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MG SA VA Published: 5th Apr 2017 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

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● Glorious looks ● Luxury interiors ● Rarity ● Cheap Jag SS substitute

If you’re after a classic car that also makes common sense, it’s hard to think of a better brand than MG. From civilised, superior saloons to serious sports cars, they all hold true the company’s age old maxim Safety Fast!, providing practical and pragmatic classic motoring yet with the special sense of occasion enthusiasts demand – both classic and contemporary models – plus everyone loves an MG!

Yet the beauty of MG ownership is that it appeals both to heart as well as the head thanks to an army of specialists who can provide everything you can wish for to ensure care-free classic driving while the numerous owners’ clubs are second to none. There’s a tremendous social scene that includes numerous dedicated racing championships, for road and race cars.

So if you’ve yearned for a classic without tears, then take a look at this xx special where we rate every post war MG , from raffish T Type sportsters to modern Z cars, and with prices starting at well under a grand there’s surely something to suit all tastes and budgets!

If you were asked to name a pre-war MG, the chances are you’d nominate one of the many two-seater models such as the T Types, J2 or K3. What you’d probably never think of is the SA, VA and WA, produced between 1936 and 1939, and which offered Bentley-level luxury travel for four.

Produced during the pre-war era when MGs were perceived as prestigious transport full of character and class the SA, VA and WA were created to challenge the new luxury saloons and tourers from Bentley and Jaguar. Quite different to a T-Series but boast similar levels of club and specialist support. Not cheap to buy or restore and values expected to remain some of the highest of the brand.


These cars are all about luxury, especially the six-cylinder models. Whilst MG sports cars corner well but are unhappy on motorways, the ‘SVW’ range are the reverse; understeer is marked, but they cruise happily at speeds of 60mph. Of the three models, the VA is the most sprightly, the smaller engine being easily offset by the reduced weight and size. Indeed, a VA Tourer is the closest to the MG traditional sports car and is quite fun to drive.

Braking is okay if kept adjusted although all models, especially the VA, can suffer from steering wander. The interiors, especially those of the saloons, are very well finished, with lots of veneer and leather, and have a real luxury feel.

Best models

Rarest is probably the Pickford-bodied drophead; a Jag SS rival the MG was said to better all round. The VA is effectively a scaled-down SA with a 54bhp 1548cc fourcylinder engine – the same unit used in the Morris 12 and Wolseley 12.

As with the SA, there’s a choice of saloon, tourer, or drophead coupé, all with four seats. Thanks to the fitment of a relatively small engine, the VA isn’t especially swift, but comparable to other more overtly sporting models, and when new could manage a not to shabby 76mph. WA is launched at the Motor Show and in many ways appears similar to the SA but it’s actually a considerable redesign.

The engine is 2561cc, and the car is slightly wider. The brakes are increased in size from 12-inch to 14-inch drums and an additional bulkhead tackles the SA problem of heat transfer into the cabin. The usual three body styles are again offered, albeit all with a side-mounted spare wheel. Scarcity of models and owners unwilling to sell may well mean a case of taking what’s on sale.


Not many come up for sale, so it’s hard to give accurate valuations. To get an idea of how much the various variants are worth, take a look at the cars for sale page of the SVW Register (www. cars_classified.htm). Values are largely dictated by restoration costs; the more work to do, the lower the value. Generally, it’s the body, exterior and interior which are the most costly to restore rather than the mechanicals – although getting an engine back to top condition is likely to cost £3000-£5000.

A sad, rusty but complete chassis/ engine/body will always fetch more than £10,000 for any of the models. For fully restored cars, values are higher for open models. WA cars are pricier than SA, and the SA is worth more than the VA. The most valuable of all the variants would be a fully and recently restored WA Tickford, which can fetch over £100,000!

A similar open SA might reach £75,000, dropping to £40,000 for an earlier restored SA saloon, running but needing some work to bring it up to concours standard. Open, recently restored VA cars can fetch £35,000-£40,000, and a good running VA saloon that needs only TLC will still sell for over £20,000, more likely £25,000. Values have strengthened markedly in recent years.

Buying advice

The bodyshell, inside and out, is where the cost of revival is – ditto the Bentley-like cabin. Originality is usually important. Externally obvious modification is likely to reduce values. The timber-framed body means there’s plenty of flexing, so expect cracked paint plus rotten wood. Some of the areas most prone to expensive damage is the base of the screen pillars.

There are very few interchangeable parts between the SA, VA and WA, though the SA and WA share some parts such as the front axle. Andy King, Barry Walker (cars) MG Automobile Company (parts) and Barrie Carter can help. WA has basically the same engine and gearbox as the SA, but they’re not interchangeable. Later engines were made with shell bearings, but difficulty in obtaining spares may result in them being white metalled. Expect oil leaks on all.

The WA has a modern tandem master cylinder design operating the front and rear brakes independently while early VAs had adjustable Luvax shock absorbers, controlled by the driver, but these may not have survived. All models featured Jackall wheel jacks. Most do not work, and restoring them is not simple as it requires special seals and new rams.


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