1960 MGA with Miata Power

Some hot rods are more subtle that others like this 1960 MGA. Appearing like an innocent British roadster, this MGA has a secret. The original drivetrain has been ditched for a Miata transplant, but there is no fuel injection involved. Instead, there is a lovely pair of side draft carbs feeding the nimble engine. This neatly swapped MG is offered for the buy it now price of $21,500. Check it out here on eBay out of Grosse Ile, Michigan.

Fitting very nicely, the 1995 spec BP Mazda Miata engine has undergone a mild transformation to hold the right appearance for this British classic. The original cam angle sensor was ditched for an MX3 BP distributor. This allowed the engine to go analog, and to easily incorporate 45mm Weber side draft carbs. The owner and builder made the intake manifold, as well as modified engine mounts, and coolant outlets. A custom aluminum radiator has been fitted, and the car is reported as being a cool runner. The engine had only accumulated 47,000 miles before it was swapped into the MG. Another great thing about this swap is the smooth shifting Miata gearbox. Enjoyable to row through the gears, amazingly the Miata shift lever comes out of the original shift lever area in the cockpit.

By no means perfect, but certainly charming, the interior appears to be original. Obviously the seats have seen better days, but reupholstering the seats would do wonders for the interior appearance of this MG. At a quick glance the shifter does not stand out, and the car is rather unassuming with its “sleeper” engine swap. One thing the seller did not mention is if the gauges are operational on this MG. The Miata transmission speed is cable driven, and the MSD box may very well be providing the tach signal.

Subtle but sleek, the Exterior of this MG is in fair condition with no apparent rot. The bumpers have been removed, but fresh wire wheels and Raydoyt style mirrors have been installed. Appearing straight other than a minor ding on the driver front fender, this MG looks like a decent machine with an older paint job. A solid clean and polish would likely leave this British Roadster a nice driver grade machine. With all of the great looks of a British classic, but with all of the reliability and power of a Japanese car, this MGA is a sweet little hot rod that is raring to go. Are you a fan of this swapped MGA?


  1. Rube Goldberg Member

    It’s blasphemy, I tells ya’, I want to hear what Jamie thinks. I suppose to a non-purist, this would be considered an upgrade, and looks well done, I never had a problem with the old Austin motor, not the most powerful, but when this car is sitting at the side of the road with that shredded cam belt in your hands, the old 1500 would go chugging by.

    Like 5
    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      You know…there are plenty of stock MGAs around. I’m fine with the occasional one like this. I do have to note, however, that as a lifetime Triumph enthusiast I was shocked at how strong the internals were in the B-Series engines we used in the Austin Powerless Racing Marina. You couldn’t kill those engines, and believe me, we tried. Massive internals compared to Spit and 6-cylinder Triumph engines! It would surprise me if the original engine couldn’t have been rebuilt.

      Like 2
  2. Solosolo UK ken tilly Member

    I would consider myself a purist first and foremost, however, dropping a Miata engine and gearbox into a grossly under powered MG A is a brilliant idea.

    Like 16

    IF the original engine was toast then I really think that whoever did the actual work on this (especially if everything works like it should) had a great idea I would never have thought something like this conversion could be done.

    Like 3
  4. SMS

    I’m fine with the interior as it is. Only thing I would change is the writing on the camshaft cover. It is a good looking motor and looks like it belongs.

    Friend had a Yamaha thumper. He ground and polished off the Yamaha emblem cast into the case cover. Then put on a BSA decal on the tank with clear coat. Drove people nuts trying to figure out what it was.

    Like 6
    • DMR

      Looks better with Cam cover smoothed and polished, theres a few photos in the ad. After some time a little patina will find the cover too…

      Like 1
  5. Dean

    What about a Toyoyta 22R conversion in a ’79 MGB?

    Like 1
  6. Brian Ach

    It’s a great, decently done $15k car. For the ask I would expect no rust and a perfect interior.

    I’ve had 2 engine-swap cars, and they can definitely be better than the originals in every way (except collectability)

    Like 2
  7. Nsuracer

    I swapped in a Miata motor and trans to a 75 Opel Ascona that we ran in Chumpcar and WRL. We put over 100 racing hours on it before killing it by running out of oil. You can’t hurt a car by putting a Miata motor in it.

  8. Dave Mazz

    There’s a good-looking British-built MGA with a 5 liter Ford V-8 engine out there. I wonder what *that* car might be worth??


    Like 1
  9. Bernie H.

    The MGA speedo is also cable driven, and a sharp speedo shop should be able to make-up a cable. Calibration may be off and there’s no multiple speedo gear selections available for this trans, but at least the speedometer will act like its working. If this owner even swaps back to MGA parts, I have two transmissions in good shape cheap, and I only live 60 miles from his address.

  10. Pat

    Hey, it’s a twin cam…

    Like 3
  11. Ken Nesbit

    I’m building one of these myself out of a coupe except I’m also installing a Hoyle suspension …independent rear suspension (same basic setup as a Caterham with a Quaife LSD installed) and coil over front suspension. Looking forward to it being a lot of fun. Currently the frame/suspension is complete, next step is to pick up a Miata motor (will rebuild it and looking for 180 to 200 at the rear wheels). Body is fair, I do have a few rust issues to address, but nothing serious. I have restored several British cars to stock in the past, so I’m counting that as having appeased the Gods before I bastardize this one.

    Like 5
    • Bryan W Cohn

      Ken, 180 to 200 at the wheels is a big number for a 1.8 Miata engine unless its built to nearly full on SCCA E Production specs, and then its only going to last 20-30 hours before needing a rebuild. I raced 1.8 Miata extensively and you can get 140 at the wheels reliably all day long using stock parts except you must use I or H beam rods. Knowing what I know, and having lost a few engines due to rod failure, I’d never build another without I beam rods. Now, if you go turbo its easy to make the power you speak of but it still requires stronger internals and so on. Good luck, you’ll end up with a really neat car!

      Like 2
      • Ken Nesbit

        Hey Bryan, same here…I raced a 1.6 Miata for ten years (F prod) and made close to 170 at the rear wheels with that in limited prep. I agree that with keeping it stock (cam, ECU, injectors etc) would limit it, but going with a different ECU (used electromotive on my race car, thinking megasquirt with this one), you can pick up quite a bit and those motors lasted me 3 – 4 years between freshening them up, so I think it’s pretty doable. I agree on the rods, had to stick with stock lighened/polished rods for years until they changed the rules…but I/H beam is definitely preferred.

        Like 1
    • Vinnie Moore

      Sat in my car in rainy Pickering North Yorkshire Reading your post on my mobile with interest.
      I have a MGA with a 1800 B engine and stock MGA gearbox that sounds rough. I’m contemplating changing to a mx5 engine and gearbox. What are you doing with your suspension?

  12. bobhess bobhess Member

    The BMC engines we run in our race cars all have Carrillo rods and hardened stock cranks or billet units. No way to keep them together otherwise. The main weak point in a modified Miata engine is the rods. Change them to competition units, balance the crank, flywheel and clutch as a unit and you are good to go for more horsepower. Then have fun with it.

    Like 4
    • Ken Nesbit

      You’re right Bob…I raced Midget’s for about 20 years before I built the Miata, that was full prep and running about 15:1 compression and that does beat them up pretty well…still have a Carrillo rod that looks like an S on the shelf and was constantly rebuilding it…one of the things that drove me to go the limited prep route.

  13. John B.

    Not a fan of British cars but reading the description provided by the seller it sounds like the builder has put enough time and materials to justify his asking price and more! I like my cars to be as original as possible but I have to respect this vehicle!
    Good luck to both buyer and seller.

    Like 2
  14. PDXBryan

    I tend to not be a purist (mostly) so I think this is great. Classic British style with 50% more (reliable) Japanese twin-cam power. What’s not to like!

    Like 1
  15. Billieg

    One of the regrets I have is not buying one of these or an Austin 3000 when I was younger and putting in a chevy 6 cyl vortec with a 4 speed trans. and painting it red. Could be a really cool car and fast.

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Keep me in the conversation via email. Or subscribe without commenting.