Live Auctions

38 Year Slumber: 1959 MGA

The seller of this barn find 1959 MGA notes that after lavishing upwards of $16,000 in maintenance and repairs, he discovered he doesn’t like driving British sports cars. Therefore, the MGA is now up for grabs with bidding at $9,200 with the reserve unmet. Claimed to be a car with refreshed mechanicals and preserved cosmetics, it looks like the best of both worlds in MGA ownership. Find it here on eBay with a Buy-It-Now of $22K. 

The MGA was found after sitting for 38 years. Two years earlier, it was repainted in its current shade. The seller notes the paint shows signs of wear with light cracking and spiderwebbing. Positive reception from attendees at car shows convinced him it wasn’t worth repainting, but that didn’t stop the owner from procuring some big -spend items like new wire wheels, bumpers and carpet kit. Note the MGA currently wears its original components with dull finishes.

The 1.6L four-cylinder shows good compression across the board, and the seller provides an extensive list of recent repairs: rebuilt carbs, new shocks, radiator, and brakes, among other fixes. The engine bay presents nicely but isn’t overly-restored. The MGA was parked for decades following the failure of a brake line, which was obviously addressed in the mechanical rebuild. The seller notes “every piece of wiring has been replaced” and that he has receipts for all the work performed.

Though located in Iowa, this parking sticker for San Diego Evening College is perhaps my favorite thing about this preserved MGA. The seller attacked this car just as I would have if any of my projects were completely rust-free or had straight sheet metal with tired paint. The asking price doesn’t seem out of line to me, but the reserve is likely set north of what the seller has into the MGA. Upper teens seems like a good place to land if you’re shopping for a driver.


  1. Beatnik Bedouin

    Looks like a nice car for someone who dig’s MGAs, but I haven’t kept up with pricing/values.

    The last one I had anything to do with was back in 1990 and cost a whopping $500..! I think my brother spent a C-note on rebuild kits for the hydraulics, a set of radials and a new battery.

  2. kman

    Where’s Howard?

  3. Andy

    I don’t know what they were thinking, going from this to the MGB. Even the skinny-bumper B’s aren’t much to look at.

    • Llewellyn Keller

      British Leyland wasn’t known for making reliable cars or good business decisions. Like most fathers in my neighborhood growing up, my dad had 2 British sports cars. By 1961, he couldn’t take it anymore – gave up his Austin Healy for a VW Beetle. My favorite Lucas electrical joke – “Lucas is now making a vacuum cleaner. It’s their only product that doesn’t suck.”

      • D. King

        I hadn’t heard that joke. Do you know why British beer is warm? ‘Cause Lucas made the refrigerators!

  4. Gene Parmesan

    The guy “Doesn’t like the way British cars drive” and says that downshifting is “too much effort”. WHAT.

    As an MG fan, I feel personally attacked. Somebody get that nice little A away from this monster!

  5. Maestro1

    I agree. The price is too high.

  6. On and On On and On Member

    A buddy of mine did a really nice re-do of his MGA. Everything was addressed and it’s in a heated garage. Every time he drives it something is broken or non-functional. He won’t take it to the store for bread without his AAA card and a cell phone. You have to have a passion to own these. I must say in a positive note that driving them is a fun and exciting experience. A real feel for the road.

    • Tony C.

      Yes On and On you do get a real ‘feel for the road’ with British sports cars, you ‘feel’ every bump, crack or join in the road surface. I swear the British used house bricks for springs in all their sports cars !

  7. pat gill

    it is visually a 1500, small rear lamps, white front indicators, no 1600 badges behind the vents but it also seems to have features of a 1600, disc brakes, larger master cylinder reservoir, maybe a 1500 upgraded to disc brakes, may have engine upgrade as well,

  8. Derek

    Having stopped counting after my 150th MGA ,which included no less than 8 twin cams and, having raced them, travelled in them, restored them, slept in them, driven them hard and driven them easy, I even got laid in one (once), I feel that I can say with some authority, that the lowly little MGA is the absolute best all around, low budget sports car ever built in any decade and on any continent. They are reliable, durable, easy and inexpensive to maintain, blessed with near perfect balance, sufficient power to provide enormous fun for even the most inexperienced driver without his getting himself into trouble but still enough for the experienced driver to keep pace with faster, more powerful cars. I always preferred a well prepared, free revving 1500 over the later cars but that’s probably a personal thing, there’s nothing wrong with a good 1600 or 1622 either.
    The car being offered here looks like a nice one ready to go out and have some fun on a twisty road. I hope it ends up in the hands of someone much younger than I who will appreciate what he has.

  9. Francisco

    Did you see the sellers name? Yikes! Better check the driver’s seat.

    • Crazyhawk

      Yeah, something doesn’t smell right about this sale…

  10. Dolphin Member

    Having owned the same car back close to when these were new (except for the wire wheels, which were disks on mine), a few thoughts. My car is my avatar on BF, shown with me driving it about a hundred years ago. This car sure brings me back.

    – Agree with Pat Gill. If this a 1959 M.Y. car, it’s a 1500 cc, not a 1600 cc. This looks like a 1500 cc car. The 1600 cc cars had chrome ‘1600’ emblems next to the chrome air outlets on the hood surround, and under the MG octagon on the trunk lid. This car does not have those. Also, the tail lights are 1500. The 1600s had a small reflector above the main light.

    – The car looks mostly good except for the paint, which is badly crazed in places. Since it has been repainted years ago, it makes no sense to say the old paint makes the car unique. Maybe, but not in a good way. The car definitely would benefit from a proper paint job. You could replace the welting during the repaint and it would look a lot better.

    – It needs new or rechromed bumpers and a few other things to be excellent.

    – I have always loved the speedboat look of the cockpit on these. They are a true roadster, and had clamp-on side windows, which were referred to as ‘side curtains’.

    – IIRC the dash should be painted metal the same color as the body. This dash has been covered, and there is a non-original wooden plate over the radio hole. The interior looks pretty good otherwise. The lovely banjo steering wheel is almost perfect, and has only light cracks in the plastic outer part close to where the metal rods join the rim.

  11. ccrvtt

    Up to $14,200 now. Probably will go higher. This will seem cheap for this car 3 years from now.

    Buy. Drive. Enjoy. It will never be worth less than what you pay for it.

    • D. King

      Ended at 15,500.

  12. Wayne

    If you bothered to read the ad before commenting it says 1500 block 1600 head.

    • Dolphin Member

      If you check the Ebay listing, there have been 2 revisions to the description on Feb. 17th. IIRC he had the car identified originally as a 1600, and maybe changed that in one of the revisions.

      No matter, pat gill (below) spoke to him, and the seller said it was a ’56—a first year car and definitely a 1500. The engine block seems to be later.

  13. BrianR

    All moot now, it’s sold

  14. cyclemikey

    If I spent 16K (partially) restoring an MGA, I think I’d learn to like driving it.

  15. Big Al

    I bought a 59 in ’85 for $400. The frame was so bad That the doors were jammed tight. It was about to break in half. I restored it anyway including another frame that needed work too. I spent almost $4000 at Moss Motors on everything else. I had so much fun doing most of it in my garage with common hand tools. It was awesome, finally, drove it around for a few years and sold it on. A kid from England wrote me a note that he had it and wanted to know all about what I did to it. It was a basket case when I got it. They are very much worth the investment and a blast to get on the road and enjoy. I’m too old now, wish I still had her.

  16. Mark

    He needs to be rational reasonable realistic or what I call the three r’s to use to lead our lives gone are the bucks he dumped into this specimen icon maybe he’s waiting for that MG lover whom will be willing to fork over the big bucks for this gem.

  17. pat gill

    I spoke to him and he said it was actually a 1956 1500 incorrectly titled as a 1959……………… a bit of a bitsa, great cars though, had mine for 46 years so far,

  18. chad

    All ways liked the logo holes on the fenders of the A (“…chrome air outlets on the hood surround…”) and the body lines (iconic European/Continental voluptuous 50s/60s design). Much better (4 me) than sister’s TD (which wuz great 4 my dad) or the square lines (internationally by the days & influence of global mrkt place) of the 70s/80s.
    Sorry re: need to row da gears. I believe that for my bike sometimes but wake up’n realize it’s just a bad dream…

  19. mikeH

    How can anyone not like driving an MGA?? It is the epitome of low buck sports cars where you can have a blast just driving to the 7-11. If you don’t like driving an MGA, you don’t like driving.

    • Dolphin Member

      mike, I definitely agree.

  20. Mountainwoodie

    Back in oh…1970…… as a teenager, a girl’s Dad GAVE me a 1600. I think it was a 1960 maybe later.I dragged it out of the woods, fired it up………and then gave it back. Cant remember why. LOL

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