5-Speed And Power Windows? 1959 MGA Coupe

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There are three ways to approach old cars mechanically.  You can leave it stock, hot rod it, or update the car where you can.  Even the purists among us agree that modern transmissions and power features can make a car far more pleasant to drive.  The seller of this 1959 MGA, which is currently for sale on craigslist in Green Bay,Wisconsin, is a good example of that third type of owner.   Do the modifications enhance the value of the car to make it well worth the $14,900 asking price, or do they make the car harder to sell?

MGs became very popular in the United States after World War II.  While they handled better than many American cars and were a blast to drive, the cars were very low tech.  It wasn’t until the unibody MGB that the company began using modern construction techniques.  When the sleek MGA replaced the MGTF it still was a body on frame design with wooden floor boards.  The new design catapulted the company into the present in elegant fashion, but the mechanicals were still solidly prewar.

The pictures show an MGA that looks to be quite original.  The brightwork and paint are both in respectable condition.  Wear and tear are evident, however, on many of the exterior surfaces.  It is also notable that this is a closed car.  Coupe versions of the MGA are seen far less frequently in the United States, and it is hard to understand why someone would opt for one over a convertible given that the drop top is so amazingly gorgeous.  Living in a wet and/or cold climate could make you see the beauty in a coupe though!

The seller of theis MGA has decided to update the car to make the driving experience a little more modern.  The car’s four speed transmission has been updated with a five speed unit.  The conversion is all but invisible except for the fact that the modern plastic shift handle has been left on.  The car now has power windows, at least according to the ad.  Where the switches are is a mystery.  However, there are no window crank handles evident either.

What we can see of the interior looks used but in good, serviceable condition.  The seller tells us that the car is powered by what is assumed to be the stock 1.4 liter inline 4 cylinder engine.  Pictures of the engine are sadly not included in the ad.  Also missing are pictures of the frame and undercarriage.  There are no indications that there are any problems with this car when you look at the body panels, which likely would have shown some rust bubbling up if there were major issues.  The point is that someone selling a British car in a snowy area should always be proud to show off a lack of rust in vital areas.

The seller assures us that the car runs, drives, and stops well and is a good cruiser.  We are also told that the original parts removed to modify the car have been retained and will be included with the car.

In all, this is a nice car if you are an MG fan and would like a good driver.  The five speed transmission would likely make interstate travel a comfortable experience.  As for the power windows, I think I could take them or leave them.  The good news is that this MGA hasn’t been customized to the point that a buyer with different tastes would be turned off.

Do you think modifications to an otherwise original car add or detract from the value?  Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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Comments

  1. bobhess bobhessMember

    Maybe white lever left of steering column does windows? Nice car.

    Like 5
    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskeyMember

      Bob, that’s an original Lucas turn signal switch. But because it IS a Lucas part, maybe it DOES make the windows go up and down!

      Like 9
    • Richard Martin

      The switches for the windows are on the doors where you would expect them to be but they are very hard to see in the photos.

      Like 1
  2. Rex Kahrs Rex KahrsMember

    The mods are all but invisible, so they don’t detract from the original look of the car. And I actually like the coupe body, it’s different.

    Like 8
  3. Mitch

    The mods are’nt that bad bc in other regions of the world such
    sensible mods are common.
    The stock gearbox on this cars have an overdrive like a fifth
    gear but at highway speed – 120-130 Kp/h – you have a lot
    of noise. The fitted 5 speed could lower the loudly experience.
    A stereo recorded video would be very interesting to compare
    to the original. Even better with a visible dB/a meter.

    Like 4
    • jerry bumbaugh

      Replacing the stock rear end with one from an MGB solved the noise problem and the feeling that I needed a 5th gear.
      Of courses you lose the neck breaking jolt starting in 1st gear.

      Like 0
  4. Park

    >>>Even the purists among us agree that modern transmissions and power >>>features can make a car far more pleasant to drive.

    No.

    Like 3
    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskeyMember

      Park,
      I tend to be a purist, and prefer stock vintage vehicles, but I have owned several cars that were so badly designed or built, that certain safety items like disc brakes or an improved gearbox actually made the car more desirable!

      I have a 1962 Czech Tatra T2-603. I installed an A/C unit so I could drive it once I began to get too old to drive in tropical Maryland summers. My Tatra also has the later 4-wheel disc brakes, added by the Tatra factory in 1968. That left me with a car that was not only more enjoyable to drive, but a lot safer as well.

      The 1955-56 Packards with stick shift used a gearbox with a non-synchro first gear. It was the same basic gearbox as used in later Fords, but with synchro in all forward gears. When I pulled the stickshift out of a 55 Packard I had, I put in a later Ford unit with OD. That made the car much easier to drive, especially in urban traffic.

      I had a friend who owned an early Rolls-Royce, built without front brakes. The car could cruise at the higher road speeds, but heaven forbid trying to stop the car at speeds over about 30mph. As traffic levels increased, he realized if he wanted to take the car to shows, he had to modify the brakes, or trailer the car everywhere.

      So he adapted later Rolls-Royce front brakes to fit his car. This was about 40 or more years ago, and no one seemed to care, especially members of the Rolls-Royce Owner’s Club and the AACA.

      Like 8
  5. Gerard Frederick

    Love the coupe look, all it needs is air, aftermarket fuel injection and up graded electronic ignition.

    Like 3
  6. GlennH

    Had a 58 and converted to later model 4-speed with full synchromesh. Had to cut out the transmission tunnel to make it fit.

    Like 1
  7. Jim Simpson

    Hard for me to understand–as I have commented before regarding MGA’s- that someone is willing to invest 30 grand into a car that typically sells for under 20 G’s. My feeling is that the car has a beautiful design, parts can be had easily, it is relatively economical to drive, and a classic head turner for sure. It can be upgraded to coil-over front suspension made into a powerful everyday driver. This car is a STEAL , if you like the mark and the look. Everything else can be had- depending upon personal direction..

    Like 2
  8. rustylink

    I see a pair of rocker switches on the driver door and one on the passenger door. I can’t imagine what prompted going to a electric windows – (especially with this era of Lucas Electric Wizardry already being a consideration) Good lucking car – the rear looks like C2 era Vette.

    Like 0
  9. Bill

    Having owned an MGA Twin Cam coupe I can honestly say that these are not warm weather cars. On a sunny 80 degree day you will cook inside one. On cooler days they are very nice driving cars.

    Like 5
  10. Martin Horrocks

    I like the coupé. Popular regularity rally car in EU. The MGA was a good attempt by MG to build a modern car. Overall the best post war MG though I’d argue for the nicje rhd only MGB GT V8 as pick of the post war MG litter.

    Like 0
  11. 53MGTD

    @ bobhess
    The white lever is the turn signal lever.

    Like 2
    • bobhess bobhessMember

      It did look familiar to me, just couldn’t pull what it was out of the memory bank. Thanks.

      Like 1
  12. classicCarFan

    “stock motor” was never a 1.4L …. it started as a 1489cc, then upped to 1598 and finally to 1622cc..

    Like 1
  13. chrlsful

    OK then – 1.5L?

    Like 0
  14. Christopher Gentry

    The coupe is more attractive than the roadsters in my opinion. Also had more of a racing heritage. As far as the mods , don’t mind the 5 speed , don’t really get the power windows , agree with the other comment about the AC and frying in there in July. Honestly not sure if I could bring myself to add the AC. Probably just save her for spring and fall

    Like 1

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