted trunk, and jack. If you have been looking for an exceptional Twin Cam example, this particular 1959 model is an excellent choice to add to your

    • Year: 1959
    • Mileage: 4652 mi
    For sale
    POA POA
  • 1959 MG A Twin-Cam Roadster

    POA POA

    • One of 2,111 Twin-Cam examples produced • Recent restoration by specialist James Alcorn • Collector-owned; limited mileage & proper storage • Striking original color combination • Complete with Books, Tools, Tonneau, and BMHT COA According to its accompanying British Motor Industry Heritage Trust Certificate, this 1959 MGA Twin-Cam Roadster is an original left-hand-drive export model completed during late October 1958, and titled as a 1959 car. Factory equipment included Dunlop center-lock disc wheels; Dunlop four-wheel disc brakes; a heater; and black tonneau cover, with the MGA finished in Orient Red with black upholstery, the colors it displays today. In 2012, this rare MG was given a complete restoration by Twin-Cam specialist Jim Alcorn’s Auto Vintagery of La Jolla, California. Less than 500 miles have been traveled since completion of the work, and the Twin-Cam has enjoyed fastidious care and proper storage. Complete with books, tools, and a tonneau cover, this rare and charismatic MGA Twin-Cam is a versatile British sports car that can be enjoyed on the show lawn and the open road.

    • Year: 1959
    • Mileage: 500 mi
    For sale
    POA POA