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MGA Published: 6th Apr 2017 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

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● Happy mix of eras ● Great looks ● Excellent club and specialist support ● Easily uprated

The TF-based MGA is widely regarded as the best MG sportster of them all because it was milestone model; the bridge between pre and post war fashions, plus looks fabulous some six decades on. Many enthusiasts rate it as the best driving MG into the bargain, the latter word you cannot use to describe them now, however.


Based upon the TF chassis albeit with a lower centre of gravity, the MGA was the first true 100mph MG even though the acceleration is only brisk at best although the lugging nature of the B-Series engine greatly compensates in real world conditions, plus naturally, it is easy to unleash more power. Their popularity on today’s tracks proves the handling satisfies enthusiasts, especially one well known mods are incorporated.

MGA’s are not half as refined as they look but are better than a TR2/3 (see our special Counterpoint in this issue-ed). In terms of practicality, MGAs are not as good as MGBs.

Best models

Arguably the most capital A is the rare Jag XK-looking Twin Cam – which even beat Lotus to the game of fitting an advanced top end onto a proven mainstream block. However, while the unit’s original reliability issues are now sorted, they are dear to buy and repair, plus you can eke as much power out of a regular MGA. Last-of-the-line De Luxe, boasting many Twin Cam features, is the best all rounder. Other than this, it’s a choice between a coupé or roadster.


The handsome MGA handsomely outstrips all other MGs in terms of values and over £30K isn’t uncommon for concours roadsters and let’s talk 50 grand for Twin Cams. The good news is that you buy a good regular MGA for under £20,000 or a shabby but sound coupé, for just over ten – best add 50 per cent for the more desired roadsters.

Projects, which can easily sell for nearly five figures, need careful thought as restoration costs are extremely high, too.

Buying advice

TF-derived chassis has lots of rot traps around the suspension points, the rear floor and the screen scuttle, sills and A-posts; all panels are available, but fitting them properly is tricky, so expect a specialist to charge at least £2000 to repair each side. Wings also corrode; replacements are available, but due to the difficulty in attaining even panel gaps, you’re better off repairing the lower portions of each rather than trying to replace wholesale.

The timber outer frame will rot of course, particularly under the running boards and dash so vet well. Most went to the States: a genuine RHD UK car will start with a numeral 1, while export RHD markets begin with a 2 and completely knocked-down (CKD) RHD kits will have a 5 prefix. However, if the car started out as left-hand drive, the first digit will be a 4 if it was initially supplied to the US.

One of the most common quirks with an MGA engine is its origins; this powerplant was fitted to many other BMC products and it’s easy to slot in a unit from something more mundane such as an Oxford, although MGB mills are also common. It’s also possible to swap between 1500 and 1600 models.

The A’s gearbox is proving to be a weak point. Second gear synchromesh usually goes first, but also listen for chattering in first and reverse, signalling that the laygear is on its way out. If the gearbox needs a rebuild, you can get an exchange unit for around £650.


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