What most of us know about the immediate post-war history of MG is historical rather than experiential. The 1945-49 TC was the sports car of the WWII generation, now sadly passing to that great wrecking yard in the sky. The pre-war PAs, PBs, TAs, and TBs that GIs stationed in Britain saw were as glamorous to them as Mercer Raceabouts and Stutz Bearcats were to their WWI-generation fathers. "Sports car" to WWII vets became synonymous with cut-down doors, separate fenders, upright grilles, and freestanding chrome headlights. The 1953-55 MG TF, now arguably the most loved of the T-series MGs, was not particularly loved in period by the MG faithful, simply because it sported headlamp shells that were streamlined into the fenders. As far as the faithful were concerned, there was far worse to come. In 1951, designer Syd Enever created a streamlined Le Mans special for George Phillips. Although limited by the TD chassis and the height of the 1,250-cc XPAG engine, the car was a clear indicator of the future. Initially, BMC head Leonard Lord saw no reason for a modern MG, as the T-series cars were still selling reasonably well and he now had the Austin-Healey 100 to sell. But eventually, sales of the TF began to trail off and it became apparent that with the exception of perennial holdout Morgan, the age of the traditional separate-fender, pre-war-style sports car was coming to an end.

Reactionary diehards hated the streamlining

Although undeniably lovely both in period and now, reactionary MG diehards hated BMC for what it had done to their traditional sports car, as well as for having the nerve to advertise it in 1955 as "the first of a new line." No longer saddled with a body sharing the same coefficient of drag as a double-wide mobile home, the 68-hp 1,489-cc (1500) MG A was a reasonable performer, with about 95 mph possible and 0-60 mph in about 14 seconds-a decent improvement over the TF 1500, which had a similar 65 hp. Just the simple application of aerodynamics added about 15 mph to the top end. A four-horsepower bump shortly after the MG A's introduction brought only a marginal increase in performance. Enthusiast publications like Road & Track were fans from the beginning. Commenting on the car's delicate nature, R&T supposed that the A was "made in Abingdon-on-Thames by water sprites." Handling was nearly neutral, with the rack-and-pinion steering precise and drum brakes reasonably effective. The driving position is pure vintage sports car, with fixed-rake upright leather seats and a banjo-type steering wheel pointed directly at your thorax. Though the side-curtain roadster is far more common, a lovely fixed-head coupe was also available. In 1958, MG added what was the fastest and should have been the most desirable post-war MG: The Twin-Cam was MG's answer to the Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce. Quicker than the Alfa, the Twin-Cam could do 0-60 mph in around nine seconds. Sadly, the motors had a nasty habit of grenading while still under warranty. While their piston-burning tendencies can be solved by restorers today, they still have somewhat of a damaged-goods reputation.

T-C was a match for Europe's best

It's a pity; with excellent handling, four-wheel disc brakes, and D-type Jaguar-like Dunlop peg-drive wheels, the Twin-Cam could have changed the public's perception of engineering inferiority from which British sports cars suffered, vis-à-vis the Germans and Italians. At least the leftover Twin-Cam chassis were put to good use as De Luxe pushrod cars with the special wheels and brakes of the Twin-Cam. These are quite desirable today. In 1959, all pushrod cars became 1,588-cc (1600) cars with an increase of about six horsepower. The standard MG A also gained front disc brakes. The Mk II of 1961 experienced another small displacement increase (from 1,588 cc to 1,622 cc), plus a grille that made it look as though it had been kicked in the teeth, and a pair of horizontal taillights located inboard of the rear fenders, borrowed from the new Mini and turned sideways. Far fewer Mk IIs were built than Mk Is, although collectors don't seem to differentiate much between them. It takes a De Luxe or a Twin-Cam to excite (this being a relative term) the typical MG A fan. Red and white cars seem to be the most common, but there were some lovely period colors (particularly pastel greens and blues) that look great with a set of wide whitewalls. There is almost no downside to MG A ownership. They are cheap to maintain, lovely to look at, and fun to drive. Body rust is the main bugger, but the separate chassis design (with wooden floorboards) is far simpler to repair than a unibody MG B. Still, beware of rust in the rockers and fender bottoms, as well as poorly repaired cars with ill-fitting rockers and doors that hang out at the bottom corners.

A little oven in the sun

MG As are seldom used as daily drivers, so murky Plexiglas side curtains with dismal visibility and leaky soft tops aren't the annoyance they used to be to older generations. The coupe resolves bad weather problems, with the trade-off that it becomes a little oven when the sun comes out. Mechanically, the pushrod cars are quite tough. No odd noises or smoke, coupled with good compression and oil pressure, means you're in the clear. One odd note about MG As is the fact that unlike a Triumph, it's not simple to convert a disc-wheel car to wires. The rear axles aren't interchangeable. MG A values have been on a slow but steady rise, with great pushrod cars now in the mid-to-high $20s, De Luxe cars in the $30s, and Twin-Cams in the high $30s/low $40s. It's unlikely MG As will see the kind of crazy appreciation that Big Healeys did around 2005, but it is a cinch that if you buy a nice one, you'll enjoy one of the loveliest British sports cars from the 1950s and not lose a dime.

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