The A was the car which put MG back on the map. It was pretty, it was contemporary, and it was fun. Top speed was 98 mph and 0 to 60 mph took 15.6 seconds, but raw performance figures are not the reason the MGA became the world's most popular sports car. The A was an MG in the classic mode; the engineers at Abingdon took standard production parts and combined them in a way that made them special. The A was also the last MG with a separate chassis so a car as thoroughly restored as this one has no nasty, hidden, surprises. This completely restored example was originally sold to America and then imported to Italy. It was rebuilt in 1996 and its condition is described as excellent. Finished in Old English White with black upholstery piped in white, it also has the desirable wire wheel option. This reliable classic is ready to be enjoyed and is lacking only an enthusiastic owner.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1959 MGA

This car sold for $13,410 at the Brooks auction in Monaco on May 27, 2000. The price, which includes commission, is a little high for a coupe, but consistent with its recent restoration and reported excellent condition.

The MGA is one of those cars with the ability to bring forth fond memories of our past. It shared the proportions and curves of the XK 120 and Austin-Healey on a slightly smaller scale, but was considerably less expensive to buy and maintain. Over 100,000 of them were sold, making it the most popular model to date of any car produced by British Motor Corporation.

In the mid-’60s, it seemed as if there was at least one in every high school parking lot in the country. The sleek lines attracted the girls and the true sporting nature of the car aroused envy in the boys. Since 80% of the MGAs produced were shipped to the United States, they’re not too hard to find today. Many survivors have now undergone good quality restorations, so we don’t see them on the street nearly as often as we once did, as owners fret about rock chips and parking lot dings scarring their $3,000 paint jobs. However, they are frequent participants in vintage car tours and a popular base for building vintage race cars.

The concept for the MGA actually dates back to 1951 when Syd Enever, MG’s chief designer, built two special-bodied MG TDs for Le Mans. While these cars didn’t fare well in the race, prototype production cars were built the following year with the driver and passenger now seated between the frame rails. In all but a few details, these prototypes were MGAs. Nevertheless, the executives of BMC decided to put all their support behind the new Healey 100, and MG was forced to soldier on with the TF into 1955.

Finally, in late 1955, the new MGA was introduced, again with prototypes racing at Le Mans, and it went into full production in 1956. Using the 1489cc engine designed for the MG Magnette sedan, with 68 and later 72 bhp, nearly 60,000 MGA 1500s were produced in three years. A twin-cam version of the 1500 was added in 1958, but that engine proved to have serious problems, so production was limited.

Nevertheless, with the Healey upgrading to a full three liters in 1959, BMC felt the MGA needed more oomph, so a 1588cc engine was substituted. It added only nine horsepower, but significantly improved the torque curve. Disc brakes were also added on the front wheels, complementing the sweet handling afforded by the rack-and-pinion steering. This version proved almost as popular as its predecessor, selling 31,500 through 1962.

A variant of the 1500 and 1600 was produced using the four-wheel disc brakes and racing wheels left over from twin-cam production and called a “Deluxe.” In addition, towards the end of production, the engine of the 1600 was bored out to 1622cc, with this model called the Mark II. Throughout production, a coupe version was produced alongside the roadster, though in much smaller numbers.

Of the four models of MGAs built, the 1600 is probably the best value for the money. Not nearly as rare as the faster but finicky twin-cam or the better-equipped Deluxe, the 1600 is more competent at highway speeds than the 1500. I don’t find the coupe quite as attractive as the roadster-its high, short top seems a little out of proportion-but the coupe’s interior was finished to a higher standard. It has roll-up windows and additional sound-deadening material in the top, under the carpets, and on the firewall, so it isn’t an ordeal to drive on long-distance touring. The coupe cost more than the roadster when new; however, as with nearly every other enthusiast sports car, today the coupe is not as desirable for enthusiasts as the convertible, so it generally sells at a discount to the open car. MGA coupes restored to the condition of the car pictured here will generally sell in the $12,000-$15,000 range, about $5,000 less than an open car, and they will often take longer to sell as well.-Gary Anderson, Editor and Publisher, British Car Magazine

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