The Stylish MGA Is Very Impressive

I recently saw very nice MGA and frankly I had forgotten how good-looking these cars are.  The car has that smooth styling that is so common in the sports cars of the 1950s.

MGA Spotted In Michelbach, Germany

The MGA sports car was announced in September of 1955.  The styling of the MGA was vastly different from the MG TF that it replaced.  The MG TF styling was styling dating back to the early 1930s, while the MGA was a very modern looking car.  Actually MG had begun working on the MGA design much earlier than 1955.  A MG entered in the 1951 Le Mans race looks remarkably similar to the MGA.  The MG management wanted to build a new car based on the 1951 Le Mans car.  However at this time, Donald Healey had just introduced a new Austin based sports car, the Austin-Healey 100, with modern body styling.  The so-called “brain trust” at BMC saw no need for BMC to manufacture two new sports cars, so MG was told to continue manufacturing the MG TD.  Over the next couple of years the sales of the MG TD plummeted as the design had run its course and more modern looking cars were commonly available.  Finally BMC realized the folly of their previous decision and knew they needed a more modern design for the MG.  As an interim measure, while the design of the MGA was being completed, MG tried to update the MG TD design with the result being the 1955 MG TF.  The MGA replaced the MG TF as soon as the MGA car was ready for production.

The MGA Replaced the Dated Styling of the MG TF

While the MGA was all new on the outside, the MGA was based on previous MG models.  The chassis was a redesign of the MG TD chassis.  The front suspension and rack-and-pinion steering came from the MG TF.  The axle was similar to the Z Magnette axle and the 1,500cc engine came from the ZA.  The early MGA engine produced 72 horsepower at 5,500 rpm.

MG Announcing the New MGA

Over the years that the MGA was produced, 1955 to 1962, MG made subtle changes to the MGA.  One of the keys to look for are the rear lights.  The red MGA below has small rear lights on the fenders that are indicative of the early MGA cars.

This MGA Appears to be an Early 1,500cc Model

Magazines that tested the MGA reported 0-60 mph times in the range of 15 seconds and the reported top speed in the 96 mph range.

The Luggage Rack is a Good Way to Increase the Cargo Capacity of the MGA

When the MGA was introduced it was quite successful.  In the first year of production more than 13,000 MGA cars were built.  This exceeded the entire production of the MG TC in four years.

The Front Grill of the Early MGA Models

In 1959 MG increased the capacity of the MGA engine to 1,588cc.  This increase brought the MGA horsepower up to just over 80 horsepower.  This model was known as the MGA 1600.  Visually this model can be distinguished from the cars with the 1,500cc engine by the rear lights.  The MGA 1600 tailights have two separate lens, as shown on the car in the following photo.

Note the Difference in the Tailights on This MGA 1600

In June 1961 MG came out with the final version of the MGA, the MGA 1600 MK. 2.  This model had a slightly larger engine of 1,622cc which produced 90 horsepower.  The rear wheel ratio was changed from 4.3:1 to 4.1:1, so that the larger, more powerful engine had a more relaxed feel on highways, but the acceleration was about the same as with the earlier MGA 1600.

The MGA 1600 Mk. 2 can be identified from earlier MGAs by looking at the front grill and the rear tail lights.  The front grill has a slightly recessed look in the MGA Mk. 2.  The rear tail lights were re-positioned off the rear fenders onto the trunk area.

The Recessed Grill of the MGA Mk. 2

The MGA 1600 MK. 2 Had Re-Positioned Tailights

The MGA Mk. 2 Engine Produced 90 Horsepower

Between 1958 and 1959 a Twin Cam 1,588cc engine was available.  The early engines produced 108 horsepower with a compression ration of 9.9:1.  These engines were problematic and later, more reliable engines were used that produced 100 horsepower with a compression ratio of 8.3:1.  These cars had a top speed of about 115 mph.  Just over 2,100 Twin Cam MGA cars were built and nowadays the Twin Cam MGA is one of the most desireable MGA models.

MGA Twin Cam Engine Was Available From 1959 to 1960

MG also had a coupe version of the MGA.  These cars had the advantage of excellent weather protection and the smooth top resulted in a slightly higher top speed.  While I like the flowing lines of the MGA roadsters, I am a little less impressed with the lines of the coupe.

MGA Coupe

As would be expected by BMC at that time the MGA often took part in rallies.  The car did reasonably well, but I think that when it came to rallies, the BMC Competition Department was really more interested in the Austin-Healey cars.

John Gott and Ray Brookes Finished 9th Overall in the 1958 Liege-Rome-Liege Rally

Don Morley Was a Class Winner in the 1962 Monte Carlo Rally

The MGA is very nice car and I believe that it is somewhat under appreciated.  A MGA roadster fitted with wire wheels is a very impressive car.

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3 Responses to The Stylish MGA Is Very Impressive

  1. elementguy says:

    Great article. I have a red 1958 MGA very similar to your photo, great fun, wish there were more events to run it on.

  2. Jorge Lino says:

    No doubt, the MG A 1600 is one of the best small sport English car in 1959. Design, power, fiability, easy and cheap maintenance are some of the best performances of the A. I have one from 1960, black with dark red interior and chromed wire wheels. Beautiful indeed.
    Two trip to Le Mans from Portugal, to appreciate the Le Mans classic. 2000km each time without problems.
    I liked the article very much. Thank you. Jorge

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