Revisiting Classics: The MGA

MGA 1600 Roadster

The MGA was a vehicle from MG that was produced between 1955 and 1962. This auto was the replacement for the MG TF 1500 Midget and was a sports car that had completely new styling compared to previous sports cars from MG. The auto was announced on Sept. 26, 1955, and made its debut during the Frankfurt Motor Show. During its production run, MG produced 101,081 units. Most of these were exported, with only 5,869 sold in Britain, where it was produced.

Creating the Design

MGA 1500

Although the MGA did not debut until 1955, the design process began in 1951. This was when Syd Enever, an MG designer, made a streamlined body for a TD Le Mans car. Due to the TD chassis limitations, there was a high seating position, which was somewhat limiting. That led to the design of a new chassis that attached the floor to the bottom instead of the top of each frame section and placed more distance between side members. After building a prototype, the team showed it to Leonard Lord, the BMC chairman, who did not want to produce it due to a recent deal to produce Austin-Healey cars. He changed his mind when traditional MG models experienced falling sales. Advertising at the time referred to the MG MGA as the “first of a new line” since it was extremely different than the automaker’s current vehicles.

Basic Description

1957 MG MGA

The MGA used a newly available engine, meaning that instead of the XPAG unit that it was originally going to use, it had the B-Series type that allowed for a lower hood line. This engine was the straight-4 “B series” that was in the Magnette saloon, and it worked with a four-speed transmission and rear-wheel drive. Other mechanical components included an independent suspension featuring front coil springs and wishbones, a rigid axle and semi-elliptic springs in the rear, and rack-and-pinion steering. While the coupe did have door handles, the MGA convertible did not feature any exterior door handles. The overall design of the vehicle was body-on-frame.

More on the Engine

The 1489 cc engine gave the MGA 68 horsepower initially, although this figure soon increased to 72 horsepower. All wheels had Lockheed hydraulic drum brakes, and the engine had twin H4-type SU carburetors. A test done by “The Motor” in 1955 showed the MG MGA reaching 97.8 miles per hour as a top speed. The test also noted that it reached 60 mph from a standstill in 16 seconds. This test car cost £844, which included taxes, and it got 22.2 mpg according to the U.S. system.

The Twin-Cam Version

1961 MGA Twin Cam

In 1958, MG introduced a Twin-Cam model of a high-performance nature. This engine had a high compression ratio that was first 9.9:1 and later 8.3:1. The engine was a variation of the B-Series engine with a DOHC style and aluminum cylinder heads. The result was 108 horsepower. It included four-wheel disc brakes from Dunlop plus Dunlop peg drive steel wheels of the knock-off style, which were reminiscent of those on racing Jaguars. The wheels and the “Twin-Cam” logo by the hood vent were the only visual differences between the Twin-Cam version and the regular MGA.

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